WUOMFM

Bill heading to Gov. Snyder's desk would help keep siblings in foster care together

Jun 8, 2016

Legislation requiring child-placing agencies to make reasonable efforts to keep siblings together in the foster care and adoption systems is going to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.

The bills say if siblings could not be placed together due to safety or other concerns, agencies should prioritize sibling visitation and interaction.

The state already places siblings together when feasible under provisions of federal court oversight of Michigan's child welfare system.

"If you separate siblings, imagine the shock of not having any contact for many months, perhaps even years. It's a terrible tragedy, and it's not their fault," Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, said.

Jones sponsored Senate Bill 483, which he says would also guarantee parenting time visits between foster children and non-custodial biological parents.

"For example, if the parent is in rehab or getting some sort of service like that, the idea is someday they would go back. It's very important to maintain that bond," he said.

A court would be able to suspend visits if it's determined they would be harmful to the child.

The legislation would codify requirements in state law and is not expected to have a significant impact on local governments because federal law already requires reasonable efforts to place siblings together.

The Senate gave final, unanimous approval to one bill Tuesday after passing the other one last week.