New children and families state agency bill passes House

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A measure requested by Gov. Jay Inslee to establish a new state agency called the Department of Children, Youth and Families has passed the House.

House Bill 1661 was voted out of the House Wednesday on a bi-partisan 77-19 vote, and now heads to the Senate.

Inslee’s plan, which is included in the 2017-19 state budget, seeks to improve the delivery of services to children and families within juvenile justice programs, foster care services and other child-welfare programs.

Instead of creating new programs, the Governor’s plan is to reorganize existing programs so they could be deployed more efficiently. Under the measure the Department of Early Learning would merge with Child Protective Services. Currently, child protective services are administered by the Department of Social and Health Services.

Supporters said the state needs to improve early learning opportunities and foster care services for children, youth and families. Opponents worried about the cost.

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