Richard Piatt Reporting A series of bills meant to overhaul Utah's Division of Child and Family Services are getting a hearing before the state legislature today. We expected the theme of Parental Rights to be hot topic, and it is, with eight separate proposals on tap to change the way DCFS protects children.
The issue has gained publicity through the Parker Jensen case, but the sponsor of these bills says there are plenty of examples of a system out of balance: where a child's rights and parental rights are not equally considered.
Senator Parley Hellewell has visited with about 50 families in the system and says the need for change is significant.
Sen. Parley Hellewell, (R) Orem: "There's nights when I go home and I can't sleep, when I've been with a family in a DCFS hearing and a child comes up and grabs my leg and says, ‘I want to go home with my parents.’ And there are serious things going on that we need to correct."
Senator Hellewell claims his proposals aren't severe; he wants to start with changing the way the DCFS board is structured. And he proposes an ombudsman appointed by the Governor---not DCFS---to help balance Parental Rights with Child safety issues.
There are other bills on the agenda, too, that have to do with when children can be removed, and standards of review, among other things.