(The Center Square) – Allison Krutsinger provided a high-level overview of the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families’ legislative agenda for next year, but skipped any mention of one of the 20 items listed on the agency’s requested legislation and decision packages: CCDF Audit Response.
The Child Care Development Fund Audit Response is a reference to an August report by the Washington State Auditor’s Office that found DCYF could not provide sufficient records on $271 million in childcare payments made to low-income families.
The report looked at how state agencies handled nearly $37 billion in federal funds between July 2020 and June 2021.
“Preparing agency request legislation and decision packages is no small feat,” Krutsinger, DCYF director of government affairs and community engagement, said during Thursday morning’s hybrid in-person/virtual meeting before the DCYF Oversight Board. “It is a big undertaking.”
DCYF spokesman Jason Wettstein previously told The Center Square it was likely the agency would make an ask of the Legislature to improve its ability to keep tabs on spent funds.
“In response to the report, DCYF is considering submitting a legislative decision package request to the legislature to meet the higher standard recommended by the SAO,” he said. “More state funding would be necessary, as more detailed tracking will require more staff and increased Information Technology resources. The agency does not currently have the staff to develop and maintain the business process redesign, nor the information technology resources necessary to meet the level of assurance identified by SAO.”
Agency request legislation is being submitted today, Krutsinger said, with decision packages to be submitted early next week.
Agency request legislation is a legislative ask proposed by an agency of the executive branch of government.
Decision packages are key building blocks in constructing a budget request and afford an agency a place to make an argument for any proposed changes. A decision package is required for the vast majority of incremental changes to the current biennial budget.
DCYF’s asks and all relevant information goes to the Governor’s Office and the state Office of Financial Management, Krutsinger explained, noting the governor’s budget typically comes out in mid- to late-December, at which point DCYF gets its “marching orders” right before the start of the legislative session.
“That being said, all of our decision packages go public, all agency and decision packages go public next week, so the public will have full information, cost models, details, assumptions, narratives, next week as we sort of move through the next stage of the process,” she said.
Krutsinger was confident the agency could do big things in the upcoming 2023-25 biennium.
“This is a biennial session,” she said, “I’ve read the economic forecast. Revenues are good in this state. This is a time to be bold, to think big and think with innovation in mind.”
Monthly revenue collections are up again, according to the latest report from the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council: “Cumulatively, collections since June are now $113.4 million (1.7%) higher than forecasted.”
Krutsinger said this is probably the largest set of asks of the Legislature’s she’s seen during her tenure at DCYF.
“I think that’s because of the fact we are settling in to who we are and what we responsible to do,” she said. “And with that comes asks of the Legislature to sort of lean in and join the ride with us. That’s going to require investment. If we really want to transform how systems work for families, and we really want to transform how our systems have worked for families, it’s going to require investment and require appropriation of investment differently.”