Substitute House Bill No. 5379
          Substitute House Bill No. 5379

              PUBLIC ACT NO. 98-185


AN ACT CONCERNING RIGHTS OF FOSTER PARENTS.


    Be  it  enacted  by  the  Senate  and House of
Representatives in General Assembly convened:
    Section  46b-129  of  the general statutes, as
amended by section 19 of  public  act  97-319,  is
repealed  and the following is substituted in lieu
thereof:
    (a)  Any  selectman,  town  manager,  or town,
city, or borough welfare department, any probation
officer,  the  Connecticut  Humane Society, or the
Commissioner of Social Services, the  Commissioner
of  Children  and  Families  or  any  child-caring
institution or agency approved by the Commissioner
of   Children   and   Families,  a  child  or  his
representative or attorney or a foster parent of a
child, having information that a child or youth is
neglected, uncared-for or dependent, may file with
the  Superior  Court  which  has  venue  over such
matter a verified petition  plainly  stating  such
facts  as  bring  the  child  or  youth within the
jurisdiction   of   the   court   as    neglected,
uncared-for,  or  dependent, within the meaning of
section 46b-120, the name, date of birth, sex, and
residence  of  the  child  or  youth, the name and
residence of his parents or guardian, and  praying
for  appropriate action by the court in conformity
with the provisions  of  this  chapter.  Upon  the
filing  of  such  a  petition, except as otherwise
provided in subsection (e) of section 17a-112, the
court shall cause a summons to be issued requiring
the parent or parents or the guardian of the child
or  youth to appear in court at the time and place
named, which summons shall be served not less than
fourteen  days  before  the date of the hearing in
the manner prescribed by section 46b-128, and said
court  shall further give notice to the petitioner
and to the Commissioner of Children  and  Families
of  the  time and place when the petition is to be
heard not less than fourteen days  next  preceding
the hearing in question.
    (b)  If it appears from the allegations of the
petition and other verified affirmations  of  fact
accompanying  the petition, or subsequent thereto,
that there is reasonable cause to  find  that  the
child's  or youth's condition or the circumstances
surrounding his care require that his  custody  be
immediately  assumed to safeguard his welfare, the
court shall either  (1)  issue  an  order  to  the
parents  or other person having responsibility for
the care of the child or youth to  show  cause  at
such time as the court may designate why the court
shall not vest in some suitable agency  or  person
the  child's or youth's temporary care and custody
pending a hearing on the petition, or (2) vest  in
some  suitable  agency  or  person  the child's or
youth's  temporary  care  and  custody  pending  a
hearing  upon  the  petition  which  shall be held
within ten days from the issuance of such order on
the  need for such temporary care and custody. The
service of such orders may be made by any  officer
authorized  by  law  to  serve  process, or by any
probation officer  appointed  in  accordance  with
section  46b-123, investigator from the Department
of Administrative Services, state  police  officer
or   indifferent   person.  The  expense  for  any
temporary care and custody shall be  paid  by  the
town  in  which such child or youth is at the time
residing,  and  such  town  shall  be   reimbursed
therefor by the town found liable for his support,
except that where  a  state  agency  has  filed  a
petition  pursuant to the provisions of subsection
(a) of this section, the  agency  shall  pay  such
expense.   If   the   court,   pursuant   to  this
subsection, vests in a suitable agency  or  person
the  child's or youth's temporary care or custody,
the court shall provide to  the  commissioner  and
the  parent  of  the child or youth specific steps
which the parent may take to facilitate the return
of  the  child  or  youth  to  the custody of such
parent. If the court, after a show  cause  hearing
pursuant to this section, maintains the custody of
the child or youth in the parent,  the  court  may
provide   to   the  commissioner  and  the  parent
specific  steps  which  the  parent  may  take  to
maintain custody of the child or youth.
    (c)  When  a  petition  is filed in said court
for the  commitment  of  a  child  or  youth,  the
Commissioner of Children and Families shall make a
thorough investigation of the case and shall cause
to   be   made  a  thorough  physical  and  mental
examination of the child or youth if requested  by
the court. The court after hearing on the petition
and upon a finding that  the  physical  or  mental
ability  of  a  parent or guardian to care for the
child or youth before the court is  at  issue  may
order  a  thorough physical or mental examination,
or  both,  of  the  parent   or   guardian   whose
competency  is  in question. The expenses incurred
in making such physical  and  mental  examinations
shall be paid as costs of commitment are paid.
    (d)  Upon finding and adjudging that any child
or youth is uncared-for, neglected  or  dependent,
the  court  may  commit him to the Commissioner of
Children and Families  for  a  maximum  period  of
twelve  months,  unless such period is extended in
accordance with the provisions of  subsection  (e)
of  this  section, provided such commitment or any
extension  thereof  may  be  revoked  or  parental
rights terminated at any time by the court, or the
court may vest such child's or  youth's  care  and
personal  custody  in any private or public agency
which is permitted by law to care  for  neglected,
uncared-for or dependent children or youth or with
any person found to be suitable and worthy of such
responsibility by the court. The court shall order
specific steps  which  the  parent  must  take  to
facilitate the return of the child or youth to the
custody of such parent. The commissioner shall  be
the  guardian  of  such  child  or  youth  for the
duration of the commitment, provided the child  or
youth  has  not  reached the age of eighteen years
or, in the case of a child or youth  in  full-time
attendance  in  a  secondary  school,  a technical
school,  a  college  or  a  state-accredited   job
training program, provided such child or youth has
not reached the age of twenty-one, by  consent  of
such  youth,  or  until  another guardian has been
legally appointed, and in like manner,  upon  such
vesting  of his care, such other public or private
agency or individual shall be the guardian of such
child  or  youth  until  he has reached the age of
eighteen years or, in the case of a child or youth
in  full-time  attendance in a secondary school, a
technical school, a college or a  state-accredited
job  training  program,  until such child or youth
has reached the age of twenty-one years  or  until
another  guardian has been legally appointed. Said
commissioner may  place  any  child  or  youth  so
committed  to  him in a suitable foster home or in
the home of a person  related  by  blood  to  such
child  or  youth  or  in  a  licensed child-caring
institution or in the  care  and  custody  of  any
accredited,   licensed  or  approved  child-caring
agency, within or without the  state,  provided  a
child shall not be placed outside the state except
for good cause and  unless  the  parents  of  such
child  are  notified  in advance of such placement
and given an opportunity to  be  heard,  or  in  a
receiving  home  maintained  and  operated  by the
Commissioner of Children and Families. In  placing
such  child  or youth, said commissioner shall, if
possible, select a home,  agency,  institution  or
person of like religious faith to that of a parent
of such child or youth, if such faith is known  or
may be ascertained by reasonable inquiry, provided
such  home  conforms  to  the  standards  of  said
commissioner  and  the  commissioner  shall,  when
placing siblings, if possible, place such children
together.  As  an  alternative  to commitment, the
court may place the child in the  custody  of  the
parent  or guardian with protective supervision by
the Commissioner of Children and Families  subject
to conditions established by the court.
    (e)  Ninety days before the expiration of each
twelve-month commitment made  in  accordance  with
the  provisions  of subsection (d) of this section
and each extension made pursuant to the provisions
of  this  subsection, the Commissioner of Children
and Families shall petition the  court  either  to
(1) revoke such commitment, in accordance with the
provisions of subsection (g) of this  section,  or
(2)  terminate  parental rights in accordance with
the provisions of section 17a-112, or  (3)  extend
the  commitment beyond such twelve-month period on
the ground  that  an  extension  is  in  the  best
interest of the child. The court shall give notice
to the parent, parents  or  guardian  and  to  the
child or youth at least fourteen days prior to the
hearing on such petition.  Upon  finding  that  an
extension  is  in  the best interest of the child,
the court may extend the commitment for  a  period
of  twelve months. At such hearing the court shall
determine the appropriateness of continued efforts
to  reunify the child or youth with his family. If
the  court  finds  that  such  efforts   are   not
appropriate,   the   Department  of  Children  and
Families shall within sixty days of  such  finding
either  (A) file a petition for the termination of
parental rights, (B) file a motion to  revoke  the
commitment  and  vest the custody and guardianship
of the child on a permanent or long-term basis  in
an  appropriate individual or couple or (C) file a
written  permanency  plan  with  the   court   for
permanent  or  long-term  foster  care, which plan
shall include an explanation of  the  reason  that
neither termination of parental rights nor custody
and guardianship is appropriate for the child. The
court  shall  promptly  convene  a hearing for the
purpose of reviewing such written plan.
    (f)  The Commissioner of Children and Families
shall  pay  directly  to  the  person  or  persons
furnishing  goods  or  services determined by said
commissioner to be  necessary  for  the  care  and
maintenance  of such child or youth the reasonable
expense thereof, payment to be made  at  intervals
determined   by   said   commissioner;   and   the
Comptroller shall draw his order on the Treasurer,
from   time   to   time,  for  such  part  of  the
appropriation for care of  committed  children  or
youth  as  may  be  needed  in order to enable the
commissioner   to   make   such   payments.   Said
commissioner  shall include in his annual budget a
sum estimated to be sufficient to  carry  out  the
provisions  of  this section. Notwithstanding that
any such child or youth has income or estate,  the
commissioner   may   pay  the  cost  of  care  and
maintenance  of   such   child   or   youth.   The
commissioner  may  bill  to  and  collect from the
person in charge of the estate  of  any  child  or
youth  aided  under  this  chapter,  including his
decedent estate, or the payee of such  child's  or
youth's income, the total amount expended for care
of such child or youth or such portion thereof  as
any such estate or payee is able to reimburse.
    (g)  Any  court  by which a child or youth has
been committed pursuant to the provisions of  this
section  may, upon the application of the attorney
who represented such child in a prior  or  pending
commitment  proceeding,  an  attorney appointed by
the  Superior  Court  on  its  own  motion  or  an
attorney  retained  by  such child after attaining
the age  of  fourteen,  a  parent,  including  any
person   who   acknowledges   before   said  court
paternity of a child or youth born out of wedlock,
or  other  relative  of  such  child or youth, the
selectman  or  any  original  petitioner,   or   a
licensed   child-caring   agency   or  institution
approved   by   the    commissioner,    or    said
commissioner,  and  while  such  child or youth is
under the guardianship of said commissioner,  upon
hearing,   after   reasonable   notice   to   said
commissioner, and, if said commissioner  made  the
application,   after  reasonable  notice  to  such
parent, relative, original  petitioner,  selectman
or   child-caring   agency  or  institution,  upon
finding  that  cause  for  commitment  no   longer
exists, revoke such commitment, and thereupon such
guardianship and all control of said  commissioner
over  such  child  or  youth  shall terminate. The
court may further revoke  the  commitment  of  any
child   or   youth   upon   application   by   the
commissioner or by the child  or  youth  concerned
and   after   reasonable  notice  to  the  parties
affected upon a finding that such revocation  will
be for the best interest and welfare of such child
or youth.  No  hearing  shall  be  held  for  such
reopening   and   termination   of  commitment  or
transfer of commitment more often than once in six
months,   except  upon  the  application  of  said
commissioner.
    (h)  Upon  service  on the parent, guardian or
other person having control of the child or  youth
of  any  order issued by the court pursuant to the
provisions of subsections  (b)  and  (d)  of  this
section,  the  child  or  youth concerned shall be
surrendered to the person serving  the  order  who
shall  forthwith deliver the child or youth to the
person, agency, department or institution  awarded
custody in such order. Upon refusal of the parent,
guardian or other person  having  control  of  the
child  or youth to surrender the child or youth as
provided in the  order,  the  court  may  cause  a
warrant to be issued charging the parent, guardian
or other person having control  of  the  child  or
youth  with  contempt  of  court.  If  the  person
arrested is found in contempt of court, the  court
may  order  such  person  confined until he purges
himself of contempt, but for  not  more  than  six
months, or may fine such person not more than five
hundred dollars, or both.
    (i) A foster  parent  shall  have standing for
the purposes of  this section in Superior Court in
matters concerning the  placement or revocation of
commitment of a  foster  child  living  with  such
parent. A foster  parent  shall  receive notice of
any  application  to   revoke  commitment  or  any
hearing on such  application.  A FOSTER PARENT WHO
HAS CARED FOR  A  CHILD OR YOUTH FOR NOT LESS THAN
SIX MONTHS SHALL  HAVE  STANDING TO COMMENT ON THE
BEST INTERESTS OF  SUCH  CHILD  OR  YOUTH  IN  ANY
MATTER UNDER THIS  SECTION  WHICH  IS  BROUGHT NOT
MORE THAN ONE  YEAR  AFTER THE LAST DAY THE FOSTER
PARENT PROVIDED SUCH CARE.

Approved June 4, 1998