Senators tackle Guam’s foster care system

Speaker Therese Terlaje (PNC file photo)

By Josh Tyquiengco

The 35th Guam Legislature went into session today primarily to amend the limitations in Guam’s foster care system.

Lawmakers discussed Bill 159-35, authored by Sen. Therese Terlaje, to authorize the director of the Department of Public Health and Social Services to grant a waiver allowing Group Child Care Homes to exceed the maximum capacity of 12 children.

Senator Terlaje says they need to support the growing need for shelters for children waiting to be placed in the protective custody of Child Protective Services.

She notes that Public Health will soon complete the construction of a $14 million federally-funded temporary home for children waiting to be placed in foster care.

She says the building, planned by Public Health and the Rigålu Foundation, is expected to be done by October. Terlaje adds the shortage of foster care homes impedes CPS’s work in taking care of as many children as possible and sees the need to increase capacity by law.

“Our children that are suffering abuse in their homes, those are things this bill does not solve. It really just creates a remedy while we continue to do the big work on the major issues that are really driving these problems on Guam,” Terlaje said.

Senator Terlaje says there are an estimated 35 children on the foster care waitlist and an estimated 294 children that are homeless.

Lawmakers also discussed Bill 135-35 which allows a licensed foster family to take up more than the licensed amount of six foster children.

Senators have recessed until 10:30 a.m. tomorrow morning.