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3/21/2011 DaSilva bill keeps children under DCYF care in-state
Rep. Roberto DaSilva has introduced child-protection legislation to ensure that young people under the care of the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) are kept within the state.

The bill (2011-H5746) would ban Rhode Island Family Court from placing children at out-of-state residences, facilities or treatment centers.

Representative DaSilva introduced the measure after meeting Nicholas Alahverdian, a former DCYF client who endured abuse and neglect after being placed in two out-of-state residential facilities. Alahverdian now serves as the director of policy and research for NexusGovernment and passionately lobbies for legislation protecting children under DCYF care.

Historically, DCYF has transferred children out-of-state when they require services that the organization determines are not offered in Rhode Island.

“I was very moved by Nicholas Alahverdian’s story and felt compelled to do something to eliminate the interstate transfer of young people in DCYF care,” said Representative DaSilva. “We have the resources in-state to provide children with the treatments they need, so I see no reason to send them hundreds, even thousands, of miles away from home. This makes an already traumatic experience even worse for a child.”

Under DaSilva’s bill, an out-of-state transfer by Rhode Island family court would require a lengthy assessment of the child by DCYF and the Department of Corrections. This would only be permitted under circumstances deemed extreme by the two agencies.

In addition to his concern about the well-being of children under state care, Representative DaSilva said another goal of his legislation is to keep taxpayer dollars in the state. “We’re paying out-of-state residential facilities hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more, to house our own state residents. It just doesn’t make sense, especially in these dire economic times. “

“This legislation will ensure that taxpayer dollars are not funding abuse and neglect across state lines,” said Alahverdian. “More importantly, we can use the money that is being wasted on out-of-state facilities here in Rhode Island which would provide an economic boost to the state.”

The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, April 12 at the rise of the House (approximately 4:30 p.m.) in the House Lounge of the State House.

For more information, contact:
Shana Mancinho, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-2457