Foster-care reform legislation passed the House today on a unanimous, 70-0 vote, after House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, told of a 14-month-old boy who was removed from a loving foster home, where the foster parents wanted to adopt him, and sent to an out-of-state home where there was no interest in adoption. Instead, Moyle said, the interest was “because with that child comes a paycheck. Think about that. With that child comes a paycheck. I have a problem with that. It’s morally wrong.”
The bill would allow judges to oversee adoptions and implement a timeframe for relatives to apply to care for a child, among other changes, including requirements for when children are moved from one foster home to another. Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa, co-sponsor of the bill, HB 556, with Moyle, said, “There are problems with the system. … The problems are coming because our statutes are not clear.”
She told of wrenching testimony at an hours-long committee hearing, including a former foster child who told the committee, “Please don’t make another me.” Perry said, “I have never heard something so sad in all my life.”
Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, told the House, “This is the toughest hearing I’ve ever sat through, because of what’s at stake, and that’s child welfare.”
Both Moyle and Perry said the bill is just a first step, and much more work is needed. They’ll be asking for an interim committee and a study by the Office of Performance Evaluation, Moyle said. Perry said the bill is not an “indictment” of the state Department of Health & Welfare. She said, “Our ultimate goal is to protect the child. … This bill is a significant step in the right direction.” The bill now moves to the Senate side.