Substitute Senate Bill No. 1
           Substitute Senate Bill No. 1

              PUBLIC ACT NO. 95-242

AN   ACT   CONCERNING  THE  OFFICE  OF  THE  CHILD
ADVOCATE.


    Section  1.  (NEW)  There  is  established  an
office of the  child  advocate. The governor, with
the  approval  of   the  general  assembly,  shall
appoint  a person  with  knowledge  of  the  child
welfare system and  the  legal  system to fill the
office of the child advocate. Such person shall be
qualified by training  and  experience  to perform
the duties of the office as set forth in section 7
of this act.  The appointment shall be made from a
list  of  at  least  three  persons  prepared  and
submitted by the  advisory  committee  established
pursuant to section  12  of  this  act. The person
appointed child advocate shall serve for a term of
four  years  and   may  be  reappointed  or  shall
continue to hold  office  until  his  successor is
appointed and qualified.
    Sec. 2. (NEW) The office of the child advocate
shall be in  the office of protection and advocacy
for persons with  disabilities  for administrative
purposes only.
    Sec. 3. (NEW)  The  child advocate may appoint
such staff as  may  be  deemed necessary provided,
for the fiscal  years  ending  June  30, 1996, and
June 30, 1997, such staff shall not exceed one and
one-half  full-time positions  or  the  equivalent
thereof. The duties  of  the staff may include the
duties  and  powers   of  the  child  advocate  if
performed  under  the   direction   of  the  child
advocate.
    Sec.  4.  (NEW)  The  general  assembly  shall
annually appropriate such  sums  as  necessary for
the payment of  the  salaries of the staff and for
the payment of  office  expenses  and other actual
expenses incurred by  the  child  advocate  in the
performance of his duties. Any legal or court fees
obtained by the  state  in  actions brought by the
child advocate shall be dedicated to the office of
the child advocate.
    Sec.  5.  (NEW)   Notwithstanding   any  other
provision  of  the  general  statutes,  the  child
advocate  shall act  independently  of  any  state
department in the performance of his duties.
    Sec.  6.  (NEW)   The   child  advocate  shall
annually submit to  the  governor  and the general
assembly a detailed  report  analyzing the work of
the office of the child advocate.
    Sec. 7. (NEW) (a) The child advocate shall:
    (1) Evaluate the delivery of services by state
agencies and those  entities that provide services
to children through funds provided by the state;
    (2)   Review   periodically   the   procedures
established  by  any  state  department  providing
services to children  to  carry out the provisions
of this act  with  a view toward the rights of the
children;
    (3) Adopt regulations,  in accordance with the
provisions of chapter  54 of the general statutes,
to carry out  the  provisions of sections 1 to 12,
inclusive, of this act;
    (4)   Review   complaints   of   persons   and
investigate those where it appears that a child or
family may be in need of assistance from the child
advocate;
    (5)  Periodically review  the  facilities  and
procedures  of  any   and   all   institutions  or
residences, public or  private,  where  a juvenile
has been placed  either  by the family division of
the superior court  or  the department of children
and families;
    (6)   Recommend  changes   in   policies   and
procedures for dealing  with juvenile problems and
in the system of providing child care, foster care
and treatment;
    (7) Take all  possible  action  including, but
not  limited to,  conducting  programs  of  public
education,   legislative  advocacy,   and   making
proposals for systemic  reform  and  formal  legal
action, to secure  and ensure the legal, civil and
special rights of  children  who  reside  in  this
state;
    (8) Provide training  and technical assistance
to  guardians  ad   litem  and  special  advocates
appointed by the  family  division of the superior
court to represent  children in proceedings before
that court;
    (9) Periodically review  the number of special
needs children in  any  foster  care  or permanent
care  facility  and   recommend   changes  in  the
policies and procedures  for the placement of such
children; and
    (10) Serve or designate a person to serve as a
member  of  the   child   fatality   review  panel
established in subsection (b) of this section.
    (b)  There is  established  a  child  fatality
review panel composed of seven members as follows:
A  pediatrician,  appointed  by  the  governor;  a
representative of law  enforcement,  appointed  by
the president pro tempore of the senate; the child
advocate, or his  designee; a public child welfare
practitioner, appointed by  the minority leader of
the  senate;  a   representative  of  a  community
service group, appointed  by  the  speaker  of the
house  of  representatives;  a  medical  examiner,
appointed by the  minority  leader of the house of
representatives; and the  chief  state's attorney,
or his designee.  The chairperson shall be elected
from among the  panel's  members. The panel shall,
to  the  greatest  extent  possible,  reflect  the
ethnic, cultural and  geographic  diversity of the
state.
    (c) The panel  shall  review the circumstances
of the death  of a child who has received services
from a state department or agency addressing child
welfare,  social or  human  services  or  juvenile
justice.  Members  of   the  panel  shall  not  be
compensated  for  their   services,   but  may  be
reimbursed for necessary  expenses incurred in the
performance of their duties.
    Sec. 8. (NEW)  (a)  The  child  advocate shall
have access to the following information:
    (1)  The  name   of   a  child  in  protective
services, treatment or  other  programs  under the
jurisdiction  of  a  department  addressing  child
welfare  or juvenile  justice,  and  such  child's
location if in custody;
    (2) All written  reports  of  child  abuse and
neglect;
    (3)  All  current   records   required  to  be
maintained under the  provisions of sections 7-48,
7-50,  7-51,  10-209,   17a-28,  17b-90,  17b-225,
19a-25,  19a-499, 46b-11  and  subsection  (e)  of
section 46b-56 of the general statutes; and
    (4) All records  of  state  agencies, schools,
police,  health and  medical  providers,  and  the
courts  as may  be  necessary  to  carry  out  the
responsibilities of the child advocate.
    (b)  To  the   extent   any  such  information
referenced in this  section provides the names and
addresses of individuals  who  are  the subject of
any  confidential  proceeding,   such   names  and
addresses or related  information  which  has  the
effect of identifying  such  individuals shall not
be released to  the  public without the consent of
such individuals.
    Sec. 9. (NEW)  The  child  advocate shall have
the following rights and powers:
    (1) To communicate privately by mail or orally
with any child  or  family  in  treatment or under
protective services;
    (2) To have  access,  including  the  right to
inspect, copy and  subpoena  records  held  by the
clerk  of the  family  division  of  the  superior
court, law enforcement, agencies and institutions,
public or private,  and  other agencies or persons
with  whom a  particular  child  has  been  either
voluntarily or otherwise  placed  for care, or has
received treatment within the state;
    (3) To take  whatever steps are appropriate to
see that persons are made aware of the services of
the child advocate's  office,  its purpose and how
it can be contacted; and
    (4) To apply  for and accept grants, gifts and
bequests of funds  from  other states, federal and
interstate  agencies and  independent  authorities
and private firms,  individuals  and  foundations,
for  the  purpose   of  carrying  out  his  lawful
responsibilities.  The funds  shall  be  deposited
within the general  fund  for ancillary funding of
the child advocate office.
    Sec. 10. (NEW)  (a)  In addition to the powers
set forth in  section  9  of  this  act, the child
advocate, or his  designee, may represent, appear,
intervene in or  bring  an action on behalf of any
child, with the  consent  of  the  parent or legal
guardian of such  child  in  any proceeding before
any court, agency,  board  or  commission  in this
state in which  matters  related  to sections 1 to
12, inclusive, of  this act are in issue. Prior to
the institution of  any action brought pursuant to
this subsection, the  child  advocate shall make a
good faith effort  to  resolve  issues or problems
through mediation.
    (b) Any judgment for compensation or order for
settlement of the  claim  for compensation entered
by  the  court   pursuant  to  the  provisions  of
subsection (a) of this section shall be considered
as the estate  of  the child for whose benefit the
judgment or order  is  entered,  to be held by the
office  of child  advocate  as  guardian  of  such
compensation, and shall  be deposited into a trust
account established by the office for the purposes
of  distributing  such  funds  to  such  child  in
accordance with the  plan  adopted  by  the family
division of the superior court.
    Sec. 11. (NEW)  The state of Connecticut shall
protect and hold  harmless any attorney, director,
investigator,  social  worker   or   other  person
employed by the  office  of the child advocate and
any volunteer appointed by the child advocate from
financial loss and  expense,  including legal fees
and costs, if  any,  arising  out  of  any  claim,
demand or suit  for damages resulting from acts or
omissions committed in the discharge of his duties
with  the  program   within   the   scope  of  his
employment  or appointment  which  may  constitute
negligence  but  which   acts   are   not  wanton,
malicious or grossly  negligent as determined by a
court of competent jurisdiction.
    Sec. 12. (NEW)  (a)  There  is  established an
advisory committee to  the  office  of  the  child
advocate which shall  meet three times a year with
the child advocate  and  his  staff  to review and
assess the following:  (1)  Patterns  of treatment
and service for  children; (2) policy implications
of  the  findings   of  subdivision  (1)  of  this
subsection;    and    (3)    necessary    systemic
improvements. The advisory  committee  shall  also
provide   for  an   annual   evaluation   of   the
effectiveness of said office.
    (b) Said advisory  committee  shall consist of
one pediatrician, appointed by the majority leader
of the house  of representatives; one public child
welfare social worker,  appointed  by the minority
leader  of  the   house  of  representatives;  one
psychologist,   appointed   by   the   Connecticut
Psychological Association; one attorney, appointed
by the Connecticut  Bar  Association; one judge of
the  family  division   of   the  superior  court,
appointed by the  chief  justice  of  the  supreme
court; one representative  of  private  children's
agencies, appointed by  the  president pro tempore
of  the  senate;   and   one   representative   of
education, appointed by the minority leader of the
senate.  Each member  of  the  advisory  committee
shall serve a five-year term.
    (c)  Said  advisory  committee  shall  provide
authorization to the child advocate for initiating
a  legal action  against  a  state  department  in
superior court.