Anika Robinson, Susan Woodruff and Angela Teachout have all fostered children with histories of abuse, neglect, and significant mental health needs. Feeling disheartened by the system’s failure to provide these children with desperately needed services, they decided to fight for all 19,000 kids in foster care in Arizona. Along with sponsor Representative Eddie Farnsworth, they presented bill HB2442, otherwise known as “Jacob’s Law” in honor of Susan’s adoptive son. The bill has grown to 13 provisions which covers children under Title XIX or XXI of the Social Security Act and enables foster parents to call and set up mental health services for a child in their care. In addition, the bill sets timely requirements for assessments and treatment services to be provided by the Regional Behavioral Health Authority (RBHA), and provides access to out-of-network care in cases where services are not available within 21 days. After weeks of preparation, the bill went before the Children and Family Affairs Committee where several foster parents shared their struggles with the system.
Support for the bill was unanimous and the victory was celebrated with a night out at the Superstition Manor where several representatives, foster parents, and HB2442 supporters attended and discussed advocacy.
The next morning, the bill was presented before the Committee of the Whole (COW) where it garnered unprecedented bipartisan support with every representative present voting “Aye” and giving a standing ovation.
The bill was read before the Senate on March 2nd and assigned to a Government Committee. On March 3rd the Policy Advisor to the Governor verified that AHCCCS approved the up to 130% payment to out of network providers to ensure families are able to receive services in a timely manner.
Supporters of Jacob’s law will be at the capital in a sea of blue shirts representing unity and support for foster kids on Wednesday, March 9th to speak before the Senate. After the final Senate vote, the bill will move on to the Governors office. With change in the horizon, all foster and adoptive families are urged to support this bill to ensure that it is signed into law. An emergency clause has been requested to ensure that this bill will go into effect immediately.
Supporters of HB2442 will have one last opportunity to testify during the Government Committee Hearing.
All are invited:
Wednesday March 9th @ 2pm
Arizona State Capitol
1700 W Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Hearing Room 3
Written by Estefana Johnson, MSW