LANSING — Earlier this week, the House voted to approve a three-bill package that would create the Children’s Assurance of Quality Foster Care Policy, which will act as a foster kids’ bill of rights. The bipartisan package passed with nearly unanimous support, and will make its way to the Senate for consideration.
“I’m grateful that the House came together to give these bills the overwhelming support they deserve,” Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright (D-Muskegon) said. “At any time, Michigan has about 13,000 kids in the foster care system, and it’s important that we protect their rights and safety. These bills will help accomplish that, so I’m hopeful the Senate will take quick action, and we can see them signed into law.”
Rep. Hovey-Wright’s bill, House Bill 4976, lists the components to be included in a Children’s Assurance of Quality Foster Care Policy. They include items such as requiring a child to be placed with relatives and siblings when possible; ongoing contact with parents, relatives and friends when permissible; access to medical, emotional, psychological, educational and other services; access to and participation in cultural or religious activities; and a permanency plan designed to facilitate children in a permanent placement or return them to their homes in a timely manner. The bill also includes a grievance procedure to address violations of the policy.
HB 4977, offered by Rep. Jim Runestad (R-White Lake), outlines a foster child’s right to access the court system, including regular contact with their caseworkers, attorneys and advocates.
HB 4978 from Rep. George T. Darany (D-Dearborn) would require the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to distribute a written guide to foster children that outlines their rights in an age-appropriate manner, and informs foster children about how to seek help if they believe the policy has been violated.
“Children come to the foster care system after a traumatic experience or after suffering from abuse or neglect. We owe it to them to make sure they get the best care possible,” Rep. Darany said. “These bills give foster children the assurance that they do have rights, and provides them with the tools they need to exercise them. I look forward to seeing this package of legislation signed into law.”