Job Opportunity: Although our legislative efforts to create a Foster Care Ombudsman in the Attorney General’s office weren’t successful, DHR has created their own Foster Care Ombudsman. Click here for the job description.
The Department of Human Resources (DHR) recently drafted comprehensive bills of rights for current foster youth. This information is contained in a handbook that is distributed to older foster youth. However, there are no formal grievance procedures for foster youth. While DHR staff includes an ombudsman for foster parents, youth in foster care do not have any parallel protection.
We need legislation to:
• Create grievance procedures for foster youth
• Create an ombudsman for foster youth
February 11, 2015
SB 609/HB 1022: “State Government – Office of the Child Welfare Ombudsman – Establishment”
Senator Brochin is sponsoring SB 609 in the Senate, and Delegate C.T. Wilson is sponsoring the House crossfile. The Senate co-sponsors include Senators Benson, Guzzone, Kelley, Lee, Madaleno, Manno, McFadden, Montgomery, Pinksy, and Raskin, and Rosapepe. The House co-sponsors include Delegates Anderson, Atterbeary, Barron, Cullison, Flanagan, Glass, Glenn, Gutierrez, Hettleman, Hornberger, Impallaria, Lam, Lierman, Moon, Oaks, Rosenberg, Valderrama, Vaughn, and M. Washington.
To access SB 609/HB 1022’s page on Maryland’s General Assembly website, click here.
The bill hearing for SB 609 will be held at 1 pm on Tuesday, March 3rd in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
The bill hearing for HB 1022 will be held and at 1 pm on Thursday, March 19th in the House Judiciary Committee.
March 4, 2015
We had a great hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on SB 609. After Senator Brochin’s powerful introduction about how critical an Ombudsman is for foster youth, we had several witnesses (who had waited in Annapolis for over 5 hours to testify). The witnesses included Melissa Rock, Advocates for Children and Youth, Diana Philip, from the Coalition to Protect Maryland’s Children, Brittany Favazza, a law student intern at the Homeless Persons Representation Project, Losmin Jimenez, from the Legal Aid Bureau (who was invited by Senator Brochin to testify), and Mitch Mirviss, the counsel for all of Baltimore City’s foster youth in the LJ class action lawsuit. But the most powerful witnesses were Myah Estep and DiJohn Thomas, who were in foster care. They explained to the Committee that without an Ombudsman for foster youth, these young people will continue to experience problems as serious as additional abuse and neglect while in the foster care system without having anywhere to turn.
April 2, 2015
The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee voted unanimously to issue a Favorable Report with Amendments on SB 609. If the House Judiciary Committee issues a favorable report, we will have an Ombudsman for Maryland’s foster youth!
April 4, 2015
An action alert was sent to more than 2,600 supporters asking them to send a letter requesting that the House Judiciary Committee to favorably vote on the bill. A total of 714 letters were sent to the Committee.
April 9, 2015
The Senate passed SB 609 UNANIMOUSLY on Third Reader! Now the bill moves to the House!
April 14, 2015
Although SB 609 had momentum through the last day of the Legislative Session (with a hearing on the Senate bill in the House Judiciary Committee on Sine Die), ultimately, it did not pass, as Judiciary never voted on the bill. We are extremely grateful to everyone who worked on the bill, and are hopeful that we will be successful next year.