Thursday, May 17, 2007

Kids In Foster Care Have Rights!

People in Texas are trying to pass a bill that would require that children entering foster care be told about, and given a copy of, their rights. However, this bill isn't popular with everyone. In the House of Representatives, opponent Debbie Riddle argues that the bill will make life harder for foster parents.
For instance, Riddle points out that the bill gives children the right not to be punished with corporal punishment. Riddle argues that foster parents need to be able to "paddle a child on the bottom if they said an ugly word or misbehaved."
Riddle also doesn't like the law guaranteeing that foster children should be given clothing comparable to that of other children in the community. She feels that foster children would use that law to demand designer jeans from their foster parents.
The proposal's House sponsor, Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, points out that the bill is really just a list of rules that already exist. The idea would be to make sure that kids in foster care knew about their rights and were encouraged to tell someone if their rights were violated.
Texas isn't the first state to come up with the idea of a bill of rights for kids in foster care. In 1973, Congress passed a bill of rights for children in foster care, guaranteeing, among other things, that foster kids would have the right "to receive a high quality of child welfare services, including involvement of the natural parents and his own involvement in major decisions that affect his life,", and "to be cherished by a family of his own, either his family helped by readily available services and supports to resume his care, or an adoptive family or, by plan, a continuing foster family."
And eight other states, including South Carolina, California, Florida, Maine, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. (You can click on some of these state names to read their bills of rights!)

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