Foster Parent Bill of Rights is Law

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BOSTON — Long time priority of State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier, the Foster Parents' bill of rights, is now law.
According to a press release from Farley-Bouvier, the Foster Parent Bill of Rights (FPBoR) was sent to the governor's desk for signature in the final hours of the 192nd legislative session and was signed into law on Wednesday Jan. 4, 2023. 
This comes after years of collaboration between House sponsors Rep. Farley-Bouvier and Representative Paul Donato (D-Medford), Senate sponsor Senator Jo Comerford (D-North Hampton), and countless foster parent advocates across the state.
The FPBoR offers a range of protections for foster parents, namely: anti-discrimination protections; greater confidentiality; training; more information on the child prior to placement and the opportunity to provide helpful information after placements; increased transparency from DCF on reviews, funding resources, and removals; and involvement in the child's action plan creation.
Another key provision of the Foster Parents' bill of rights is the inclusion of the prudent parent standard. This standard helps foster parents take away the stigma so often faced by foster children; it gives foster parents the authority to allow foster children to go to birthday parties without background checks, it allows foster families to take a day trip to a farm right over state lines, it allows foster children to ride their bikes to middle school with their friends. All things that allow foster children to have as close to an average childhood as possible. 
"I couldn't be happier to have now in statute the fact that foster parents will be treated as respected members of the professional foster care team," said Representative Farley-Bouvier. "Those that open their hearts and their homes to our most vulnerable children are the very core of the child welfare system and just like with anyone else, if you want to recruit and retain them, they need to have positive experiences. Sadly, that is not usually the case."
According to the press reelase, foster parent advocates across Massachusetts are excited for these long-awaited protections. Including Berkshire County's Missy Tarjick.
"On behalf of MAFF (Massachusetts Alliance for Foster Families) and as a foster/adoptive Mom, I want to express our sincere appreciation to the legislature and the governor for the passage of the Foster Parent Bill of Rights. Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier has been a foster family champion since taking office, and this bill would not have been possible without her.  Foster families dedicate their lives to children in need; without them, many children would be left in unsafe conditions. This bill encompasses much of what foster parents require and deserve, which will always benefit the children in their care," Tarjick said. "For me, the heart of this bill is the recognition from our state leaders that we are an essential member of the child welfare team. MAFF is eager to continue our collaboration with the Department of Children and Families as policies and practices are highlighted and/or enhanced as we move toward implementation."
The Foster Parents Bill of Rights is now included in the Massachusetts General Laws for all to review, especially our foster parents, in the Acts of 2022 Chapter 439.

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Dalton Planning Board Establishes Sidewalk Subcommittee

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
DALTON, Mass. — The Planning Board established a sidewalk subcommittee during its meeting last week. 
The subcommittee will review the proposed sidewalk bylaw amendment that was not acted upon during the annual town meeting on May 7. 
The amendment proposes amending the town bylaw to make concrete sidewalks the standard.
During the meeting, Todd Logan, the citizen petitioner for the sidewalk amendment, reiterated what he had previously said during several meetings — that concrete sidewalks should be the standard — and presented the steps he had already taken while developing this amendment. 
"The way the proper way to do this is to have a subcommittee and have at least two people from the Planning Board, and you can have as many people as you want that are experts … and write the bylaw in the format that matches our bylaws," Planner Zack McCain said during the meeting. 
"Then the whole Planning Board will review it, and then we'd have a public hearing to let everybody have their input on it. And then we would make the changes based on the input and then have it go to the annual town meeting."
McCain is the voter who motioned during the town meeting to table the article until a public hearing. 
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