Proposed bill would require more training for foster parents in Arizona

PHOENIX - There is a sign that hangs in Stacey Bradley's home that says, "For where two or three gather in my name, I am with them," a verse from the Bible cited as Matthew 18:20.

But, she is not limiting her "welcome" to that low of a number.

"I have two 'biologicals' and...three placements," Bradley said.

Bradley has been a foster parent for about 10 months and said, in that short time, her eyes have already been opened to the chaos of the child care system.

"I can't believe that we weren't trained more in just how to parent," Bradley explained. "Because you can't parent a trauma kid the way that you parent your biological kids, who have had... as normal of a home as you can provide for them."

That is the reason fueling Bradley's drive to advocate for House Bill 2476, which would require more intensive trauma education for incoming foster parents.

Bradley has been building support through social media and using it as a way to connect her cause and gain new foster friends who can relate to what Bradley is going through.

"You're constantly in question of 'Am I doing what's right?'" explained foster parent and friend Kelli Dillon. "'Am I approaching this the way that I should be? Am I really helping them?'" 

The bill has no on publicly opposed to it, but yet, it has been scheduled to be read in the Senate twice, only to be pushed back.

Since it has not been read yet, if it does not get a reading by it's scheduled slot on Wednesday, the bill will automatically die without a vote. 

Bradley admits that there has been some push back on who would be the one actually providing the trauma education. 

A proposed amendment to the bill would mean someone without a master's degree in a behavioral health discipline would be able to provide the education to foster parents. That is something Bradley's friend and fellow foster parent Lauren Merkel does not agree with having a master's degree in social work herself.

"Because, if not, then it's just somebody else that went through the same bumpy road of gathering information as you did," Merkel laughed.

Bradley said she will not be happy if the bill passes with that amendment. It is something she said she will keep fighting for.

"These kids have come into our home and they have blessed us more than we could ever bless them," Bradley said. "I can't imagine looking at them and giving up."

If people are for or against this bill, you can contact your district Health and Human Services committee member with your feedback.

The bill is scheduled to be read in the Senate Health and Human Services on Wednesday, March 22 at 2p.m. in Senate Hearing Room 1. 

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