(1) The secretary shall convene an advisory committee to analyze and make recommendations on the disproportionate representation of children of color in Washington's child welfare system. The department shall collaborate with the Washington institute for public policy and private sector entities to develop a methodology for the advisory committee to follow in conducting a baseline analysis of data from the child welfare system to determine whether racial disproportionality and racial disparity exist in this system. The Washington institute for public policy shall serve as technical staff for the advisory committee. In determining whether racial disproportionality or racial disparity exists, the committee shall utilize existing research and evaluations conducted within Washington state, nationally, and in other states and localities that have similarly analyzed the prevalence of racial disproportionality and disparity in child welfare.
(2) At a minimum, the advisory committee shall examine and analyze: (a) The level of involvement of children of color at each stage in the state's child welfare system, including the points of entry and exit, and each point at which a treatment decision is made; (b) the number of children of color in low-income or single-parent families involved in the state's child welfare system; (c) the family structures of families involved in the state's child welfare system; and (d) the outcomes for children in the existing child welfare system. This analysis shall be disaggregated by racial and ethnic group, and by geographic region.
(3) The committee of not more than fifteen individuals shall consist of experts in social work, law, child welfare, psychology, or related fields, at least two tribal representatives, a representative of the governor's juvenile justice advisory committee, a representative of a community-based organization involved with child welfare issues, a representative of the department, a current or former foster care youth, a current or former foster care parent, and a parent previously involved with Washington's child welfare system. Committee members shall be selected as follows: (a) Five members selected by the senate majority leader; (b) five members selected by the speaker of the house of representatives; and (c) five members selected by the secretary of the department. The secretary, the senate majority leader, and the speaker of the house of representatives shall coordinate appointments to ensure the representation specified in this subsection is achieved. After the advisory committee appointments are finalized, the committee shall select two individuals to serve as cochairs of the committee, one of whom shall be a representative from a nongovernmental entity.
(4) The secretary shall make reasonable efforts to seek public and private funding for the advisory committee.
(5) Not later than June 1, 2008, the advisory committee created in subsection (1) of this section shall report to the secretary of the department on the results of the analysis. If the results of the analysis indicate disproportionality or disparity exists for any racial or ethnic group in any region of the state, the committee, in conjunction with the secretary of the department, shall develop a plan for remedying the disproportionality or disparity. The remediation plan shall include: (a) Recommendations for administrative and legislative actions related to appropriate programs and services to reduce and eliminate disparities in the system and improve the long-term outcomes for children of color who are served by the system; and (b) performance measures for implementing the remediation plan. To the extent possible and appropriate, the remediation plan shall be developed to integrate the recommendations required in this subsection with the department's existing compliance plans, training efforts, and other practice improvement and reform initiatives in progress. The advisory committee shall be responsible for ongoing evaluation of current and prospective policies and procedures for their contribution to or effect on racial disproportionality and disparity.
(6) Not later than December 1, 2008, the secretary shall report the results of the analysis conducted under subsection (2) of this section and shall describe the remediation plan required under subsection (5) of this section to the appropriate committees of the legislature with jurisdiction over policy and fiscal matters relating to children, families, and human services. Beginning January 1, 2010, the secretary shall report annually to the appropriate committees of the legislature on the implementation of the remediation plan, including any measurable progress made in reducing and eliminating racial disproportionality and disparity in the state's child welfare system.
Findings—2007 c 465: "The legislature finds that one in five of Washington's one and one-half million children are children of color. Broken out by racial groups, approximately six percent of children are Asian/Pacific Islander, six percent are multiracial, four and one-half percent are African American, and two percent are Native American. Thirteen percent of Washington children are of Hispanic origin, but representation of this group increases in the lower age ranges. For example, seventeen percent of children birth to four years of age are Hispanic.
The legislature also finds that in counties such as Adams, Franklin, Yakima, and Grant, more than half of the births are of Hispanic origin. Three-quarters of the state's African American children and two-thirds of Asian/Pacific Islander children live in King and Pierce counties. The legislature finds further that despite some progress closing the achievement gap in recent years, children of color continue to lag behind their classmates on the Washington assessment of student learning. In 2005 children of color trailed in every category of the fourth-grade reading, writing, and math assessments. On the reading test alone, sixty-nine percent of African American students, sixty-four percent of Native American students, and sixty-one percent of Hispanic students met the standards, compared with eighty-five percent of caucasian students. And, since 1993, the number of Washington students for which English is not their first language has doubled to more than seven percent of students statewide.
The legislature finds further that according to national research, African American children enter the child welfare system at far higher rates than caucasian children, despite no greater incidence of maltreatment in African American families compared to caucasian families. This trend holds true for Washington state, where African American children represent approximately nine and one-half percent of the children in out-of-home care even though they represent slightly more than four percent of the state's total child population. Native American children represent slightly over ten percent of the children in out-of-home care although they represent only two percent of the children in the state. In King county, African American and Native American children are over represented at nearly every decision point in the child welfare system. Although these two groups of children represent only eight percent of the child population in King county, they account for one-third of all children removed from their homes and one-half of children in foster care for more than four years.
The legislature finds also that children of immigrants are the fastest growing component of the United States' child population. While immigrants are eleven percent of the nation's total population, the children of immigrants make up twenty-two percent of the nation's children under six years of age. These immigrant children are twice as likely as native-born children to be poor." [ 2007 c 465 § 1.