Brewer removes some foster care restrictions

Gov. Jan Brewer signed legislation Thursday to allow foster children to be placed in homes with youngsters who are not immunized.

But how often that will actually occur remains in doubt.

The measure by Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, prohibits the Department of Economic Security from requiring foster parents to immunize their biological or adoptive children as a condition of being licensed as a foster home.

It is designed to overturn what has been the policy of the Department of Economic Security to avoid placements in homes where other children have not been vaccinated against common childhood diseases. Supporters said that is a luxury DES cannot afford, as there are about 1,350 children in group homes because of the shortage of qualified home placements.

Brewer, in signing the bill, said while placement in a safe and loving home is important, the youngsters are only in the state's care temporarily. "It is our duty to ensure they remain healthy and safe."

So Brewer directed DES to implement a policy to restrict placing younger children and infants in homes where foster parents have not immunized their own children. She said this allows DES to continue to place foster children "in settings that are most appropriate for each child."

Not all playground injuries to be reported

Schools will not have to report all playground injuries to police or Child Protective Services under the terms of legislation signed Thursday by Brewer.

The measure is designed to give schools more discretion on how to deal with everyday injuries on the playground. Brewer agreed that children involved in playground accidents "should not have a permanent record on their school file."

Brewer said, though, that she is concerned about this additional discretion for teachers and school staff. She said that requires them to make determinations "whether the injury was truly accidental and not the result of a negligent caregiver or a bully."

So while signing the measure into law, she urged all involved to "err on the side of caution" in determining whether to call CPS or police.

"After all, children are vulnerable," Brewer wrote. "It is our duty to ensure there are adequate safeguards in place to keep them out of harm's way."

Ballot-disclosure bill on local taxes vetoed

Brewer vetoed legislation on Thursday that would have required specific information on every ballot to raise local taxes on exactly how much it would cost.

The bill would have required cities seeking to hike sales taxes to list the increase. For bond issues, the ballot would have to spell out the estimated annual cost for a home valued at $100,000, commercial property worth $250,000 and vacant land worth $100,000.

"It is more appropriate to provide this information in the publicity pamphlet, which is mailed to each household of a registered voter and available at the polls," Brewer wrote.

- Howard Fischer