February 22, 2018

Bill Aims To Improve DCS Communication With Schools

Article origination IPBS-RJC
Sen. Andy Zay (R-Huntington) speaks on the House floor. - Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Sen. Andy Zay (R-Huntington) speaks on the House floor.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

A bill passed through committee this week that aims to improve communications between schools, courts and the Department of Child Services.

The first part of the bill would require DCS to outline efforts to coordinate with a foster child’s school system. Sen. Andy Zay (R-Huntington) authored the bill and says a case from his county highlights the problem.

“This child was 7-years-old and weighed 20 pounds and the only communication they had with the school was, here is the child,” says Zay.

He says a school in his district was unable to get any information about a the child. The measure could ensure children’s needs are being met.

“To know the services they are getting in school and the services they are getting out of school and collaborate for the life, health and wellbeing of the child,” says Zay.

The second part of the bill directs the department to notify the court if parents or guardians have any case violations. Marta Johnson testified she worries about two of her former foster children who were reunited with their mother after she failed drug screenings.

“The state’s most vulnerable children need and deserve a family and system that puts them first so we can assure that we will never, not ever, send them back to an actively using parent,” Johnson says.

The bill now moves to the House floor.

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