By Mary Jo Pitzl | The Republic
The state could be at a crossroads, or cross-purposes, when it comes to dealing with children in families dealing with drug addiction.
Over the past six months, state policies have pivoted to a more compassionate approach toward people with addiction issues.
But a proposal at the state Legislature would put strict timeframes on that compassion when it comes to children who have been reported to the state Department of Child Safety.
A bill that passed a Senate committee last week would cut off parental rights more quickly, deny services that might help parents address their addiction or other problems, and open a quicker path to adoption
“This piece of legislation would impose a dramatic shift in the way Arizona’s legal system should view parents who are struggling with the disease of addiction in family law cases. It shifts the focus from family preservation to placing younger children more expeditiously.
“I can certainly understand and appreciate the rationale for the bill, but what the proponents seem to not understand is that each person’s journey when battling addiction is different. It is problematic from a legal and philosophical standpoint to impose ‘drop-dead’ timeframes when it pertains to deciding whether to sever or restrict a parent’s constitutional right to raise their children. A hardline approach when it comes to deciding a child’s fate does not seem like the best solution.
“I have always been a big proponent of evaluating each family law case as it comes and will always question strict approaches when determining what may be in a child’s best interest.”