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Arizona bill that would end some foster parent renewals draws criticism

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PHOENIX — A bill introduced in the Arizona Senate would not require renewals for some foster parents, but the leader of a Phoenix non-profit said that could lead to some unintended consequences, like putting children’s lives at risk.

Senate Bill 1046, introduced by Sen. Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert), would initially grant foster parents a license for two years, but would subsequently waive the renewal process for those who did not have any violations or proven claims of child neglect or abuse. 

Supporters of the bill believe it would cut down on paperwork and help streamline the renewal process, but opponents, like Dana Wolfe Neimark, believe it could put children in harm’s way.

Neimark, the president and CEO of the Phoenix-based Children’s Action Alliance, told KTAR News 92.3 FM that the organization believes passing the legislation would be a bad idea and they are asking lawmakers to vote no.

“The renewal process is a chance to sit down with the case worker and look at the big picture,” including the foster parents’ challenges, strengths, progress and overall family conditions that could affect the way they are able to foster, she said.

“It’s a really critical component to reassess the family’s needs.”

Neimark said she believes that by taking away the renewal process altogether, it would be “missing the big picture evaluation that we believe keeps kids not only safe, but thriving.”

The state’s childcare advocates support streamlining the renewal process in order for it to be workable and meet the state’s high standards and expectations, Neimark said, adding that she would be happy to work with lawmakers and the Arizona Department of Child Safety to streamline that process without losing the renewal.

KTAR News’ Griselda Zetino and Ali Vetnar contributed to this report. 

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