Fellow adoptive and foster parents,
This bill needs urgent and immediate attention. The bill signed by Governor Gregoire on May 10th goes to the House Ways and Means Committee TOMORROW May 17th.
Bill 5935 states that an adoptive parent who adopts a child from the foster care system after providing foster care services to that child, does not qualify for the adoption support subsidy if the adoptive parent received the basic foster care rate for the child while the child was in care and did not spend in excess of the hours one would normally spend meeting the needs of a typically developing child.
Please scroll down for more information regarding this bill as well as information on tomorrow’s Committee meeting. You will also find information oncontacting your legislator.
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Foster Care Justice Alliance
Defending the Rights of the Child
May 15, 2011
Senate Bill 5935 Seeks to remove adoption subsidies for level 1 special needs children
If you thought the legislative session was over, guess again.
SB 5935 was taken up by the Senate in the Special Session. It seeks to remove the adoption subsidy payment for special needs children adopted from foster care if while in foster care, the foster parent “did not spend in excess of the hours one would normally spend meeting the needs of a typically developing child”.
This is problematic just on the face of it. Parenting for all children is 24 x 7. Time alone is not a true indicator of the costs, risks, or challenges involved in adopting a child with special needs.
Nearly every child in foster care has special needs. Many have needs that are not apparent at the time of adoption. Children enter foster care because of suspected abuse or neglect. At higher percentage than the general population they suffer from mental health issues that are genetic, including ADD/ADHD, bipolar disorder, and autism. The trauma of removal, some multiple times, living their lives in limbo for years not knowing if anyone wants them or loves them leaves additional permanent scars.
Adoption subsidies for special needs pay for counseling and treatment for Reactive Attachment Disorder, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, sensory integration therapy, and a wide range of mental health issues, in addition to the assistance needed for children with physical challenges.
The problem with 5935 is it places adoptive parents on the defensive, attempting to “prove” something about the time they spent, when the real question is the child’s own needs and the costs of treatment. Without this support many children simply will not get adopted, which will not save the state money; it will cost the state money.
5935 is just wrong-headed. It implies that children who suffer from mental health issues do not have needs special enough for us to help.
Foster Care Justice Alliance has proposed an alternative cost-saving measure of adopting an insurance model to pool the risk of treating adopted children, paying premiums out of the adoption subsidy. This could offer greater coverage at a lower cost, because it would leverage the state’s purchasing power, and pay out based on true expenses.
We support the formation of a work group with all the stakeholders to address this issue during the interim. We oppose the passage of 5935 as currently drafted as harmful to adoption of special needs children.
Your help is urgently needed. Please write or call the members of the House Ways and Means Committee. This bill is scheduled to be heard in committee this Tuesday, May 17, at 8 AM in the House Committee on Ways and Means, J.A. Cherberg Building, Senate Hearing Room 1.
Please call or write today. We also need as many people as possible to testify. If you can come to the hearing but don’t want to testify, you can simply sign in as opposed to the legislation.
UPDATE: HB 1774 and SB 5656 signed by Governor Gregoire
In other news, HB 1774, to allow child placement with the adoptive families of siblings, and SB 5656, to create a State Indian Child Welfare Act, were signed into law by Governor Gregoire last Tuesday, May 10. Thank you to everyone that called or wrote in.
Thank you for your support of foster children.
House Ways and Means Committee:
Representative Room Phone Hunter, Ross (D) Chair MOD C 105 (360) 786-7936 ross.hunter Darneille, Jeannie (D) Vice Chair LEG 436B (360) 786-7974 j.darneille Hasegawa, Bob (D) Vice Chair MOD B 201 (360) 786-7862 bob.hasegawa Alexander, Gary (R) * LEG 426B (360) 786-7990 gary.alexander Bailey, Barbara (R) ** LEG 122A (360) 786-7914 barbara.bailey Dammeier, Bruce (R) ** MOD D 205 (360) 786-7948 bruce.dammeier Orcutt, Ed (R) ** LEG 122F (360) 786-7812 ed.orcutt Carlyle, Reuven (D) MOD E 104 (360) 786-7814 reuven.carlyle Chandler, Bruce (R) LEG 427B (360) 786-7960 bruce.chandler Cody, Eileen (D) MOD F 101 (360) 786-7978 eileen.cody Dickerson, Mary Lou (D) LEG 429A (360) 786-7860 marylou.dickerson Haigh, Kathy (D) MOD F 108 (360) 786-7966 kathy.haigh Haler, Larry (R) LEG 122D (360) 786-7986 larry.haler Hinkle, Bill (R) MOD G 104 (360) 786-7808 bill.hinkle Hudgins, Zack (D) LEG 438A (360) 786-7956 zack.hudgins Hunt, Sam (D) LEG 438B (360) 786-7992 sam.hunt Kagi, Ruth (D) MOD F 102 (360) 786-7910 ruth.kagi Kenney, Phyllis Gutierrez (D) MOD F 110 (360) 786-7818 phyllis.kenney Ormsby, Timm (D) LEG 122G (360) 786-7946 timm.ormsby Parker, Kevin (R) MOD G 110 (360) 786-7922 kevin.parker Pettigrew, Eric (D) LEG 434B (360) 786-7838 eric.pettigrew Ross, Charles (R) LEG 426A (360) 786-7856 charles.ross Schmick, Joe (R) MOD A 103 (360) 786-7844 joe.schmick Seaquist, Larry (D) LEG 132C (360) 786-7802 larry.seaquist Springer, Larry (D) LEG 132E (360) 786-7822 larry.springer Sullivan, Pat (D) LEG 339A (360) 786-7858 pat.sullivan Wilcox, J.T. (R) MOD G 106 (360) 786-7912 jt.wilcox
Sen. Phil Rockefeller
Rep. Sherry Appleton
Rep. Christine Rolfes
Sen. Derek Kilmer
Rep. Jan Angel
Rep. Larry Seaquist
Sen. Tim Sheldon
Rep. Kathy Haigh
Rep Fred Finn
SB 5935 Bill Details:
- States that an adoptive parent who adopts a child from the foster care system after providing foster care services to that child, does not qualify for the adoption support subsidy if the adoptive parent received the basic foster care rate for the child while the child was in care and did not spend in excess of the hours one would normally spend meeting the needs of a typically developing child.
- States that the adoptive parent and child would continue to qualify for all other adoption support services, including medical care.
- Does not prohibit the adoptive parent from seeking payments or assistance after the finalization of the adoption of a child who was not considered hard to place at the time of adoption.
- Applies to relatives or other unpaid caregivers who adopt a child who was in the dependency system, who would have received the basic foster care rate for the child if the parent would have been receiving payment.
- Begins applying the new policy for adoption support agreements entered on or after July 1, 2011.
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