Substitute House Bill No. 6967

Public Act No. 01-159

AN ACT CONCERNING ADOPTION OF CHILDREN IN STATE FOSTER CARE.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Subsection (a) of section 17a-44 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) The photo-listing service shall [semiannually] quarterly check the status of photo-listed children for whom inquiries have been received. Periodic checks shall be made by such service to determine the progress toward adoption of such children and the status of those children registered but never photo-listed because of placement in [an] a preadoptive or adoptive home prior to or at the time of registration.

Sec. 2. Section 17a-110a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) In order to achieve early permanency for children, decrease children's length of stay in foster care, [and] reduce the number of moves children experience in foster care and reduce the amount of time between termination of parental rights and adoption, the Commissioner of Children and Families shall establish a program for concurrent permanency planning.

(b) Concurrent permanency planning involves a planning process to identify permanent placements and prospective adoptive parents so that when termination of parental rights are granted by the court pursuant to section 17a-112, as amended by this act, or section 45a-717, as amended by this act, permanent placement or adoption proceedings may commence immediately.

(c) The commissioner shall establish guidelines and protocols for child-placing agencies involved in concurrent permanency planning, including criteria for conducting concurrent permanency planning based on relevant factors such as: (1) Age of the child and duration of out-of-home placement; (2) prognosis for successful reunification with parents; (3) availability of relatives and other concerned individuals to provide support or a permanent placement for the child; (4) special needs of the child; and (5) other factors affecting the child's best interests, goals of concurrent permanency planning, support services that are available for families, permanency options, and the consequences of not complying with case plans.

(d) Within six months of out-of-home placement, the Department of Children and Families shall complete an assessment of the likelihood of the child's being reunited with either or both birth parents, based on progress made to date. The Department of Children and Families shall develop a concurrent permanency plan for families with poor prognosis for reunification within such time period. Such assessment and concurrent permanency plan shall be filed with the court.

(e) Concurrent permanency planning programs must include involvement of parents and full disclosure of their rights and responsibilities.

(f) The commissioner shall provide ongoing technical assistance, support, and training for local child-placing agencies and other individuals and agencies involved in concurrent permanency planning.

Sec. 3. Subsection (o) of section 17a-112 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(o) In the case where termination of parental rights is granted, the guardian of the person or statutory parent shall report to the court within thirty days of the date judgment is entered on a case plan, as defined by the federal Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, for the child which shall include measurable objectives and time schedules. At least every [six] three months thereafter, such guardian or statutory parent shall make a report to the court on the progress made on implementation of the plan. The court may convene a hearing upon the filing of a report and shall convene a hearing for the purpose of reviewing the plan for the child no more than twelve months from the date judgment is entered or from the date of the last permanency hearing held pursuant to subsection (k) of section 46b-129, whichever is earlier, and at least once a year thereafter until the court determines that the adoption plan has become finalized. For children where the commissioner has determined that adoption is appropriate, the report on the implementation of the plan shall include a description of the reasonable efforts the department is taking to promote and expedite the adoptive placement and to finalize the adoption of the child, including documentation of child specific recruitment efforts. At such hearing, the court shall determine whether the department has made reasonable efforts to achieve the permanency plan. If the court determines that the department has not made reasonable efforts to place a child in an adoptive placement or that reasonable efforts have not resulted in the placement of the child, the court may order the Department of Children and Families, within available appropriations, to contract with a child-placing agency to arrange for the adoption of the child. The department, as statutory parent, shall continue to provide such care and services for the child while a child-placing agency is arranging for the adoption of the child.

Sec. 4. Section 17a-114 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) No child in the custody of the Commissioner of Children and Families shall be placed with any person, unless such person is licensed by the department for that purpose. Any person licensed by the department to accept placement of a child is deemed to be licensed to accept placement as a foster family or prospective adoptive family. The commissioner shall adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, to establish the licensing procedures and standards. [Any criminal records check conducted by the commissioner shall be a criminal records check requested from the State Police Bureau of Identification and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.]

[(b) Notwithstanding the requirements of subsection (a) of this section, the commissioner may place a child with a relative who is not licensed for a period of up to forty-five days provided a satisfactory home visit is conducted, a basic assessment of the family is completed and such relative attests that such relative and any adult living within the household have not been convicted of a crime or arrested for a felony against a person, for injury or risk of injury to or impairing the morals of a child, or for the possession, use or sale of a controlled substance. Placements with a relative beyond such forty-five-day period shall be subject to certification by the commissioner. The commissioner shall adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, to establish certification procedures and standards for a caretaker who is a relative of such child.]

(b) The Commissioner of Children and Families, when conducting any criminal history records check, shall arrange for the fingerprinting or for the conducting of any other method of positive identification required by the State Police Bureau of Identification or the Federal Bureau of Identification. The fingerprints and other positive identifying information shall be forwarded to the State Police Bureau of Identification, which shall conduct a state criminal history records check and submit the fingerprints or other identifying information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a national criminal history records check. The commissioner shall also check the state child abuse registry established pursuant to section 17a-101k for the name of such applicant or licensee.

Sec. 5. Section 17a-121a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

The Department of Children and Families may provide counseling and referral services after adoption to adoptees and adoptive families for whom the department provided such services before the adoption. Postadoption services include assigning a mentor to a family, training after licensing, support groups, behavioral management counseling, therapeutic respite care, referrals to community providers, a telephone help line and training of public and private mental health professionals in postadoption issues.

Sec. 6. Subsection (j) of section 45a-717 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(j) In the case where termination of parental rights is granted, the guardian of the person or statutory parent shall report to the court within [ninety] thirty days of the date judgment is entered on a case plan, as defined by the federal Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, as amended from time to time, for the child. At least every [six] three months thereafter, such guardian or statutory parent shall make a report to the court on the implementation of the plan. The court may convene a hearing upon the filing of a report and shall convene a hearing for the purpose of reviewing the plan no more than [fifteen] twelve months from the date judgment is entered or from the date of the last permanency hearing held pursuant to subsection (k) of section 46b-129 if the child or youth is in the care and custody of the Commissioner of Children and Families, whichever is earlier, and at least once a year thereafter until such time as any proposed adoption plan has become finalized. If the Commissioner of Children and Families is the statutory parent for the child, at such a hearing the court shall determine whether the department has made reasonable efforts to achieve the permanency plan.

Approved July 6, 2001