The creation of a consolidated Department of Children, Youth and Families is an historic opportunity to improve outcomes for all children, especially those who face barriers to their healthy development and learning.
We support the proposal for a Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), with the following priorities:
- Racial equity embedded in its form, function, and practices;
- Accountability to child outcomes: defined outcomes, data needed to track progress, and strong oversight and advisory structures;
- Early learning: a continued high priority for early learning;
- Funding sufficient to establish and position the agency to accomplish its goals.
In November 2016, the Blue Ribbon Commission on the Delivery of Services to Children and Families released recommendations for a proposed Department of Children, Youth and Families.
The Department would provide the early learning, child welfare and juvenile justice services that are currently delivered by the Department of Early Learning, Children’s Administration, Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration, and the Office of Juvenile Justice.
This would be a cabinet-level state agency that emphasizes prevention, intervention, and early learning; would report directly to the Governor; and would be accountable for improving outcomes for children, youth, and families.
If the DCYF legislation passes this session, the proposed timeline for the development of the department is:
July 2017: Transition process begins;
July 2018: Children’s Administration and Department of Early Learning become DCYF;
July 2019: Juvenile Rehabilitation and the Office of Juvenile Justice added to DCYF.
This session, lawmakers should:
- Pass legislation creating DCYF;
- Ensure the legislation prioritizes racial equity, child outcomes, and early learning;
- Support enough funding for DCYF to achieve its mission.