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The highest ranking federal official in charge of foster care, Wade Horn of the DHHS, is a former child psychologist who says the foster care system is a giant mess and should just be blown up.

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Washington CPS News Archive

Washington News Coverage

This week KING and NBC news are teaming up to bring you Education Nation, an in-depth look at education topics across America. Parent to Parent takes a bit closer at the growing trend towards homeschooling.

The trend is up - homeschooling is becoming an attractive option for many local families. Gone are the days when only ultra-conservative, religious families or very liberal families homeschooled their children. According to the Oregon based National Home Education Research Institute, there was a seven percent jump in homeschooled children in the last three years. It's estimated more than two million students are homeschooled across America.

September 26, 2011

by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell

Bill changes system that punished Washington State's innovative foster care programs; now heads to President's desk Cantwell: 'Instead of punishing Washington state for keeping kids out of foster care, this bill ensures innovation'.

WASHINGTON, D.C. On the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) hailed the unanimous Senate passage last night of the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act (H.R. 2883), which would allow states like Washington to continue innovative programs that reduce foster care caseloads and achieve positive outcomes for children without being penalized by losing federal funding.

September 25, 2011

by Isabelle Zehnder

Prominent Seattle attorney Anne Bremner, who represents the parents of missing Utah mom Susan Cox Powell, was asked Friday during an MSNBC Today Show interview to discuss child custody issues of Susan's children since their grandfather's arrest.

The children's grandfather, and Susan's father-in-law Steve Powell, was arrested Thursday on 14 charges of voyeurism and possession of child pornography. Just weeks after Susan disappeared from their home in Utah, Susan's husband and only person of interest in her case, Josh Powell, moved their children to live with his father Steve in Puyallup, Washington. The children were still living there at the time of Steve's arrest.

September 25, 2011

by Kevin Graman

A family rights group is planning protests on Friday (August 12, 2011) against the child welfare system at courthouses across the nation, including Spokane.

The protests, planned in 42 states and Washington, D.C., are being organized by an Internet-based movement known as Govabuse and will target family courts, child protective services and foster care systems that it says "separate and financially demolish families," according to the organization's website,

August 10, 2011

by David Klugh

The Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) is pleased to announce that its Home Foreclosure Legal Aid Project will continue to help homeowners for another two years.

Program continuation and expansion is made possible by a $1.1 million grant from the Washington Attorney General's Office to the Washington State Bar Foundation, the WSBA's charitable arm. Funds came from a settlement the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division reached with Wells Fargo regarding its Pick a Pay loan scheme. These funds are enabling the WSBA to extend the project through June 2013, and expand staff attorney capacity.

July 29, 2011

by Cathy Zimmerman

This summer, Robert Ahrens is learning to read bread. The 13-year-old Kalama boy, who is homeschooled, is four months into his own artisan bakery business.

He has learned how to obtain a loan, build a free-standing baking facility, apply for permits and licenses, and make sourdough bread. Robert now wholesales as many as 130 loaves a week to a Kalama grocery.

July 17, 2011

Kitsap County Sheriff's detectives believe two children are in danger after their mother took them and left the area.

The 46-year-old does not have full custody of the children and they had been temporarily placed with her as she attempted to regain custody, according to a sheriff's office news release. Child Protective Services was to visit her June 29 and determine if the children could stay there permanently.

July 7, 2011

by Patrick J. Sullivan

A new era in access to Washington state's public lands begins July 1 with the Discover Pass. For example, driving into Fort Worden or Fort Flagler state parks to park near the beach and sit in the sun or walk your dog now requires a Discover Pass.

In short, any licensed motorized transportation you take into a recreation site managed by Washington State Parks, Department of Fish and Wildlife or the Department of Natural Resources may need a Discover Pass. This applies to fishing, hunting, boat launches, picnic sites, event attendance, shellfishing, woodcutting and trailhead parking.

June 29, 2011

by Cathy Zimmerman

According the national Center for Disease Control, Washington has the highest rate of parents exempting their children from vaccines of 47 reporting states. Washington had 525 cases of whooping cough in 2010, up from 285 in 2009.

The legislature has responded by tightening up loopholes that allow non-immunized children to enroll in school, said Michele Roberts, health promotion manager for Washington's immunization program.

What if, when she and others her age survived measles, mumps, chicken pox and whooping cough, their immune systems grew strong? Kenney wondered. Children in 1980 got 20 shots by the time they were 18, she said, including boosters of the original vaccines. Today, if they follow the schedule, they will get 68 shots. "Some are new, some are new generations of the old vaccines."

June 13, 2011

by Queenie Wong

The state of Washington has agreed to pay $7.3 million to three former foster children who were sexually or physically abused in a Redmond home.

Details on the settlement won't be available until it is approved by the court, according to the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). Despite receiving at least 28 complaints of physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, exploitation and licensing violations between 1996 and 2006, DSHS still left the three girls in the care of Enrique Fabregas, according to the lawsuit the girls' attorney filed in 2007 in King County Superior Court.

June 6, 2011

by Julie Muhlstein

Fifty families in Snohomish County at risk of losing their children to foster care because of inadequate housing will receive help staying together, thanks to new federal rental vouchers.

The Housing Authority of Snohomish County is one of four housing agencies in the state to be awarded part of $1.44 million in federal Family Unification Program vouchers to be used for rental assistance. The awards from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development were announced Thursday.

June 6, 2011

by Manuel Valdes

Washington state is home to the nation's highest rate of parents exempting their children from vaccines, according to a new federal report released Thursday.

The study by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a first of its kind, says that 6.2 percent of kindergarteners in the state have parent-signed exemptions for one or more vaccines for diseases such as polio, whooping cough, measles, hepatitis B and chickenpox. The data from the CDC was collected from the 2009-2010 school year.

June 5, 2011

by AP

TOPPENISH, Wash. -- A high school student who faked her pregnancy for six months as a social experiment stunned a student assembly this week by taking off the belly bundle.

Only a handful of people knew that 17-year-old Gaby Rodriguez wasn't really pregnant, including her mother, boyfriend and the principal, according to the Yakima Herald-Republic. They helped keep the secret from some of her siblings and her boyfriend's family and students and teachers, all as part of a senior project on stereotyping.

April 22, 2011

by Laura McVicker

A Vancouver couple have been arrested for allegedly holding their two young autistic boys captive in a darkened, caged room.

Responding to a tip from Child Protective Services, police officers raided the couple's apartment Tuesday and found the boys, ages 5 and 7, confined in a bedroom with a cage-like door. Eckhart is listed in court papers as unemployed; a search for his Facebook page displays a picture of him making an obscene gesture.

April 18, 2011

by Laura McVicker

Major crimes investigators served a search warrant over the weekend of the apartment where two young autistic boys were being locked up in a caged room.

Investigators said they seized evidence "consistent with the crime of unlawful imprisonment," according to a press release from the Clark County Sheriff's Office. John C. Eckhart, 30, and Alayna M. Higdon, 26, were arrested Tuesday after Vancouver police officers found the autistic boys locked in a dark room with a caged door at the apartment.

April 18, 2011

A father and his fiancee are behind bars after being accused of using a cagelike door to lock two young boys in a bedroom, according to police in Washington state.

John Eckhart, 30, and Alayna Higdon, 26, both face felony charges of unlawful imprisonment and criminal mistreatment, said Clark County Superior Court clerk Laurie Freese. Vancouver, Washington, police went to their home Tuesday to conduct a welfare check requested by the state government's Child Protective Services division. That state agency had complained that its officials had been unable to get inside and check on the children purportedly living there.

April 15, 2011

VANCOUVER, Wash. -- A Superior Court hearing is scheduled next Thursday to decide temporary placement for two autistic boys who Vancouver police say were kept locked in a darkened room.

The boys' father John Eckhart and his girlfriend Alayna Higdon were arrested Tuesday for investigation of second-degree criminal mistreatment and unlawful imprisonment. The boys' mother, Jona Bronson of Tillamook, Ore., has said she'll try to regain custody of the children -- ages 5 and 7.

April 15, 2011

by Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. -- An Oregon mother says she's shocked to learn that the father of her two autistic sons has been accused of caging the boys in his apartment.

Jona (JAH-nah) Bronson of Tillamook, Ore., was once the girlfriend of 30-year-old John Eckhart. She said Thursday that she gave Eckhart custody because she didn't want to disrupt the boys' routines, but she's now hoping to win custody over the boys.

April 14, 2011

by Chelsea Bannach

Three-year-old Kate lived in a dog crate in a meth house in Spokane and walked on hands and knees like an animal. Winston lived in a home with no running water or electricity.

They are just a few of the 1,645 children from Spokane County who have been placed at the Salvation Army's Sally's House, a place for children removed from dangerous circumstances with nowhere else to go. But now, state funding for Sally's House is at risk.

December 15, 2010

by Bonnie Miller Rubin

CHICAGO -- It has been three months since Ellie left, but her mother can't muster the energy to clear out her 7-year-old daughter's bedroom. Ellie now resides with another family in Washington state, 1,700 miles away from her comfortable Long Grove, IL, h

Since fall 2009, Ellie talked about suicide and was hospitalized psychiatrically four times. Bipolar disorder was added to her burgeoning medical history, but her case continued to vex mental-health professionals. By now, the Gertzes were spending about $40,000 a year for her care, but nothing prepared them for the cost of residential placement, which can top $100,000 annually.

The Seattle Times

October 10, 2010

by Christine Clarridge

Galmesa Elemo, of Seattle, was found guilty of first-degree and third-degree child molestation by a King County Superior Court jury last week. After Elemo's arrest, Child Protective Services (CPS) removed the seven youngest children from their home.

The protesters were concerned that the children, then ages 2 through 14, would be placed in non-Muslim foster homes where their religious culture and dietary restrictions would not be observed, said Rizwan Samad, director of Muslim Family and Children Services.

The Seattle Times

July 30, 2010

by Levi Pulkkinen

When King County sheriff's deputies arrived at the Carnation home of her father and stepmother, the years of brutal, methodical starvation had nearly killed the girl.

At 14 in the summer of 2008, she appeared half her age. She wore a size 2 shoe, weighed less than 50 pounds and had lost most of her teeth due to dehydration and malnutrition. Now, though, attorneys for the children have filed suit against the state Department of Social and Health Services claiming the agency failed to act even after abuse was found to have occurred in the home 3 1/2 years before.

Seattle Post Intelligencer

June 16, 2010

Gov. Chris Gregoire declared the week of June 14-19 as a statewide homeschool recognition week.

"Washington state recognizes homeschoolers for their continued commitment to the diversity and the quality of education in our state," Gregoire said in a press release. The week coincides with the Washington Homeschool Convention, the state's oldest, and the largest convention and curriculum exhibit in the Northwest.

Issaquah Press

June 14, 2010

by Jordan Schrader

State officials say they aren't placing children with foster parents who haven't cleared background checks, defending their agency after an audit found problems with handling of foster care.

The state auditor's office reported this week that the Department of Social and Health Services didn't comply with criminal background check requirements in 2009, failing to fix problems that were also found in audits from 2003 to 2008. Auditors found 24 foster care providers they said were paid without clearing background checks, including seven with a criminal record or a history of being investigated for potential child abuse or neglect, and 17 others who were never checked at all.

The News Tribune

June 10, 2010

by Cynthia Godsoe

Laws permitting reinstatement of parental rights are admirable, but in many cases the rights shouldn't have been terminated in the first place.

New York state will likely soon enact groundbreaking legislation to restore parental rights in limited cases to neglectful parents who have been rehabilitated. Only a few other states, including California and Washington, have enacted similar laws to help restore families. Although New York Bill A8524/S03868 is necessary to help some of the many children waiting in foster care "limbo" with no prospects of adoption to return to safe and loving families, it wouldn't need to exist in a world that cared more about keeping families safe and together.

The National Law Journal

May 28, 2010

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