Collaboration brings much-needed services to children

The Child Welfare-Early Learning Partnership managed by our Office of Innovation is bringing together representatives from child welfare, early learning and early intervention systems in an innovative partnership in King County.  

Until recently, 40 percent of children in the state’s child welfare system aged 5 and younger were rarely being referred to programs that could support their development. We know these children were missing out on a critical time for brain development that will impact their lifelong learning, behavior and health.

King County has many high-quality early learning and development programs that are free to children and their families with the potential to serve thousands.

Until 2013, there was not a system in place for social workers to make program referrals and providers in early learning and intervention systems did not know how to connect with child welfare staff.

This collaborative partnership brings representatives from these systems together monthly at all five King County local child welfare offices. They offer recommendations on child development services and how they best fit the needs of young children and families in each case. The project is funded by the King County Division of Developmental Disabilities.

Meetings held in 2016 resulted in shared discussions of 450 cases, a 72% increase from 2015. Without this joint consideration, children and families could have lost the opportunity to receive referrals to free and available services that could potentially transform their lives.

Jason Gortney serves as the director of the Office of Innovation at Children’s Home Society of Washington.