OLYMPIAToday the Senate passed legislation to establish a child welfare housing assistance program to shorten the time that children remain in out-of-home care.

Senate Bill 5718, sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle), would create a pilot program through the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) that would provide housing assistance to parents whose lack of appropriate housing is the primary barrier to reunification with a child who has been removed from their care.  

“Families already face many barriers to affordable housing, and with children temporarily removed from the home, housing assistance programs are even less accessible,” said Saldaña. “This makes it extremely difficult for parents in this situation to obtain the appropriate housing necessary to reunify with their kids. This program would remove that barrier to bringing a family back together, and reduce the time kids are separated from their parents.”

SB 5718 requires DCYF to consult with a stakeholder group that includes parent allies, parent attorneys and social workers, housing organizations, behavior health providers and others to determine details for the pilot program, such as eligibility requirements and equitable program distribution.

The bill now moves to the House for consideration.