Washington state's problem-plagued foster care system is under court-ordered oversight, and the panel monitoring it says it is dragging its feet on reform.
The Braam Oversight Panel, named after a Washington girl who lived in 34 different foster care homes, issued a monitoring report last month. The report found that Washington's Children's Administration had "completed 13 improvement steps, but has yet to address 32 others," reports the daily newspaper The Olympian. "There are people working hard on this," says Casey Trupin, an attorney with Columbia Legal Services. "But merely issuing policies is not enough." Washington lawmakers recently budgeted money for 197 new caseworkers and improved computer systems, but legal advocates say the state administration did not ask the legislature for enough to do the job of reform. The latest Braam report indicates in many instances that the Children's Administration simply failed to provide any documentation on action taken at all. Agency head Cheryl Stephani indicated to the news media that this was a failure to report properly, not a failure to take action as required. But Trupin balked at that idea. "That would explain away a couple of things, but when you fail to reach 32 of 45, it's deeper than that."