Archive for March, 2009

Children’s Home Society of Washington Update

posted by Dr. James G. Hood
Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Children’s Home Society sends legislative updates out on a weekly basis during session. The updates will cover bills affecting children and families, however, not every bill that is introduced will be included in the updates! If there are bills you are interested in that are not included, please let them know. You can visit their website at www.childrenshomesociety.org.

Also, the positions identified are those of Children’s Home Society of Washington (CHSW) and/or The Mockingbird Society (MSB). If a position has not been taken, none will be identified. The “action needed” section is based on the recommendation of CHSW and/or MBS as well.

FOSTER CARE/KINSHIP CARE/ADOPTION


HB2629
: An act relating to making corrections to update the law regarding adoption petitions

Sponsored by Representative Kelley

House Bill 2629 updates the law regarding adoption petitions to be consistent with a federal language change to the Service Members Civil Relief Act of 2003.

New! Status: HB2629 was exec’d out of the Senate Human Services and Corrections and will go to Rules.

Position/Action needed: Support.

HB2680: An act relating to implementing a guardianship program

Sponsored by Representative Roberts

House Bill 2680 establishes guardianship as a permanency option for children in foster care through the appointment of a guardian and dismissal of dependency. The bill specifies the requirements of establishing, modifying and terminating a guardianship. Guardians who are licensed foster parents and have fostered a child for at least six months are eligible to receive a guardianship subsidy. The department is directed to waive non-safety standards for relatives that seek to become licensed foster parents when this action is determined to be in the best interest of the child.

Substitute: The substitute:

Clarifies that the proceedings to establish a guardianship or convert a dependency guardianship are a stage in the dependency process (for the purpose of the right to counsel for indigent parents);

Specifies that a child 12 and over is a party to the guardianship proceeding;

Authorizes the conversion of a dependency guardianship to a guardianship;

Directs the court to dismiss the dependency when a guardianship is established and removes the provision requiring the DSHS to petition the court for dismissal of the dependency;

Limits the guardianship subsidy program to relatives; and

Directs DSHS, when licensing relatives intending to be appointed as guardians and eligible for a guardianship subsidy to waive nonsafety licensing standards; use the ASFA list of disqualifying crimes rather than the secretary’s list – unless use of the ASFA list compromises the child’s safety or jeopardizes the receipt of federal funding for child welfare.

Striking amendment in HSC: The HSC Committee made two changes – they inserted language in the intent section stating that parents should not be pressured into agreeing to a guardianship; and they struck language related to the need for a guardian to agree that the parent is now fit to parent in order to have the guardianship dismissed.

New! Status: HB2680 was amended and passed by the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee. The bill was referred by the HSC Committee to the Rules Committee.

Position/Action needed: Support Contact your Senator if on the Human Services and Corrections Committee to thank for his/her support. Contact your Senator if on Rules and ask if he/she could pull the bill.

HB2722: An act relating to persons appointed by the court to provide information in family law and adoptions cases

Sponsored by Representative Goodman

House Bill 2722 specifies the court’s responsibility (within each county) to direct who will pay the fees of a guardian ad litem or attorney in family law and adoption cases. Additionally, the bill adds court-appointed special advocates and other court-appointed “investigators” as able to complete an investigation and report concerning parenting arrangements for a child.

Amendment: The bill was amended to state that if the adoption is part of a dependency proceeding involving a minor parent, the court in the adoption proceeding may rely on a report from the attorney or GAL appointed in the dependency proceeding.

New! Status: HB2722 was exec’d by the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee and is headed to Rules.

Position/Action needed: Support.

HB2735: An act relating to the representation of children in dependency matters

Sponsored by Representative Goodman

House Bill 2735 directs the department, supervising agency and guardian ad litem of a dependent child at least 12 years old to notify this child of his or her right to request counsel, and ask the child whether or not he or she wishes to have counsel. The court is then directed to inquire whether a child, at least 12 years old in a dependency proceeding, received notice of his or her right to request legal counsel.

New! Status: HB2735 was passed by the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee and referred to Rules.

Position/Action needed: Support. Contact your Senator if on the HSC committee to thank for their support. Contact your Senator if on the Rules committee and ask that he/she pull the bill.

SB6416: An act relating to relatives in dependency proceedings

Sponsored by Sen. Roach

Senate Bill 6416 gives a relative, with the consent of the parent of removal, the right to be heard in court when a child who has been placed with the relative for 12 months or more is being removed from the relative’s care by the department or supervising agency. The right includes the right to be represented by counsel at the relative’s expense, and the right to cross-examine witnesses on the issue of placement. The relative shall have 72 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) to petition for standing from the time the decision was made, or from the time the child was removed in an alleged emergency basis. For the purpose of this bill relative is defined as grandparent, aunt, uncle or sibling of the child.

Substitute: The substitute bill allows a relative to file a petition to be heard on the issue of the removal of a dependent child from their care. The relative has ten business days from the date of removal, or when the relative learns of the removal, whichever is later, to file the petition. The relative may call and cross examine witnesses at the hearing on the petition. The relative’s ability to file a petition does not grant them party status in the underlying dependency. When a parent requests that his or her child be placed with a relative, there is a presumption that such placement is in the child’s best interests.

ELCS Committee Amendment: The amendment removes the provisions creating a legal presumption that a parent’s request for relative placement is in the child’s best interests, and shifting the burden of proof to the DSHS to overcome that presumption by a preponderance of the evidence. The provision relating to the right to petition to be heard on the issue of changing the placement of a dependent child who has resided with a caregiver for 12 or more continuous months is expanded to grant that right to licensed foster parents and other suitable persons with whom a child has been placed. The requirements for filing a petition to be heard no longer include the requirement that the child’s parent consent to the filing of the petition. At the hearing on the issue of changing the child’s placement, the caregiver may not cross examine witnesses.

General Government Committee Amendment: This amendment states that a foster parent or other suitable person is eligible to be heard, unless the child is to be returned home, or to another permanent placement identified by the department.

New! Status: SB6416 was amended and passed by the House Early Learning and Chidlren’s Services Committee and the House General Govt Appropriations Committee. It should now go to Rules.

Position/Action needed: Support. Contact your Rep if on the ELCS committee to thank for his/her support. Contact your Rep if on the General Govt committee to thank (please note: Reps Klippert and Armstrong voted no) for his/her support.

SB6469: An act relating to filling vacancies on the racial disproportionality advisory committee

Sponsored by Sen. Kauffman

Senate Bill 6469 states that, “In the event a member of the advisory committee resigns, the authority that selected that member shall appoint his or her successor.” The bill also terminates the Committee June 30, 2014.

Substitute: The substitute bill does not change the intent; it simply clarifies the language.

No change! Status: SB6469 was pulled from Rules but did not come up on the Senate floor for a vote. Therefore the bill is dead.

Position/Action needed: Support. No action at this time.

SB6470: An act relating to the burdens of proof required in dependency matters affecting Indian children

Sponsored by Sen. Kauffman

Senate Bill 6470 adds the following language to existing statute related to court ordered dispositions in dependency matters: The court may not order an Indian child, as defined in 25 USC Sec 1903, to be removed from his or her home unless the court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, including testimony of expert witnesses, that the continued custody of the child by the parent is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child.

Further, when placing an Indian child in out of home care, the bill gives preference to relatives, an Indian family of the same tribe as the child, an Indian family of a Washington Indian tribe of a similar culture to that tribe, or any other family which can provide a suitable home for an Indian child (such suitability to be determined through consultation with a local Indian child welfare advisory committee).

SB6470 identifies circumstances under which courts may enter an order terminating all parental rights to an Indian child as those where the court has found that the allegations are proved beyond a reasonable doubt and that the continued custody of the child by the parent is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child.

Substitute: The substitute bill adds specific language from the Indian Child Welfare Act regarding the placement of an Indian child in foster care and the termination of parental rights to a child.

New! Status: SB6470 was passed by the House Judiciary committee and is now in Rules.

Position/Action needed: Support.

SB6832: An act relating to the implementation of child welfare services through performance-based contracts… [this bill has a very long, tight title]

Sponsored by Sen. Hargrove

SB6832 makes the following changes to HB2106 passed in 2009:

Directs the Transformation Design Committee (TDC) to add a foster youth representative to the committee
Changes the date that the TDC shall prepare a plan for full implementation of the law from June 30, 2010 to Dec 30, 2012
Modifies the definition of supervising agency

Changes the date for conversion of child welfare contracts to performance based contracts from Jan 2011 to July 1, 2011
Requires that the conversion to performance-based contracts not jeopardize federal funding opportunities
Changes the required date for the delivery of child welfare services by private agencies and demonstration sites from July 1, 2012 to December 30, 2012
Requires that the department give primary preference for performance based contracts to private nonprofit entities, including federally recognized Indian tribes located in this state, who otherwise meet the definition of supervising agency.
Requires that in any continuation or expansion of delivery of child welfare services purchased through the use of performance based contracts, private nonprofit entities, federally recognized Indian tribes located in his state, and state employees shall receive primary preference over private for profit entities.
Clarifies the definition of an Indian tribe (federally recognized, in Washington state)
Specifies that the state is allowed to provide child welfare services after December 30, 2012 for families in the demonstration sites, for the purpose of “establishing a control or comparison group” to compare the performance of agencies for the WSIPP evaluation
New! Status: SB6832 was passed by the House Early Learning and Children’s Services Committee with one amendment and is now in Rules.

Position/Action needed: Support. Contact your Rep if on the ELCS committee and thank for his/her support. Contact your Rep if on House Rules and ask that he/she pull the bill.

SB6730: An act relating to child welfare

Sponsored by Senator Becker

Senate Bill 6730 requires DSHS to do the following in regards to child welfare services:

· Inform the parent, verbally and in writing, what relatives the Children’s Administration has considered for placement and what the outcome was of that consideration

· Provide a care provider who is currently caring for a dependent child with a minimum of five days’ written notice of the department’s or supervising agency’s intent to remove a child from the home of the care provider (unless there is an imminent risk of harm to the child if the removal does not occur before the five-day period.)

· Establish and maintain one or more culturally diverse and responsive child protection teams in each administrative region of the children’s administration.

· Excludes Guardian ad litem’s from conducting investigations into child abuse or neglect allegations for clients when this may run parallel to investigations by DSHS

Substitute: The substitute bill:

Specifies that DSHS or a supervising agency must inform a relative within ten business days what relatives the agency has considered for placement and the outcome of that consideration.

Requires that if DSHS or the supervising agency does not recommend placement with a relative who was willing and available to be a placement, they must inform the relative within ten business days, why it is not recommended the child be placed with that relative.

Adds exceptions to the minimum five days written notice for removal of a child from a care provider to include circumstances where:

o A court order has been entered requiring an immediate change in placement

o The child is being returned home

o The child is residing in a receiving or group home

Eliminates language establishing one or more culturally diverse and responsive child protection teams in each administrative region

Adds a requirement: If the relative is the subject of a child abuse or neglect referral, DSHS must meet with the relative in person to explain the nature of the allegations and provide the relative an opportunity to respond to the allegations. Clarifies that neither DSHS nor a supervising agency may remove a child from the relative’s care unless DSHS has made a finding that:

o The relative has abused or neglected the child

o The relative has clearly violated a court order

o The child is at imminent risk of harm if removal does not occur

o A court order has been entered moving the child to a different placement

o The child is returned home

Establishes specific circumstances allowing a relative of a dependent child to petition the juvenile court to be heard on a DSHS or a supervising agency’s decision to remove the child from relative’s care. The relative has the right to be represented by counsel (at his or her own expense) and may call and cross-examine witnesses at the hearing.

House Committee Amendment: The ELCS committee amended the bill to do the following:

Requires the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to provide relative caregivers and other suitable persons with whom a child has been placed and resided for 90 or more days with the same five-day prior notice as required for foster parents when a child’s placement is being changed.

Requires the DSHS and the court to consider written information about the child submitted by persons who have a significant relationship with the child and persons who have provided care to the child within the 12 months preceding a hearing on changing the child’s placement.

Directs the DSHS to report annually regarding placement changes for children who have resided in the home of a foster family, relative caregiver, or other suitable person for 12 consecutive months or longer.

Clarifies the investigative duties of a guardian ad litem in dependency and termination cases.

New! Status: SB6730 was passed by the House Early Learning and Children’s Services Committee; and heard and passed by the House Health and Human Services Approps. The bill should now go to Rules.

Position/Action needed: Support.

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Do’s and Don’ts When Talking to Children About Dental Treatment

posted by Dr. James G. Hood
Monday, March 9, 2009

Please be careful with what you say when discussing dental treatment with your child.  If only positive language is used prior to and during treatment, the child is much more likely to have a favorable experience in our office.  By all means, don’t say “hurt” or “won’t hurt.” These statements will register only the word “hurt” in a child’s mind. Be honest, but deliberately use only positive words.

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