SUNDAY, JUNE 17, 2018

Foster care vaccination waiver bill clears committee in Arizona

A new bill that cleared an Arizona Senate committee on Wednesday would no longer require parents caring for foster kids to vaccinate their own children against certain illnesses.

Senate Bill 1108 was approved 5-2 by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. The bill would allow families whose children are not fully immunized to still get licensed as foster families. The Arizona Department of Economic Security would retain the authority about where to place foster children, the Arizona Republic reports.

House Bill 2348, an identical bill, was scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday in the House Reform and Human Services Committee. A proposed amendment to the bill would eliminate the state's liability related to the immunization issue.

The Department of Economic Security previously said that the vaccination requirement protects children removed from their homes who may not be fully immunized, including newborns who are not yet old enough to have shots.

A group of parents were turned away from foster care and said they should not be disqualified because of personal parenting decisions. In some instances, the children of the parents had medical reasons to forgo immunization.

Democratic Senators Linda Lopez and Katie Hobbs voted against the bill.

"My bigger concern is a public-health concern," Hobbs said, according to the Arizona Republic. "Everything that we do that chips away at immunization requirements puts more holes in the system."

An Arizona state record 14,400 children were in foster care as of November 30, the Arizona Republic reports.