• January 31, 2024

    Colorado Capitol: GOP Week in Review: January 11-26 / 2024 Newsworthy Items from Under the Denver Capitol Dome

    January 31, 2024
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    Colorado Free Press obtained the Colorado GOP Week in Review for January 11-26, 2024.

    Ø On Wednesday January 24th House Democrat Lindsay Dougherty brought HB24-1017 (concerning a bill of rights for youth in foster care’) to the House Health and Human Services Committee.

    v Background
    The issue of ‘Foster Care’ is described in Colorado’s Revised Statutes 19-7-101 et seq. A great many of the
    ‘rights’ envisioned in HB24-1017 are already found in law. The Department of Human Services has
    created training for adults that might wish to serve children as foster parents; you can learn more about
    Foster Care in Colorado here. To summarize: “Foster parents provide a safe, temporary home for children
    and youth whose parents or caregivers are unable to care for them. When a child or teenager is removed
    from their home and a caseworker is unable to identify a family friend or relatives to care for them
    temporarily, they are placed in foster care. It is important to remember that when a child or teenager is
    removed from their home the primary goal is usually to return the child or teenager to their parent or
    caregiver once they can provide a safe and stable home”.

    v The Bill Itself
    The bill establishes statutory rights for foster care youth, requires county human service
    departments to provide written notice to foster youth about their rights, and clarifies the authority
    of courts to enforce these rights. The rights of foster care youth include:
    a) freedom from discrimination or harassment;
    b) freedom of thought, cultural and ethnic practice, and religion;
    c) freedom to express gender identity;
    d) freedom from threats, punishment, retaliation for asking questions, stating concerns, or
    making complaints about violations of their rights;
    e) access to services, placements, and programs they are eligible for;
    f) notification of the benefits they are eligible for;
    g) the ability to request information on how payments were used by individuals who
    accepted payments for the youth;
    h) the right to receive appropriate placement and care including being placed in a safe
    environment that is free of abuse, having their preferences regarding placement
    considered, and having providers who are aware of their history;
    i) the right to timely court proceedings and effective case management;
    j) the right to a timely notification to the Social Security Administration to initiate the
    transfer of benefits from providers to youth who are leaving the custody of the
    department;
    k) the right to access and communicate privately with caseworkers, legal representatives,
    advocates, probation officers, and other professionals;
    l) the right to confidentiality and privacy;
    m) access to education, basic essentials, and health care;
    n) ability to participate in legal proceedings and case planning; and
    o) access to certain necessities and support that will allow them to be self-sufficient in
    their transition to adulthood.

    Foster youth rights apply to youth ages 18 to 21 in the Foster Youth in Transition Program, do
    not limit or supersede the right of parents, and do not apply to youth detained or in the care of
    the Department of Human Services (CDHS) Division of Youth Services.
    The Office of the Child’s Representative (OCR) must develop a written notice of rights and
    county human service departments must provide the notices to youth above 5 years old at their
    initial placement in foster care, at each placement change, and at least annually.

    v The Upside
    The committee heard from several young people that are or were in foster care; many of the stories were
    WIR Jan 10-19, 2024 2
    heartbreaking in that they detailed how foster children can be treated as second-class citizens. Most of
    the provisions in the bill are intended to remedy this sort of mistreatment.

    v The Downside
    o Many of the ‘rights’ described above come not from the text of the bill itself but from its ‘legislative
    summary’; unfortunately, as is usually the case, the ‘devil’s in the details’. In the case of HB 1017,
    the bill says explicitly,
    “(2) A CHILD OR YOUTH IN FOSTER CARE OR PARTICIPATING IN THE FOSTER
    YOUTH IN TRANSITION PROGRAM, CREATED IN PART 3 OF THIS ARTICLE 7, BUT
    EXCLUDING A CHILD OR YOUTH DETAINED BY OR COMMITTED TO THE CARE AND
    PHYSICAL CUSTODY OF THE DIVISION OF YOUTH SERVICES IN THE DEPARTMENT
    OF HUMAN SERVICES, HAS THE FOLLOWING RIGHTS: (I) FREEDOM FROM
    DISCRIMINATION OR HARASSMENT ON THE BASIS OF ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED RACE
    OR ANCESTRY, ETHNIC GROUP, NATIONAL ORIGIN, RELIGION, SEX, SEXUAL
    ORIENTATION, GENDER IDENTITY, GENDER EXPRESSION, MENTAL OR PHYSICAL
    DISABILITY, MARITAL STATUS, FAMILIAL STATUS, SOURCE OF INCOME, MILITARY
    STATUS, OR HIV STATUS; (II) FREEDOM OF THOUGHT, CONSCIENCE, CULTURAL
    AND ETHNIC PRACTICE, AND RELIGION, INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO ATTEND OR
    REFUSE TO ATTEND CULTURAL, ETHNIC, AND RELIGIOUS SERVICES AND
    ACTIVITIES; (III) EXPRESSION OF THE CHILD'S OR YOUTH'S GENDER IDENTITY
    AND BE REFERRED TO BY THE CHILD'S OR YOUTH'S PREFERRED NAME AND
    GENDER PRONOUNS; (IV)
    FREEDOMFROMTHREATS,PUNISHMENT,ORRETALIATIONFOR ASKING QUESTIONS,
    STATING CONCERNS, OR MAKING COMPLAINTS ABOUT A VIOLATION OF THE
    RIGHTS AND PROTECTIONS ESTABLISHED IN THIS ARTICLE 7 …

    o Both in Colorado and in the United States more broadly, a large percentage of those who
    become foster parents do so based on their religious convictions (here and here). Under the
    terms of this bill, the foster parents of a 5- or 10-year old child could be subject to sanction for
    taking a child to synagogue or Sunday School should the child object; similarly, if a 13-year old
    fostered child insisted on being called a girl, but the foster parents do anything other than offer
    affirmation, the parents will be subject to legal sanction.

    o Moreover, children suffering from gender dysphoria at a given point in time often change their
    minds, sometimes with and sometimes without adult encouragement (here, here, here, and
    here) – but this bill would prevent a foster parent from giving wise advice that might spare a
    young person from unhappiness and self-harm.

    o Already in Colorado there are more children needing foster care than adults willing to provide
    it (here and here) – what will happen to these children if would-be foster parents decide to optout of the system because the state government is threatening to punish them for exercising
    their rights as parents?

    o How long before Progressives in Colorado decide that all children in Colorado such enjoy the
    same ‘rights’ as children in foster care?

    o It appears that Progressives are willing to sacrifice needy foster children on the altar of
    “gender-affirming” ideology, despite evidence that more kids will be hurt than helped – is that
    what we’re now calling ‘compassion’?
    § § §

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