Committee on Children

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-6899

Title:

AN ACT EXPANDING GUARDIANSHIP OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHILDREN AND IMPLEMENTING PROVISIONS OF THE FEDERAL PREVENTING SEX TRAFFICKING AND STRENGTHENING FAMILIES ACT.

Vote Date:

3/5/2015

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:

3/3/2015

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Committee on Children

REASONS FOR BILL:

Align Connecticut statute with federal practice, and expand guardianship opportunities to 'fictive kin'.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Department of Children and Families: This bill not only places the state in compliance with federal law, but also expands the guardianship opportunities to 'fictive kin' for those children currently under foster care through subsidized guardianship.

Sara Eagan, Child Advocate, Office of the Child Advocate: Noted that children who are in foster care or group care face multiple hurdles towards being engaged in everyday activities because their foster parents face confusion over licensing rules and protocols. This bill allows children to be engaged in developmentally appropriate activities by giving foster parents the same standards of decision-making they would make with their biological children.

Stephen N. Ment, State of Connecticut Judicial Branch: Expressed concern over court requirement to ask a youth about their permanency placement and the possibility of the youth choosing not to attend their own hearing, which has more often occurred than not occurred throughout the history of these permanency hearings. Their testimony provided alternative language to address that situation to ensure the process runs smoothly.

Christine Rapillo, Office of the Chief Public Defender: Detailed the layers of approval and regulation that prohibits many children under foster care experience what is common childhood experiences for other children, including sleepovers and field trips. Their agency also supports bill language that limits alternative planned living arrangements to an age specific range and increasing opportunities for foster care.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Michele Mudrick, United Church of Christ: Discussed the importance of Connecticut complying with federal sex trafficking laws and it's relation to children in the welfare system. Their testimony cited 10 identified DCF cases of children being used for sex trafficking this year alone, and that almost all cases of children identified by DCF were foster children or runaways with history of prior abuse.

David Woods, Center for Children's Advocacy: Notes that the policy changes in this bill would bring the level of empowerment for Connecticut's foster parents in line with other leading states that provide them the opportunity to make decisions without excessive statutes or mandates. Passing this legislation would put the best interests of the child first towards having more normal lives and everyday childhood experiences.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None Expressed

Reported by: Steve Jones, Assistant Clerk

Alessandra Burgett, Clerk

Date: 3/13/15