Arkansas Children

ABC News To Look At Rep. Justin Harris 'Rehoming' Daughters

Oct 22, 2015
Justin harris
Arkansas Times

The ABC News program 20/20 will air a one-hour special this Friday, October 23 about Arkansas State Representative Justin Harris "rehoming" his adopted daughters and the controversy surrounding it.

ABC News released this statement Thursday about the special:

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he wants the state to continue working with faith leaders about ways to address a shortage in foster homes and needs for re-entry programs for prisoners after a two-day summit focused on the topics.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R)
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR News

Some 6,000 inmates are released every year from Arkansas prisons, reentering society to find few employment opportunities or support. Meanwhile thousands of foster children face a shortage of foster beds. That's why Governor Asa Hutchinson called for the "Restore Hope" Summit which takes place Tuesday, August 25 and Wednesday, August 26. 

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

Arkansas children who are beneficiaries of government food programs may be impacted by an upcoming vote on the Childhood Nutrition Reauthorization Act in the United States Congress this fall.

Arkansas’s U.S. Senator John Boozman visited the children’s library in Little Rock Friday to learn about summer nutrition programs for kids in the state. A member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Boozman said he plans to vote in favor of the act.

“What I would like to do is find a lot more flexibility to the parties involved,” said Boozman.

Authorities continue to investigate the cause of death for a 2-year-old found dead in a car in Hot Springs. Jeff Saunders, a shift commander with the Hot Springs Fire Department, says the department and EMS workers responded to a call around 3:20 p.m. Friday concerning a dead child in a vehicle in a residential neighborhood. Saunders says the manner of death may not be known until Monday. TV station KTHV reported that when firemen arrived, police and ambulances were already on the scene. Cpl.

State Rep. Greg Leding (D-Fayetteville)
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Changes went into effect Wednesday to the previously legal practice of giving away one’s adopted children to non-relatives without state involvement. The practice known as rehoming is now a felony.

The measure, sponsored by State Representative David Meeks (R-Greenbrier) was passed in the final days of the 2015 regular session of the Arkansas Legislature. The legislation followed reports in the Arkansas Times of Rep. Justin Harris (R-West Fork) rehoming his daughters to a family friend and employee who was later convicted of raping multiple minors.

State Rep. Greg Leding (D-Fayetteville)
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Changes went into effect Wednesday to the previously legal practice of giving away one’s adopted children to non-relatives without state involvement. The practice known as rehoming is now a felony.

The measure, sponsored by State Representative David Meeks (R-Greenbrier) was passed in the final days of the 2015 regular session of the Arkansas Legislature. The legislation followed reports in the Arkansas Times of Rep. Justin Harris (R-West Fork) rehoming his daughters to a family friend and employee who was later convicted of raping multiple minors.

An annual report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that the number of Arkansas children living in poverty is still well above the national average. Twenty-nine percent of the state's children live in poverty. But Arkansas has made strides in health coverage for kids. KUAR's Chris Hickey recently spoke with Rich Huddleston of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families about the findings of the 2015 Kids Count Data Book.

 

  More facts from the report.

Amidst increased attention to child welfare issues brought on by investigations of State Rep. Justin Harris's (R-West Fork) "rehoming" of his two adopted daughters, the Arkansas Department of Human Services held a rally at the State Capitol Friday to observe Child Abuse Awareness Month.

  Actions came from both the governor’s office and a state House committee Tuesday to address controversy over Representative Justin Harris “rehoming” two of his adopted daughters without state oversight to a non-relative. 

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