Performance-Based Contracting at the Washington Department of Children, Youth, and Families

In July 2017, Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1661, which combined the Department of Early Learning, the Children’s Administration, and the Office of Juvenile Justice (officially joined in July 2019) into the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF). In an effort to improve outcomes for children and families, House Bill 1661 also required that the new agency shift all of its contracts for client services to be performance-based, with a focus on quality or outcomes.   

With support from Ballmer Group, Third Sector has been working alongside DCYF staff to implement Performance-Based Contracting (PBC) standards across the agency’s more than 1,200 contracts for client services, representing approximately $1B in biennial spending. With this effort, DCYF is focusing on the opportunity to use contractor performance data to improve services for clients and achieve improved outcomes for communities.

Throughout the project, Third Sector has provided technical assistance to help DCYF:

  • Develop the strategic vision, methodology, and governance structures for agency-wide implementation of PBC
  • Assist the first cohort of DCYF programs to adopt PBC, including support for quantitative data analysis, stakeholder engagement, creation of performance targets & incentive structures and building continuous improvement processes
  • Develop resources and strategic communications to support the agency-wide transition to PBC, including a training curriculum for DCYF staff


Third Sector’s work with the Washington Department of Children Youth and Families is supported by a grant from Ballmer Group.