Partners for Our Children wishes all of you a very happy 2019!  With a new year comes possibility of change and endless opportunities. We hope this year brings you prosperity and growth!
State legislative session about to start… and what to expect from Partners for Our Children
The 2019 Washington state legislative session begins next Monday, 
on January 14th.  As a reminder, this year, since it’s an odd number year, the session is longer (105 days).  During even-numbered years, the session is scheduled for 60 days. 
Beginning next week Partners for Our Children will send out a weekly legislative update on Fridays. We’ll also summarize and track many bills broadly related to child welfare (also with updates on Fridays). We encourage you to check back often and hope the bill tracker is useful!
As ever, we’re open to suggestions about how to make these (and the federal) updates and tracking as helpful as possible. So, please contact us with any comments or suggestions. 
POC state legislative priorities
In 2019, Partners for Our Children legislative priorities are generally grouped into four domains: Prevention/Early Intervention, Family Stability, Economic Stability, and Workforce Stability.  
Our policy priorities have an equity lens in all realms with the goal of ensuring that Washington’s children, youth and families have the services and supports they need to thrive. 
Read about all the priorities here.
We’ll continue to provide monthly updates to the federal bill tracker and in this newsletter format.  As a reminder, POC tracks federal legislation on our federal legislation tracker (click on the "federal bills" tab). The tracker, housed on the POC website, focuses on bills that potentially impact child and family well-being, especially related to people most negatively affected by inequities.
Federal funds now eligible to pay for legal fees related to child welfare 
On December 19th, 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services determined that funds from title IV-E of the Social Security Act now can be used to pay for legal support for parents and children involved with the child welfare system.  This change was applauded by advocates who believe the policy will offer better legal protections for children and parents involved with child welfare agencies.
Prior to this decision, no federal reimbursement was available to pay for legal fees.  
The IV-E entitlement historically offered 50% split on administrative costs related to foster care and adoption.  With the change, the Federal Financial Participation (FFP) entitlement is now expanded to child welfare and available at 50% reimbursement for administrative expenditures. The Title IV-E agency’s representation in judicial decisions continues to be an allowable administrative cost.
According to the Children’s Bureau, “This change in policy will ensure that, among other things, reasonable efforts are made to prevent removal and finalize the permanency plan, and that parents and youth are engaged in and complying with case plans.”
The change will be added to Section 8.1 of the Child Welfare Policy Manual. You can view the Child Welfare Policy Manual here. 
Also, here's a more in-depth article about IV-E reimbursement for legal fees that you might enjoy reading.
Indian Child Welfare Act update 
On December 13th, 2018 the Senate passed the Senate Resolution 707 that recognizes the 40th anniversary of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and the continued need for protections. The resolution did not pass in the House.
The resolution was sponsored by Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.),and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), as well as U.S. Representatives Karen Bass (D-Calif.), and Tom Cole (R-Okla.). 
The full text of the resolution, with a list of cosponsors can be found here.
The amicus briefs for the Brackeen v. Zinke case are due January 14th, 2019.