February Session, 2016
LCO No. 4111
SEN. FASANO, 34th Dist.
"AN ACT CONCERNING CHILDREN'S SAFETY. "
After the last section, add the following and renumber sections and internal references accordingly:
"Sec. 501. Section 46a-13l of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2016):
(a) The Child Advocate shall:
(1) Evaluate the delivery of services to children 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 agency providing services to children to carry out the provisions of sections 46a-13k to 46a-13p, inclusive, with a view toward the rights of the children and recommend revisions to such procedures;
(3) Review complaints of persons concerning the actions of any state or municipal agency providing services to children and of any entity that provides services to children through funds provided by the state, make appropriate referrals and investigate those where the Child Advocate determines that a child or family may be in need of assistance from the Child Advocate or that a systemic issue in the state's provision of services to children is raised by the complaint;
(4) Pursuant to an investigation, provide assistance to a child or family who the Child Advocate determines is in need of such assistance including, but not limited to, advocating with an agency, provider or others on behalf of the best interests of the child;
(5) Periodically review the facilities and procedures of any and all institutions or residences, public or private, where a juvenile has been placed by any agency or department;
(6) Recommend changes in state policies concerning children including changes in the system of providing juvenile justice, child care, foster care and treatment;
(7) Take all possible action including, but not limited to, conducting programs of public education, undertaking legislative advocacy and making proposals for systemic reform and formal legal action, in order to secure and ensure the legal, civil and special rights of children who reside in this state;
(8) Provide training and technical assistance to attorneys representing children and guardians ad litem appointed by the Superior 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;
(10) Serve or designate a person to serve as a member of the child fatality review panel established in subsection (b) of this section; and
(11) Take appropriate steps to advise the public of the services of the Office of the Child Advocate, the purpose of the office and procedures to contact the office.
(b) There is established a child fatality review panel composed of thirteen permanent members as follows: The Child Advocate, or a designee; the Commissioners of Children and Families, Public Health and Public Safety, or their designees; the Chief Medical Examiner, or a designee; the Chief State's Attorney, or a designee; a pediatrician, appointed by the Governor; a representative of law enforcement, appointed by the president pro tempore of the Senate; an attorney, appointed by the majority leader of the Senate; a social work professional, 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 psychologist, appointed by the majority leader of the House of Representatives; and an injury prevention representative, appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives. A majority of the panel may select not more than three additional temporary members with particular expertise or interest to serve on the panel. Such temporary members shall have the same duties and powers as the permanent members of the panel. The chairperson shall be elected from among the panel's permanent 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 placed in out-of-home care or whose death was due to unexpected or unexplained causes to facilitate development of prevention strategies to address identified trends and patterns of risk and to improve coordination of services for children and families in the state. 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.
(d) On or before January 1, 2000, and annually thereafter, the panel shall issue an annual report which shall include its findings and recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly on its review of child fatalities for the preceding year.
(e) Upon request of two-thirds of the members of the panel and within available appropriations, the Governor, the General Assembly or at the Child Advocate's discretion, the Child Advocate shall conduct an in-depth investigation and review and issue a report with recommendations on the death or critical incident of a child. The report shall be submitted to the Governor, the General Assembly and the commissioner of any state agency cited in the report and shall be made available to the general public.
(f) (1) Upon the death of a child whose death was due to unexpected or unexplained causes and who had any past or present involvement with the Department of Children and Families, the Child Advocate shall conduct an assessment of the department's internal processes, including an assessment of any department staff members who participated in the child's care.
[(f)] (2) Any state agency cited in a report issued by the Office of the Child Advocate, pursuant to the Child Advocate's responsibilities under this section, shall submit a written response to the report and recommendations made in the report to the Governor and the General Assembly not later than ninety days after receipt of such report and recommendations. The General Assembly shall submit a copy of such response to the Office of the Child Advocate immediately upon receipt.
(g) The Chief Medical Examiner shall provide timely notice to the Child Advocate and to the chairperson of the child fatality review panel of the death of any child that is to be investigated pursuant to section 19a-406.
(h) Any agency having responsibility for the custody or care of children shall provide timely notice to the Child Advocate and the chairperson of the child fatality review panel of the death of a child or a critical incident involving a child in its custody or care.
Sec. 502. (NEW) (Effective from passage) (a) Not later than January 1, 2017, and annually thereafter, the Child Advocate shall submit a report, in accordance with section 11-4a of the general statutes, to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to children and the judiciary. Such report shall explore the number and circumstances of preventable child deaths in the state within the previous year.
(b) Not later than four weeks after submitting the report described in subsection (a) of this section, and annually thereafter, the Office of the Child Advocate, in coordination with the Department of Children and Families and the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to children and the judiciary, shall conduct a joint public hearing to discuss the report submitted pursuant to subsection (a) of this section. "
This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:
October 1, 2016