"It is not necessarily about the amount of time that a parent has spent away from their child, that gets a child out of foster care and back with their parents, just as it is not about the gender of the parent, which determines who is fitter to provide a nurturing and stable home for the child."
In pursuing a custody system that considers the best interests of the child, over any preconceived notions involving gender and one’s ability to being a nurturing parent, advocates are seeking a safer, more constructive legal skeleton to protect the children, whose futures may be decided upon.
Whether it is biological, adoptive, or foster, you consider your child to be your child, and it is important that your child’s custody is decided honestly and fairly with the best interests of the child in mind.
Recently, a law was passed in the state of North Carolina and signed into law by Governor Roy Cooper, dealing with child custody, in an effort to protect children who were sent into foster care.
The law requires social service employees to take additional steps to make sure children in foster care are not returned to their parent or guardian prematurely, according to The News Observer. Social service representatives and employees must observe the parents and children together on at least two visits before advising a judge on who should have custody of the children.
This legislation is called Rylan’s law, or the Family/Child Protection and Accountability Act, and is named after Rylan Ott, who drowned two weeks before his second birthday. He wandered away from his Carthage, North Carolina home and drowned in a nearby pond.
Rylan, and his older sister, were removed by the Moore County Department of Social Services, from their mother, Samantha Bryant in October 2015. There was an alleged altercation between Bryant and her boyfriend, causing Rylan and his sister to be assigned to foster parents on Fort Bragg. Despite a pending misdemeanor charge of child abuse, a judge returned Rylan to his mother in December of 2015, with an understanding that authorities would drop the charge on the condition that she keep a clean record.
Bryant pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and child abuse for his death, according to The Fayetteville Observer. Rylan’s Guardian ad Litem, Pam Reed, and his foster parents both said Bryant was not ready to take him back that December.
Aspects of the law are designed to reform the child welfare system that affected Rylan’s case. The law includes giving county Social Service offices the ability to form regional partnerships to help one another, requiring the state to hire a contractor to review the Social Services system and develop a reform plan, creating a Child Well-Being Transformation Council to monitor the child welfare programs and suggest ways to rectify and deficiencies it finds, establishing a pilot program for youth in foster care to obtain a driver’s license, and requiring that parents whose parental rights were terminated are given 65 days to appeal those decisions, as opposed to the 180 that they previously had.
In establishing these parameters for what Social Services look for in their assessment and improving the resources of Social Services, they are attempting put children in their care first. Children can find themselves in foster care for a variety of reasons, and it is important for the parents that wish to have their children back that they correct whatever mistakes they may have made in the past and display to Social Services that they can provide a stable home.
Due to the results of their divorce settlement, many parents find themselves without custody of their children. Many attempt to improve their cases by showing the courts their improvements, in creating home that their children can thrive in.
Similarly, advocates of Social Service and child custody reform look to do whatever it takes to make sure that the children they are in charge of protecting are protected and cared for. In both systems, the changes necessary, in order to ensure that these children are put in the best situation possible, require a shift in perspective.
It is not necessarily about the amount of time that a parent has spent away from their child, that gets a child out of foster care and back with their parents, just as it is not about the gender of the parent, which determines who is fitter to provide a nurturing and stable home for the child.
In prioritizing a child’s interest, the legal system and Social Services can improve the standard to which a child’s well-being is decided upon.