RALEIGH —House Bill 630, Rylan’s Law, passed into law when Gov. Roy Cooper signed it last week. Lawmakers, advocacy groups, foster parents and children gathered Wednesday in Raleigh to celebrate the changes. The bill was named for Rylan Ott who died in April 2016, two weeks before his second birthday. The new law includes:
- An Act to Establish Social Services Regional Supervision and Collaboration;
- Reform the Child Welfare System in this State;
- Improve Accountability and State Oversight of the Child Welfare System;
- Require Written Agreements, Corrective Action, and State Intervention with Social Services Departments;
- Create Regional Social Service Departments;
- Establish a Child Well-Being Transformation Council;
- Establish a Drivers License Pilot Project;
- Establish a Pilot Program to Authorize a Waiver of the Employment Requirement for Foster Parents of Children Receiving Intensive Alternative Family Treatment;
- Reduce the Time Frame a Parent Has to Appeal from a Termination of Parental Rights Order; Reduce the Time Frame for Licensure Approval Regarding Foster Care;
- and Require Child Protective Service Observation Before Physical Custody of Child May Be Returned
The Moore County Department of Social Services removed Rylan and his older sister from their mother, Samantha Bryant, in October 2015 after a reported altercation between Bryant and her boyfriend. Rylan and his sister were assigned to foster parents in a home on Fort Bragg who weren’t related to them. But a judge returned Rylan to his mother in December 2015 even though she faced a misdemeanor charge of child abuse. Authorities agreed to drop the charge on the condition that Bryant keep a clean record. Rylan wandered away from his home in Carthage and drowned in a pond.
A new law requires social services employees to take extra steps to make sure children in foster care are not returned to their home prematurely. Employees must observe the children and parents together on at least two visits before advising a judge on who should have custody of the children.