PA 16-123—SB 180

Committee on Children

Appropriations Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING YOUTH ADVISORY COUNCILS AND FOSTER FAMILIES

SUMMARY: This act requires the Department of Children and Families (DCF), starting January 1, 2017, to create family profiles of foster families, fictive kin caregivers, and relative caregivers (see BACKGROUND) and distribute them to children age 12 or older before placing them in foster care. By January 1, 2017, DCF also must develop or approve foster care family surveys to distribute to children age seven or older who leave or are removed from a foster family.

The act also requires DCF to establish youth advisory councils in child care facilities able to house at least 10 children.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage, except the provision on the distribution of foster family profiles is effective October 1, 2016.

FOSTER FAMILY PROFILES AND SURVEYS

Profiles

The act requires the DCF commissioner, on and after January 1, 2017, to create a family profile of each foster family, fictive kin caregiver, and relative caregiver and distribute it to children age 12 or older placed in foster care. The profile must include, at a minimum, a brief summary of household expectations and:

1. the name and location of the school the child will attend;

2. the name, age, and gender of each person living in the home;

3. household sleeping arrangements; and

4. information on the presence of pets.

DCF must provide the profile to the child at least seven days before placing him or her with a foster family, fictive kin caregiver, or relative caregiver. In the case of an emergency placement, the child must receive this information as soon as practicable.

On or after January 1, 2017, the act prohibits DCF from placing in foster care a child in its custody age 12 or older unless the child has received the profile.

Survey

By January 1, 2017, the commissioner must develop or approve a foster care family survey and give it to children age seven or older who leave or are removed from a foster family. Starting on that date, DCF must (1) give the survey to these children no later than 15 days after they leave or are removed from a foster home and (2) compile survey results to help the department recruit, train, and retain high quality foster families.

YOUTH ADVISORY COUNCILS

The act requires the DCF commissioner, by January 1, 2017, to require each child care facility able to house at least 10 children to establish a youth advisory council. Each council must:

1. create leadership opportunities for children living in the facility;

2. give the children the opportunity to express and address grievances;

3. encourage open communication with facility staff; and

4. enable the children to develop peer advocacy, public speaking, and conflict resolution skills.

The commissioner must establish procedures enabling each council to report at least quarterly to each youth advisory board on its recommendations for policy and practice reforms in child care facilities. (By law, youth advisory boards, comprised of youths in out-of-home care, are established by DCF regional offices (CGS 17a-10c). ) The act applies to facilities that board and care for anyone under age 18 unless otherwise specified, or a person under age 21 who attends, full-time, a high school, technical school, college, or state-accredited job training program (see Related Act, below).

BACKGROUND

Fictive Kin Caregivers and Relative Caregivers

By law, as amended by PA 16-124, a “fictive kin caregiver” is someone age 21 or older who is unrelated to a child by birth, adoption, or marriage but who has an emotionally significant relationship with the child amounting to a familial relationship (CGS 17a-114). By law, as amended by PA 16-124, a “relative caregiver” is someone age 21 or older licensed or approved to provide foster care and related to a child by birth, adoption, or marriage (CGS 17a-126).

Related Act

By law, DCF must license child care facilities. PA 16-121 excludes from DCF licensing requirements child care facilities that board or care only for children between the ages of 18 and 21.

OLR Tracking: PF; SD; VR; bs