Country recording artist, keynote speaker, New York Times bestselling author and foster child advocate Jimmy Wayne joined legislative leaders, including Senator Berger, Speaker Moore, and Senator Tamara Barringer, to celebrate the passage of HB630, Rylan’s Law/Family/Child Protect. & Acc. Act, which passed the legislature and was signed by Governor Cooper last week.
HB630 will reform and modernize North Carolina’s child welfare system by creating a regional oversight system for county DSS agencies, by providing the state with greater authority to hold counties accountable for child outcomes, and by bringing in a third-party to implement whole-scale child welfare practice and governance reform.
“This bill is one of the most significant pieces of legislation to impact social services. It overhauls the system to drive safety, security and permanency for children in foster care across all 100 counties,” said Senator Tamara Barringer, who led the legislative effort to pass HB630.
Artist, speaker and author Jimmy Wayne, who spent years in North Carolina’s child welfare system, is one of the country’s leading advocates for children in foster care. He performed at Wednesday’s celebration free of charge.
“I grew up in the North Carolina foster care system. I know firsthand the importance of having someone fight for you. Senator Barringer is a war-horse for these children; she is their hope. I will do whatever it takes and use all my resources to support her and her team in this battle. I encourage others to help fight for these vulnerable and valuable children,” said Jimmy.
“Jimmy Wayne is one of those rare individuals who “walks the talk” literally! He walked halfway across America to raise awareness of youth in foster care and has travelled to North Carolina repeatedly to support legislation to repair the foster care system, including testifying in the Legislative Oversight Committee on Health to extend foster care from 18 to 21 years of age,” said Sen. Barringer.
HB630 is largely a response to ongoing challenges in North Carolina’s child welfare system. In 2015, North Carolina performed miserably in a federal review, failing all 14 categories measured. In 2016, a legislatively mandated report by the private agency PCG showed pervasive systemic problems with North Carolina’s child welfare system.
These reports coincided with high-profile cases in which children died as a result of DSS failures, including the case of Rylan Ott. Twenty-three-month-old Rylan drowned after he was placed back in his mother’s care only two months after being removed from her home. The decision was made despite objections from the guardian ad litem and without any DSS-supervised home visitations.
To help prevent future cases like Rylan’s, HB630 requires county DSS agencies to observe a child with his or her parents at least twice prior to reunification. This provision is one of many included in the legislation that will address the systemic issues that led to failed reviews and child fatalities.
“House bill 630 demands transparency, accountability and quality of care for children in foster care. They deserve nothing less,” said Barringer.
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