Support families of incarcerated children

Legislation | 01/13/2022

Katie Gustainis
Marketing & Communications Director, Stand for Children Washington

Under current Washington law, families of young people who are incarcerated are charged a percentage of their income for the cost of their child's support, treatment, and confinement in juvenile rehabilitation residential facilities.

This practice of "Parent Pay" is ineffective, outdated, and inequitable. 

Will you write your legislators now to share your support of SB 5535 and ending "Parent Pay"? 


Fines and fees charged to young people moving through the criminal legal system further separates them from education, career training, and support. That's why it's one of our top priorities in 2022 to eliminate Parent Pay and other fines and fees.

When passed, SB 5535 will:

  • Repeal RCW 13.40.220 (the Parent Pay statute).
  • Cancel outstanding parent debts.
  • End pending legal or administrative proceedings against parents.
  • Provide outstanding debts reported to a collection agency are to be recalled, terminated, and considered paid in full.
  • Provide that moneys already collected before the effective date will not be refunded. 

IT'S INEFFECTIVE: Currently, the Department of Children, Youth, and Families has budgeted $1.9 million to be charged to families per biennium, but they collect less than 25% of that amount. 

IT'S OUTDATED: Research is clear that fines and fees undermine the rehabilitative purpose of Washington's juvenile legal system. Higher fees are associated with longer and deeper involvement in the juvenile and adult legal systems.

IT'S INEQUITABLE: This unnecessary fine places a substantial burden on families and young people, and disproportionately impacts families of color and those who are low-income. Two-thirds of the population in the Juvenile Rehabilitation system include youth who are Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC), resulting in a disproportionate number of BIPOC families impacted by this law.

The Department of Children, Youth, and Families is ready to end Parent Pay and we are too. We need to support young people towards a future in their communities, not collecting fees from families who are struggling to stay on their feet.

Thank you for joining us in this movement to support students and families as they pursue their dreams. Send your email now and make your voice heard.


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