Legislative Update – Supporting Foster Kids and Children’s Rights

http://www.SiritaLaw.com

January 24, 2008

 

Toll Free Legislative Hotline: 1.800.562.6000

Find Your Legislators: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/Default.aspx

 

 

Thank you to everyone that helped to pass Sirita’s Law last year.  That was a great victory, but the fight for children’s rights is on-going.  Some of the issues are unfinished business from last session, and some are new.

 

Already it is the second week of the legislative session.  This will be a short session, so it is all the more critical that you call your legislators now in support of our foster kids.

 

Thank you again.  You are making a difference.

 

- Gary

 

 

SB 5909 - Supporting the needs of children who have been in foster care.

Prime Sponsor – Sen. Marilyn Rasmussen.     Status: On the Senate Floor.

 

SB 5909 made it to the Senate floor last session but did not get off before the end of session.  It was restored to that status and made eligible for final reading.

Sen. Paull Shin said he would offer a floor amendment to restore the language that creates Individual Development Accounts (IDA) for foster children that can be used for college, starting a business, buying a house, etc., and allows foster parents and other interested persons to make contributions to those account.  The provision for IDA accounts was originally added by Sen. Hargrove in the Human Services Committee, but it was removed when the bill reached the floor.  (Senator Shin is a long time supporter of foster children and adoptees.  His personal story is also amazing: http://famous.adoption.com/famous/shin-paull-h.html.)

 

Action Needed:

 

Senate Rules Committee:

Rosa Franklin - Vice Chair (D)

Karen Keiser (D)

Cheryl Pflug (R)

Mike Hewitt - Ranking Minority Member (R)

Adam Kline (D)

Debbie Regala (D)

Lisa Brown (D)

Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D)

Mark Schoesler (R)

Tracey Eide (D)

Rosemary McAuliffe (D)

Harriet Spanel (D)

Karen Fraser (D)

Ed Murray (D)

Val Stevens (R)

Mary Margaret Haugen (D)

Linda Evans Parlette (R)

Joseph Zarelli (R)

 

 

 

SHB 2075 - Concerning termination of parental rights petitions.

Prime Sponsor – Rep. Bill Hinkle.     Status: Referred to Appropriations.

 

The substitute bill says that if a parent has known that he/she has a child in foster care, has had services available, and has not had contact with the child in a year or has declined to be a placement option, that this is a factor that can be considered when terminating parental rights.

 

This bill is also left over from the Sirita Law legislation from last session.  It made to Appropriations where it has been reinstated this session.

 

Action Needed:

 

House Appropriations Committee:

Helen Sommers - Chair (D)

Bill Grant (D)

Jim McIntire (D)

Hans Dunshee - Vice Chair (D)

Tami Green (D)

Dawn Morrell (D)

Gary Alexander - Ranking Minority Member (R)

Kathy Haigh (D)

Eric Pettigrew (D)

Barbara Bailey - Asst Ranking Minority Member (R)

Bill Hinkle (R)

Skip Priest (R)

Larry Haler - Asst Ranking Minority Member (R)

Sam Hunt (D)

Charles Ross (R)

Glenn Anderson (R)

Ross Hunter (D)

Joe Schmick (R)

Bruce Chandler (R)

Ruth Kagi (D)

Shay Schual-Berke (D)

Eileen Cody (D)

Phyllis Kenney (D)

Larry Seaquist (D)

Steve Conway (D)

Lynn Kessler (D)

Pat Sullivan (D)

Jeannie Darneille (D)

Joel Kretz (R)

Maureen Walsh (R)

Mark Ericks (D)

Kelli Linville (D)

 

Bill Fromhold (D)

Joyce McDonald (R)

 

 

 

HB 1560 - Establishing a pilot program to provide preschool tuition scholarships for children in foster care.

Prime Sponsor – Rep. Pat Sullivan.    Status: Early Learning & Children's Services.

 

Education and early intervention are powerful tools that can help heal children that have been victims of abuse or neglect.  Two legislative sessions in a row have enacted college cash for foster kids legislation – yet 73% of foster youth don’t graduate from high school, and the bill to support preschool couldn’t make it out of committee.  However, that means that HB 1560 starts this session already in committee having already had a hearing, so we have a fresh chance to pass it this session.

 

Action Needed:

 

 

 

Other Issues:

 

These issues do not yet have bill sponsorship.  Ask your legislators for support.

 

 

Why this is needed: State and Federal law giving foster parents the right to be heard at all hearings is being abridged in some courts, holding that:

 

Foster parents are not attorneys versed in notification rules or how to file court documents, and very often did not receive themselves the legally required 10 days notification in advance of the hearing.

 

 

 

Why this is needed: Constituents need help but are afraid they may be violating confidentiality when they turn to their elected representative.  Current law that allows them to contact the Governor’s Ombudsman should be expanded to allow each legislator to understand what is happening in their own district.

 

 

 

Why this is needed: Getting help for your foster child takes years.  The only professionals that take medical coupons are typically agencies that employ inexperienced interns, such as Compass Health.  The counselors rotate out, so that children ironically diagnosed with attachment disorder are forced to constantly change counselors.

 

Those professionals that achieve notable success start their own private practice and do not take medical coupons.

 

The public clinics, used by DSHS dedicated to particular spectrum disorders, such as ADHD or Autism, only accept children who exhibit all behaviors in the spectrum.  This neglects children who need help but may not exhibit all the behaviors.  It is particularly difficult when a child has a complicated presentation of multiple issues.  Parents who need help aren’t getting it.

 

The rate assessment form is not broad enough to cover common disorders.  It is inconsistently interpreted throughout the state, so the rate is in part based on the open mindedness of the social worker.