PA 17-92—sSB 895
Committee on Children
AN ACT CONCERNING THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES' STANDARDS AND REPORTING REQUIREMENTS
SUMMARY: This act requires the Department of Children and Families (DCF) commissioner to establish protocols to investigate and respond to reports of abuse or neglect of children from birth to age three. The protocols must include:
1. appropriate case supervision,
2. appropriate DCF staff visits to the children,
3. documentation of case activities related to the children's safety and well-being, and
4. a case supervision tool specific to the unique needs and risk status of the children.
The act also broadens the circumstances in which DCF must perform certain investigations related to child abuse and neglect proceedings. In such proceedings, existing law requires the court to 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 (on behalf of one party) vesting the child's care and custody temporarily with a relative, agency, or other person. By law, the child's parent or guardian may, before such a hearing, request that DCF investigate placing the child with a relative as a licensed foster parent or temporary custodian. The act requires DCF to investigate any such relative before the preliminary hearing, rather than requiring that it do so only when practicable.
The act also (1) requires the department to include in the report it must submit to the court at the hearing any potential barriers to (a) licensing the relative as a foster parent or (b) granting him or her temporary custody of the child or youth and (2) specifies that the report is preliminary.
Additionally, the act (1) specifies information that DCF must submit for the court to consider regarding a child or youth placed in out-of-home care because of alleged abuse or neglect and (2) requires DCF, by January 1, 2018, to begin annually reporting to the Children's Committee on its foster care licensing practices.
EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2017
DCF REPORTS TO THE COURT
Under the act, if DCF places a child or youth in 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 for 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 to the court (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.
DCF REPORT TO THE CHILDREN'S COMMITTEE
Under the act, DCF's annual report to the Children's Committee must include:
1. its methods of ensuring it complies with foster care licensing laws and 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 these 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) 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 preceding 12 months, the number of (a) child abuse and neglect reports involving children or youths in DCF-licensed foster homes, (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.