Capitol Building Above Capitol Lake in Olympia WA - photo by John Callery via Canva. Text reads Looking Ahead to 2022 Legislative Session

Looking Ahead to 2022 Legislative Session

This past year has continued to reveal the disruption brought onto community, advocates, and practitioners by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a nonprofit civil legal aid organization serving youth across Washington State, TeamChild continues to uphold the rights of young people, secure the support they need, and transform punitive systems into more effective methods of addressing root causes and providing meaningful and appropriate support, opportunities, and healing to youth across Washington State.

Throughout 2021, we have delivered on our commitment to expand the capacity of our organization to do more effective policy work and advocate for greater systemic change in the Washington State juvenile legal system by hiring two full-time policy staff members, Karen Pillar, Director of Policy & Advocacy, and Julian Cooper, Policy Coordinator. We continue to remain informed by our client community and various legal and community-led organizations statewide as we work, in a coordinated effort, to reveal and remedy where laws and practices allow for disparities and poor outcomes to persist. Several TeamChild staff and board members participated at various stages in preparing the new Report and Recommendations to Address Race in Washington’s Juvenile Legal System: 2021 Report to the Washington Supreme Court. This is an example of youth-led recommendations that will continue to guide our work. Access the full report from Seattle University School of Law’s Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality.

The Washington State Legislature will convene on January 10, 2022, for a short session – 60 instead of the odd-year 105 consecutive days. While there will certainly be challenges with the abbreviated session, TeamChild will continue its steadfast commitment to advocating for youth statewide by supporting the development and implementation of systemic reforms during the upcoming legislative session and beyond.

Key policy proposals we are following include:

  • Eliminating the use of juvenile “points” in adult sentencing (HB 1413)
  • Raising the age of capacity for children to commit a crime (SB 5122)
  • Strengthening the Uniform Guardianship Act
  • Extending the length of juvenile diversion agreements
  • Extended Foster Care (EFC) expansion

While this is not an exhaustive list of legislative and policy priorities, TeamChild looks forward to supporting these meaningful reforms and collaborating with our partners to continue advancing in the movement for justice and equity for young people in Washington State. Keep an eye out for further updates as we make our way through the upcoming legislative session.

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