By Pacific Island Times News Staff
A bill to require fair and transparent rule-making for child placement agencies passed with strong bipartisan support by a vote of 9-4 on Wednesday.
Introduced by Sen. Mary Camacho Torres, Bill 206-36 would require that every child placement agency on Guam be licensed by the Department of Public Health and Social Services.
While the Department of Public Health and Social Services is already authorized to create rules and regulations under Guam law, Bill 206 would allow the department to license agencies through interim rules until the final rules are promulgated.
The bill also requires that the interim rules undergo a public hearing and apply to all child placement entities, not just adoption agencies.
The bill was unanimously favored by health officials and community partners, including Acting CPS Director Lani Brennan, Deputy Public Health Director Terry Aguon and Harvest House Director Bethany Taylor.
“The Department of Public Health is in favor of Bill 206-36 (LS) for the clarity, a minimum of one year to put forth the final rules and regulations, and most importantly its adjunct with the Open Government Law,” Aguon said at the measure’s hearing.
“As for Harvest House, this bill also puts checks and balances on us as a non-profit to have rules and regulations in our efforts in helping and coming alongside CPS and your valiant efforts in getting homes for these children—whether they are foster care or adoptive homes,” Taylor said.
“The Bureau of Social Services is one agency but requires many dedicated entities, non-profits, and individuals working together to protect children and strengthen families,” Torres said.