MARYLAND'S CUSTODIAN of children in crisis was wise to quickly step in after a much-needed bill to regulate guardianship failed in the General Assembly.
The Department of Human Resources says it will rewrite regulations covering children in its care to require screening of prospective permanent guardians, be they family or friends. The background checks, expected to be much like those in place for prospective foster care parents, will greatly help judges deciding these most important placements. One might wonder why DHR doesn't already have these rules - after all, guardianship is just as permanent as adoption, which requires jumping through scores of hoops. The department says its awareness was raised - as was that of many others - by the grisly story of Baltimore teen-ager Ciara Jobes, who was repeatedly tortured until she died in 2002. Her court-appointed guardian, accused in the crime, is asking to be declared mentally unfit to stand trial because of chronic severe mental problems.