The Senate Health & Human Services Committee passed SB1001, with amendments from Ed Ableser (changing the purpose of DCS) and Nancy Barto (technical issues) creating the new Department of Child Safety.
In the House the Health & Human Services Committee had been the committee to work with the CPS issue. Today, Speaker of the House Andy Tobin changed the committee to Public Safety to vote on the current bill and move it out of committee. This committee has not been the committee addressing CPS during this past session. The Public Safety Committee passed HB2001 creating the new Department of Child Safety.
We gave testimony in the Senate Health & Human Services Committee today. It did raise questions among committee members. It made enough of an impact that Director Flanagan approached us after the House session in order to speak with us. He has promised to read our 53 page report and respond to it.
Legislators in the Senate Health & Human Services Committee that were receptive and seemed to understand the issue from the family’s perspective were Sen. and Chairwoman Nancy Barto, Sen. Kelli Ward and Sen. Ed Ableser. The one legislator that believes CPS “saves” children is Sen. David Bradley, a former CPS employee.
While both the appropriations bill and the bill to create the new department are expected to pass tomorrow without any problems, our work is not done.
The new department is only the foundation of the new agency. There is much work to be done to get meaningful legislation before the next session in January to fix the problems within CPS that are leading to the number of children being removed from families. Many legislators understand the problem and are reaching out to us to continue working on the problem.
Director Flanagan gave an extension presentation on the new structure of CPS, policy changes, efforts to reach out to community resources, and a commitment to work on prevention so removal may not be necessary. He expressed an understanding that removal of the child from the family is not always necessary and not always in the best interest of the child. While much of it sounded good, little of it is written in the legislation making it agency policy and procedures only. With a different direct this could mean huge problems in the future. Another concern was his definition of abuse and neglect.
A good foundation was laid out today to continue our fight to improve the CPS system.
Shawnna Bolick has been extremely supportive of our efforts. We met with her for 2 hours last week to discuss CPS. Today she helped facilitate meetings for us with legislators. Shawnna is running for the House in LD28 against Kate Brophy-McGee.
Kelli Ward made sure we knew about the session today and helped us get on the floor to speak.
We want to thank the people who called or emailed their House and Senate members. Many of the legislators today expressed the concerns brought up from these conversations. They are listening.
We want to thank everyone who helped us get our voice heard.