HEAL'S GUIDE TO REFORMING STATE LAWS REGARDING CHILDREN'S RIGHTS & CHILD WELFARE
In December, 2011, HEAL spoke with Senator Tom Harkin's office regarding Senate Bill 1667 and our suggestions to improve that legislation. Senate Bill 1667 is identical to House Bill 3126. And, you will find our recommendations and concerns regarding those bills at www.heal-online.org/hr3126s1667positionstatement.pdf. The individual we spoke with in Senator Tom Harkin's office advised that most of our suggestions would need to be brought to the States and State Laws would need to be amended if proper oversight of the behavior modification industry was to become a reality.
Due to the inability and/or unlikelihood of effective oversight being provided at the Federal level, HEAL has decided to create this page. Here, we will present suggestions for local action, local change, and examples for instituting change at the State level and in every State in the Union. For action alerts and events, click hyperlinks in this sentence.
Our general plan is subject to updates and change, but, for now, is as follows:
1. Individual Education Plans--Action: Write Department of Education in each State demanding that IEPs be used sparingly and/or that such plans always include a local option for parents to consider if a child is given an IEP.
This particular action may require the following research:
2. Mental Health System--Action: Write Department of Health and Human Services in each State (and/or Mental Health, Behavioral Health, Children and Families divisions) demanding that children not be separated from communities and families for mental health treatment and that any mental health treatment must be provided by licensed and regulated providers that fall under HIPAA (Federal) oversight provisions.
3. Children's Rights/Child Welfare Laws--Action: Lobby State Governors and Legislators via internet, letter writing, telephone campaigns, and in-person lobbying, if possible, to advocate for the adoption of the following New Jersey statute:
Special Recognition to Activists in Washington State, North Carolina, and Ohio for Participating in Our Ongoing State Action Alert!
4. Citizens' Initiatives and Legislator Sponsored Legislation: Encourage legislators to update the laws in each State to include added protections for children such as no child being institutionalized without court order and requiring children to be given local/in-state options if/when institutionalization is deemed necessary. Also, require Guardian Ad Litems to be outside and unaffiliated with any residential programs from which they may receive kickbacks/compensation.
5. Corruption: Research kickbacks and apparent or evident corruption in Social Services, Foster Care, and other systems and pressure Governors and State Legislators to crack down on mismanagement and corruption within agencies that put children and families in harm's way.
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