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ADVOCACY ALERT! WE’RE CHANGING THE CHILD WELFARE CODE!
I’m excited to announce the introduction of HB16-1385. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Jonathan Singer and Sen. Linda Newell, updates and modernizes the language of the definition of “abuse” or “child abuse or neglect” in the “Colorado Children’s Code” to reflect the ways a child’s welfare can be threatened or harmed by adults through the use of or exposure to substances. It allows for prescription or recommendation of substances for medical purposes during pregnancy under the care and monitoring of a healthcare provider who is aware of the pregnancy. It is meant to give clear guidance as to appropriate child welfare intervention in families when substance use, possession, cultivation, manufacturing, or distribution is a factor. This does not change the criminal code.
This is the most important and challenging piece of legislation I’ve worked on. In 2013 and 2014, we fought legislation that would have changed the Children’s Code, but in a way we were concerned could be poorly interpreted and put cannabis-consuming parents in further jeopardy. Many might remember the dramatic rally and hearing on April 9, 2014, when we defeated that bill.
After 2 years of working together, starting with an educational campaign on keeping kids safe from substances called Smart Choices Safe Kids, we’ve finally managed to come to a place that both sides can support. http://smartchoicessafekids.org/
We won’t be without opposition, however, so it’s important that we come ready with facts and show strong support.
This bill will have its first hearing by the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee on Tuesday, April 5, at 1:30pm in House Committee Room 0107. Mark your calendar and plan to be there to show your support!