New law protects children awaiting foster care and adoption

The following is from a news release from the Office of Sen. Mary Torres:

Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senator Mary Camacho Torres and nine other senators to create minimum standards for child placement agencies has been signed into law by Governor Leon Guerrero.

The new law, Public Law 36-68, will require all child placement agencies to be licensed by the Department of Public Health and Social Services following the implementation of interim rules. Under the law, “child placement agencies” are defined as any individual or entity that places or assists in the placement of an unrelated minor in a foster home, therapeutic foster home, or adoptive home.*

While Guam law already has clear requirements for the adoptive and foster homes that receive children, Public Law 36-68 ensures that any entity involved in the placement of these children is also held to high standards. To this end, the measure outlined minimum requirements Public Health should include in its rules, such as standards for safe physical facilities, procedures for the report and resolution of violations, background checks, and the proper retention of records.

To ensure public participation, the rules must also receive a Public Hearing pursuant to Open Government Law.

The measure was unanimously favored by Child Protective Services, Public Health, and community partners for its transparency, comprehensive language, reasonable timeframe, and the inclusion of funding. The Legislature passed the measure with strong support from both sides of the aisle.

“With the standards and priorities clearly articulated in Bill No. 206-36…I am confident that the DPHSS has the tools it needs to draft and implement these urgent interim regulations expeditiously and in a manner that properly accounts for the specific needs and customs of our community and, of course, the primacy of our children’s health, safety and welfare,” stated Governor Leon Guerrero in her signing message yesterday afternoon. “For these reasons, I sign Bill No. 206-36 into law.”

“I want to thank Governor Leon Guerrero for recognizing the procedural safeguards in this bipartisan measure and signing it into law,” said Senator Torres. “Sponsored by a majority of senators and unanimously endorsed by stakeholders, P.L. 36-68 is a reminder that government works when we work together—because protecting our children is everyone’s responsibility.”

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