Families in crisis need support and treatment to stay together.
Instead of getting parents the treatment they need to recover and keep their families together, HB 918 will punish parents with substance use issues. The bill does not offer treatment. It does not provide funding for the increased numbers of children entering foster care. And it does nothing to address the severe shortage of foster parents. Please speak out against this harmful bill.
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HB 918 “Expedite Permanency,” is supposed to move children more quickly out of the foster care system and into permanent homes. That is a laudable goal.
But the bill aggressively targets parents with substance use disorders. And it will make family reunification less likely for kids in foster care, by dramatically shortening the length of time a child can be in care before parental rights are terminated permanently.
Punishing parents with substance use disorder will not help kids – but it will scare parents away from seeking the help they need.
North Carolina’s child welfare, justice, and health care systems are all plagued by a long history of racial bias. The upshot will be more children of color taken permanently from their birth families, when what families need is treatment and support to stay together.
Instead of punishing parents by taking their children away, legislators should invest in the services families sorely need but can’t get: Substance use treatment and mental health counseling. Only a fraction of North Carolinians who seek substance use treatment are able to obtain it.
The evidence tells us works best: Prevention, treatment, and family reunification services that support parents and keep families together.
Prevention is sorely needed, especially at a time when there is a severe shortage of foster families available to care for kids. HB 918 moves our over-burdened child welfare system in the wrong direction.
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