Gov. Jay Inslee signed an executive order on Thursday starting the process for the creation of a new state agency that would provide services to children and families.
The Washington Department of Social and Health Services already provides services to families. But the governor said at a press conference there needs to be a separate department for such an important issue.
“While we have entire state agencies dedicated to natural resources, revenue and transportation, today we do not have a department that is specifically designated to the aspirations of our children,” Inslee said. “Today we begin the process to change that.”
He said the idea of having a separate department for children’s services is not new. It was first introduced in 1988 and there has been several attempts since.
“All of these children have a single thing in common,” he said. “Not a single one can vote. Having a children’s department that can advocate for these children is necessary.”
Inslee’s executive order creates the Blue Ribbon Commission on the Delivery of Services to Children and Families. The commission must send a report by November to the Legislature with recommendations for the organizational structure of the new agency, cost estimates and a way to measure the agency’s effectiveness.
Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Seattle said she has been opposed to this idea in that past, but now thinks it could be beneficial.
Kagi said the state Department of Early Learning could serve as a model. That department has been able to “focus on outcomes and the best opportunities for young children, and align systems and streamline and be accountable.”
The governor said the new agency will provide greater accountability and heighten the visibility of children’s issues. It will also reduce barriers to service and advance priorities that are important to children, Inslee said.