HB39: Bill lengthen lists of those who can take children removed in emergencies


Capital West News
By Caleb Larkin

SALT LAKE CITY – Lawmakers extend the emergency placement options for children to non-licensed foster parents.

HB39 expands the list of available placements for children removed by Division of Child and Family Services. Rep. Johnny Anderson, R-Taylorsville, sponsored the bill. The bill moves to a full Senate vote after a Senate committee voted 5-0 to pass the bill. The bill has already passed the House 70-1.

Anderson believes the bill will “aide in reducing trauma to children who are displaced by a family event because it gives DCFS more options for placement.”

The bill will allow for neighbors, coaches, members of the children’s church organizations, or a family friend as options for DCFS placement. The bill also adds adoptive parents of the child’s siblings to this list.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee met Wednesday to address the second substitute on the bill. Substitute Two includes a definition of family friend as an “adult that the child knows and is comfortable with.”

HB39 already passed unanimously through the House Human Services Committee and “has the full support of the Utah Department of Child and Family Services,” said Anderson in Wednesday’s meeting.

“[The bill] gives more options for children to be placed in a familiar setting,” Anderson said.

There are no changes to the current background check procedures for the temporary guardians of the displaced children. “We will still do background checks and site checks, even if it is only for an emergency placement.”

The emergency placement does not include a set number of days before the Division of Child and Family Services finds a permanent placement for the child or children.

Brent Platt, Director of Utah’s child welfare agency, said, “We want flexibility in the number of days the child is in the emergency placement. The goal is to keep them with someone that they know, even if we have to move them again.”

“This is a bill that has passed unanimously through the Child Welfare Legislative Oversight Committee,” Anderson said.

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