Panel advances child welfare bill
DCFS • Legislation would tighten standards for removing child from relative's care.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A House committee gave a green light Wednesday to a proposed bill that would require child welfare caseworkers to meet a higher standard of cause before removing a child from a relative's care based on age or health concerns.

Rep. Christine Watkins, D-Price, said she drafted HB241 after learning of instances where the Division of Child and Family Services caseworkers used alleged age or health issues to remove children from care of grandparents who had custody as approved foster parents. It would require "clear and convincing evidence" the relative was incapable of providing care before removing a child from a home.

"When you're a grandparent, you're not 35 any more but you're still capable of taking care of children," Watkins said.

Among those giving the bill a thumbs up: the Utah Eagle Forum and the Sutherland Institute, both conservative organizations.

"Part of what I like about this is the age thing," said Gayle Ruzicka, Utah Eagle Forum president. "We have certainly run into problems. We have a case right now where a child was removed from a home because of the age of the grandparents."