OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 895

AN ACT CONCERNING THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES' STANDARDS AND REPORTING REQUIREMENTS.

SUMMARY

This bill requires the Department of Children and Families (DCF) commissioner to establish protocols for investigating reports of child abuse or neglect of children from birth to age three. The protocols must include:

1. heightened case supervision during the investigatory period,

2. frequent DCF personnel visitations to such children during that time,

3. documentation of case activities relevant to such children's safety and well-being, and

4. a case supervision tool specific to the unique needs and risk status of children in that age range.

The bill also increases the frequency with which DCF must perform certain investigations related to child abuse and neglect proceedings. In such proceedings, the court must schedule a preliminary hearing when it issues an order (1) to the child's parents or caregiver to appear in court to determine if the child should be temporarily placed outside the home during the proceedings or (2) ex parte (from the bench) vesting the child's care and custody temporarily with a relative, agency, or other person. In advance of the hearing, the child's parent or guardian may request DCF to investigate placing the child or youth with a relative as a licensed foster parent or temporary custodian. The bill requires DCF to investigate any such relative before the preliminary hearing, rather than requiring it to do so only when practicable.

The bill also (1) requires the department to include in the report it must submit to the court at the hearing any potential barriers to licensing the relative as a foster parent or granting him or her temporary custody of the child and (2) specifies that the report is preliminary. It requires DCF to report certain additional information to the court (1) 30 days after a child is adjudicated abused, neglected or uncared for, (2) 60 days after a child is committed to DCF based on such an adjudication, and (3) on an ongoing basis if there are concerns or risk factors related to children committed to the department or alleged to be abused or neglected.

Additionally, the bill requires DCF, by January 1, 2018, to begin annually reporting to the Children's Committee on its licensing practices.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2017

DCF REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

The bill imposes on the department new judicial and legislative reporting requirements.

Reports to the Court

When a child is adjudicated abused, neglected, or uncared for and committed to DCF, the bill requires the commissioner to issue a report to the juvenile court within 30 days of the commitment. The report must contain the commissioner's assessment of the suitability of the child's placement and any potential licensing barriers, including whether a waiver from licensure requirements is needed to effectuate or license the placement. By law, DCF may grant waivers from certain licensing requirements to relatives or fictive kin caregivers, on a case-by-case basis, if the (1) placement is in the child's best interest and (2) waived procedure or standard is not safety-related.

Within 60 days of the commitment, the bill requires the commissioner to issue a second report to the court on the (1) child's medical, developmental, educational, and treatment needs and (2) commissioner's timeline for ensuring those needs are met.

The bill also requires the commissioner to report to the court, on an ongoing basis, any identified safety concerns or risk factors, including new allegations of abuse or neglect, that arise with respect to a child committed to DCF or for whom an abuse or neglect petition has been filed.

Report to the Children's Committee

The annual report to the Children's Committee must include:

1. the department's methods of ensuring it complies with statutory and regulatory foster care licensing regulations;

2. its methods of assessing the needs of children and youths in foster care and providing support for foster parents to help them meet such children's and youths' needs;

3. the safeguards it uses when it seeks to license a relative caregiver with (a) a history child abuse or neglect, (b) psychiatric illness, or (c) a criminal record;

4. its process for reversing a substantiated abuse or neglect finding or child abuse or neglect registry finding against a prospective relative caregiver;

5. for the past 12 months, the number of (a) child abuse and neglect reports involving children or youths in DCF licensed foster home and (b) such reports that were substantiated, and (c) foster home licenses that were revoked and applications that were denied;

6. the results of DCF's random audits of its licensing practices; and

7. information on the number and type of licensed foster home safety concerns the department identified through its assessment of its regulatory compliance system and any corresponding corrective actions it took.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Committee on Children

Joint Favorable

Yea

12

Nay

0

(03/07/2017)