HB 2849A Relaxes standards for child protective custody without court order

VOTE: NO – Gov Brown Signed into Law

Status (overview) of bill:https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2019R1/Measures/Overview/HB2849

This bill modifies custody provisions of youth who have run away from home or placements to apply to all runaways and relaxes standards under which a child may be taken into protective custody without a court order.

Personal Choice and Responsibility
More than 80% of children that were removed from families were never provided with a judicial order, and in some counties 100% of the families were never given a judicial order. These families had to go through hell to get their child back.

Fiscal Responsibility
The fiscal indicates a need for 135 new positions. That is a big impact that isn’t clear why they are needed, since the bill simply clarifies current custody practices. The Department of Human Services provided a preliminary fiscal impact estimate for the 2019-21 biennium of $17,542,444 General Fund and $5,071,811 Federal Funds for 135 positions (101.00 FTE), which includes additional costs for representation from the Department of Justice. The fiscal impact to the Oregon Judicial Department is indeterminate.

Limited Government
Current Oregon law allows a child to be taken into protective custody without a court order when the conditions or surroundings appear to jeopardize the child’s welfare. This standard, however, is at odds with case law applying the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the US Constitution. In response, HB 4009 (2018) proposed a stricter standard. While provisions of the measure relating to taking a child into custody were not enacted, a work group was formed that proposed HB 2849A and new standards for when a child may be taken into protective custody without a court order. Instead of due process, standards continue to violate constitutional rights. Specifically when there is reasonable cause to believe that there is an imminent threat of severe harm to the child, the child poses an imminent threat of severe harm to self or others, the child has run away from home, or there is an imminent threat that the child will be removed from the jurisdiction of the court in the time it takes to complete an assessment of an allegation of abuse or for the court to order the child be taken into protective custody. The measure provides a standard for Indian children that is in line with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), allowing removal only when necessary to prevent imminent physical damage or harm to the child. The measure allows caseworkers to submit written declarations or oral statements under oath when seeking a protective custody order and sets the standards that must be met for the order to be granted.

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