Washington State Families Together Initiative
Expanding community alternatives to child welfare.
Perigee Fund is in the early phase of a five-year (2020-2025) initiative that ultimately seeks to prevent or reduce infant-parent separation and support connection and healing for families in Washington.
Families investigated by child protective services are often already overloaded by stressors, particularly financial ones. In many cases, their experiences involve systemic racism, domestic violence, or substance use. Rather than supporting families to heal, our child welfare system creates further trauma by separating parent and child, with the threat of severing that relationship forever. Separation has profound lifelong consequences for the baby because relationships are the vehicle for all early childhood development and traumatic disruptions create their own lasting harms that must be healed.
The child welfare system has not been designed and implemented with an understanding of the developmental and mental health needs of infants. And while Washington does better than most states across many early childhood indicators, child welfare separations involving infants is an area for urgent improvement.
Through this initiative, Perigee is partnering with four local community collaboratives in Pierce, Clark, Spokane, and Snohomish counties where multi-sector stakeholders come together to plan and implement coordinated community-based interventions and systems solutions. The initiative also includes the integration of infant mental health into a long-term residential addiction treatment program that keeps children under age 5 with their mothers. Perigee funding increases the capacity of grantees to focus on infants and their parents, to include peer professionals with lived experience on their teams, to address inequity, and to advocate for policy change.
The time in which a baby enters a family is sacred. If support was wrapped around families before birth and during the first year of a baby’s life, there would be far fewer family separations. And if that support was focused on supporting families to heal from trauma and reclaim their stories and power, the impact would ripple across multiple generations.
(Grantees: Clark County Infant Baby Collaborative, Evergreen Recovery Center, Homeward House, Pierce County Help Me Grow, Spokane Healing Families Together)
LOCAL COLLABORATIVE SPOTLIGHT:
Homeward House is a community collaborative in Everett, WA. Homeward House’s purpose is to nurture the vital parent-child bond in times of crisis, treatment, and recovery. Babies and parents have supervised visits in a homelike and consistent setting that supports bonding and attachment. Wrap around services are also provided there.
A pregnant mother whose 2-year-old daughter had been removed from her care was recently referred to Homeward House. A petition to remove her baby at birth was likely to be filed. The mother accepted the referral because she needed a place for visitation with her 2-year-old. Slowly, the Parent Ally on Homeward House’s team gained her trust and helped convince her to accept additional support. She was able to keep her baby, and her 2-year-old is in the process of transitioning back to her care.
about Homeward House
“I really like this. It’s so different than what I thought a parenting class would be. You’re making me feel like I might actually be a good parent.”-Homeward House parent participant
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