By: Happie Larson, President, Utah Foster/Adoptive Families Association (UFAFA)
There was a lot of Child and Family Legislation this session, and the Utah Foster/Adoptive Families Association (UFAFA) Presidency was pleased to monitor the proposed laws that would have direct impact upon foster/adoptive and kinship families.
The most startling legislation to catch UFAFA’s attention would have publicly placed foster parents personal information on the internet (HB 225).
Many foster parents expressed concern over the potential of having their contact information publicly available. Parents sent emails, made phone calls, and even took the time to gather at Capitol Hill and have their concerns addressed. Thankfully, this is no longer a possibility, and our information will continue to be confidential, due to the combined efforts of so many passionate parents and caring legislators.
Representative Watkins was especially sensitive to issues concerning children and families. She was willing to listen to foster and adoptive parent’s ideas and concerns.
UFAFA was pleased to support legislation that provided families information to assist them with reunification (HB 319) and prevent newly-born babies from being placed for adoption without the father knowing (HB 308).
As always, kin will continue to have preference in placement decisions. Our wonderful kinship families work in the best interests of their family, and we are pleased to support their efforts. UFAFA supported legislation that recognized their efforts and special place in the lives of children (HB 241).
The UFAFA presidency, along with many foster/adoptive families from around the state, opposed proposed legislation that had unintended negative impacts upon children. HB 203 had the unintended consequence of limiting adoptions outside of culture and race. As foster and adoptive parents know, a child is a child regardless of race. Once these concerns were expressed to the bill’s sponsor, she readily dropped this proposal.
Another legislator attempted to disrupt a foster parent’s preference in adoptions. Many brave parents spoke up about this, even going so far as to contacting adoption agencies and seeking support from paid litigators. Again, this proposal was defeated (HB 237).
UFAFA was also pleased that Division of Child/Family Services (DCFS) and Department of Human Services (DHS) administration took the time to address legislation in person and balance child safety with parent’s rights. Through the efforts of many, we watched as bills that elevated the Constitutional rights of parents above a child’s best interest, were modified (HB 161). We also saw the struggle of some legislators who wanted to give parents a De Novo termination (or brand new trial) in the appellate court (HB 237) and watched as the battle ended with no second trial option.
Not every foster/adoptive parent agreed with every action, but we stood united! The UFAFA presidency appreciates your efforts and wants you to know YOUR voice was heard on the hill.