Thursday, April 9, 2009

Major Battles: Child Welfare Services

The Senate continues to push hard for the privatization of child welfare services on a massive scale. ESSB 5943 as passed by the Senate (and 2SHB 2106 as amended by the Senate Human Services & Corrections Committee), represents the broadest contracting out proposal to receive serious consideration by the Legislature in more than a decade. Adding insult to injury, the Senate continues to wage a direct attack on state employee collective bargaining rights in the language of the bill. We agree change is needed at CWS, but the Senate proposal is risky, expensive, and continues to demonstrate contempt for the state employees who work so hard to protect our children.

On the other hand, the House is on a far more responsible path for reforming CWS. As adopted by the House, 2SHB 2106 would create a pilot program to find out if an evidence-based contracting scheme would even work.

ESSB 5943 passed the Senate, but the House Early Learning & Children's Services Committee stripped the Senate language from the bill and replaced it with a modified version of their pilot program proposal. At roughly the same time, the Senate Human Services & Corrections Committee replaced the contents of 2SHB 2106 with a modified version of their privatization proposal. So, for those keeping score at home, now 2106 is the awful bill, and 5943 isn't so bad. -- Dennis

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