FREE and Discount Summer Acting Classes for Foster Youth

Acting 4 Reel is a new amazing acting studio (Sandy, UT) offering weekly and summer acting classes that focuses on the realm of TV and movie acting.  The owner, Coral Chambers, reached out to us and is offering DISCOUNTS and FREEBIES for foster youth and children of foster parents. I have attached some great information that better explains the program.
thumbnail_Summer Camp

There are also openings for ANYONE interested in attending.  Her classes start as young as 10 years old and up (adults, too!).  She is offering 15 scholarships for foster youth in the 10-18 range.  She is also offering a 20 dollar discount (monthly classes) for bio/adopted children of foster/kinship families.

If you would like to know more about this offer and see if it is a good fit for your child, then please join her for a free event in May.  It is an opportunity to see the studio (which looks so fun!) and to ask any questions you may have.  No obligation, just a time to chat. She will go over the following:
(1) 3 E’s (Essence, Esteem, & Ego)
(2) Strong Stance or Super Hero Stance and the Benefits
(3) SMA or Social Media Apocalypse: The act of deadening the human condition due to lack of interaction and personal connection. Acting 4 Reel fosters the art of human connection, and inspires a person to take courage in discovering their value through the art of entertainment.
(4) Acting 4 Reel VS Acting out
She will be offering this free event on the these dates and times:
Wednesday, May 24th, 2017 at 7pm
Thursday, May 25th, 2017  at 7pm
Saturday, May 27th, 2017 at 2pm
Please click on the following link to fill out the RSVP form.
It is not necessary to attend the event in order to register your child – but – the scholarships are limited and will go FAST! – I would recommend you attend the event or call her beforehand in order to be considered for the scholarship and/or discount.
Her contact information:
Coral Chambers
Owner/Creator; Acting 4 Reel
8757 S State St
Sandy UT, 84094
Advertisements

2017 Utah Legislation Updates

Two of the most newsworthy outcomes from Utah’s recent legislative session which greatly affect foster families are:

  • A {positive} change to reimbursement rates, and
  • The death of HB 289, also known as the “Grandparents Rights Bill.”

A huge shout out to Foster Families of Utah’s Laurieann Thorpe for once again personally advocating for an increase in foster parent’s reimbursement rates!  Foster parents have not received an increase in reimbursement rates since 2009 and members of the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee voted in favor of giving Utah’s foster parents a 10% increase in reimbursement rates.  This change will be effective July 1, 2017 and applies to families providing Levels 1, 2, and 3 Care through DCFS.

HB 289– Grandparent Visitation Amendments, did NOT pass, due in large part to the number of foster families who contacted their representatives in opposition to the bill.

You can read the full text of HB 289 by clicking here: http://le.utah.gov/~2017/bills/static/HB0289.html

In summary, if this bill would have passed, it would have made it possible for the biological grandparents of children who have been adopted by a relative [after parental rights had been terminated] to file a petition for visitation rights.   Some of the concerns foster parents shared regarding this bill were expressed in the previous post.

Although a version of HB 289 was vetoed by Governor Herbert last year (2016) and it did not pass again this year as the senate cosponsor withdrew his support, it will most likely be sponsored and heard again next year.  HB 289 has been limited to adoptions by family members, but it has the potential to set a precedent for ALL adoptions, so if you have concerns or strong opinions about this bill, be prepared to make your voice heard at next year’s Legislative Session!

A couple of other bills were passed which will be of benefit to Utah’s foster parents including:

SB 0085– Because this bill was passed, foster parents will be able to take in a child (or children) who was previously placed in their home even if one’s license is at capacity.  Thank you to DCFS’s Tanya Albornoz  for advocating for this bill!  Common sense and research show the importance of stability in a child’s life and this bill will be of great benefit to children who come back into care by preventing them from being moved to yet another unfamiliar setting.

HB 0185 Because of this exemption to a licensing law in 2015, foster parents do not have to have background checks on every person who is left alone with their child for any amount of time (babysitters, neighbors, scout leaders, grandparents, etc.).  The Office of Licensing and DCFS have reminded us that when foster parents require care for your children in foster care that is over five hours, that provider of care will need a background check.  It is great to network with other foster families who have already been background checked when it comes to babysitting or respite!

As always, Foster Families of Utah will keep you updated on any bills affecting foster families and the children in our care and will provide you with information on how to become more involved in advocacy efforts.  If you would like to be more involved in advocacy with the legislature, please contact us at fosterfamiliesofutah@gmail.com or 801 252-5395.

Grandparents’ Rights Circa 2017

Thanks you to those of you who have been following and working against this year’s version of the Grandparents’ Rights bill HB0289. (If you look at the bill, be sure to read the text of the second substitute as that is the bill curently under consideration.)

URGENT as I was composing this, the bill sponsor managed to get the bill on the 3rd reading calendar for the House Floor. That is unheard of! We need to mobilize and before Monday if we want to get to our representatives before they likely vote on it on Monday!

This morning it passed the House Judicial Committee. Before becoming law, it will need to pass on the house floor, a senate committee hearing, and on the senate floor. So there is still a great deal we can do!

I thought it would be helpful to give you the nitty gritty of what the bill does. You are under no obligation to oppose the bill like we do but we think it is a very bad bill and sets a terrible precedent for adoptive families.

Like last year, the scope of the bill is limited to cases where parental rights have been terminated and a relative has adopted the child, “relative” is limited to an aunt, uncle, or grandparent. 

This year the bill says that for those cases, for adoptions that are finalized after October 1, 2017, grandparents can file a petition for visitation one time but it must be before the adoption is finalized. 

ALL adoptions finalized BEFORE October 1, 2017 (again under those relative and termination guidelines) are also subject to one petition for visitation from biological grandparents. 

Here are the problems I have with that (feel free to use any of this when you call or write your legislators):

  • Adoptions that are finalized should be FINAL and not open to any kind of petition after the fact. Families need to know what they are getting into prior to finalization, not years down the line.
  • Petitions after October have to be resolved before adoption is completed which means adoptions will be delayed because of these petitions.
  • Biological family members who adopt a child are the BEST judges of who can safely be in a child’s life. 
  • Parents shouldn’t have different rights because they are related or because they adopted their child.
  • Adoptive parents should not be subject to the legal costs associated with fighting these petitions.
  • Grandparents are often more financially able to incur legal fees where young parents may not be.
  • There is Utah Supreme Court precedent that rules this bill unconstitutional. Utah Supreme Court Harbinger v. Scott, 2004 paragraph 17.

Please find out who your representatives are and call or email them immediately if you have concerns about this bill!

At le.utah.gov, you can look up who your representatives are and their emails and phone numbers. Focus on your representative in the House of Representatives for now but get ready to call your senator if this passes on Monday!

There is one more option of how to impact the bill and it is to go

To the state capitol and send a note in to the house floor requesting your representative come out and speak to you. Then you can talk to them in person about the bill and your concerns. If you want to do that, let me know and I can walk you through the process.

Every voice matters! Last year, we got the bill vetoed. Let’s not let it get that far this year!

If you have any questions, please call, text, or email me at 801 573-7248 or laurieannthorpe@hotmail.com.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

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