Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

File No. 80

    January Session, 2017

Substitute Senate Bill No. 396

Senate, March 16, 2017

The Committee on Children reported through SEN. MOORE, M. of the 22nd Dist. and SEN. SUZIO of the 13th Dist., Chairpersons of the Committee on the part of the Senate, that the substitute bill ought to pass.

AN ACT CONCERNING THE CHILD FATALITY REVIEW PANEL.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 46a-13l of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2017):

(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;

(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; and

(12) Prepare an in-depth report on conditions of confinement, including, but not limited to, compliance with section 46a-152, regarding children twenty years of age or younger who are held in secure detention or correctional confinement in any facility operated by a state agency. Such report shall be submitted, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a, to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to children not later than March 1, 2017, and every two years thereafter.

(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 Child Advocate. 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] June 30, 2018, 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] a report to the Governor and, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a, the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to children. Such report shall include, but not be limited to, (1) a review of child fatalities for the preceding year, and (2) an assessment of the adequacy of (A) policies and practices among state agencies concerning the prevention of child fatalities, and (B) compliance by such agencies' personnel with such policies and practices. Not later than four weeks after the issuance of such report, the panel shall, in coordination with each state agency identified in such report and the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to children, present such report at an informational forum.

(e) Upon request of two-thirds of the members of the panel and within available appropriations, the Governor, the [General Assembly] joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to children 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) 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 joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to children not later than ninety days after receipt of such report and recommendations. [The General Assembly] Such committee 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.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

July 1, 2017

46a-13l

KID

Joint Favorable Subst.

 

The following Fiscal Impact Statement and Bill Analysis are prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for purposes of information, summarization and explanation and do not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose. In general, fiscal impacts are based upon a variety of informational sources, including the analyst's professional knowledge. Whenever applicable, agency data is consulted as part of the analysis, however final products do not necessarily reflect an assessment from any specific department.


OFA Fiscal Note

State Impact:

Agency Affected

Fund-Effect

FY 18 $

FY 19 $

Office of the Child Advocate

GF - Cost

77,172

77,172

State Comptroller - Fringe Benefits1

GF - Savings

29,387

29,387

Note: GF=General Fund

Municipal Impact: None

Explanation

The bill requires the Office of the Child Advocate (OCA) to produce an annual report and informational forum regarding child fatalities. This is estimated to result in an annualized cost of $106,559 ($77,172 for salary and $29,387 for fringe benefits) to hire one assistant child advocate position.

Currently, the OCA has one full-time and one part-time position to review and investigate child fatalities. This bill significantly expands the content required in the child fatality report, necessitating intensive investigation and qualitative research.

The Out Years

The annualized ongoing fiscal impact identified above would continue into the future subject to inflation.

Sources:

Child Advocate

 

Genesis

OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 396

AN ACT CONCERNING THE CHILD FATALITY REVIEW PANEL.

SUMMARY

This bill requires the child advocate to chair the Child Fatality Review Panel (CFRP), rather than the panel to elect a chairperson. (In practice, the child advocate has co-chaired the panel since March 2012.) It eliminates the option for a designee to serve on the panel in her place.

By law, the panel must review the circumstances of the death of any child under age 18 (1) from unexpected or unexplained causes or (2) placed in out-of-home care.

Current law requires the panel to annually report to the governor and General Assembly on findings and recommendations from its review of child fatalities for the preceding year. The bill instead requires the panel, starting by June 30, 2018, to annually issue to the governor and Children's Committee a report that includes (1) a review of child fatalities for the preceding year and (2) an assessment of the adequacy of (a) state agencies' policies and practices to prevent child fatalities and (b) compliance by the agencies' personnel with those policies and practices. Within four weeks of issuing the report, the bill requires the panel, in coordination with each agency identified in the report and the Children's Committee, to present the report at an informational forum.

The bill specifies that the child advocate must conduct an in-depth investigation and review of a child's death or critical incident at the request of the Children's Committee, instead of at the request of the General Assembly. By law, the child advocate must also conduct such investigations and reviews at the request of the governor or two-thirds of the CFRP panel members. She may also do so at her discretion.

Under current law, agencies identified in a report issued by the child advocate related to a child's death or critical incident must submit a written response to the General Assembly within 90 days of receiving the report. The bill (1) instead requires the agencies to submit the response to the Children's Committee and (2) makes a conforming change.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2017

COMMITTEE ACTION

Committee on Children

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

13

Nay

0

(03/02/2017)

TOP

1 The fringe benefit costs for most state employees are budgeted centrally in accounts administered by the Comptroller. The estimated active employee fringe benefit cost associated with most personnel changes is 38.08% of payroll in FY 18 and FY 19.