A bill in the Utah Legislature that would modify the child abuse and neglect registry passed in committee Feb. 5.
SB128 was created in response to the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2017. This federal act sought to reform child welfare system finances and keep families together by providing funding to families.
“We’re trying to balance out the issues between respecting the rights of parents and keeping families integral,” said bill sponsor Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville. “Then we are responding to the needs of children who are at risk.”
Harper told the Senate Health and Human Services Committee that some of the bill highlights include modification of Utah’s child abuse and neglect registry and clarification on how the courts handle petitions.
“I think overall it is a good step forward for the state of Utah about parenting. It is good for state agencies that didn’t have a clear way of doing things and it also keeps us inclined to keep up the statute created,” Harper said.
Utah Division of Child and Family Services Director Diane Moore said the division supports the bill.
“We’re hoping to find a collaborative way to build the best child welfare system we can,” Moore said.
One aspect of the bill is to create a larger registry tracking child abuse and neglect. According to Moore, there is currently a child abuse registry check for foster parents. The Family First Act requires the registry to include all registry information in the licensing information system.
“Findings would be shared with other states when they were requested for their placement settings and then we would ask those states to share theirs with us when we run background checks on our placements,” Moore said.
The bill passed favorably in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and will go next to the Senate floor for discussion.