We are in the midst of Week 4 of the Washington State Legislative Session and it's been a busy start! As you may have seen in our weekly policy updates, there are a lot of bills being introduced by legislators, but not as many within the child welfare realm (so far anyway) as there have been in previous years. There has, however, been a lot of focus on the multi-billion dollar question: how will the legislature fund all of the education-related requirements - from the McCleary decision and I-1351 - without making major cuts to social services?
Since the recession, social services have been stretched thin - and even more cuts could hurt vulnerable children and families. Not surprisingly, cuts to social services might even work against some of the proposed education reforms. We must acknowledge the critical role of other state services that ensure children are ready and able to learn - even a world-class education system cannot guarantee academic success for children who do not feel safe and secure at home or in their communities.
Therefore, a more holistic view of education that embraces early learning, health and social services is imperative in order to fulfill the state's obligation. If these important services are slashed - or not able to meet the growing needs of children and families - to fund education alone, we cannot truly level the playing field for all children, which are what these important education reforms set out to do.
What do you think the legislature will do?
Read more about this issue in our full brief on how we need to make sure the McCleary ruling meets the educational needs of all children.