Legislative Update – Supporting Foster Kids and Children’s Rights

http://www.SiritaLaw.com

March 13, 2008

 

Last Day of the Legislative Session

 

 

“We often hear about the Good Samaritan, and how he picked somebody out of the ditch, but we never really talk about the innkeeper, where the Good Samaritan brought the person, who was wounded, and left him in the inn and said take care of him until I come back.  That’s really what foster parents are.”

Bill Hinkle, 13th District Representative

Remarks during floor debate on HB 3145 today

 

DELIVERED TO THE GOVERNOR:

 

 

Thank you so much for all the phone calls and e-mail.  You have made such a difference.  This is my last legislative update for this session.  It’s been frantic and at times contentious, but I believe the end result is a good set of bills that I’m happy to say passed unanimous in both houses.  You had a lot to do with that.

 

Some of you are also on my foster parent mailing list.  I send foster families mail about events that their kids might enjoy, and also ask their opinions on policy.  If you are a foster parent, relative caregiver, foster grandparent, or for any other reason you just want on the foster parent mailing list, e-mail me and let me know.

 

I also realized this session that I often have no idea who lives in which district, and this could be helpful when I need a constituent to make a request.  So please e-mail me your district number, which you can find on your voter’s registration card, or can find using the district finder: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder.

 

Thanks again for your support.  It means a lot.

 

 

Don’t know who your representatives are? Click here: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder

All e-mail addresses: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/memberemail

 

Toll Free Legislative Hotline: 1.800.562.6000

 

 

 

SB 6792 – Concerning Dependency Matters

 

The issues in the original bill were not ones that I was tracking, which is why I haven’t mentioned it before.  However, because it has such a broad title, it has been amended with the contents of several other bills.  In particular, I did give testimony on the issue of children speaking in court when it was in another bill.  Some of the provisions of 6792 are:

 

 

I was concerned that the sections on children speaking in court not preclude children under 12 from expressing their views, according to their maturity level, and have those views represented without requiring the child to enter into a court room that could be quite intimidating.  Much of what I suggested did find its way into the final language.

 

Read the bill as passed by the legislature here: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2007-08/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Passed%20Legislature/6792-S.PL.pdf

 

 

 

HB 3145 – Tiered licensing for Foster Parents

 

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.

 

These foster parents will be called “specialized care home providers” receive an additional $500 a month and be required to have additional training.  I think it is significant that the final version of the bill passed unanimous in both the House and Senate, with both sides of the aisle rising to speak in favor of it.

 

We owe a big thank you to Senator Hargrove and Representative Kagi for continuing to work on this bill until the 11th hour to pull out a compromise, and the commitment they both to foster kids.

 

Rep. Ruth Kagi            (360) 786-7910           Kagi.Ruth@leg.wa.gov

Sen. James Hargrove   (360) 786-7646           hargrove.jim@leg.wa.gov

 

Read the bill as passed by the legislature here: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2007-08/Pdf/Bills/House%20Passed%20Legislature/3145-S2.PL.pdf

 

 

 

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

 

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.

 

Read the bill as passed by the legislature here: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2007-08/Pdf/Bills/House%20Passed%20Legislature/3205-S2.PL.pdf

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

Read the bill as passed by the legislature here: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2007-08/Pdf/Bills/House%20Passed%20Legislature/2822-S2.PL.pdf

 

 

 

HB 2679 – Improve educational outcomes for students in foster care

 

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.

 

Read the bill as passed by the legislature here: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2007-08/Pdf/Bills/House%20Passed%20Legislature/2679-S.PL.pdf

 

 

 

SB 5010 – Creating a State Park Foster Home Pass

 

This bill allows foster families and relative caregivers to camp for free in state parks.  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.

 

Read the bill as passed by the legislature here: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2007-08/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Passed%20Legislature/5010-S.PL.pdf

 

 

Toll Free Legislative Hotline: 1.800.562.6000

Find out who are your legislators: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder

E-mail addresses for all lawmakers: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/memberemail