by PAUL GEORGE
Nevada Supreme Court Justice Nancy Saitta spoke to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 18 to support a bill that she believes will benefit homeless, delinquent and foster children in Nevada.
Senate Bill 31 provides for the sharing of information regarding certain children among child welfare agencies, schools, courts, probation departments and treatment providers.
The goal of the bill, Saitta said, is to make certain that all entities involved in a child’s welfare have access to information from the other entities involved.
“Everyone who touches the life of a child needs to know as much as possible about that child,” Saitta says.
According to Siatta, the bill would ensure that children receive any benefits they are entitled to in a timely manner and allow individuals to understand what information is being shared and why. Saitta said that the bill still needs some well-defined guidelines to protect privacy. Members of Nevada’s welfare, education and juvenile service systems also came forward in support the bill. Among the supporters was Carey Stewart, Director of Washoe County Juvenile Services. Stewart came before the committee and spoke on how the bill would benefit children in Nevada.
“What this bill will allow us to do in a timely fashion, is to share important case information with other agencies on a day-to-day basis when we have to make critical decisions for kids as they enter our detention facility or exit our detention facility,” Stewart says.
Under current procedures, Stewart explained, the juvenile system must wait for a court hearing to get important information from other entities. SB 31, he said, would eliminate this.
Justice Saitta and representatives of the various entities in attendance at Monday’s meeting agreed to meet immediately after the session to work out details of the plan, including issues of cost and privacy.
At the end of the meeting, Judiciary Chairman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, promised a work session on the bill as soon as the parties involved are able to outline the details of the bill.
After the meeting, Justice Saitta spoke about the public benefit of the bill if passed.
“By bringing all of these partners together the child is better placed,” Saitta says. “The child is likely to get better services. The child is less likely to act out in a negative way. And our schools are better and safer places for everybody.”
The issue of privacy arose—somewhat peripherally—during the meeting. Justice Saitta said after the meeting that confidentiality is always a concern.
“The information is already being disseminated,” Siatta says. “It’s just not being disseminated in an orderly fashion so everyone gets it in a timely manner. All the requirements for confidentiality are going to be very, very, very carefully monitored. So we are going to keep that tight.”