Foster Care Justice Alliance

Defending the Rights of the Child

http://www.FosterJustice.com

 

Legislative Update

February 2, 2009

 

“Every child brought into this world is precious, and deserves to be loved and care for. Unfortunately, many children are harmed or neglected by parents or caregivers. I think we all agree that protecting the safety of children is one of the most basic responsibilities of the state.”

 

Rep. Ruth Kagi, Chair, Early Learning & Children's Services

July 24, 2008

Seattle Times op-ed: Our foster-care system must get better

 

ACTION ITEMS:

 

·       Come to the rally Thursday, Feb. 5, 12 noon at the Capitol Rotunda in Olympia

·       Contact Human Services & Corrections Committee: PLEASE PASS 5431

·       Contact Human Services & Corrections Committee: DO NOT PASS 5653 (see below)

·       Call your district’s legislators:

o      Ask them to support Early Permanency, Continuity of Care, and findings of the Foster Care Justice Alliance Think Tank Report

o      Ask them to restore funding for CASA, Medicare, and other vital services for foster kids

·       Volunteer to be a court observer

 

 

UPDATES

 

SB 5653 Allows public access to foster parents’ private information

Status: Hearing in Human Services & Corrections: Feb. 6, 8:00 AM, Cherberg Building Room 1

 

This bill allows a foster parent’s private information to be available to the public: medical records, financial records, employment history, salary, marital status and history, past and present domestic partners, ethnicity, culture, and neighborhood.

 

This gross invasion of privacy threatens the safety of the children we protect.  Kids enter foster care because of abuse or neglect, usually caused by drug use (70%), alcohol abuse, or mental illness, and often involving violence or criminal activity.  Protecting the child’s whereabouts is vital for their safety.

 

This bill also allows those who wish to obfuscate dependency proceedings to dig up dirt on foster families.  Since the foster parent, not a party to the case, has no right to speak or rebut allegations, this is grossly unfair.  We are not the enemy.  We are not the ones that put the child in dependency.  If return home is the permanency plan, the proper focus of the dependency hearing is the parent’s ability to remove deficiencies and parent the child.

 

Foster parents tell me everyday that they are fed up with the system.  Recruitment and retention are in decline.  This bill will not help.  I believe Senator Roach is sincere in her desire to reform DSHS, but this bill is ill considered.

 

 

ACTION ITEM: Contact all committee members: DO NOT PASS 5653

 

Human Services and Corrections Committee Members:

 

James Hargrove - Chair (D)

(360) 786-7646

hargrove.jim@leg.wa.gov

Debbie Regala - Vice Chair (D)

(360) 786-7652

regala.debbie@leg.wa.gov

Val Stevens - Ranking Minority Member (R)

(360) 786-7676

stevens.val@leg.wa.gov

Dale Brandland (R)

(360) 786-7682

brandland.dale@leg.wa.gov

Mike Carrell (R)

(360) 786-7654

carrell.michael@leg.wa.gov

Claudia Kauffman (D)

(360) 786-7692

kauffman.claudia@leg.wa.gov

Rosemary McAuliffe (D)

(360) 786-7600

mcauliffe.rosemary@leg.wa.gov

 

 

 

 

RALLY IN OLYMPIA – FEB. 5, 12:00 NOON

 

This Thursday, join us at the Capitol Rotunda in Olympia calling for greater accountability from DSHS.  Come join us, show your support, and help get the word out.  We need hundreds of foster parents and other concerned citizens to show up in support of our foster kids.  The press will be there.  We need a big crowd so bring your family, bring your friends, bring homemade signs, or come without signs and help us pass out brochures.  Make an appointment to talk to your representatives and senator.  Join us!

 

 

FOSTER FAMILIES UNDER ATTACK

 

The horror stories continue.  Foster children placed in high risk situations.  Foster parents who complain are subject to retaliation.  We need your support to continue this fight.  Please consider donating to the Foster Care Justice Alliance: http://www.fosterjustice.com/donate/donate.htm.  We are a 501(c)(3) organization.  Donations are tax deductable.

 

We also need volunteers to be impartial court observers.  The purpose is two fold:

 

 

If you can volunteer a couple hours to go to court in your local district, to observe a dependency case, please contact me right away.  We need court observers in every county.

 

 

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

 

http://www.FosterJustice.com

http://www.SiritaLaw.com

Join Us in Facebook: http://apps.facebook.com/causes/202325

 

 

SB 5431 Regarding placement of a child returning to out-of-home care

Status: Hearing in Human Services & Corrections: Feb. 6, 8:00 AM, Cherberg Building Room 1

 

If a child returns home, and then returns to foster care, this bill requires the department to place the child with the same foster family, if the family is willing and available, and in the best interest of the child.

 

ACTION ITEM: Thank Sen. Hargrove for scheduling this bill for a hearing.  All committee members: Please Pass!

 

 

 

 

SB 5510/ HB 1782 Encouraging Early Engagement: Regarding notification in dependency matters

Senate Status: Referred to Human Services & Corrections

House Status: Referred to Early Learning & Children's Services

 

Supported by the Child Welfare Advocacy Coalition

 

Rep. Roger Goodman has just introduced the House version, 1782.  The Senate version, 5510, was introduced by Sen. Stevens.  Neither has been scheduled for a hearing yet.

 

 

Download our position paper here: http://www.fosterjustice.com/leg/Encouraging%20Early%20Engagement%20of%20All%20Parenting%20Resources.doc

 

 

ACTION ITEMS: 

 

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

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

 

 

 

Continuity of Care and the Importance of Psychological Relationships

Status: Not yet introduced

 

We are seeking a statutory right to intervene for visitation, placement, and child safety for children that are languishing in foster care.  Children form very deep bonds, often in the only home they have ever known, and yet the child has no right to maintain that bond.  We have seen children removed from foster homes as retaliation because the foster parent complained about the case – and the foster parent has no recourse to protect the child.  We believe that intervention is a last resort, which may be appropriate in certain circumstances:

 

 

This is a very complex issue.  Read more about it in our think tank report: http://www.FosterJustice.com/leg/FCJA Think Tank Report.doc

 

Download our position paper here: http://www.fosterjustice.com/leg/Continuity%20of%20Care%20and%20Psychological%20Relationships.doc

 

 

ACTION ITEM: Talk to your legislators about the bonds children form in long term foster care, and the importance of psychological parents.  Ask them to support the FCJA Think Tank Report.

 

 

 

 

HB 1183/SB 5609 Concerning legal representation of children in dependency proceedings

House Status: Heard by the Judiciary Committee

Senate Status: Referred to Human Services & Corrections

 

Supported by the Child Welfare Advocacy Coalition

 

Requires the court to determine if a foster child over the age of 12 needs an attorney.  Under current law, a child 12 or older can request an attorney.  Even if a child doesn’t request one, the court can still order one for the child now.  This bill would simply require the court to consider and make a determination.

 

An attorney can help a child stand up for their rights, when they are being moved unnecessarily, or when they haven’t had visitation with siblings.  Foster Justice supports this bill.  But attorneys cost money, and anything that will cost money is going to have a hard time this session.

 

ACTION ITEMS:

Ask Sen. Hargrove to please schedule SB 5609 for a hearing.

Thank Rep. Pedersen for hearing HB 1183 – please PASS! 

 

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

Rep. Jamie Pedersen               (360) 786-7826           pedersen.jamie@leg.wa.gov

 

 

 

 

HB 1607/SB 5477 Visitation rights for grandparents.

House Status: Referred to the Judiciary Committee

Senate Status: Referred to Human Services & Corrections

 

Proposed by GROWS (Grandparents Rights of Washington State)

 

Allows grandparents to petition the court for visitation with a grandchild, if:

 

This is a complex issue that does not relate directly to foster care, however, many of the kids affected by this are foster kids, and many of them would have become foster kids if the grandparents had not stepped in.  Although this bill speaks to any grandparent with a substantial relationship, my main concern is for the grandparents that have become the primary caregivers for years at a time through an informal arrangement, and then lose all contact with the child when the natural parent returns.  There’s no doubt in my mind the child is harmed by that, and it happens far too often.  This ties in to our own proposal for continuity of care, and in fact a representative from GROWS participated in our think tank.

 

ACTION ITEMS:

Ask Sen. Hargrove to please schedule SB 5477 for a hearing.

Ask Rep. Pedersen to please schedule HB 1607 for a hearing. 

 

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

Rep. Jamie Pedersen               (360) 786-7826           pedersen.jamie@leg.wa.gov

 

 

 

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

 

FCJA Facebook Page: http://apps.facebook.com/causes/202325

http://www.FosterJustice.com