Bill to boost independence for Colorado youth passes State House unanimously

A bipartisan bill that would promote independence for Colorado youth passed the state House of Representatives unanimously last week.

The bill would promote independence by tightening the definition of child neglect, giving children reasonable independence to walk to school, ride their bikes and play in their neighborhood without the supervision of a adult, according to a Colorado House Democrats declaration Last week.

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The bill was sponsored by State Representatives Kim Ransom (R-Lone Tree) and Mary Young (D-Greeley) and State Sens. Janet Buckner (D-Aurora) and Jim Smallwood (R-Parker).

“We are working diligently to foster the daily independence of Colorado’s youth and this bill is a wonderful step in the right direction,” Young said in the statement. “This bill makes it clear that there is no need to involve the authorities when children are walking around their neighborhood, walking to school or playing in the playground. When young people achieve independence, they grow, learn and thrive and we are happy to pass legislation that reinforces their right to independence.

When young people achieve their independence, they grow, learn and thrive and we are happy to pass legislation that reinforces their right to independence.

– State Representative Mary Young

Under current law, a child is neglected if their environment is “injurious to their health or well-being,” according to the invoice summary. the The Reasonable Independence for Children Bill would clarify that a child is not neglected when allowed to participate in certain independent activities that a “reasonable and prudent” parent or guardian would consider safe, having regard to maturity, condition and abilities of the child.

Ransom told Newsline on Tuesday that, like many of her colleagues, she remembers playing in the park as a child without it necessarily being part of an organized sports program, and she believes children need undirected play. . Undirected play helps children use their imaginations and develop their creativity and sense of independence and self-knowledge, Ransom said.

“I also know that parents know their kids better than anyone,” Ransom said. Ransom said he heard from people from all political alliances who supported the bill.

HB22-1090 specifically clarifies that a child is not neglected when allowed to participate in independent activities, such as getting to and from school, playing outdoors, and traveling to commercial or recreational facilities at proximity.

The bill would also reduce the amount of unnecessary involvement by child protective services and law enforcement, the statement said.

“We want parents in Colorado to be able to give their children the kind of independence that almost all of us grew up with – the freedom to walk to school, to play outside, to come home with a pass. -everywhere, etc.”, Buckner and Ransom wrote in an op-ed in The Colorado Sun in February 2020.

Buckner and Ransom wrote that they believe in the importance of child protective services and want to ensure that the CPS does not waste time investigating parents who make a “rational, everyday decision to leave their children to do something by themselves”.

The bill must pass the Colorado Senate and be signed by Governor Jared Polis to become law.

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