The Virginian-Pilot, October 11, 2000

Coalition asks state board to block rules on spanking

RICHMOND -- A coalition that opposes new regulations allowing foster parents to spank foster children and use other forms of physical punishment is calling for state officials to take action next week to thwart the rules.
Do Virginia's foster parents really need the legal right to pinch, shake and smack babies?

Well, you know how the crazies are responding. At this moment they are drafting their letters in which they're quoting from their favorite authority on family matters--Solomon. So, please, let's present the other side: the argument for safe, gentle handling of children. You know what to say.

Write to:
Doris Jenkins, Manager
Child Welfare Licensing Unit
Div. of Licensing Programs
Virginia Dept. of Social Services
P.O. Box 1475
Richmond, VA 23218

And send copies of your letter to and


Officials from the Coalition for the Protection of Children in Foster Care will hold a news conference at the state Capitol on Thursday to ask the Board of Social Services to keep the regulations from going into effect Nov. 1.

The issue is not on the agenda for the board's Oct. 18 meeting, but member Robert Spadaccini said he will propose delaying the regulations until the board has sifted through the public comments that have poured into the state's Department of Social Services since July.

If the board doesn't take action next week, the regulations would allow foster parents from private child-placing organizations to spank, shake, pinch, jerk or shake a child as long as the punishment didn't rise to the level of abuse.

Since approving the regulations in June, the board has received more than 300 e-mails and letters.

Virginia Department of Social Services spokeswoman Lenora Hardy said the department has not had time to tally how many of the public comments are for or against the regulations. A public hearing in September, however, drew 53 speakers who opposed the regulations and eight who supported them.

The coalition formed in July to fight the regulations. Coalition member Stephen Jurentkuff, who is also executive director of Prevent Child Abuse, Virginia, said he was stunned when he saw that the board's Oct. 18 agenda did not include the issue. ``There was all this testimony at the hearing, and yet nothing has happened,'' Jurentkuff said.

Social Services board member Brian Campbell said he opposes the regulations and believes the issue will be addressed at next week's meeting. He said he'd like to see child-placing agencies and foster parents more involved in drafting the regulations.

The board meets Oct. 18 and 19 at the Department of Social Service's Western Regional Office at 190 Patton St., Abingdon.

Reach Elizabeth Simpson at 446-2635 or

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