Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Judiciary merges child welfare bills

Two bills relating to the protection of children were merged last night in a Judiciary Committee hearing. HB 3136, a bill that will allow a child to remain in the care of relatives or hanai caregivers if the arrangements are safe, will be added as a second section to HB 2596.

The Judiciary Committee omitted specific language from HB 2596, HD1 that would have required drug addicted parents to be sober for 60 days before regaining visitation rights.

One testifier said that it would be inhumane and heartbreaking to take a child away from their parent for 60 days. Although the tactic is to punish the parent, the new law would be detrimental to the child.

I know it's heartbreaking but it's also dangerous, said Rep. Josh Green. He questioned whether it was too harsh to make it clear to drug addicted parents to clean up their act for 60 days.

DHS argued that the visits are for the kids and not the parents, and that forbidding children from seeing their parents may cause even more psychological problems. They also pointed out that according to Hawaii law parents cannot be bribed into seeking drug treatment, and if made law, this measure would be using children as bait.

The new measure, HB 2596, HD2, will require the Department of Human Services to investigate reports of drug use in homes, specifically ice, within 24 hours and require parents to show proof of participation in substance abuse treatment to have full custody of a child, as well as include the intent of HB3136.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This bill is not only a poor idea, it leaves the people thinking the issue is being addressed when in fact it is not.
As a child protection social worker I can tell you that parents who are on drugs often can maintain sobriety long enough for supervised visits.
It is important children remain bonded to family when possible. Research also shows parents who see their children more likely to engage in services.
The issues are bigger than this bill is addressing. It would be especially tough on kids with special needs and makes reunification all the tougher.
Really not a good idea.