Foster youth get another win as session ends in Olympia!
I am thrilled to report that our state lawmakers approved EHB 2335 (Extended Foster Care) in their final act before adjourning the 2014 legislative session late on Thursday night! The bill, which has been The Mockingbird Society's legacy priority, will provide Extended Foster Care services to youth working part-time. This will expand the program that currently allows youth pursuing their education or who have barriers to employment to stay in foster care. Youth in Extended Foster Care will no longer have to choose between working more than 20 hours per week and keeping their housing.
This victory is nothing short of remarkable. Earlier in the session the bill was considered “dead” after failing to advance past the House Appropriations Committee before the fiscal committee cutoff. Despite this setback, advocates and several key legislators carried on a concentrated and continuous effort to keep Extended Foster Care alive, and all of the hard work paid off. Between 7:30pm and 11:30pm on Thursday night, EHB 2335 was reported out of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, approved by the Senate, and finally approved by the House before the state legislature closed for the year. The final budget also included $106,000 to fund the expansion. The bill will now head to the Governor’s Office to await his signature. Again, an incredible effort that shows the power and success of advocacy in the face of tremendous challenges.
We have many people to thank who contributed greatly to the success of this effort. State Representatives Mary Helen Roberts, Pat Sullivan, and Reuven Carlyle, as well as Senators Joe Fain and Andy Hill, all worked hard to champion Extended Foster Care through the very end of this session. We also appreciate the continual support of The Mockingbird Society's dedicated network of donors, advocates, allies, and partner organizations. And finally, I want to thank the youth for their outstanding advocacy efforts during this session, and for raising their voices for system reform!
For those of you who took the time to reach out to your legislators, please also remember to thank them for their service to our state. You can look up your senators and representatives by clicking here.
Thank you again for your advocacy on behalf of over 10,000 foster children in Washington State.
Laser-focused and mission-driven,