Ariz. to Boost Foster-Care Services Following Lawsuit
Arizona’s child welfare agency has agreed to increase behavioral and health services for foster children and limit the use of group homes, according to the Associated Press. The decision, announced Oct. 15, is part of an agreement to settle a lawsuit brought by advocacy groups in 2015 following an overhaul of the state Child Protective Services agency. Behind the overhaul were revelations that the agency had failed to investigate thousands of abuse and neglect reports submitted on a state hotline.
N.Y. Agency Has Suppressed Many Child-Death Reports
The New York Office of Children and Family Services has suppressed more than 700 reviews of child deaths over the past decade, according to the Times Union newspaper. Following the death of a child in the state’s Child Protective Services system, the office of Children and Family Services is required by law to produce a report determining whether child-welfare workers had followed protocols in investigating reported allegations of abuse. OCFS may decline to disclose such reports, however, and has done so hundreds of times in recent years. Often, suppression occurs at the urging of county governments, whose protective-care employees are the subject of the reports, according to the paper.
Calif. to License Debt Collectors
California became the latest state to license debt collectors on Sept. 25, when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill requiring those in the profession to submit license applications before 2022. Licensing responsibility will belong to the Department of Business Oversight, which will be reorganized and dubbed the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation, reports Lexicology.com. Licensees will have to obtain a surety bond, file an annual report and pay an annual fee.
Texas Social Worker Board Criticized for Rule Changes
Social workers are criticizing the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners, which voted unanimously Oct. 12 to change a section of its code of conduct that prohibited licensees from turning away clients on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and disability. The board acted at the recommendation of Gov. Greg Abbott, who argued that the protections went beyond protections laid out in state law governing the discipline of social workers, according to the Texas Tribune. The board’s decision also followed an informal legal opinion by the state attorney general’s office, which determined that the board’s rule should be consistent with state law.
COVID Crippling the Child-Care Industry
The COVID crisis has pushed the child-care industry to the brink, The Wall Street Journal reports. Enrollment has plunged even as the need to buy protective equipment has strained facility budgets. Meanwhile, the shrinking number of spaces has pushed many mothers out of the workforce.