The legislative session is back on and in full swing. There are several issues and bills we are watching and tracking this year.
If you would like to receive notices about what is happening with bills, you can go to the Utah Legislature website, search for any bill and track it by clicking the tracking button on the right hand side of the page. The website will send you emails when the status of the bill changes.
The bills we are watching are all listed below. Keep in mind the list is not static. It changes constantly. We work hard to stay on top of issues that may affect your family and we appreciate all you do to keep track and advocate for your family.
Some things I want to highlight:
We continue to advocate for an increase in the foster parent reimbursement rate. We are very hopeful this year!
The Grandparent Rights bill HB0289 is back AGAIN. It can be exhausting to keep fighting this bill year after year after year after interim after veto after year. But that is absolutely the sponsor’s strategy. The moment we stop advocating against this because we are tired is the moment it will pass. This bill, if you are not familiar with it from last year would, under certain circumstances, allow biological grandparents to petition the court for visitation with children after they have been adopted.
We are opposed to this bill. Again.
A couple of years ago, a law was implemented that had an unintended consequence for foster families. The Office of Licensing reached out to is to let us know the consequence of the law. Briefly, the law would mean that in all circumstances when children in care were left for any amount of time with ANY other caregiver, the substitute caregiver would need to have a finger-printed background check.
This would be a nightmare for foster families. Think of all the informal times when others take care of your kids, carpooling, scouts, grandparents babysitting, neighborhood babysitters, playgroups, etc. It would have been very very bad indeed.
Foster Families of Utah met with the original sponsor of the legislation and asked for an exemption. The sponsor was receptive and that exemption is HB0185. It passed through committee unanimously and passed the Housee of Representatives, also unanimously. It will be introduced in the Senate soon.
The bill did require the the Office of Licensing and DCFS define “incidental care” very precisely and that will have some impact for us. It defines incidental as fewer than 5 hours. It will mean that when you require care for your children in foster care that is over 5 hours, that provider of care will need a background check. We believe that is a reasonable standard and not so diferent from what we already do.
Other bills we are watching:
HB0072 Child Welfare Proceedings Amendments
This bill closes a loophole and requires a certain timeframe for hearings when there are no reunification services and termination is the plan. We support the bill.
HB0073 Child Placement Amendments
Requires DCFS to look for felonies before placing kids.
HB0101 Adoptive Studies and Evaluations Amendments
Changes some requirements for home studies.
HB0131 Child Placement Provisions
This bill changes priorities and preferences for families for placement. We have concerns about this bill.
HB0145 Foster Children Visitation Amendments
This bill talks about a sibling’s right for visitation with other siblings in other settings. While we think the intention of this bill is good, we have concerns about how this could affect biological and adoptive families after adoption or after permanency is established.
HCR010 Concurrent Resolution Encouraging Identification and Support of Traumatic Childhood Experiences Survivors
SB0075 Child Welfare Amendments
Establishes “Child Protection Units”
SB0085 Amendments to Child Welfare
This bill would allow for a child or children to return to a foster home if they re-enter care even if the foster home is at capacity with their license. We support this bill.
Disclaimer: I’m doing this on my phone from the legislature. Please forgive any mistakes. Also forgive my inadequate descriptions and feel free to further clarify or disagree!
Call if you have questions or would like to become involved. 801-252-5395