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Substitute Senate Bill No. 315

Public Act No. 18-67

AN ACT CONCERNING MINOR REVISIONS TO THE STATUTES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES AND ESTABLISHING A PILOT PROGRAM TO PERMIT ELECTRONIC REPORTING BY MANDATED REPORTERS.

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

Section 1. Subsection (h) of section 17a-22bb of the 2018 supplement to the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2018):

(h) On or before [July] October 1, 2018, the Department of Children and Families, in collaboration with the Children's Mental, Emotional and Behavioral Health Plan Implementation Advisory Board, established pursuant to section 17a-22f, shall submit recommendations for addressing any unmet mental, emotional and behavioral health needs of children that are attributed to an increased risk of involvement in the juvenile and criminal justice systems, in accordance with section 11-4a, to the Governor and the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to children and appropriations.

Sec. 2. Subsection (f) of section 17a-22ff of the 2018 supplement to the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2018):

(f) Not later than [September 15, 2016] October 1, 2018, and annually thereafter, the board shall submit a report, 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. Such report shall detail (1) the status of the execution of the implementation plan, (2) the level of collaboration among the agencies and stakeholders involved in the execution of the implementation plan, (3) any recommendations for improvements in the execution of the implementation plan or the collaboration among such agencies and stakeholders, and (4) any additional information the board deems necessary and relevant to prevent or reduce the long-term negative impact of mental, emotional and behavioral health issues on children.

Sec. 3. Section 17a-58 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2018):

(a) An employee designated pursuant to section 17a-57 shall take physical custody of any infant thirty days or younger if the parent or lawful agent of the parent voluntarily surrenders physical custody of the infant to such designated employee unless the parent or agent clearly expresses an intent to return for the infant.

(b) If the mother of an infant wishes to voluntarily surrender physical custody of the infant while the mother is in the hospital to give birth to the infant, the mother shall provide notice that she wishes to surrender physical custody of the infant [, in writing, on a form prescribed by the Commissioner of Children and Families, and deliver such notice] to any health care provider who is licensed by the Department of Public Health and who provides health care services on behalf of the hospital. Upon receipt of such notice, such health care provider shall notify the designated employee pursuant to section 17a-57, who shall immediately take physical custody of the infant. [The hospital shall retain the written notice provided by the mother in a file separate from the mother's medical records.] No hospital employee or health care provider shall disclose [the contents of the written notice, including] the name of the mother [,] to the Department of Children and Families or any person or organization without the mother's permission.

(c) The designated employee may request the parent or agent to provide (1) the name of the parent or agent, (2) information on the medical history of the infant and parents, and (3) the infant's name and date of birth if the infant's birth has been registered in the state vital records system prior to the surrender of the infant. Notwithstanding such a request from the designated employee, the parent or agent is not required to provide such name or information. The designated employee may provide the parent or agent with a numbered identification bracelet to link the parent or agent to the infant. The bracelet shall be used for identification only and shall not be construed to authorize the person who possesses the bracelet to take custody of the infant on demand. The designated employee shall provide the parent or agent with a pamphlet describing the process established under sections 17a-57 to 17a-60, inclusive, and sections 17a-61, 53-21 and 53-23.

Sec. 4. Subsection (a) of section 17a-101b of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2019):

(a) An oral or electronic report shall be made by a mandated reporter as soon as practicable but not later than twelve hours after the mandated reporter has reasonable cause to suspect or believe that a child has been abused or neglected or placed in imminent risk of serious harm. [,] An oral report made pursuant to this subsection shall be made by telephone or in person to the Commissioner of Children and Families or a law enforcement agency. If a law enforcement agency receives an oral report, it shall immediately notify the [Commissioner of Children and Families] commissioner. An electronic report made pursuant to this subsection shall be made in a manner prescribed by the commissioner. A mandated reporter who makes an electronic report pursuant to this section shall respond to further inquiries from the commissioner or the commissioner's designee made within twenty-four hours of such report.

Sec. 5. Section 17a-101c of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2019):

Not later than forty-eight hours after making an oral report, a mandated reporter shall submit a written or electronic report to the Commissioner of Children and Families or the commissioner's designee. Such reports shall be made in a manner prescribed by the commissioner. When a mandated reporter is a member of the staff of a public or private institution or facility that provides care for such child or public or private school the reporter shall also submit a copy of the written or electronic report to the person in charge of such institution, school or facility or the person's designee. In the case of a report concerning a school employee holding a certificate, authorization or permit issued by the State Board of Education under the provisions of sections 10-144o to 10-146b, inclusive, and 10-149, a copy of the written or electronic report shall also be sent by the Commissioner of Children and Families or the commissioner's designee to the Commissioner of Education or the commissioner's designee. In the case of an employee of a facility or institution that provides care for a child which is licensed by the state, a copy of the written or electronic report shall also be sent by the Commissioner of Children and Families to the executive head of the state licensing agency.

Sec. 6. Section 17a-101d of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2019):

All [oral and written] reports required [in] pursuant to sections 17a-101a to 17a-101c, inclusive, as amended by this act, and section 17a-103, as amended by this act, shall contain, if known: (1) The names and addresses of the child and his or her parents or other person responsible for his or her care; (2) the age of the child; (3) the gender of the child; (4) the nature and extent of the child's injury or injuries, maltreatment or neglect; (5) the approximate date and time the injury or injuries, maltreatment or neglect occurred; (6) information concerning any previous injury or injuries to, or maltreatment or neglect of, the child or his or her siblings; (7) the circumstances in which the injury or injuries, maltreatment or neglect came to be known to the reporter; (8) the name of the person or persons suspected to be responsible for causing such injury or injuries, maltreatment or neglect; (9) the reasons such person or persons are suspected of causing such injury or injuries, maltreatment or neglect; (10) any information concerning any prior cases in which such person or persons have been suspected of causing an injury, maltreatment or neglect of a child; and (11) whatever action, if any, was taken to treat, provide shelter or otherwise assist the child. For purposes of this section, "child" includes any victim described in subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of section 17a-101a.

Sec. 7. Section 17a-103 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2019):

(a) Any mandated reporter acting outside his or her professional capacity and any other person having reasonable cause to suspect or believe that any child under the age of eighteen is in danger of being abused, or has been abused or neglected, as defined in section 46b-120, may cause a written, [or] oral or electronic report to be made to the Commissioner of Children and Families or the commissioner's [representative] designee or a law enforcement agency. An electronic report made pursuant to this subsection shall be made in a manner prescribed by the commissioner. The [Commissioner of Children and Families] commissioner or the commissioner's [representative] designee shall use his or her best efforts to obtain the name and address of a person who causes a report to be made pursuant to this section. In the case of an oral report, such report shall be recorded on tape and the commissioner or the commissioner's [representative] designee shall announce to the person making such report that such report is being recorded and shall state the penalty for knowingly making a false report of child abuse or neglect under subsection (d) of section 17a-101e.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 17a-101k, if the identity of any such person who made a report pursuant to subsection (a) of this section is known, and the commissioner or the commissioner's [representative] designee suspects or knows that such person has knowingly made a false report, such identity shall be disclosed to the appropriate law enforcement agency and to the perpetrator of the alleged abuse.

(c) If the [Commissioner of Children and Families] commissioner, or the commissioner's designee, receives a report alleging sexual abuse or serious physical abuse, including, but not limited to, a report that: (1) A child has died; (2) a child has been sexually assaulted; (3) a child has suffered brain damage, loss or serious impairment of a bodily function or organ; (4) a child has been sexually exploited; or (5) a child has suffered serious nonaccidental physical injury, he or she shall, within twenty-four hours of receipt of such report, notify the appropriate law enforcement agency.

Sec. 8. Section 17a-101h of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2018):

Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes, any person authorized to conduct an investigation of abuse or neglect shall coordinate investigatory activities in order to minimize the number of interviews of any child and share information with other persons authorized to conduct an investigation of child abuse or neglect, as appropriate. A person reporting child abuse or neglect shall provide any person authorized to conduct an investigation of child abuse or neglect with all information related to the investigation that is in the possession or control of the person reporting child abuse or neglect, except as expressly prohibited by state or federal law. The commissioner shall obtain the consent of parents or guardians or other persons responsible for the care of the child to any interview with a child, except that such consent shall not be required when the department has reason to believe such parent or guardian or other person responsible for the care of the child or member of the child's household is the perpetrator of the alleged abuse or neglect or that seeking such consent would place the child at imminent risk of physical harm. If consent is not required to conduct the interview, such interview shall be conducted in the presence of a disinterested adult unless immediate access to the child is necessary to protect the child from imminent risk of physical harm and a disinterested adult is not available after reasonable search. For purposes of this section, "child" includes any victim described in subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of section 17a-101a.

Sec. 9. Subsection (a) of section 17a-114 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2018):

(a) As used in this section, (1) "approval" or "approved" means that a person has been approved to provide foster care by a child-placing agency licensed pursuant to section 17a-149, (2) "licensed" means a person holds a license to provide foster care issued by the Department of Children and Families, (3) "fictive kin caregiver" means a person who is twenty-one years of age or older and who is unrelated to a child by birth, adoption or marriage but who has an emotionally significant relationship with such child or such child's family amounting to a familial relationship, and (4) "regular unsupervised access" means periodic interaction with a child in the home for purposes of unsupervised child care, medical or other services to the child.

Sec. 10. Subsection (a) of section 17a-145 of the 2018 supplement to the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2018):

(a) No person or entity shall care for or board a child without a license obtained from the Commissioner of Children and Families, except: (1) When a child has been placed by a person or entity holding a license from the commissioner; (2) any residential educational institution exempted by the State Board of Education under the provisions of section 17a-152; (3) residential facilities under contract with or licensed by the Department of Developmental Services pursuant to section 17a-227; (4) facilities providing child care services, as defined in section 19a-77; or (5) any home that houses students participating in a program described in subparagraph (B) of subdivision (8) of section 10a-29. The person or entity seeking a child care facility license shall file with the commissioner an application for a license, in such form as the commissioner furnishes, stating the location where it is proposed to care for such child, the number of children to be cared for, in the case of a corporation, the purpose of the corporation and the names of its chief officers and of the actual person responsible for the child. The Commissioner of Children and Families is authorized to fix the maximum number of children to be boarded and cared for in any such home or institution or by any person or entity licensed by the commissioner. If the population served at any facility, institution or home operated by any person or entity licensed under this section changes after such license is issued, such person or entity shall file a new license application with the commissioner, and the commissioner shall notify the chief executive officer of the municipality in which the facility is located of such new license application, except that no confidential client information may be disclosed.

Sec. 11. Subdivision (1) 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 July 1, 2018):

(j) (1) For the purposes of this subsection and subsection (k) of this section, (A) "permanent legal guardianship" means a permanent guardianship, as defined in section 45a-604, and (B) "caregiver" means (i) a fictive kin caregiver, as defined in section 17a-114, as amended by this act, who is caring for a child, (ii) a relative caregiver, as defined in section 17a-126, who is caring for a child, or (iii) a person who is licensed or approved to provide foster care pursuant to section 17a-114, as amended by this act, who is caring for a child.

Sec. 12. (Effective July 1, 2018) (a) The Commissioner of Children and Families may, within existing appropriations, establish and operate a pilot program to permit certain categories of mandated reporters to make electronic reports of children such reporters have reasonable cause to suspect or believe have been abused, neglected or placed at imminent risk of serious harm. Such categories shall be chosen at the discretion of the commissioner and such reports shall be made in a manner prescribed by the commissioner.

(b) Any pilot program established pursuant to this section shall begin operation on or after July 1, 2018, and shall terminate not later than September 30, 2019.

Approved June 1, 2018