FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 7, 2010
Contact: HHS Press Office
Washington State to Ensure Equal Access to Child Protective and Welfare Services
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at HHS today announced an agreement to help ensure that children in Washington State in need of welfare and protective services will not be segregated based on race, color, or national origin. OCR, along with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and HHS’ Administration for Children and Families, signed the voluntary resolution agreement to provide equal access to care needed by one of Washington’s more vulnerable populations.
DSHS entered into the agreement following an OCR compliance review conducted under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI) and Section 1808(c) of the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996 (Section 1808(c)). The compliance review focused on the Office of African American Children’s Services (OAACS), located in Seattle, Wash. Following its review, OCR notified DSHS of concerns that race was the sole factor for determining whether children in DSHS Region 4, which encompasses King County, Wash., were referred for services at OAACS.
As a result, DSHS voluntarily reorganized OAACS and renamed it the Martin Luther King, Jr. Office (MLK Office). Children in Washington’s DSHS Region 4 are now referred to the MLK Office and all other Children's Administration offices in the region based on zip code.
DSHS voluntarily agreed to additional measures, including disseminating its notice of nondiscrimination and complaint resolution procedure to clients and providing Title VI and Section 1808(c) training to workforce members in DSHS Region 4 who provide child protective services and child welfare services.
“We are pleased that DSHS has been working with us to ensure that children in the state of Washington have the opportunity to be served in an environment that is not segregated by race,” said OCR Director, Georgina Verdugo.
Individuals who believe that they have been discriminated against because of their race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex or religion by a health care or human services provider (such as a hospital or social service agency) or by a state or local health or human services agency, may file a complaint with OCR at: http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/complaints/index.html.
A copy of the Voluntary Resolution Agreement can be found at http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/activities/agreements/index.html.
For additional resources on preventing and addressing discrimination in adoption and foster care, see http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/resources/specialtopics/adoption/index.html.
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Last revised: May 7, 2011