The Legislative Season is upon us and the first important Hearing is scheduled for tomorrow, January 11th, 2018 at 1pm in the Senate Chambers. It is a meeting of the Family and Children Services committee where they will hear 2 bills of importance.
One bill we would like to SUPPORT is SB 128: Change of placement of a child in need of services.
This bill offers rights to foster parents who have had the chil(ren) in their care for at least a year. It disallows DCS to uproot the kids without first giving the foster parents the right to a hearing. This is in the best interest in the child. An example of when this would be important is in the case of a child removed from the parents and placed with a grandparent or aunt/uncle. We would not want for DCS to be able to move the child to a random family at their own will with no ability for the current guardian to have a say in it. If this bill passes, it would allow the family member the ability to plead their case at a hearing and the judge would not be able to remove the child unless DCS could prove that it was in the best interest of the child. Since foster parents receive payment for caring for their foster children, we definitely want to nip in the bud any further potential for DCS moving children around when it’s not necessary.
The other bill being heard tomorrow which we want to OPPOSE is SB 135: Required DCS notifications for schools.
This bill requires DCS to notify a child’s school if anyone in the household gets arrested for any reason. We OPPOSE this bill because we don’t understand why schools need to know about arrests in the child’s home. What is the reason for this invasion of the child’s privacy in the school setting? What can the school even do about it? Who at the school would receive this notification and what do they intend to do with that information? The bill does not expand on this in any way. Why are ALL arrests required to be reported and not just arrests related to the case? If the child’s uncle is living with the family and gets arrested for unpaid parking tickets, the school needs to be notified? All arrests includes misdemeanors as well as felonies. Even arrests where the accused is later found to be innocent. This bill is painting with too broad of a brush and granting schools access to too much personal and private information. In addition, we don’t even know what they’re going to use this information for and we don’t know why it’s needed in the first place. Are the increased costs of maintaining this information and protecting this information worth the expense of taxpayer dollars in schools that are already under-funded? Many questions need to be answered before a bill like this should be passed. We urge you to call the legislators listed below AND send them an email to let them know that this bill is not ready to be passed without more information. Feel free to use any of the reasons mentioned here and/or any of your own in your email/phone calls.
Senators on the Family and Children Services Committee:
Ron Grooms (Chair of the committee) 317-234-9425
Greg Walker AND John Crane 317-232-9984
Mike Bohacek (Author of SB 135 which we OPPOSE) 317-232-9541
John Ford 317-234-9443
Erin Houchin 317-232-9488
Dennis Kruse 317-233-0930
Timothy Lanane 317-232-9427
Jean Breaux 317-232-9534
Email Block for the committee (you can copy and paste these into the TO field of one single email to send it to them all at once):
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Please call/email today, Wednesday January 10th if at all possible. Calls and emails will still be helpful after today since the hearing is not until 1pm tomorrow. If you aren’t reading this until after Thursday January 11th you can comment below and we will let you know if the bill is still being heard or it if already went to a vote. If you call or email, please go ahead and comment on this post with your experience so others can see how quick and easy it is! Thank you for your support and continue to stay tuned as we get deeper into this legislative session (which ends in just 2 months on March 14th).