Foster Care Justice Alliance

Defending the Rights of the Child

http://www.FosterJustice.com

 

Legislative Update

January 28, 2009

 

“DSHS has no standards for where they place children. They have no conscience when leaving a child in harms way (black eyes and guns). They are completely out of touch with the thinking of ‘normal’ people and they really are not accountable to anyone so make no one accountable to them. The ones at the top do not discipline poor performance of DSHS employees or contracted agencies and pass off decision making to those lower on the totem pole.”

Senator Pam Roach, 31st District

August 28, 2008

Pam Roach Report, Blogspot

 

ACTION ITEMS:

 

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

·       Call your 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

 

THE BUDGET

 

The budget is the big story this session.  There is a $6 billion deficit.  As required by law, the governor delivered a balanced budget to the legislature – balanced by slashing vital services, such as the Washington State CASA, Foster Care Health Centers, housing assistance for foster care youth aging out of the system, and Medicare treatment.  Bill introductions have been much slower this session; anything that costs money is unlikely to get much support.  Hard choices have to be made.  The challenge this session is to hang onto funding for those things that are vital.

 

 

THINK TANK REPORT

 

On November 1st, 2008, we brought together experts in law, mental health, attachment, and child welfare to discuss foster care and make specific policy recommendations.  The report can be downloaded from our website, http://www.FosterJustice.com/leg/FCJA Think Tank Report.doc.

 

The report has been published and distributed, the legislative session is underway, and the first legislation proposed by us since incorporating has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Val Stevens, 39th District.

 

 

RALLY IN OLYMPIA – FEB. 5, 12:00 NOON

 

Next Wednesday, we are joining Senator Pam Roach at the Capitol Rotunda in Olympia in a rally 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.  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.  I have to echo what Senator Roach said in the quote above; some decisions defy the logic that any normal thinking person would have.  We need your support to continue this fight.  Please consider donating to the Foster Care Justice Alliance.  We are a 501(c)(3) organization.  Donations are tax deductable.

 

We also need volunteers to be impartial court observers.  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

Find Me in Facebook: http://apps.facebook.com/causes/202325

 

 

 

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

Status: Referred to Human Services & Corrections

 

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. Stevens for sponsoring this bill and thank Sen. Hargrove and the entire Senate Committee for co-sponsoring it!  When the all the committee members sign on as co-sponsors, that’s usually a pretty good indication a bill will pass the committee.  Great first start for the first FCJA bill.  Ask Sen. Hargrove to please schedule this bill for a hearing.

 

Senator Val Stevens                (360) 786-7676           stevens.val@leg.wa.gov

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

 

 

 

 

SB 5510 Encouraging Early Engagement: Regarding notification in dependency matters

Status: Referred to Human Services & Corrections

 

Supported by the Child Welfare Advocacy Coalition

 

 

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

 

 

ACTION ITEM: Thank Sen. Stevens for sponsoring this bill and thank Sen. Hargrove, Sen. Swecker, and Sen. Shin for co-sponsoring it!  Thank the senators, and ask Sen. Hargrove to please schedule it for a hearing.

 

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

Senator Paull Shin                   (360) 786-7640           shin.paull@leg.wa.gov

Senator Val Stevens                (360) 786-7676           stevens.val@leg.wa.gov

Senator Dan Swecker              (360) 786-7638           swecker.dan@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