Legislative Update – Supporting Foster Kids and Children’s Rights

http://www.SiritaLaw.com

March 10, 2008

 

Legislative Hotline: 1-800-562-6000

 

FINAL PASSAGE:

 

THE HOUSE REFUSES TO CONCUR WITH THE SENATE:

 

 

ACTION ITEM:

 

Please contact your senators and representatives about HB 3145 and ask that they:

·       Restore to HB 3145 the original pilot project to give greater support, training, and certification to foster parents of high risk children, but:

·       Do not include unionization of foster parents or classification of foster parents as state employees in HB 3145

 

 

UPDATE: The House concurred with the Senate to remove Voluntary Placement Agreements from HB 3205, and gave the bill final passage.  I am glad to see the policy piece make final passage.  It is long overdue.  It is a big achievement worth celebrating.  I am disappointed the VPA piece did not get included.  The VPA battle will continue, but it’s not likely this session.

 

 

UPDATE: The House refused to concur with the Senate amendments to HB 3145.  As you recall, it was the House amended version of 3145 that attempted to unionize foster parents and classify them as state employees.  The Senate removed that provision – and all other provisions – and turned it into a study bill.

 

On the House floor today, Rep. Ruth Kagi, the Chair of the Children’s Services Committee and prime sponsor of the bill, said she agreed that the unionization provision should be removed from the bill, but that the Senate amendment went too far, removing the also the original pilot program.  By refusing to concur with the Senate amendments, the bill goes into a conference committee between Rep. Kagi and Senator James Hargrove, Chair of the Senate Human Services Committee, so that they can work out an agreement.

 

I agree with Rep. Kagi.  I always supported the original bill.  The people who care for children with severe disabilities and severe behavioral problems do need greater support and training.  I want to make it clear, though, that I still do not support the unionization of foster parents.

 

 

 

This session ends Thursday.  Call or e-mail your lawmakers now to support foster kids.

 

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HB 3145 – Tiered licensing for Foster Parents

Status: House refuses to concur with Senate amendments.  Goes to conference committee.

 

ACTION NEEDED:

 

3145 creates a certification and training for a specialized class of foster parents to care for high risk, high needs children.  Some have severe disabilities that require intensive care.  Some have extreme behavior.  Some are sexually aggressive.  These children are the most difficult to work with and require care givers with higher training and support.

 

The original bill gave these foster parents an additional $500 a month and required they have additional training.  I have always supported the original bill.  There is strong bipartisan agreement that the foster parents that give this care are incredible and do need all the support we can give them.

 

 

 

HB 3205 Promoting the long-term well-being of children

Status: FINAL PASSAGE.  On its way to the Governor.

 

This bill requires the department to file a termination of parental rights petition if a child has been in out-of-home care for 15 of the last 22 months.  This was necessary to come into compliance with the Federal Adoption Safe Families Act (ASFA) ’97.

 

Senate Ways & Means amended 3205 to remove the provision that allows voluntary out-of-home placement agreements for adopted foster children in crisis.  The House concurred in the amendments and gave the bill final passage.

 

 

 

HB 2822 – Concerning the family and juvenile court improvement program.

Status: House does not concur with Senate amendments. Goes to conference committee.

 

HB 2822 encourages reform of the family courts by creating a fund that is available to courts that:

 

The Senate changed the funding formula, and the House does not agree.  This is largely technical.  I expect Sen. Hargrove and Rep. Kagi will come to an agreement since they both want to pass this.  No action needed.

 

 

 

HB 2679 – Improve educational outcomes for students in foster care

Status: FINAL PASSAGE.  On its way to the Governor.

 

Directs the school districts to report to the legislature on the educational progress of foster children, and gives schools grant money to create programs to improve their educational outcomes. Grant money may be used for tutoring, counseling, extracurricular activities, school pictures, and yearbooks.  Moms and Dads usually pay for this stuff – but if you don’t have a mom or a dad, you just have to watch other kids get cool things.  This bill helps kids in foster care have a normal childhood.

 

 

 

SB 5010 – Creating a State Park Foster Home Pass

Status: FINAL PASSAGE.  On its way to the Governor.

 

This bill allows foster families and relative caregivers to camp for free in state parks.  The Senate concurred with the House amendments and added 5010 to the Senate budget, to remove the “null and void” clause.  The cost will come entirely out of the Parks budget, not out of DSHS.

 

As a child some of the great experiences of my life were spent camping.  As a foster father, I believe that it can be therapeutic for children that have been abused or neglected.  And it is one of the few bills where you can say the cost is equal to the benefit received by the child.

 

I believe this bill can have a ripple effect in the private sector, by setting a good example.  It’s now time to take this message to private vendors – the Seahawks, the Mariners, the City of Seattle's Seattle Center, the Woodland Park Zoo, etc., and ask them to honor the state park pass card to give a discount to foster families in the same way they do to military ID holders.

 

 

Toll Free Legislative Hotline: 1.800.562.6000

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