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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington To Get More Child Welfare Caseworkers, But Not As Many As Requested

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The frontlines of child protection in Washington are about to get a boost. The new state budget funds more than 40 new caseworker positions.

But that’s fewer than half the number Governor Jay Inslee requested.

The governor had proposed hiring 107 new caseworkers -- half to work in child protection, the other half to improve foster care in Washington. The final budget funds a total of 43 new positions.

The state is under court order to provide foster children more services. That includes monthly health and safety visits and twice-a-month visits between siblings. It's part of the Braam case -- named after a child who was in foster care.

In a statement, Columbia Legal Services calls the new funding a “step toward helping keep promises” to foster youth. But it also notes the money “falls far short” of the original request.

The next test for the state will come in February. That’s when a court will review the state’s progress toward meeting the requirements laid out in the Braam settlement.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."