Friday, October 8, 2010

Council hears testimony on "Fostering Connections" legislation

The Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary (At-large CM Phil Mendelson, chair) and the Committee on Human Services (Ward 6 CM Tommy Wells, chair) held a joint public hearing on B18-579, "Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect Amendment Act of 2009", on October 6.   The Children's Law Center's Sharra Greer was the only public witness.   Loren Ganoe, chief of staff, represented Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) at the hearing.   Greer's testimony is on the CLC web site; Ganoe's is here.   If you missed the hearing, you can watch it here on OCT.

B18-579 was proposed to bring the District into compliance with the federal law "Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008" referred to as "Fostering Connections."   The federal legislation was designed to promote permanence and improve outcomes for children in the child welfare system.   Details about the federal legislation is available from CLASP.

Greer presented a number of amendments CLC wants made to the legislation; the changes focused on school stability and ensuring that the issue of school stability was elevated during the decision-making process immediately following removal.   Neither council committee chair supported the amendments at this time and encouraged CLC to engage CFSA in a discussion about costs associated with the proposed changes, practice changes, and the like.

Ganoe testified to CFSA's current practices which make the District compliant with federal law.   One example is the Administrative Issuance providing guidance to CFSA and private-provider staff about determining whether children and youth should remain in their school of origin when entering foster care or changing placements.   Other examples are in her testimony.

School stability and compliance with federal legislation are both important and there is plenty of room at the advocacy table for others.   Keep in mind natural opportunities including FY 2011 oversight hearings in early 2011 and budget hearings also in early 2011.   Regular communication with the agency is always a good idea as is sharing your findings and any concerns with the agency and City Council.

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