Rep. Sharon Block, R-Twin Falls, believes that "families are the basic structure of our society" and must be held together as much as possible after a family tragedy. Block's bill to set priorities in placement of children in foster care passed the House Friday on a 68-0 vote by lawmakers. The measure now heads to the Senate.
Block's bill would set the priority of placement in this order:
A fit and willing relative.
A fit and willing non-relative with a significant relationship with the child.
Foster parents licensed in accordance with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW).
Block argued before fellow members of the House that the bill would aid in providing children with more safe and stable environments after being place under the care of the state.
"The placement is consistent with the best interests of the child," said Block.
The bill also allows expediting of the child placement process by allowing DHW to waive the licensing requirement for those on the list for a certain period of time. If one of the persons on the list is chosen to be the child’s caretaker but is unlicensed, that person would, if the environment is deemed safe by DHW, be allowed to care for the child while going through the license application process.
In the committee hearing on the bill, the AARP and Catholic Charities of Idaho applauded Block's work to keep families intact in difficult times. In an earlier meeting, Dr. Will Rainford, representing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise, urged lawmakers to pass the legislation because the system needs more foster parents and the Block’s plan would make available more “saints,” as he called them, ready to accept children in need.
“I know that nothing heals a child’s broken soul like the love of a close relative or known friend,” said Rainford.
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