Happy Friday! Here’s some news for ya today:
We reported recently that Kansas’ Governor created by executive order an Office of the Child Advocate. Now it seems the executive and legislative branches are fighting over who gets to appoint that person. The Child Advocate’s independence is at stake, they say.
Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) has proposed amendments to the Adoption and Safe Families Act. Her “21st Century Children and Families Act” would change ASFA’s 15/22 rule significantly by requiring that the state may consider filing a TPR petition after 24 months of consecutive non-relative foster care but only after demonstrating by clear and convincing evidence that the State has provided sufficient reunification efforts and that there are compelling reasons to terminate parental rights. It would also bar states from filing TPR if the parent is “actively engaged” in services to address substance use, mental health or parenting. State could no longer terminate on the basis of long incarceration of a parent or deportation. The bill also seems to attempt a legislative overruling of Fulton v. Philadelphia and would allow parents some say in the demographics of any home in which a child is placed. The bill does not seem to be “attachment-informed” but is rather focused on parental rights.
Here’s a cool story from Oregon about Georgia DFCS’ PAUSE calls, where the local agency conducts staffings with regional and state leadership before moving a child from a foster placement. The practice has led to greater stability for children in care, which leads to better outcomes. It’s great to see the work of Georgia DFCS being recognized from all the way across the nation!
Eckerd Connects in the Tampa Bay, Florida area is under fire after the Pinellas County Sheriff found that children were spending night after night in “disgusting and deplorable” conditions in Eckerd’s offices. In Florida, the State farmed out foster care responsibility to “lead agencies” in each geographic area of the state. It appears Florida has severed ties with Eckerd in the Tampa Bay area. It’s likely, however, that ending this contract will not remedy the underlying problem, which is that there are too few facilities and services for youth with severe emotional disturbances. Also, the company says, “In the past two years, Eckerd Connects' has experienced a 40 percent increase in the number of children being removed from their homes by law enforcement in the three counties, without the necessary increase in money to properly serve them.”