Tuesday, February 7, 2012

HB 225

Sunday night amidst Super Bowl commercials (I readily admit I wasn’t paying much attention to the game) and letting the sad news of the Josh Powell murder-suicide sink in, my husband and I composed an e-mail to our local representatives about a bill of  concern to us as foster parents: HB 225 which, among other things, proposed to list the names of foster parents on DCFS’s public website.  After we sent the e-mails I was happy to learn from a foster parent’s advocacy group the names and contact information of the nine other representatives on the Health and Human Services Committee who were scheduled to vote on the bill Monday afternoon at the legislative session at our state’s capital.    

Here is a copy of our letter:
Our family has fostered six children in the state of Utah over the past six years.  Our decision to become foster parents was influenced by the assurance that our personal information would be kept confidential.  For the majority of our foster placements, the policy of keeping our personal information confidential has been a safeguard to our family due to the fact that many of the birthparents of our foster children have had allegations, criminal records, and/or mental diagnoses which would be a safety concern to our family- especially to our children- if our private information were to become available to them.  In one case, the caregivers of our former foster child were tied to a highly organized and widespread crime ring. In fact, they were being tried under federal RICO charges.    
There is already a great shortage of families willing to provide safe and nurturing homes to children in state custody.  HB 225 has the potential to prevent many currently licensed foster families from continuing to provide foster care and could hinder potential foster care providers from becoming licensed in the first place due to similar privacy and safety concerns.
Please respect the rights of those who provide foster care to our state’s children by keeping private service provider’s information just that- “private”- by voting against HB 225. 
Respectfully, (Our names)
I was pleasantly surprised to receive a response from two of the legislators I contacted (even though one was an automated response) and even happier to learn early on Monday evening that HB 225 was amended so that our personal information will remain private, thanks in large part to other foster parents who made their voices heard- such as Mama Lark who expressed her “Heartburn” and concerns over the proposed bill in this blog post.
Another proposed bill, HB 237,  which affects the rights of foster parents and their foster children was brought before my state’s legislature yesterday, but for the sake of length I will save my thoughts on that bill for a separate post.

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