Friday, October 9, 2009

More on Jacks/Fogle legislation

On October 8, the Committee on Health (Catania, chair) and Committee on Human Services (Wells, chair) held a hearing on B18-356, “Jacks-Fogle Family Preservation Case Coordination Authorization Act of 2009".   If you missed the hearing, you can read the testimony of DHS director Clarence Carter.   Also take a look at depictions of the current situation and the proposed scenario.   Finally, watch the hearing on demand on Channel 13.

At-large CM Michael Brown had this to say in his opening remarks:

Thank you Chairman Catania and Chairman Wells.   The concerns raised by the Jacks-Fogle tragedy highlight the need to strengthen and tighten our safety net to ensure that innocent children don’t slip through the holes.   However, it is also important to remember that the majority of factors that led to this tragedy were based on the fact that agency staff were not doing their jobs correctly and already established protocols were not followed.   Therefore, while I will always support efforts to increase and improve interagency communication and coordination, I think we also must not forget that improving the basics such as training, supervision, and accountability would have prevented the Jacks-Fogle tragedy.

That being said, there are many parts of the bill before us today that I support, but there are also many parts where the lack of specifics concern me.   Furthermore, finding the balance between effective and appropriate information sharing, and the right to privacy is a question that we must further explore before coming to a final decision.

The issues presented by this case and this bill are complex and I look forward to a robust discussion and an inclusive legislative process that will produce the most informed and responsible policy.   I want to thank everyone for coming out and ask that we all address this legislation and this issue with an open mind and work together to protect our city’s families that are in crisis.

The Committee on Health, the lead on the hearing, is accepting public comment through October 22.   Details about submitting statements are in the hearing notice.