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https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20150&cosponId=16690
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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: January 14, 2015 04:00 PM
From: Representative David S. Hickernell
To: All House members
Subject: Legislation to Help Children in Foster Care Live More Normal Lives (Former HB 2532 - 2013-2014 Legislative Session)
 

I soon will be introducing legislation that would authorize the caregivers of children and youth who are in out-of-home placement (i.e., foster care) to approve or disapprove their foster child’s participation in age-appropriate extracurricular, family and social activities without prior approval or disapproval of that participation from the county child welfare agency, private placement agency, or the court.

This legislation, known as the Activities and Experiences for Children in Out-of-Home Placement Act, is designed to help children and youth who are in Pennsylvania’s foster care system live more normal lives. Children in foster care are entitled to and should be encouraged to participate in activities that offer opportunities for healthy childhood and adolescent development. However, things that other children take for granted, such as playing on an athletic team, joining the marching band, going on a field trip, getting a driver’s license learner’s permit, or going on a family vacation are often difficult to arrange for children in foster care because of the need for prior, formal approval from the county child welfare agency or private agency that has legal custody of the child.

In many instances, by the time formal approval makes its way through the chain-of-command bureaucracy, it’s too late for the child to participate in the event or activity. Other times, the steps necessary to gain that formal approval can alienate the child’s friends or their families, further stigmatizing the child.

This legislation would empower caregivers in out-of-home placements (i.e., foster parents) to make those day-to-day decisions regarding their foster child’s participation in such activities without prior approval from the county child welfare agency, a private agency, or the court, provided that the caregiver’s decision is based on a “reasonable and prudent parental standard” and provided that the decision is in accordance with all court orders, Individual Service Plans and Family Service Plans.

As part of this legislation, the Department of Human Services Office of Children, Youth and Families shall:
  • Require, as a condition of licensure for family foster care and child care institutions, training, as developed by the Department, relevant to acquiring the knowledge and skills related to applying a “reasonable and prudent parental standard” in such decisions.

  • Verify annually that public and private agencies providing out-of-home placement are promoting and protecting a foster child’s ability to participate in age-appropriate activities, and have implemented policies consistent with that objective.

I invite you to join me in co-sponsoring this important piece of legislation.

Previous Cosponsors: HICKERNELL , V. BROWN, CUTLER , FEE, GINGRICH , GODSHALL , GREINER, HEFFLEY, JAMES, KIM, MALONEY, MENTZER, MILLARD , MILNE , MURT , PICKETT , YOUNGBLOOD , ROEBUCK and COHEN



Introduced as HB477