Saturday, August 05, 2006

Bill to promote safety for foster youth

The following is a transcript from KGET TV in Bakersfield, California:

New bill promotes safety for children in foster care
County and state officials are working together to make a big difference for children living in foster care.

Last month, KGET-17 News showed how a 13-year-old girl under the care of Child Protective Services was living on the streets of Bakersfield and without supervision. Every time the police took her to the county’s shelter for children, she wold simply walk away and return to her life on the streets. The law does not allow CPS workers to detain her against her will. Moreover, there was nothing that local law enforcement could do.

On Tuesday, county and the state officials met and could be changing those circumstances this month.

The action comes after numerous calls were made to several Kern County Supervisors. It was Michael Rubio who stepped up with a plan designed by the Director of Human Services, Beverly Beasley Johnson, and Probation Department Chief, John Roberts, to keep safe these kids who were making bad decisions.

On the state level, Assemblyman Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield drafted a bill that would make it possible to hold dependents of the court for enough time to notify police, parents and the county before they are allowed to leave a home or shelter. The bill has just come back from legislative council and is ready for review.

“With both the county and the state now working together, that hole in the safety net protecting could be closed for good,” McCarthy said.

In addition, McCarthy said he'll push to get the bill to the floor by Aug. 8 and hopefully passed before the session ends.

Michael Rubio has already made it a priority in the county budget for this month which means CPS and the probation department will not have to rely on grants to fund the project. Instead, the money will come from the general fund targeting areas of need and hopefully keep these children and our community safer.