Working to transform the child welfare system.

SB 6479: Relating to providing caregivers authority to allow children placed in their care to participate in normal childhood activities based on a reasonable and prudent parent standard

SB 6479 is a companion to (same as) HB 2699

Substitute bill: As amended, a caregiver’s authority to authorize overnight activities for a child in care outside the direct supervision of the caregiver under the reasonable prudent parent standard without DSHS approval is limited to up to 72 hours. Authorizations under the reasonable prudent parent standard must comply with court orders and not conflict with specific direction provided by DSHS. Parents’ interest in the normal childhood activities of their children in care must be a subject of family decision team meetings and meetings between the parent and caseworker.

Caseworkers must communicate the expressed wishes of parents concerning their children’s participation in normal childhood activities to foster parents so that the parents’ wishes may be appropriately respected.

Senate floor amendment:  The bill was amended on the floor limiting the ability of the caregiver to approve participation in normal childhood activities without prior approval by DSHS to children aged 12 years or older.

Early Learning and Human Services Committee:  The striking amendment expands the authority for caregivers to allow children in their care to participate in normal childhood activities to apply to all children, not just those twelve years or older. It removes the requirement that caregiver authority to provide permission for normal childhood activities comply with specific direction provided by DSHS. The amendment also removes the requirement that caseworkers discuss normal childhood activities with parents during family team decision meetings.

In addition, the amendment specifies that after communicating a parent’s opinions to a foster parent regarding a child’s participation in normal childhood activities, those wishes must be appropriately considered.