Washington Bill to End Parental Fees for Incarcerated Children Signed Into Law

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A bill that ends the practice of "parent pay" — where parents of incarcerated children have to pay for part of the cost of their incarceration — was signed into law Thursday by Gov. Jay Inslee.

House Bill 2050 repealed the state's parent pay statute, a 45-year-old practice that advocates described as a legal relic. Under the statute, parents had to pay a certain percent of their gross income to DCYF's Juvenile Rehabilitation to support the cost of the child's incarceration.

The passed the Washington Legislature with bipartisan support, according to officials from the state Department of Children, Youth, and Families.

The bill also repealed parent pay fees for children incarcerated at the county level and forgave over $1 million in debt for over 200 families statewide, according to a legislative summary from Virginia Barry, the policy and government affairs manager for Stand for Children Washington.

DCYF pushed for the bill's passage with support from advocacy groups including Stand for Children Washington and the Center for Children and Youth Justice.

The parent pay practice disproportionately affected families of color and low income families. It collected about $1 million each year for the department, DCYF's director of government affairs and community engagement Allison Krutsinger previously told the Yakima Herald-Republic.

"DCYF has been working to eliminate practices that are harmful to children and their families, and particularly those practices that are financially stupid ... We're excited the Legislature repealed it." DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter said in a department news release.