Bill to improve oversight of foster care agencies advances in Legislature


Officials at Clark County’s Department of Family Services are celebrating the advancement of legislation that will help improve the quality of care for foster children.

Assembly Bill 348 had to be heard Friday to stay alive in the legislative process, and it was.

The Health and Human Services Committee moved it forward.

The bill could go to the Assembly floor as early as this week, said Kristi Jourdan, spokeswoman with Family Services.

There are still many hurdles ahead, but Friday “was a great first step,” Jourdan added.

Officials with the agency believe that if the bill becomes law, it would provide another “tool” to provide quality care for children, Jourdan said. “It strengthens our partnership with providers,” she said.

The bill would establish certain requirements for the operation of foster care agencies, according to a summary of the legislation. There are about 23 of these foster care agencies in Clark County and they represent about 20 percent of beds for Family Services, said Lisa Ruiz-Lee, director of Family Services. Family Services doesn’t now have oversight of those agencies, but it does license the foster care homes that fall under them.

Under AB348, Family Services would have oversight of those 23 agencies, Ruiz-Lee said.

Ruiz-Lee, who helped draft the original bill and assisted in amending it, testified on its behalf Friday.

The bill would also allow more oversight and regulation of the operation of independent living foster homes.

What officials have found in some of the independent living foster homes for transitional youth has been “shocking,” Ruiz-Lee said last week.

“They were never supported the way they should have been,” she said.

As a result, some of the youth placed in these programs were not receiving the services they needed. Ruiz-Lee said some children were not prepared to go to school or lacked the supplies they needed.

“These are the youth who are falling through the cracks,” she said.

Contact Yesenia Amaro at yamaro@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0440.

 

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