Yesterday, Governor Jay Inslee signed the 2016 supplemental budget into law. The budget included funding for all of The Mockingbird Society's priority issues!
Mockingbird entered the session with three ambitious, youth-inspired, community-supported budget priorities. With support from hundreds of caring people like you, our efforts resulted in increased funding for programs that serve young people experiencing homelessness, and funding for an evaluation of our award-winning, innovative model of foster care delivery.
Here are the results of our advocacy:
Increased funding for HOPE Beds - $1,028,000
The HOPE Act passed in 1999 with the promise that our state would fund 75 beds to provide emergency shelter and immediate safety to adolescents seeking relief from the trauma and despair that results from surviving on the streets.
The young people we work with identified the urgent need for more of these resources — there are currently only 23 beds across the state and these beds are not available in many communities where there are high rates of youth homelessness.
This year we asked legislators to increase the number of HOPE beds statewide, and they responded by doubling the number our state currently operates!
The final budget included $1,028,000 for 23 additional HOPE beds, which means that providers can offer an additional 8,395 nights of shelter for young people each year.
Increased funding for Street Youth Services -- $800,000
The Street Youth Services (SYS) program provides outreach to identify and engage youth under 18 who are living on the street and helps connect them with community resources. SYS can refer youth to family-focused services, drug and alcohol abuse intervention, counseling, emergency housing, prevention and education activities, employment skill building, advocacy, and follow-up support, in addition to HOPE Beds. This year we asked legislators to increase the funding for SYS, and they responded!
The final budget included an $800,000 increase over the current 2016 fiscal year allocation ($511,000). This means that the Street Youth Services program will be able to allocate $1,311,000 to service providers who do this critical work.
Evaluation of the Mockingbird Family Model -- $150,000
As our supporters know, The Mockingbird Family Model (MFM) is an innovative model for foster care delivery. In every MFM "Constellation," six to ten licensed foster families live in close proximity to a veteran foster care family—a Hub Home—that provides peer support, social activities, planned and unplanned respite or crisis care, and assistance in navigating child welfare systems. MFM succeeds on multiple levels—safer, more stable placements for youth, and better retention of foster families.
This year we asked legislators to fund an evaluation of the MFM, and they prioritized our request.
The final budget included $150,000 for a one-time evaluation on the impact and cost effectiveness of the Hub Home model. The Washington State Institute for Public Policy will evaluate the MFM's effect on child safety, permanency, placement stability, and caregiver retention, among other outcomes, and shall include an analysis of whether the model yields long-term cost savings in comparison with traditional foster care. If the evaluation shows positive results, the Model could be expanded to address our state's shortage of foster care placements!
THANK YOU for your support throughout this legislative session—your advocacy is a critical part of our work to improve foster care and end youth homelessness!