Bill Description: House Bill 233 prevents the Department of Health and Welfare from removing children from their parents' custody under certain circumstances.
Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?
House Bill 233 creates Section 16-2426A, Idaho Code, to increase protections for parental rights in Idaho. The bill says that the Department of Health and Welfare shall not determine that a child has been "abused, neglected, or abandoned" because of "a request for inpatient hospital treatment or an out-of-home placement for the child, if the child's recent mental health condition demonstrates that the child is likely to cause harm to himself or to suffer substantial mental or physical deterioration, and/or is likely to cause harm to others, and if the risk cannot be eliminated before returning the child to the child's family."
The bill also requires the Department of Health and Welfare to "enter into an interagency agreement with appropriate agencies for the purpose of preventing children who are not otherwise abused or neglected from entering the custody of the department for purposes of receiving services for serious emotional disturbance."
The purpose of this requirement is to "intercept and divert children at risk of being removed from their parent's or guardian's custody." The department is also instructed to work with other agencies, facilities and families to "connect the child and his family with the appropriate services, treatment, and support in order to stabilize the child's serious emotional disturbance and to prevent removal by the department."
Taking children away from their families should always be a last resort, and this bill should help to reduce the frequency of such occurrences.
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