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The Washington State Criminal Sentencing Task Force (CSTF) was directed to review the state’s sentencing laws. To better understand the landscape of sentencing in Washington and the potential impacts of reforming the state’s sentencing laws, the CSTF contracted with WSIPP to examine felony sentencing in Washington State Superior Courts. This report is intended to provide analytic data to assist with future policy discussions within the CSTF.
Using data from the Caseload Forecast Council, this report reviews the outcomes from FY 2019 felony sentences. Specifically, the report examines how standard, non-drug sentences vary across the current offense seriousness level-based sentencing guideline grid. The report also examines how sentences may vary across an alternative, felony class-based guideline grid. This report includes an examination of racial disproportionality in sentencing outcomes for standard sentences in the current and alternative guideline grids and for non-standard sentences including enhancements, exceptional sentences, and sentencing alternatives.
In general, the report found that average sentence lengths and incarceration rates may decrease under a class-based grid. However, racial disproportionality in sentencing outcomes was present under both grid systems. The magnitude of racial disproportionality varied for different types of offenses and for different types of sentences.
In the Early Start Act of 2015, the Washington State Legislature required child care and early learning providers who serve non-school aged children and receive state subsidies to participate in Early Achievers, the state’s quality rating and improvement system (QRIS). This legislation also directed WSIPP to examine the relationship between Early Achievers quality ratings and long-term outcomes for children who participate in state-subsidized child care and early learning programs. WSIPP was required to produce annual reports to the legislature from December 2019 through December 2022; the final report must include a benefit-cost analysis of Early Achievers.
In this second report, we found that enrollment in a pre-kindergarten site that has an Early Achievers rating does not significantly predict kindergarten readiness for children in ECEAP or those receiving child care subsidy, although we do observe modest positive associations for children in ECEAP. Enrollment in a pre-kindergarten site that met minimum quality standards is a significant positive predictor of greater kindergarten readiness for children in ECEAP sites and for those with child care subsidies.
WSIPP’s next report in the Early Achievers evaluation series, due in December 2021, will examine variation in Early Achievers quality standard areas (e.g., learning environment and interactions, professional development) to predict child outcomes. Additionally, to the extent possible given data availability, we will address special topics questions such as infant-toddler care quality and later child outcomes.
Washington State has compulsory school attendance laws, which mandate how schools and courts respond to unexcused absences. The 2016 Washington State Legislature passed legislation that changed some truancy-related requirements and directed WSIPP to evaluate the effectiveness of the act. The legislation requires that students who receive a truancy petition are first diverted to a community truancy board for intervention before moving forward with hearings in a juvenile court. The new law also increased the prevention requirements of schools and made it more difficult for juvenile courts to order youth to detention in cases of truancy.
WSIPP found that access to community truancy boards increased following the law’s passage, although the interventions that youth receive vary significantly across the state. Schools continue to file truancy petitions at a low rate; less than a quarter of students who are required to receive a petition actually do so. We found no clear relationship between the legislation and student outcomes, i.e., reduced unexcused absences and dropout rates. However, the dropout rate for truant youth (both with and without a petition) slightly declined after the law was implemented. The percentage of youth being sent to juvenile detention for truancy also fell, although that decrease began prior to when the law was implemented.
Before 2016, two separate systems existed for involuntary commitment of individuals in crisis due to mental health or substance use disorders. The 2016 Legislature passed E3SHB 1713—called Ricky's Law—to integrate both conditions into a statewide behavioral health system within Washington’s Involuntary Treatment Act (ITA). WSIPP is required to “evaluate the effect of the integration of the involuntary treatment systems for substance use disorders and mental health.”In this initial report, we examine the broad changes to Washington’s ITA for substance use disorders that resulted from Ricky’s Law. We provide background on Washington’s behavioral health context and examine the main components of Ricky’s Law. Then, we outline our basic research strategy to examine the effectiveness of this multi-component law. Our second and third reports are due in June 2021 and 2023. We will examine the impact of Ricky's Law on (1) client outcomes (e.g., substance use, overdose, death, employment, housing, and mental health services); (2) system outcomes; and (3) cost-effectiveness and efficiency of the integrated involuntary behavioral health treatment system.
The Resource and Assessment Center (RAC) program provides short-term emergency crisis care to youth entering foster care in Washington. RAC facilities offer an initial placement option of up to 72 hours for youth ages birth through 12 years old. Two facilities, in Whatcom and Snohomish counties, respectively, operated RACs from 2015-2020 and have served over 1,100 youth.The 2019 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to evaluate the RAC program. Our results indicate that compared to similar youth, those who were first placed in a RAC are more likely to spend their RAC and subsequent placements with a sibling. RAC youth are also more likely to be placed with a relative in their subsequent placement. RAC placement does not have long term effects on the number of placement events or the length of time youth spend in foster care. Results also suggest that foster parents who received youth from a RAC were more likely than other similar foster parents who only received youth from other settings to retain their license for various follow-up periods.
WSIPP’s Board of Directors approved a Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) contract with WSIPP to examine the new DOC risk and needs assessment—the Washington ONE. In 2017, DOC transitioned to the Washington ONE for adults incarcerated in state facilities or under DOC supervision in the community. During the current phase of implementation, contact requirements for community supervision are based on an individual’s initial assessment and are not updated during regularly scheduled reassessments. We examined how the new assessment impacted risk level classification and corresponding contact requirements for community contacts and how these requirements would change if they were updated following reassessments. We found minimal differences between the contact requirements under the previous risk assessment system, the current Washington ONE assessment system, and a more dynamic Washington ONE assessment system. Our analysis found that contact requirements for some individuals would change if contact levels were updated following reassessments. However, we found that a similar number of individuals showed a reduction in risk level and contacts over time as the number of individuals showed an increase in risk level and contacts over time, resulting in little change in DOC’s workload associated with community contacts during the study period.
The 2012 Legislature passed E2SHB 2536 with the intention that “prevention and intervention services delivered to children and juveniles in the areas of mental health, child welfare, and juvenile justice be primarily evidence-based and research-based, and it is anticipated that such services will be provided in a manner that is culturally competent.” The bill directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) and the University of Washington Evidence-Based Practice Institute (EBPI) to publish descriptive definitions and prepare an inventory of evidence-based, research-based, and promising practices and services, and to periodically update the inventory as more practices are identified. This is the tenth update to the initial inventory published in 2012. The accompanying report describes our standard process for evaluating and classifying research evidence, the process for adding new programs to the inventory, and the reasons that program classifications may change in the current iteration of the inventory. Programs that are new to the inventory or re-reviewed with current evidence are identified in the report. Find previous versions of the Children's inventory with the following links: ninth update, eighth update, seventh update, sixth update, fifth update, fourth update, third update, second update, first update,and initial inventory.
The 2016 Legislature directed WSIPP to examine multiple policies related to advanced teacher certification that could impact the teacher workforce. With various advanced teaching certificate policy changes in recent years, WSIPP was unable to analyze the effectiveness of specific policies toward expanding the educator workforce. However, in this report, we provide detailed background information on teachers with the professional certificates in Washington and conduct a 50-state review of certification-related policies that could impact teacher recruitment and retention in Washington and other states. In 2019, nearly 25% of all classroom teachers in Washington held an advanced teacher certificate. However, since they became optional in 2017, the number of new certificates awarded has fallen by nearly 60%. A 50-state review identified 28 states with advanced teacher certificates. Washington is among the majority of these states in using National Board Certification as a requirement toward advanced certification and one of five using it as the primary path. Half of these states, including Washington, offer some sort of financial incentive for teachers to earn an advanced certificate. Additionally, the review found that teachers in every state have earned micro-credentials, and 64% of states, including Washington, have micro-credential policies allowing them to be used toward some aspect of certification.
Washington State provides funding to school districts to help students who score below grade-level standards in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics through the Learning Assistance Program (LAP). Districts can use the funding for a variety of activities to support students including tutoring, extended learning time, educator professional development, and family engagement to name a few examples. The 2013 Washington State Legislature directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) to develop an inventory of evidence-based, research-based, and promising programs and practices for use by school districts in LAP. WSIPP was directed to update the inventory every two years thereafter. This report is the fifth update to the inventory and describes our standard process for evaluating and classifying programs, adding new programs to the inventory, and reasons why program classifications may change over time. We also identify several programs that are relevant to teaching and learning in a remote environment during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), although that was not the focus of this update. Overall, for this 2020 update, we reviewed 18 programs, added two new programs to the inventory, and reclassified five programs included in previous inventory iterations. Find previous versions of the LAP inventory with the following links: fourth update, third update, second update, first update, and initial report.
The 2017 Washington State Legislature directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) to conduct a study of a policy allowing eligible foster youth to receive foster care services between the ages of 18 and 21. We studied numerous outcomes for youth “aging out” of foster care as they transitioned to adulthood. Between 2006 and 2018, the percentage of youth receiving extended foster care (EFC) services increased from 5% to 80%. Compared to non-participants, the average youth participating in EFC was more likely to be employed and have greater earnings. EFC also significantly reduced homelessness, receipt of public assistance, use of medical emergency departments, reduced diagnosis of substance abuse and treatment, and criminal convictions. We also found that EFC reduced the involvement of offspring in the child welfare system. Our benefit-cost analysis found that the EFC program produces $3.95 of lifetime benefits for each $1 invested. Of the total benefits, 40% represents savings and revenue that would accrue to state, local, and federal governments. In a survey of other states, we found that almost all states provide some foster care services after youth turn 18, although eligibility criteria vary.