OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 895 (File 162, as amended by Senate "A")*

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 and responding to reports of abuse or neglect of children from birth to age three. The protocols must include:

1. appropriate case supervision,

2. appropriate DCF personnel visitations to such children,

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 such children.

The bill also broadens the circumstances in 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. Under current law, 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.

Under the bill, if DCF places a child or youth into out-of-home care based on alleged abuse or neglect, it must include in any report it submits to the court information about:

1. the safety and suitability of the child's or youth's placement, taking into account the law's requirements regarding such placements;

2. the child's or youth's medical, dental, developmental, educational, and treatment needs; and

3. a timeline to ensure those needs are met.

The information also must be submitted (1) within 90 days of the child's or youth's placement in out-of-home care, (2) if the placement changes, and (3) if the commissioner files a permanency plan on behalf of the child or youth. The court must consider the information when making decisions on the child's or youth's well-being.

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

*Senate Amendment “A” (1) modifies the information that the bill requires DCF to include in reports to the court and the circumstances in which DCF must make such reports, (2) requires the court to consider the information it receives from DCF when making decisions on the child's or youth's well-being, and (3) makes other minor changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2017

DCF REPORT TO THE CHILDREN'S COMMITTEE

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

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

2. DCF's 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 DCF uses when it seeks to license a relative caregiver with (a) a history of child abuse or neglect, (b) psychiatric illness, or (c) a criminal record;

4. DCF's 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, (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)

Judiciary Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

37

Nay

0

(05/31/2017)