Tuesday, May 20, 2014

NCALP Weekly News Summary

May 19, 2014
The National Center for Adoption Law & Policy

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Foster Care
OHIO: “Bipartisan bill would extend Ohio’s foster care program”
By: Tiffany L. Parks

A pair of lawmakers from Akron and Napoleon has partnered to introduce a bill into the legislature that would extend foster care to youth through their 21st birthday. House Bill 423 would require the director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to submit an amendment to the state’s plan for child welfare services to make federal Title IV-E payments for foster care available to persons up to age 21. The bill is sponsored by Reps. Zack Milkovich a Democrat and Lynn Wachtmann, a Republican. To be eligible for program benefits a foster child must be completing secondary education or an equivalent credential, be enrolled in an institution that provides post –secondary or vocational education, participate in a program or activity designed to promote or remove barriers to employment; work at least 80 hours per month or be incapable of doing any of the previous activities because of a medical condition. There is strong evidence that allowing foster youth to remain in care until age 21 increases their likelihood of pursuing post-secondary education, adding that evidence shows allowing youth to stay in foster care until age 21 is associated with increased earnings, delayed pregnancy and reduced criminal activity among women.
The Akron Legal News, May 12, 2014

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Foster Care
WASHINGTON: “A new battle brewing over Braam”
By: John Stang

Seattle’s Columbia Legal Services filed a detailed motion in Whatcom County Superior Court on behalf of the state’s foster children. It asked the court to enforce the 2004 Braam settlement. Braam v.Washington is the 1998 lawsuit that accused the state Department of Social and Health Services of not meeting its constitutional duties to provide proper foster care. Jessica Braam one of the 13 plaintiffs had lived in 15 foster homes between the ages of 2 and 12, which was one impetus for the original suit. As part of the 2004 settlement, both sides agreed to set up a panel of child welfare experts that would oversee reform of the state’s foster care operations. The panel supervises efforts by DSHS to implement a list of 21 improvements. 14 of the 21 improvements have been met. Two of the measures will be difficult to meet because of how they are measured. These two are the number of youth who have run away from their foster homes and the length of time they are at large.
Crosscut.com, May 11, 2014

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Adoption by same sex couples
ALABAMA: “Married Couple Challenge Alabama’s Sanctity Laws”
By: Chris Randolph

Alabama used its unconstitutional “Sanctity Laws” to deny legally married women the right to adopt one of the women’s biological child. The women have been a couple for 14 years and were married in California in 2008. Their son, was born to one of the partners in 2005. The other partner filed a petition to adopt the child pursuant to Alabama law, which states “that any person may adopt his or her spouse’s child according to the provisions of this chapter.” The probate judge denied the petition claiming that the petitioner is not her partner’s spouse in Alabama. At issue is the constitutionality of Alabama’s Sanctity Laws, stemming from Amendment 774, the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment in the state constitution, which defines marriage “as a unique relationship between a man and a woman.” The same sex couple claims that Alabama’s Sanctity laws are arbitrary and capricious and create a second class group of citizens in violation of the 14th Amendment. The couple seeks an injunction requiring Alabama to recognize their marriage, and they want the adoption granted.
Courthouse News Service, May 9, 2014

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FLORIDA: “Juvenile Justice, Foster Care Issues Gain in 2014 Session”

The 2014 legislative session saw major gains for juvenile justice issues in Florida, while also seeking to bolster the independence of foster children. Lawmakers passed a rewrite of HB 7055 of laws governing the Department of Juvenile Justice, emphasizing prevention, increasing the agency’s accountability and creating a criminal penalty for the abuse or neglect of teens in its facilities. Lawmakers passed a juvenile-sentencing proposal HB 7035 that if signed by the governor will bring the state into compliance with two major US Supreme Court rulings. And the Legislature passed a measure HB 7141 aimed at Florida’s high rate of human trafficking activity, providing a wide array of services for sexually exploited children. Teens in foster care convinced lawmakers to help them learn to drive, just a year after the Legislature passed two other groundbreaking foster-care bills. The Legislature failed to agree on a plan for dividing the costs of juvenile-detention facilities between the state and counties.
CBS Miami, May 12, 2014

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The preceding are summaries of adoption/child welfare law news articles prepared by The National Center for Adoption Law & Policy. These summaries are provided for your information only and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center. We strive to print news that reflects the diversity of our readership and a variety of viewpoints and approaches to child welfare issues. While we may not agree with a position taken, we believe in the critical importance to our constituents of impartial reporting.

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