Pierce County has less than half the population of King County, but the two counties have almost the same number of children in foster care or other out-of-home placements. In Pierce County, a new effort is underway to keep families intact.
The initiative is called Help Me Grow Pierce County. It’s based on a national model developed by a pediatrician in Connecticut.
Kate Ginn, project manager for the Pierce County program, said the legislature approved more than $1 million in the recent budget, allowing the progam to hire staff to direct families to services if they call South Sound 211.
“We’ll have some call center staff who have expertise in what the parenting supports are in the community, pregnancy resources and child development,” Ginn said. “And then we’ll also have a web site that accompanies that.”
The program is starting as a pilot focused on three zip codes where there have been a lot of young children entering out-of-home care. Those zip codes are in Tacoma, Lakewood and unincorporated Pierce County.
“We identified the zip codes mainly because of the high dependency filings of children entering care of (ages) zero to three, and then noted a lot of other health equity concerns – high poverty rates, lower life expectancy, things like that,” Ginn said.