Saturday, March 06, 2010

Child Welfare: Idaho close to passing law giving rights to grandparents raising children

In Idaho, the 20,000 children being raised by their grandparents are closer to having a new law on their side. Today, the Idaho House passed the "grandparenting" bill (HB 610), serving to make it easier for grandparents to become foster parents to their grandchildren. AARP, which strongly supports the measure introduced by Representative Sharon Block, applauded the House for today's action.

"This legislation will help children who've already seen difficult times have a strong family foundation to build their futures upon," said Jim Wordelman, State Director for AARP in Idaho. "AARP commends Representative Block and the bill's co-sponsors for their efforts to ensure children from broken homes don't lead broken lives."

The "grandparenting" bill would place grandparents and other relatives at the top of the list for consideration as foster parents. The legislation was co-sponsored by Senator Patti Anne Lodge and Representatives Richard Wills and Lynn Luker.

Key provisions of the "grandparenting" bill include:

* Establishing a priority list for foster care, placing fit and willing grandparents and other relatives first in line for consideration.
* Expediting the process for foster care approval for relatives when it's in the best interest of the child.
* Giving grandparents better standing to become foster parents of their grandchildren when the parent has failed to maintain a relationship with the child for one year.

"In the midst of a legislative session filled with so much bad news, it's reassuring to see good legislation like this pass with such widespread support," added Wordelman. "AARP urges the Senate to pass the bill and send it the Governor."

Grandparents raising their grandchildren represent the fastest growing type of family in the nation. Nationally, 6.6 million grandchildren live in households headed by grandparents, while another 1.5 million live in homes headed by other relatives. In many cases grandparents are responsible for meeting all the child's needs without the legal authorization to do so.

AARP is Idaho's largest membership organization with over 180,000 members.

Source: AARP Idaho

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