Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

File No. 450

    February Session, 2018

Substitute House Bill No. 5470

House of Representatives, April 12, 2018

The Committee on Judiciary reported through REP. TONG of the 147th Dist., Chairperson of the Committee on the part of the House, that the substitute bill ought to pass.

AN ACT CONCERNING THE PROVISION OF TIMELY NOTICE OF CHILD PLACEMENT INFORMATION FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES TO THE ATTORNEY OR GUARDIAN AD LITEM REPRESENTING THE CHILD IN A CHILD PROTECTION MATTER.

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

Section 1. Subdivision (4) of subsection (j) of section 46b-129 of the 2018 supplement to the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2018):

(4) The commissioner shall be the guardian of such child or youth for the duration of the commitment, provided the child or youth has not reached the age of eighteen years, or until another guardian has been legally appointed, and in like manner, upon such vesting of the care of such child or youth, such other public or private agency or individual shall be the guardian of such child or youth until such child or youth has reached the age of eighteen years or, in the case of a child or youth in full-time attendance in a secondary school, a technical education and career school, a college or a state-accredited job training program, until such child or youth has reached the age of twenty-one years or until another guardian has been legally appointed. The commissioner may place any child or youth so committed to the commissioner in a suitable foster home or in the home of a fictive kin caregiver, relative caregiver, or in a licensed child-caring institution or in the care and custody of any accredited, licensed or approved child-caring agency, within or without the state, provided a child shall not be placed outside the state except for good cause and unless the parents or guardian of such child are notified in advance of such placement and given an opportunity to be heard, or in a receiving home maintained and operated by the [Commissioner of Children and Families] commissioner. When placing such child or youth, the commissioner shall provide written notification of the placement, including the name, address and other relevant contact information relating to the placement, to any attorney or guardian ad litem appointed to represent the child or youth pursuant to subsection (c) of this section. The commissioner shall provide written notification to such attorney or guardian ad litem of any change in placement of such child or youth, including a hospitalization or respite placement, and if the child or youth absconds from care. The commissioner shall provide such written notification not later than ten business days prior to the date of change of placement in a nonemergency situation, or not later than two business days following the date of a change of placement in an emergency situation. In placing such child or youth, the commissioner shall, if possible, select a home, agency, institution or person of like religious faith to that of a parent of such child or youth, if such faith is known or may be ascertained by reasonable inquiry, provided such home conforms to the standards of [said] the commissioner and the commissioner shall, when placing siblings, if possible, place such children together. Upon the issuance of an order committing the child or youth to the [Commissioner of Children and Families] commissioner, or not later than sixty days after the issuance of such order, the court shall determine whether the [Department of Children and Families] department made reasonable efforts to keep the child or youth with his or her parents or guardian prior to the issuance of such order and, if such efforts were not made, whether such reasonable efforts were not possible, taking into consideration the child's or youth's best interests, including the child's or youth's health and safety.

Sec. 2. Subparagraph (B) of subdivision (1) of subsection (k) of section 46b-129 of the 2018 supplement to the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2018):

(B) (i) If a child is at least twelve years of age, the child's permanency plan, and any revision to such plan, shall be developed in consultation with the child. In developing or revising such plan, the child may consult up to two individuals participating in the department's case plan regarding such child, neither of whom shall be the foster parent or caseworker of such child. One individual so selected by such child may be designated as the child's advisor for purposes of developing or revising the permanency plan. Regardless of the child's age, the commissioner shall provide not less than five days' advance written notice of any permanency team meeting concerning the child's permanency plan to an attorney or guardian ad litem appointed to represent the child pursuant to subsection (c) of this section.

(ii) If a child is at least twelve years of age, the commissioner shall notify the parent or guardian, foster parent and child of any administrative case review regarding such child's commitment not less than five days prior to such review and shall make a reasonable effort to schedule such review at a time and location that allows the parent or guardian, foster parent and child to attend.

(iii) If a child is at least twelve years of age, such child shall, whenever possible, identify not more than three adults with whom such child has a significant relationship and who may serve as a permanency resource. The identity of such adults shall be recorded in the case plan of such child.

(iv) Not later than January 1, 2016, and annually thereafter, the commissioner shall submit a report, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a, to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to children and the judiciary, on the number of case plans in which children have identified adults with whom they have a significant relationship and who may serve as a permanency resource.

Sec. 3. Subsection (b) of section 17a-15 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2018):

(b) The commissioner shall at least every six months, review the written case plan of each child under the commissioner's supervision for the purpose of determining whether such plan is appropriate and make any appropriate modifications to such plan. If the child is represented by an attorney or guardian ad litem, the commissioner shall notify the child's attorney or guardian ad litem in writing not less than twenty-one days prior to the date of any administrative meeting to review the plan.

Sec. 4. Subsection (b) of section 17a-101g of the 2018 supplement to the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2018):

(b) The Commissioner of Children and Families shall establish protocols for the investigation of and response to reports of child abuse or neglect of children from birth to three years of age. Such protocols shall include, but need not be limited to, (1) appropriate supervision of the case, (2) appropriate visitation by department personnel to such children, (3) documentation of case activities relevant to the safety and well-being of such children, and (4) a case supervision tool specific to the unique needs and risk status of children from birth to three years of age. All investigations of a report of child abuse or neglect pursuant to this section shall include a home visit at which the child and any siblings are observed, if appropriate, a determination of the nature, extent and cause or causes of the reported abuse or neglect, a determination of the person or persons suspected to be responsible for such abuse or neglect, the name, age and condition of other children residing in the same household and an evaluation of the parents and the home. The report of such investigation shall be in writing. The investigation shall also include, but not be limited to, a review of criminal conviction information concerning the person or persons alleged to be responsible for such abuse or neglect and previous allegations of abuse or neglect relating to the child or other children residing in the household or relating to family violence. After an investigation into a report of abuse or neglect has been completed, the commissioner shall determine, based upon a standard of reasonable cause, whether a child has been abused or neglected, as defined in section 46b-120. If the commissioner determines that abuse or neglect has occurred, the commissioner shall also determine whether: (A) There is an identifiable person responsible for such abuse or neglect; and (B) such identifiable person poses a risk to the health, safety or well-being of children and should be recommended by the commissioner for placement on the child abuse and neglect registry established pursuant to section 17a-101k. If the commissioner has made the determinations in subparagraphs (A) and (B) of this subsection, the commissioner shall issue notice of a recommended finding to the person suspected to be responsible for such abuse or neglect in accordance with section 17a-101k. If the child is represented by an attorney or guardian ad litem, the commissioner shall notify the child's attorney or guardian ad litem in writing not less than five days prior to the date of any meeting in which the department is considering removing the child from the household.

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

Section 1

October 1, 2018

46b-129(j)(4)

Sec. 2

October 1, 2018

46b-129(k)(1)(B)

Sec. 3

October 1, 2018

17a-15(b)

Sec. 4

October 1, 2018

17a-101g(b)

Statement of Legislative Commissioners:

In Section 1, "necessitated by an emergency" was changed to "in an emergency situation" for consistency and clarity and in Sections 3 and 4, the phrase "or guardian ad litem" was added for consistency with the provisions of Sections 1 and 2.

JUD

Joint Favorable Subst. -LCO

 

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: None

Municipal Impact: None

Explanation

The bill, which makes child/youth placement notification requirements of the Department of Children and Families, does not result in a fiscal impact to the agency as it has the expertise necessary to fulfill these requirements.

The Out Years

State Impact: None

Municipal Impact: None

OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 5470

AN ACT CONCERNING THE PROVISION OF TIMELY NOTICE OF CHILD PLACEMENT INFORMATION FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES TO THE ATTORNEY OR GUARDIAN AD LITEM REPRESENTING THE CHILD IN A CHILD PROTECTION MATTER.

SUMMARY

This bill requires the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to provide written notice to an attorney or guardian ad litem (GAL) representing a child before any:

The bill establishes timeframes for each of these notice requirements.

The bill also requires DCF to provide notice to any attorney or GAL appointed to represent a child when he or she absconds from care, but it does not specify a timeframe for the notification.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2018

NOTICE OF MEETING TO DISCUSS REMOVAL

The bill requires DCF to provide notice to any attorney or GAL representing a child at least five days before the date of any meeting in which the department is considering removing the child from the household. But existing law, unchanged by the bill, permits a DCF employee or law enforcement officer, with DCF authorization, to remove a child from a home immediately if there is probable cause to believe (1) that the child or any other child in the household is in imminent risk of physical harm from his or her surroundings and (2) the immediate removal is necessary to ensure the child's safety (CGS 17a-101g(e)).

PLACEMENT NOTIFICATION

The bill requires DCF, when placing a child or youth committed to its care (e.g., in a foster home), to provide written notice to any attorney or GAL appointed by the court to represent the child. The notice must include the name, address, and other relevant contact information related to the placement. The commissioner must also provide written notice to the attorney or GAL of any change in placement, including a hospitalization or respite placement. The notice must be provided (1) within ten business days prior to the change of placement in a nonemergency situation or (2) no later than two days after a change of placement in an emergency situation.

PERMANENCY PLAN NOTIFICATION

By law, the DCF commissioner must prepare and maintain a plan for the care, treatment, and permanent placement (i.e., permanency plan) for each child under her care and she must review the plan at least every six months to (1) determine if it is appropriate and (2) make any appropriate modifications. The bill requires DCF to provide written notice to the child's attorney or GAL at least 21 days before the date of any administrative meeting to review the plan.

Additionally, under the bill, the commissioner must provide written notice to any attorney or GAL the court appointed for the child, regardless of the child's age, at least five days in advance of any permanency team meeting concerning the child's plan (see BACKGROUND).

BACKGROUND

Permanency Teams

Under DCF policy, permanency teams are multidisciplinary teams that serve as the decision-making groups for selecting an adoptive family, approving relative adoption or guardianship for children in placement for less than six months, or approving another planned permanent living arrangement for a child under age 14 (DCF Policy 48-14-6.1).

BACKGROUND

Related Bill

sSB 323 (File 137), reported favorably by the Children's Committee, generally requires DCF to provide written notice to any child or youth being transferred to a new placement and his or her attorney at least 10 days before the transfer.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Judiciary Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

39

Nay

0

(03/28/2018)

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