North Carolina lawmakers have passed a broad bill that backers hope will improve the lives of hard-to-place children in the foster care system if Gov. Roy Cooper signs it, as the author expects.
Cooper (D) vetoed a similar bill last year, but Sen. Steve Jarvis (R) said he hopes changes in this year’s version will pass muster with Cooper, who has a week or so to decide whether to sign it.
UPDATE: Since the publication of this article, Gov. Cooper has signed the legislation.
The bill affects a range of matters, from the duties of health facilities caring for children to imposing shorter time limits for county social services to come up with a permanency plan for the placement of children who have been separated from their parents or guardians.
Citing well-known research, Jarvis said children who’ve bounced multiple times from one temporary placement to another or sat for weeks in temporary facilities tend to have problems developing strong attachments to others.
All too often, he said, foster children are all but “invisible” to most people. “We all have a shared responsibility to pay attention and to push for improvements to the system, and that’s what this bill does,” he told The Dispatch, a newspaper in Lexington, North Carolina.
Among other provisions, Jarvis’ bill would impose strict time limits for getting a child with no clear option for placement out of a health care facility after removal from the family home, and accelerate the time in which the Division of Social Services must have a permanency plan in place for children in foster care.
It also sets up a statewide child protective services hotline and requires officials to act on a permanency plan within 30 days of a child’s removal from parental custody.