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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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Gov. Whitmer endorses Kamala Harris for president, says she's not leaving Michigan; Grilled by lawmakers on the Trump assassination attempt, Secret Service director says, 'We failed;' Teachers rally at national convention in Houston; Opioid settlement fund fuels anti-addiction battle in Indiana; Nonprofit agency says corporate donations keep programs going.

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Democrats consolidate support behind Vice President Harris, Republicans threaten legal action over changes to the presidential ticket, and a possible bipartisan consensus forms on the failure of the Secret Service to protect former President Trump.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

ND weighs restoring parental rights severed by courts

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Friday, June 21, 2024   

An interim North Dakota legislative committee this week got an update from state leaders on potential moves to reconnect kids in foster care with their biological parents if a court order is at play.

The North Dakota Department of Human Services presented findings to the interim Juvenile Justice Committee about this option, based on the views of legal minds around the state, including the North Dakota Supreme Court.

Cory Pederson, the department's director of children and family services, noted that about one in four kids in the foster-care system has no legal connection to his or her biological parents because a court determined it wasn't in the child's best interest to be in their custody.

"These are children that their parent rights are terminated, there's no adoption pending, there's no family that's come forward and said, 'We would like to adopt this child,'" he said. "They are basically the North Dakota orphans of the state."

Twenty-two other states have laws that create pathways to restore these rights, and Pederson said they reviewed some of them in gathering findings. Study leaders recommend North Dakota pursue a statute that would include waiting at least 12 months after a final termination order for a petition to proceed. Foster family shortages are cited as a driving factor for these laws.

One committee member questioned if the local state's attorney in the initial case would still be involved if there was reason to oppose the petition for reinstatement. Pederson assured the panel that would be the standard approach.

"A judge will make that determination at the hearing," he said, "but the state's attorney is going to be paramount in that process."

In the suggested framework for a North Dakota bill, another provision would block rights from being restored if sexual abuse had occurred or the parent in question has been convicted of conduct that resulted in the substantial bodily injury or death of a minor.


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