Substitute House Bill No. 7076
Public Act No. 99-166
An Act Concerning Adoption of Children in State Foster Care.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:
Section 1. Section 17a-110 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:
(a) As used in this section, "child" means a person under the age of eighteen years; "foster child" means a child placed temporarily in a home, pending permanent placement; "permanent home" means a home for a child with [his] the child's genetic or adoptive parents considered to be such child's permanent residence; and "permanency placement services" means services that are designed and rendered for the purpose of relocating a foster child with [his] such child's legal family or finding a permanent home for such child, including, but not limited to, the following: (1) Treatment services for the child and the genetic family; (2) preplacement planning; (3) appropriate court proceedings to effect permanent placement, including, but not limited to, the following: (A) Termination of parental rights; (B) revocation of commitment; (C) removal or reinstatement of guardianship; (D) temporary custody; (4) recruitment and screening of permanent placement homes; (5) home study and evaluation of permanent placement homes; (6) placement of children in permanent homes; (7) postplacement supervision and services to such homes following finalization of such placements in the courts; and (8) other services routinely performed by caseworkers doing similar work in the Department of Children and Families.
(b) At a hearing held in accordance with subsection (k) of section 46b-129 and section 17a-111b, the court shall determine the appropriateness of continuing efforts to reunify a child with [his] the child's family. If the court finds that such efforts are not appropriate, the Department of Children and Families shall within sixty days of such finding either (1) file a petition for the termination of parental rights, (2) file a motion to revoke the commitment and vest the custody and guardianship of the child on a permanent or long-term basis in an appropriate individual or couple, or (3) file a written permanency plan with the court for permanent or long-term foster care, which plan shall include an explanation of the reason that neither termination of parental rights nor custody and guardianship is appropriate for the child. The court shall promptly convene a hearing for the purpose of reviewing such written plan. If the permanency plan calls for placing the child for adoption or in some other permanent home, good faith efforts shall be made to place the child for adoption or in some other alternative home.
(c) Not later than January 1, 2000, the Department of Children and Families shall adopt regulations in accordance with chapter 54 to establish standards for permanency plans which shall include, but not be limited to: (1) Assessment of kin, foster parents or other potential adoptive parents for adopting a child; (2) preparing children for adoption; (3) collaboration between family foster care services and adoption services; (4) transracial and cross racial adoption; (5) open adoption; and (6) foster care and adoption subsidies.
(d) Not later than January 1, 2000, the Department of Children and Families shall, within available appropriations, establish and maintain (1) a central registry of all children for whom a permanency plan has been formulated and in which adoption is recommended, and (2) a system to monitor the progress in implementing the permanency plan for such children.
[(c)] (e) Whenever the Commissioner of Children and Families deems it necessary or advisable in order to carry out the purposes of this section, the commissioner may contract with any private child-placing agency, as defined in section 45a-707, as amended by this act, for a term of not less than three years and not more than five years, to provide any one or more permanency placement services on behalf of the Department of Children and Families. Whenever any contract is entered into under this section which requires private agencies to perform casework services, such as the preparation of applications and petitions for termination of parental rights, guardianship or other custodial matters, or which requires court appearances, the Attorney General shall provide legal services for the Commissioner of Children and Families notwithstanding that some of the services have been performed by caseworkers of private agencies, except that no such legal services shall be provided unless the Commissioner of Children and Families is a legal party to any court action hereunder.
Sec. 2. (NEW) (a) In order to achieve early permanency for children, decrease children's length of stay in foster care and reduce the number of moves children experience in foster care, the Commissioner of Children and Families shall establish a program for concurrent permanency planning.
(b) Concurrent permanency planning involves a planning process to identify permanent placements and prospective adoptive parents so that when termination of parental rights are granted by the court pursuant to section 17a-112 of the general statutes, as amended by this act or section 45a-717 of the general statutes, permanent placement or adoption proceedings may commence immediately.
(c) The commissioner shall establish guidelines and protocols for child-placing agencies involved in concurrent permanency planning, including criteria for conducting concurrent permanency planning based on relevant factors such as: (1) Age of the child and duration of out-of-home placement; (2) prognosis for successful reunification with parents; (3) availability of relatives and other concerned individuals to provide support or a permanent placement for the child; (4) special needs of the child; and (5) other factors affecting the child's best interests, goals of concurrent permanency planning, support services that are available for families, permanency options, and the consequences of not complying with case plans.
(d) The commissioner shall provide ongoing technical assistance, support, and training for local child-placing agencies and other individuals and agencies involved in concurrent permanency planning.
Sec. 3. Section 17a-91 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:
The Commissioner of Children and Families shall report, on February fifteenth annually, to the Governor and to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to human services, the judiciary and human rights and opportunities, with respect to the status, (1) as of the January first preceding, of all children committed to [his] the commissioner's custody, including in such report the date of commitment with respect to each child, and (2) of the central registry and monitoring system established in accordance with subsection (d) of section 17a-110, as amended by this act.
Sec. 4. Section 17a-112 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:
(a) In respect to any child in the custody of the Commissioner of Children and Families in accordance with section 46b-129, either the commissioner, or the attorney who represented such child in a pending or prior proceeding, or an attorney appointed by the Superior Court on its own motion, or an attorney retained by such child after attaining the age of fourteen, may petition the court for the termination of parental rights with reference to such child. The petition shall be in the form and contain the information set forth in subsection (b) of section 45a-715, and be subject to the provisions of subsection (c) of said section. If a petition indicates that either or both parents consent to the termination of their parental rights, or if at any time following the filing of a petition and before the entry of a decree, a parent consents to the termination of [his] the parent's parental rights, each consenting parent shall acknowledge such consent on a form promulgated by the Office of the Chief Court Administrator evidencing that the parent has voluntarily and knowingly consented to the termination of [his] such parental rights. No consent to termination by a mother shall be executed within forty-eight hours immediately after the birth of [her] such mother's child. A parent who is a minor shall have the right to consent to termination of parental rights and such consent shall not be voidable by reason of such minority. A guardian ad litem shall be appointed by the court to assure that such minor parent is giving an informed and voluntary consent.
(b) The Superior Court upon hearing and notice, as provided in sections 45a-716 and 45a-717, may grant a petition for termination of parental rights based on consent filed pursuant to this section if it finds that (1) upon clear and convincing evidence, the termination is in the best interest of the child and (2) such parent has voluntarily and knowingly consented to termination of [his] parental rights with respect to such child. If the court denies a petition for termination of parental rights based on consent, it may refer the matter to an agency to assess the needs of the child, the care the child is receiving and the plan of the parent for the child. Consent for the termination of the parental rights of one parent does not diminish the parental rights of the other parent of the child, nor does it relieve the other parent of the duty to support the child.
(c) The Superior Court, upon hearing and notice as provided in sections 45a-716 and 45a-717, may grant a petition filed pursuant to this section if it finds by clear and convincing evidence (1) that the Department of Children and Families has made reasonable efforts to locate the parent and to reunify the child with the parent, unless the court finds in this proceeding that the parent is unable or unwilling to benefit from reunification efforts provided such finding is not required if the court has determined at a hearing pursuant to subsection (b) of section 17a-110 or section 17a-111b that such efforts are not appropriate, (2) that termination is in the best interest of the child, and (3) that: (A) The child has been abandoned by the parent in the sense that the parent has failed to maintain a reasonable degree of interest, concern or responsibility as to the welfare of the child; (B) the parent of a child who (1) has been found by the Superior Court to have been neglected or uncared for in a prior proceeding, or (2) is found to be neglected or uncared for and has been in the custody of the commissioner for at least fifteen months and such parent has been provided specific steps to take to facilitate the return of the child to the parent pursuant to section 46b-129 and has failed to achieve such degree of personal rehabilitation as would encourage the belief that within a reasonable time, considering the age and needs of the child, such parent could assume a responsible position in the life of the child; (C) the child has been denied, by reason of an act or acts of parental commission or omission including, but not limited to, sexual molestation or exploitation, severe physical abuse or a pattern of abuse, the care, guidance or control necessary for [his] such child's physical, educational, moral or emotional well-being. Nonaccidental or inadequately explained serious physical injury to a child shall constitute prima facie evidence of acts of parental commission or omission sufficient for the termination of parental rights; (D) there is no ongoing parent-child relationship, which means the relationship that ordinarily develops as a result of a parent having met on a day to day basis the physical, emotional, moral and educational needs of the child and to allow further time for the establishment or reestablishment of such parent-child relationship would be detrimental to the best interest of the child; (E) the parent of a child under the age of seven years who is neglected or uncared for, has failed, is unable or is unwilling to achieve such degree of personal rehabilitation as would encourage the belief that within a reasonable period of time, considering the age and needs of the child, such parent could assume a responsible position in the life of the child and such parent's parental rights of another child were previously terminated pursuant to a petition filed by the Commissioner of Children and Families; (F) the parent has killed through deliberate, nonaccidental act another child of the parent or has requested, commanded, importuned, attempted, conspired or solicited such killing or has committed an assault, through deliberate, nonaccidental act that resulted in serious bodily injury of another child of the parent; or (G) the parent was convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction of a sexual assault resulting in the conception of the child, except a conviction for a violation of section 53a-71 or 53a-73a, provided the court may terminate such parent's parental rights to such child at any time after such conviction.
(d) Except in the case where termination is based on consent, in determining whether to terminate parental rights under this section, the court shall consider and shall make written findings regarding: (1) The timeliness, nature and extent of services offered, provided and made available to the parent and the child by an agency to facilitate the reunion of the child with the parent; (2) whether the Department of Children and Families has made reasonable efforts to reunite the family pursuant to the federal Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, as amended; (3) the terms of any applicable court order entered into and agreed upon by any individual or agency and the parent, and the extent to which all parties have fulfilled their obligations under such order; (4) the feelings and emotional ties of the child with respect to [his] the child's parents, any guardian of [his] such child's person and any person who has exercised physical care, custody or control of the child for at least one year and with whom the child has developed significant emotional ties; (5) the age of the child; (6) the efforts the parent has made to adjust [his] such parent's circumstances, conduct, or conditions to make it in the best interest of the child to return [him to his] such child home in the foreseeable future, including, but not limited to, (A) the extent to which the parent has maintained contact with the child as part of an effort to reunite the child with the parent, provided the court may give weight to incidental visitations, communications or contributions, and (B) the maintenance of regular contact or communication with the guardian or other custodian of the child; and (7) the extent to which a parent has been prevented from maintaining a meaningful relationship with the child by the unreasonable act or conduct of the other parent of the child, or the unreasonable act of any other person or by the economic circumstances of the parent.
(e) Any petition brought by the Commissioner of Children and Families to the Superior Court, pursuant to subsection (a) of section 46b-129, may be accompanied by or, upon motion by the petitioner, consolidated with a petition for termination of parental rights filed in accordance with this section with respect to such child. Notice of the hearing on such petitions shall be given in accordance with sections 45a-716 and 45a-717. The Superior Court, after hearing, in accordance with the provisions of subsection (b) or (c) of this section, may, in lieu of granting the petition filed pursuant to section 46b-129, grant the petition for termination of parental rights as provided in section 45a-717.
(f) Nothing contained in this section and sections 17a-113, 45a-187, 45a-606, 45a-607, 45a-707 to 45a-709, inclusive, 45a-715 to 45a-718, inclusive, 45a-724, 45a-725, 45a-727, 45a-733, 45a-754 and 52-231a shall negate the right of the Commissioner of Children and Families to subsequently petition the Superior Court for revocation of a commitment of a child as to whom parental rights have been terminated in accordance with the provisions of this section. The Superior Court may appoint a statutory parent at any time after it has terminated parental rights if the petitioner so requests.
(g) If the parental rights of only one parent are terminated, the remaining parent shall be the sole parent and, unless otherwise provided by law, guardian of the person.
(h) In the case where termination of parental rights is granted, the guardian of the person or statutory parent shall report to the court within [ninety] sixty days of the date judgment is entered on a case plan, as defined by the federal Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, for the child which shall include measurable objectives and time schedules. At least every six months thereafter, such guardian or statutory parent shall make a report to the court on the progress made on implementation of the plan. The court shall convene a hearing for the purpose of reviewing the plan for the child no more than [fifteen] twelve months from the date judgment is entered and at least once a year thereafter until such time as any proposed adoption plan has become finalized.
(i) The provisions of this section shall be liberally construed in the best interests of any child for whom a petition under this section has been filed.
Sec. 5. Section 17a-114 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:
(a) No child in the custody of the Commissioner of Children and Families shall be placed with any person, unless such person is licensed by the department for that purpose. Any person licensed by the department to accept placement of a child is deemed to be licensed to accept placement as a foster family or prospective adoptive family. The commissioner shall adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, to establish the licensing procedures and standards. Any criminal records check conducted by the commissioner shall be a criminal records check requested from the State Police Bureau of Identification and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
(b) Notwithstanding the requirements of subsection (a) of this section, the commissioner may place a child with a relative who is not licensed for a period of up to forty-five days provided a satisfactory home visit is conducted, a basic assessment of the family is completed and such relative attests that [he] such relative and any adult living within the household have not been convicted of a crime or arrested for a felony against a person, for injury or risk of injury to or impairing the morals of a child, or for the possession, use or sale of a controlled substance. Placements with a relative beyond such forty-five-day period shall be subject to certification by the commissioner. The commissioner shall adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, to establish certification procedures and standards for a caretaker who is a relative of such child.
Sec. 6. Section 17a-117 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:
(a) The Department of Children and Families may, and is encouraged to contract with child-placing agencies to arrange for the adoption of children who are free for adoption. If (1) a child for whom adoption is indicated, cannot, after all reasonable efforts consistent with the best interests of the child, be placed in adoption through existing sources because the child is a special needs child and (2) the adopting family meets the standards for adoption which any other adopting family meets, the Commissioner of Children and Families shall, before adoption of such child by such family, certify such child as a special needs child and, after adoption, provide one or more of the following subsidies for the adopting parents: (A) A special-need subsidy, which is a lump sum payment paid directly to the person providing the required service, to pay for an anticipated expense resulting from the adoption when no other resource is available for such payment; or (B) a periodic subsidy which is a payment to the adopting family; and (C) in addition to the subsidies granted under this subsection, any medical benefits which are being provided prior to final approval of the adoption by the Court of Probate in accordance with the fee schedule and payment procedures under the state Medicaid program administered by the Department of Social Services shall continue as long as the child qualifies as a dependent of the adoptive parent under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. Such medical subsidy may continue only until the child reaches age twenty-one. A special-need subsidy may only be granted until the child reaches age eighteen. A periodic subsidy may continue only until the child reaches age eighteen and is subject to annual review as provided for in section 17a-118. The amount of a periodic subsidy shall not exceed the current costs of foster maintenance care.
(b) Requests for subsidies after a final approval of the adoption by the Court of Probate may be considered at the discretion of the commissioner for conditions resulting from or directly related to the totality of circumstances surrounding the child prior to placement in adoption. A written certification of the need for a subsidy shall be made by the Commissioner of Children and Families in each case and the type, amount and duration of the subsidy shall be mutually agreed to by the commissioner and the adopting parents prior to the entry of such decree. Any subsidy decision by the Commissioner of Children and Families may be appealed by a licensed child-placing agency or the adopting parent or parents to the Adoption Subsidy Review Board established under subsection (c) of this section. The commissioner shall adopt regulations establishing the procedures for determining the amount and the need for a subsidy.
(c) There is established an Adoption Subsidy Review Board to hear appeals under this section, section 17a-118 and section 17a-120. The board shall consist of the Commissioner of Children and Families, or [his] the commissioner's designee, and a licensed representative of a child-placing agency and an adoptive parent appointed by the Governor. The Governor shall appoint an alternate licensed representative of a child-placing agency and an alternate adoptive parent. Such alternative members shall, when seated, have all the powers and duties set forth in this section and sections 17a-118 and 17a-120. Whenever an alternate member serves in place of a member of the board, [he] such alternate member shall represent the same interest as the member in whose place [he] such alternative member serves. All decisions of the board shall be based on the best interest of the child. Appeals under this section shall be in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54.
Sec. 7. Subsections (b) and (c) of section 17b-749 of the general statutes are repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:
(b) The commissioner shall establish income standards for applicants and recipients at a level to include a family with gross income up to fifty per cent of the state-wide median income, except the commissioner (1) may increase the income level to up to seventy-five per cent of the state-wide median income, and (2) upon the request of the Commissioner of Children and Families, may waive the income standards for adoptive families of children who were in the custody of the Department of Children and Families.
(c) The commissioner shall establish eligibility and program standards including, but not limited to: (1) A priority intake and eligibility system with preference given to serving teen parents, low-income working families, adoptive families of children who were in the custody of the Department of Children and Families and working families who are at risk of welfare dependency; (2) health and safety standards for child care providers not required to be licensed; (3) a reimbursement system for child care services which account for differences in the age of the child, number of children in the family, the geographic region and type of care provided by licensed and unlicensed caregivers, the cost and type of services provided by licensed and unlicensed caregivers, and program accreditation; (4) supplemental payment for special needs of the child and extended nontraditional hours; (5) an annual rate review process which assures that reimbursement rates are maintained at levels which permit equal access to a variety of child care settings; (6) a sliding reimbursement scale for participating families; (7) an administrative appeals process; (8) an administrative hearing process to adjudicate cases of alleged fraud and abuse and to impose sanctions and recover overpayments; and (9) a waiting list for the child care subsidy program that reflects the priority and eligibility system set forth in subdivision (1) of subsection (c) of this section, which is reviewed periodically, with the inclusion of this information in the annual report required to be issued annually by the Department of Social Services to the Governor and the General Assembly in accordance with subdivision (10) of section 17b-733. Such action will include, but not be limited to, family income, age of child, region of state and length of time on such waiting list.
Sec. 8. Section 45a-707 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:
As used in sections 45a-187, 45a-706 to 45a-709, inclusive, 45a-715 to 45a-718, inclusive, and 45a-724 to 45a-737, inclusive:
(1) "Adoption" means the establishment by court order of the legal relationship of parent and child;
(2) "Child care facility" means a congregate residential setting for the out-of-home placement of children or youth under eighteen years of age, licensed by the Department of Children and Families;
(3) "Child-placing agency" means any agency within or without the state of Connecticut licensed or approved by the Commissioner of Children and Families in accordance with sections 17a-149 and 17a-151, and in accordance with standards established by regulations of the Commissioner of Children and Families;
(4) "Guardianship" means guardianship, unless otherwise specified, of the person of a minor and refers to the obligation of care and control, the right to custody and the duty and authority to make major decisions affecting the minor's welfare, including, but not limited to, consent determinations regarding marriage, enlistment in the armed forces and major medical, psychiatric or surgical treatment;
(5) "Parent" means a biological or adoptive parent;
(6) "Relative" means any person descended from a common ancestor, whether by blood or adoption, not more than three generations removed from the child;
(7) "Statutory parent" means the Commissioner of Children and Families or the child-placing agency appointed by the court for the purpose of [giving] the adoption of a minor child or minor children; [in adoption;]
(8) "Termination of parental rights" means the complete severance by court order of the legal relationship, with all its rights and responsibilities, between the child and the child's parent or parents so that the child is free for adoption except it shall not affect the right of inheritance of the child or the religious affiliation of the child.
Sec. 9. Section 45a-726 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:
(a) If the Commissioner of Children and Families or a child-placing agency is appointed as statutory parent for any child free for adoption, the commissioner or such agency shall not refuse to place or delay placement of such child with any prospective adoptive parent solely on the basis of a difference in race, color or national origin.
(b) The Commissioner of Children and Families or the child-placing agency, in determining placement for each child, shall focus on the particular needs of the child and the capacity of the prospective adoptive parent to meet such needs. Whenever possible, siblings should be placed with the same prospective adoptive parent unless it is determined not to be in the best interests of a sibling.
Sec. 10. Section 45a-727 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:
(a) (1) Each adoption matter shall be instituted by filing an application in a Court of Probate, together with the written agreement of adoption, in duplicate. One of the duplicates shall be sent immediately to the Commissioner of Children and Families.
(2) The application shall incorporate a declaration that to the best of the knowledge and belief of the declarant there is no other proceeding pending or contemplated in any other court affecting the custody of the child to be adopted, or if there is such a proceeding, a statement in detail of the nature of the proceeding and affirming that the proposed adoption would not conflict with or interfere with the other proceeding. The court shall not proceed on any application which does not contain such a declaration. The application shall be signed by one or more of the parties to the agreement, who may waive notice of any hearing on it. For the purposes of this declaration, visitation rights granted by any court shall not be considered as affecting the custody of the child.
(3) An application for the adoption of a minor child not related to the adopting parents shall not be accepted by the Court of Probate unless (A) the child sought to be adopted has been placed for adoption by the Commissioner of Children and Families or a child-placing agency, and the placement for adoption has been approved by the commissioner or a child-placing agency; (B) the placement requirements of this section have been waived by the Adoption Review Board as provided in section 45a-764; or (C) the application is for adoption of a minor child by a stepparent as provided in section 45a-733. The commissioner or a child-placing agency may place a child in adoption who has been identified or located by a prospective parent, provided any such placement shall be made in accordance with regulations promulgated by the commissioner pursuant to section 45a-728. If any such placement is not made in accordance with such regulations, the adoption application shall not be approved by the Court of Probate.
(4) The application and the agreement of adoption shall be filed in the Court of Probate for the district where the adopting parent resides or in the district where the main office or any local office of the statutory parent is located.
(5) The provisions of section 17a-152, regarding placement of a child from another state, and section 17a-175, regarding the interstate compact on the placement of children, shall apply to adoption placements.
(b) (1) The Court of Probate shall request the commissioner or a child-placing agency to make an investigation and written report to it, in duplicate, within [ninety] sixty days from the receipt of such request. A duplicate of the report shall be sent immediately to the Commissioner of Children and Families.
(2) The report shall be filed with the Court of Probate within the [ninety-day] sixty-day period. The report shall indicate the physical and mental status of the child and shall also contain such facts as may be relevant to determine whether the proposed adoption will be in the best interests of the child, including the physical, mental, genetic and educational history of the child and the physical, mental, social and financial condition of the parties to the agreement and the biological parents of the child, if known. The report shall include a history of physical, sexual or emotional abuse suffered by the child, if any. The report may set forth conclusions as to whether or not the proposed adoption will be in the best interests of the child.
(3) The physical, mental and genetic history of the child shall include information about: (A) The child's health status at the time of placement; (B) the child's birth, neonatal, and other medical, psychological, psychiatric, and dental history information; (C) a record of immunizations for the child; and (D) the available results of medical, psychological, psychiatric and dental examinations of the child. The report shall include information, to the extent known, about past and existing relationships between the child and the child's siblings, biological parents, extended family, and other persons who have had physical possession of or legal access to the child. The educational history of the child shall include, to the extent known, information about the enrolment and performance of the child in educational institutions, results of educational testing and standardized tests for the child, and special educational needs, if any, of the child.
(4) The adoptive parents are entitled to receive copies of the records and other information relating to the history of the child maintained by the commissioner or child-placing agency. The adoptive parents are entitled to receive copies of the records, provided if required by law, the copies have been edited to protect the identity of the biological parents and any other person whose identity is confidential and other identifying information relating to the history of the child. It is the duty of the person placing the child for adoption to edit, to the extent required by law, the records and information to protect the identity of the biological parents and any other person whose identity is confidential.
[(3)] (5) The report shall be admissible in evidence subject to the right of any interested party to require that the person making it appear as a witness, if available, and such person shall be subject [himself] to examination.
[(4)] (6) For any report under this section the Court of Probate may assess against the adopting parent or parents a reasonable fee covering the cost and expenses of making the investigation. The fee shall be paid to the state or to the child-placing agency making the investigation and report, provided the report shall be made within the [ninety-day] sixty-day period or other time set by the court.
(c) (1) Upon the expiration of the [ninety-day] sixty-day period or upon the receipt of such report, whichever is first, the Court of Probate shall set a day for a hearing upon the agreement and shall give reasonable notice of the hearing to the parties to the agreement, the child-placing agency if such agency is involved in the adoption, the Commissioner of Children and Families and to the child, if over twelve years of age.
(2) At the hearing the court may deny the application, enter a final decree approving the adoption if it is satisfied that the adoption is in the best interests of the child or order a further investigation and written report to be filed, in duplicate, within whatever period of time it directs. A duplicate of such report shall be sent to the commissioner. The court may adjourn the hearing to a day after that fixed for filing the report. If such report has not been filed with the court within the specified time, the court may thereupon deny the application or enter a final decree in the manner provided in this section.
(3) The Court of Probate shall not disapprove any adoption under this section solely because of an adopting parent's marital status or because of a difference in race, color or religion between a prospective adopting parent and the child to be adopted or because the adoption may be subsidized in accordance with the provisions of section 17a-117.
(4) The Court of Probate shall ascertain as far as possible the date and the place of birth of the child and shall incorporate such facts in the final decree, a copy of which shall be sent to the Commissioner of Children and Families.
Sec. 11. Section 45a-746 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:
(a) To the extent reasonably available, the following information concerning the biological parents of any adopted or adoptable person shall be recorded by the child-placing agency or department which has access to the information, in writing on a form provided by the department: (1) Age of biological parents in years, not dates of birth, at the birth of the adopted or adoptable person; (2) heritage of the biological parent or parents, which shall include (A) nationality, (B) ethnic background and (C) race; (3) education, which shall be number of years of school completed by the biological parent or parents; (4) general physical appearance of the biological parent or parents at the time of the birth of the adopted or adoptable person in terms of height, weight, color of hair, eyes, skin and other information of a similar nature; (5) talents, hobbies and special interests of the biological parent or parents; (6) existence of any other child or children born to either biological parent of the adopted or adoptable person; (7) reasons for placing the child for adoption or for biological parental rights being terminated; (8) religion of biological parent or parents; (9) field of occupation of biological parent or parents in general terms; (10) health history of biological parent or parents and blood relatives, on a standardized form provided by the department; (11) manner in which plans for the adopted or adoptable person's future were made by biological parent or parents; (12) relationship between the biological parents; [and] (13) any psychological, psychiatric or social evaluations, including the date of the evaluation, any diagnosis, and a summary of any findings; and (14) any other relevant nonidentifying information. In addition, such information to the extent reasonably available and applicable concerning the biological and adoptive grandparents, adoptive siblings, and siblings of the whole blood and half-blood and such siblings of the biological parents shall be recorded by the child-placing agency or department which has access to the information in writing on a form provided by the department.
(b) The information in subsection (a) of this section, if available, shall be given in writing to the adopting parents not later than the date of finalization of the adoption proceedings.
(c) The information in subsection (a) of this section and any other nonidentifying information furnished to the child-placing agency from time to time shall be made available in writing upon written request to the following persons provided the child-placing agency or department is satisfied as to the identity of such persons: (1) The adopted or adoptable person who is an adult; (2) the adoptive parents of the adopted person, provided if the adopted person is an adult, such adopted person must give notarized permission to the parents; (3) the guardian or legally authorized representative of an adopted or adoptable person; (4) if the adopted or adoptable person is deceased, any adult descendants, including legally adopted descendants, of such person, provided a certificate of death of such person is presented. Any information requested pursuant to this section shall be provided to the applicant within sixty days of receipt of the request. The child-placing agency, department or court shall notify in writing any person making such request if the information cannot be made available within sixty days and shall state the reason for the delay.
(d) At any time, upon written request, any biological parent shall be given in writing, for purposes of verifying, correcting and adding information, any information in subdivisions (1) to [(13)] (14), inclusive, of subsection (a) of this section, provided the child-placing agency, department or court is satisfied as to the identity of the parent making this request. Such information shall be provided within sixty days of receipt of such request unless the child-placing agency, department or court notifies the person requesting such information that it cannot be made available within sixty days and states the reason for the delay. Any such biological parent who believes such information to be inaccurate or incomplete may add a statement to the record setting forth what he or she believes to be an accurate or complete version of such information or updated information. Such statement shall become a permanent part of the record and shall be included with any information disclosed pursuant to this section.
(e) None of the information provided for in this section shall be made available if it is of such a nature that it would tend to identify a biological parent or parents of the adopted person, except as provided in sections 45a-750, 45a-751, 45a-751a, 45a-751b and 45a-753.
(f) The provisions of chapter 55 shall not apply to the provisions of this section.
Sec. 12. (NEW) The Department of Children and Families may provide counseling and referral services after adoption to adoptees and adoptive families for whom the department provided such services before the adoption.
Sec. 13. (NEW) Upon the termination of parental rights by the court pursuant to section 17a-112 or 45a-717 of the general statutes, the court, at the request of the Commissioner of Children and Families as statutory parent, may order any child-placing agency to place the child for adoption.
Sec. 14. (NEW) The recruitment of minority families may not be a reason to delay placement of a child with an available family of a race or ethnicity different from that of the child.
Sec. 15. (NEW) (a) An advisory committee on promoting the adoption of and provision of services to minority children and children who are difficult to place in adoption is established within the Department of Children and Families.
(b) The committee is composed of twelve members appointed by the commissioner. The commissioner shall appoint to the committee individuals who in the aggregate have knowledge of and experience in community education, cultural relations, family support, counseling, and parenting skills and education.
(c) A committee member serves for a two-year term and may be appointed for additional terms.
(d) A member of the committee receives no compensation.
(e) The committee shall elect one member to serve as presiding officer. The presiding officer serves for a two-year term and may be elected for additional terms.
(f) The commissioner shall set the time and place of the first committee meeting. The committee shall meet at least quarterly.
(g) To promote the adoption of and provision of services to minority children, the committee shall:
(1) Study, develop and evaluate programs and projects relating to community awareness and education, family support, counseling, parenting skills and education and reform of the child welfare system;
(2) Consult with churches and other cultural and civic organizations; and
(3) Report to the department at least annually the committee's recommendations for department programs and projects that will promote the adoption of and provision of services to minority children.
(h) On receiving the committee's recommendations, the department may adopt rules to implement a program or project recommended under this section. The department may solicit, accept and use gifts and donations to implement a program or project recommended by the committee.
(i) The department shall report to the General Assembly not later than January first of each odd-numbered year following the first year in which it receives recommendations under this section regarding committee recommendations and action taken by the department under this section.
Sec. 16. (NEW) (a) The Commissioner of Children and Families shall, within available appropriations, require any employee of the Department of Children and Families whose duties concern minority adoption and foster family recruitment to complete cultural sensitivity training.
(b) The commissioner shall designate a minority recruitment specialist for foster and adoptive families within the department as a permanent position. The minority recruitment specialist, in consultation with the Connecticut Association of Foster and Adoptive Parents, Inc., shall, within available appropriations: (1) Compile education or training materials for use by the child-placing agencies in training their staff; (2) conduct in-service training for employees of the department; (3) provide consultation, technical assistance and other appropriate services to agencies in order to strengthen and improve delivery of services to diverse minority populations; (4) conduct workshops and training programs for foster care and adoption recruiters to enable such recruiters to evaluate the effectiveness of techniques for recruiting minority foster and adoptive families; and (5) perform other duties as may be required by the commissioner to implement the federal Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994, as amended.
Approved June 23, 1999TOP