Image Credit: Gov. Bill Lee / Facebook
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
Governor Bill Lee signed a bill into law Monday aimed at making the foster and adoption process more efficient.
Senate Bill 0270 (SB0270), carried by Senator Jack Johnson (R-Franklin-District 27) in the Senate, and House Bill 0318 (HB0318), carried by Representative William Lamberth (R-Portland-District 44) in the House, were written by the Governor’s Office following the enactment of the state’s abortion ban. The hope was that people would choose adoption for their unborn child instead of abortion.
The legislation was signed at Ridgedale Baptist Church in Chattanooga, a church that offers a number of support programs for foster families and works closely with DCS for foster placement, with several foster and adoptive families in attendance.
For Lee, the issue hits close to home as his wife Maria was raised in a family that fostered children.
The new law will allow adoptions to be finalized in only three months, instead of the current six months. Additionally, biological mothers can be compensated during their entire pregnancy and for 90 days after birth, much longer than the previously allowed compensation time. Biological mothers also have access to paid counseling services for up to two years after the adoption.
According to Lee, “This ‘Forever Homes Act’ serves moms, children, foster families, adoptive families. It creates a stronger family environment throughout the state.”
The law will also allow judges to conduct the transfer of the child via a video call instead of in a courtroom, a move meant to make that process easier for birth mothers.
The new law will mean more staff is needed in the Department of Children’s Services, particularly after a December audit showed they were already seriously understaffed. Department Commissioner Margie Quin says they have already hired hundreds of caseworkers after that audit.
Quin also says that the state has not yet seen an increase in foster or adoption cases following the abortion ban, but that could change given the updated policies.
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com