We’re excited to have launched a new version of our website in August 2022 and are in the process of adding content from before 2022 to our records. Until then, if you have a question about Stand for Children Washington or the work we do, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Katie Gustainis at [email protected]

To learn more about some of the achievements we’ve made for Washington students, we encourage you to read these news stories about our work:

Gov. Inslee signs bill ending parental fees for incarcerated children – March 25, 2022

Senator Marko Liias: Teams improving on-time grad rates for 9th graders – February 13, 2022

Advocates push to eliminate state fees charged families of incarcerated youths – January 21, 2022

Op-Ed: Teachers must have the tools they need to address racism and its impacts – May 26, 2021

Child care and early learning advocates in Washington state celebrate legislative wins – April 28, 2021

Have you received your ballot for the August 2nd primary election, Katie?

As you cast your vote, I’m writing to ask for your partnership to help us elect champions of education equity and racial justice across Washington state. 

Can you support our electoral efforts with a $10 donation to the Stand for Children Washington PAC?

In Washington, an organization like ours can commit resources to support or oppose candidates if they form what’s called a Political Action Committee, also known as a PAC. The Stand for Children Washington PAC is a separate financial entity that is registered with and regularly reports to the state. There are strict regulations on how much a PAC can contribute to and be in contact with any candidate’s campaign.

Our goal is to support candidates who share our commitment to education equity and racial justice.


Right now we working on identifying candidates to support through our 2022 endorsement process. To receive an endorsement from the PAC, candidates must demonstrate that they are clearly aligned with and supportive of our priorities. 

In an arena dominated by political parties, we strive to remain non-partisan and student-focused. We fearlessly and unapologetically challenge the status quo in pursuit of solutions that will help every student succeed. Will you support us with a $10 donation today?

If you have any questions or want to know more about how to participate in our electoral campaigns, please don’t hesitate to reply to this email. I look forward to sharing our endorsements with you before the General Election in November. Thank you, as always, for your ongoing support. 

Standing with you,


Executive Director

Today is day two of GiveBIG, Washington’s annual collective philanthropy effort. With so many amazing causes to consider, we are grateful for the support we are receiving, which fuels our work to make our state a place where young people from every zip code, racial and gender identity, income and background can learn and nurture their genius in public schools.  

This is our first year participating in GiveBIG, and it is also a time of many firsts and transitions for Stand. We recently rolled out our new and bold articulation of our commitment to being a catalyst for education equity and racial justice statewide. We’re engaging in new bodies of work including youth justice and academic acceleration policy implementation. And we’ve recently welcomed some fantastic new folks to the Stand team.  

Stand’s two newest team members, Carolina Fuentes and Megan Pirie, have offered their reflections about what excites them the most about Stand’s work and mission: 

Megan Pirie, Community Engagement Coordinator

“I joined Stand for Children to share in this necessary work of creating a world where all rights and freedoms are restored and protected. As a previous teen and incarcerated mom who grew up below the poverty line, I struggled to overcome barriers to access education and basic human rights. But as a child I watched my parents attend meetings at the schools and speak out on the difficult topics, modeling leadership for me and my six siblings, including my brother who was diagnosed with Autism in high school. This prepared my siblings and me to become first-generation college graduates, and it equipped me to advocate as the mother of five beautiful black children, four of whom are a part of our family by adoption via the foster system. I am most excited to see and be a part of the youth justice advocacy and anti-racist education work that Stand is doing to eliminate the school to prison pipeline and ensure not just access but supports and success for all children and families.” (Read more about Megan here)

Carolina Fuentes, Stand’s State Operations and Development Coordinator 

“Our education systems need improvement and that must start with ensuring black and brown communities have the needed resources to set students up for success. I joined Stand for Children because I want to improve accessibility to quality educational resources and spaces where children of color feel confident and supported.  I am a proud daughter of immigrant parents who came to this country to secure a better life for themselves and their children. Navigating the school system, I experienced a lack of support in obtaining what would have been helpful resources and mentors for my educational goals. However, I was lucky to have parents who taught me to fight for what I wanted and to be persistent in advocating for my needs, and most importantly made me feel like I was always worthy of the milestones I reached, even if I felt like I perhaps did not belong in the room at the time. Like many children who come from immigrant backgrounds, we often pave our own way and then help guide our parents, siblings, and families through what we have learned. It is not a burden; it’s how we demonstrate that we can all achieve success if someone just shows they care. I look forward to fighting alongside those students, communities, and educators who are here to remind our system-leaders and influencers that they exist, that they can be as successful, that they matter, and that they are the future.” (Read more about Carolina here)

We are grateful for Carolina and Megan for the leadership, expertise and passion they bring to the team.  

Thank you for Standing with us by participating in our first-ever GiveBIG campaign! 

Support us here: https://www.wagives.org/donate/Stand-For-Children-Washington 

Here at Stand for Children we are focused on ensuring all students receive a high quality, relevant education, especially those whose boundless potential is overlooked and under-tapped because of their skin color, zip code, first language, or disability. We are excited to show our support of the Autism community during the month of April, Autism Acceptance Month.  

1 in 44 children in the US is diagnosed on the spectrum – also known as ASD – and 31% of those with ASD will have a developmental disability. This means many families will face the complexities of supporting a loved one who is neurodiverse in our society.   

Stand is committed to advocating in partnership with those on the spectrum and their families. We do this by supporting policies for special education funding, inclusion models, and diversity training for teachers and school staff. We support families and self-advocates to share their stories to promote change in their communities. We are also committed as an organization to learning to be more inclusive in the work we do.  

For Stand, this issue is personal. Here’s what a few of our amazing team members have to say.  

“My younger brother was diagnosed with autism and developmental delays in 1990. We didn’t know any other families with autistic children, and there was so little known about ASD at that time. My parents spent his childhood years searching for needles in the haystack, grasping for anything that might support his unique needs.  

It is so encouraging to see how both understanding and acceptance of autistic people has grown over the past three decades. But we also know there is much more work ahead to ensure that my brother and other autistic people have the support they need to flourish.”

“Autism Acceptance month holds a new meaning for our family this year. Last month, our 13-year-old daughter was diagnosed with ASD level two. The path to diagnosis and access to services was very delayed for her.  She had entered the child welfare system at the age of two. She was an early reader and enjoys reading and music. I felt a sense of shock when our daughter was diagnosed. As I began to research diagnostic patterns for ASD,  I found that studies suggest that girls and women with autism are less likely to be diagnosed with the condition than men. Additionally, black children with autism are more than five times more likely to be misdiagnosed with behavior disorders, more likely to receive delayed diagnosis from doctors, and are more likely to be profiled, abused and harassed by police officers who are not trained in disability or sensitivity training. This was a truth for our daughter. She was diagnosed with an anti-social disorder, suspended from elementary school and threatened by the school resource officers.  Our daughter is dedicated to increasing acceptance for other BIPOC students with ASD to empower them with the supports they need.”

And last but not least, as we close out Autism Acceptance Month, Stand Fellow Devony Audet will also be closing out her time as our Spokane Special Education Fellow. Devony deserves a huge round of applause for the commitment and passion she has brought to this work and to her community.  

In her first blog with Stand, here is what Devony wrote about her commitment to this work:  

“My son has a lot on his shoulders already with his vast medical needs and he shouldn’t have to fight so hard just to get an equitable education. I want to make sure my son and other students like him aren’t falling through the cracks due to being differently abled. I want to make as much difference as I can in Special Education. I am doing everything I can in my district but I want to see how far we can make an impact. The sky is the limit. It is a discussion a lot of people are starting to have and we can make a huge impact!”

Devony has dedicated herself to successfully advocating for students who receive special education services, and helping parents learn how to advocate for their own children. A mother of three unique students with different interests, abilities, and needs, one of whose developmental path is affected by autism, Devony has helped many students like her son have a chance to unlock their full potential. We celebrate Devony for all she’s done to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism!   

How can you promote Autism Acceptance? First, we can all learn something new about autism and how it impacts the lives of those on the spectrum. Here is a link where you can learn more. You can also help advocate with Stand for educational policies that will positively impact those who in our school systems who have ASD. If you are a parent or an individual on the spectrum, you can partner with us to learn how to advocate at the local and state levels. (https://action.stand.org/FI22GpO

And finally, we can all wear blue in support of Autism Acceptance. We would love you to share your pictures wearing blue with us!

PDF Version of Press Release Available Here

Ending “parent pay” – a 2022 Legislative Session priority for Stand for Children – allows Washington to uphold racial equity and help youth successfully transition into adulthood while eliminating a wasteful government policy

 “Parent pay” eliminated following overwhelming bipartisan support in State House and Senate, Governor’s signature

OLYMPIA – Today, the Department of Children Youth and Families (DCYF), Stand for Children, and the Center for Children and Youth Justice applaud Governor Inslee and the Washington State Legislature for adopting HB 2050 and ending “parent pay” in Washington State. Parent pay, which requires families to pay a percentage of their income to support their child’s incarceration, was a barrier to young peoples’ successful transition out of the juvenile system and toward a second chance. The policy had inequitable racial outcomes, created debt for families already struggling financially, and was an inefficient source of revenue for the state.

The coalition of voices that advocated for the elimination of parent pay in Washington applaud the legislation’s prime sponsors Representative Kirsten Harris-Talley and Senator Claire Wilson, as well as Governor Inslee, and the Department of Children Youth and Families. As a result of their leadership, HB 2050 earned broad bipartisan support in the House (85-13) and the Senate (41-6). A direct outcome of HB 2050 will be the ending of an ineffective, expensive, and harmful practice in Washington.

“Just as we support improvements in our education system that help students successfully transition into adulthood, Stand for Children was pleased to support this law, which will enable young people in our state to better transition toward the fresh start they deserve after navigating the juvenile court system,” said Kia Franklin, executive director of Stand for Children Washington. “This law meaningfully mitigates the devastating financial destabilization and debt that follows young people and their families at a time when they should be able to focus on moving forward.”

“DCYF has been working to eliminate practices that are harmful to children and their families, and particularly those practices that are financially stupid,” said Ross Hunter, DCYF Secretary.  “Requiring parents to pay for the incarceration of their children is a prime example – it probably costs more to collect than we bring in and may make it less likely for youth to reunify with their families, destabilizing their transition back to the community. We’re excited the Legislature repealed it!”

“The elimination of ‘Parent Pay’ moves us toward our vision of a more equitable, just, and truly rehabilitative system,” said Rachel Sottile, President & CEO of the Center for Children & Youth Justice. “It is one step in our collective effort to reform the youth criminal legal system; we must remain steadfast in eliminating all fines and fees. They are harmful, counterproductive, and racist. Fines and fees threaten the economic stability of families and entrench youth in a cycle of incarceration.”

Fines and fees in the juvenile system create significant obstacles for families who often become forced to choose between affording basic needs and paying the court. This is especially true for families of color and low-income households, who are disproportionately impacted at every decision point in the juvenile system. By eliminating economic sanctions like parent pay, Washington State is taking steps toward a more just judicial system—one without unnecessary, punitive, and long-term debt for families in crisis.

More than 22 states have taken steps to eliminate all or some juvenile costs, including fees like parent pay. Today, Washington continues to be a key driver in the movement to eliminate all juvenile fees nationwide.

Stand for Children Washington
As a nonprofit advocacy organization active in Washington since 2007, Stand for Children is a unique catalyst for education equity and racial justice, to create a brighter future for us all.


To stay updated on our ongoing efforts to eliminate all youth fines and fees, we’ve created an action alert for you to sign up if you’d like to tell us how you or your family has been personally impacted by juvenile court administrative fees: https://action.stand.org/F2Pj85g

We are almost to the finish line of the 2022 Legislative Session, with a mere six days until Sine Die. Since my last Roll Call, fiscal committees have wrapped their hearings, and today is the last day bills can be voted off the floor in the opposite house. Legislators worked late into the night and will likely do so again this evening to ensure all bills on the floor calendar receive a vote. 

Although session is starting to wind down, a lot can still change in these final days. We are proud to join with our partners at the High School Success Coalition to support three critical provisions in the budget that will help students furthest from opportunity access financial aid and career training. These include bridge grants to cover non-tuition costs such as child care and transportation, student navigators to help with WAFSA/FAFSA completion, and local partnerships between schools, community organizations, and colleges to help students access postsecondary opportunities in their own communities.  


I’ll be focusing on the state budget at our final Monday Action Meeting on March 7, where we’ll walk through what’s still up for debate and contact lawmakers one last time before session concludes. I hope you’ll join me! 

RSVP to our final Monday Action Meeting on March 7

Because so much has happened in the past few days, I have quite a bit of exciting news related to Stand’s 2022 legislative priorities, including: 

  • A bipartisan vote on HB 2050 to repeal parent pay. Late last night, the Senate voted 41-6 to pass HB 2050, which means that parents will no longer be charged for the cost of their child’s incarceration. We are so grateful to our partners at the Department of Children, Youth, and Families, the Center for Children and Youth Justice, and countless others – including so many of you! – who took a stand for young people and their families by supporting this bill.  
  • Senate passage of HB 1664 for more counselors, nurses, and support staff. The Senate also voted 45-2 to pass one of our top priority bills to increase and protect funding for the critical social-emotional supports students need to learn in the classroom. Because of this bill, districts will receive additional funding to hire new staff or contract with organizations. 
  • A flurry of bills passing off the floor that will help our state better serve young people and families. In the Senate, these included HB 1867, which will improve data collection to inform dual credit equity, HB 1834, which grants students excused absences for mental health days, and HB 1153, which will support schools’ engagement with non-English speaking families. Over on the House side, legislators voted to pass SB 5720 to increase financial literacy education, and SB 5657 to offer computer science courses to youth in state institutions. 

Once each chamber wraps floor votes, final negotiations begin. If the House and Senate versions of any bill are substantially different, we’ll see a conference committee appointed to negotiate the final draft. One we will be watching closely is HB 1412, which would provide relief from the debts many people incur while involved in the criminal legal system. The House version included two fees, a DNA collection fee and the Victims’ Penalty Assessment, that are also imposed on youth in the legal system, but these were removed in Senate Ways & Means. We are anxiously waiting to see if these will be added back into the bill as House and Senate leaders finalize the version that will go to the Governor’s desk. 

That’s a wrap for this week. I hope you’ll join me at our Monday Action Meeting on 3/7. For a full recap, I’ll be hosting a Facebook Live event on March 11, the day after session concludes, to give a summary of what did and did not pass. You can RSVP here to join me when we go live. 

Until then, thank you for standing for young people and their families! 

The 2022 Washington State Legislative Session begins next Monday. As we kick off another year of student-focused advocacy, we’re excited to share our top legislative priorities for this short 60-day session:

Download PDF

Our legislative advocacy seeks to achieve our mission by:

  • Leading with the goal of racial equity by targeting policies that prioritize Black and Brown students and their families
  • Promoting proven solutions that are already working in schools and communities

If you haven’t yet, sign-up now to receive weekly action opportunities as a 2022 Stand volunteer.

We’ll keep you updated on the latest in state policy that impacts students and families and provide easy step-by-step instructions on how to make your voice heard by your legislators.