This week, Arizona Sen. Lynne Pancrazi (D) made amendments to Senate Bill 1330, which would allow counties to provide free legal work to terminate birth parent rights in adoption.
Originally, the bill would have allowed counties to opt out of the requirement to provide free legal services for uncontested adoption. Advocacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona were concerned that the original wording would allow attorneys to pick and choose who would receive the free services, potentially leading to discrimination against certain groups, such as same-sex adoptive parents.
The amended version of the bill addressed these groups’ concerns and passed the Senate Committee of the Whole. The bill now needs a final Senate vote before advancing to the House.
The bill was introduced by Pancrazi on behalf of the Yuma County Attorney’s office. The county had been providing free legal services to families in need until a judge told officials they did not have the authority to do so.
The proposed legislation would most commonly apply to cases in which foster parents or family members are currently caring for a child and are interested in adoption, but can’t locate the biological parent.
“These are kids who are left in foster care because of parents who are absent,” Pancrazi said. “The legal process can be really expensive, especially when you can’t find the parents. This would allow the county to sever those parental rights so those kids can be in permanent, loving families.”
Read the full story from The Arizona Republic.