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Substitute Senate Bill No. 479

Public Act No. 00-49

An Act Concerning The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction And Enforcement Act And The Office Of The Child Advocate.

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

Section 1. Subdivision (12) of section 2 of public act 99-185 is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(12) "Person" shall have the same meaning as contained in subsection (k) of section 1-1 of the general statutes and shall include a public agency.

Sec. 2. Subsection (e) of section 20 of public act 99-185 is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(e) If a party alleges [in an affidavit or a pleading] on a form prescribed by the Office of the Chief Court Administrator under oath that the health, safety or liberty of a party or child would be jeopardized by disclosure of [identifying] location information, the information [must be sealed and may] shall not be disclosed to the other party or the public unless the court, after a hearing, determines that it is in the interest of justice that such disclosure be made.

Sec. 3. Subsection (d) of section 24 of public act 99-185 is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(d) [The respondent must request a] A hearing to contest the validity of the registered determination shall be requested within twenty days after service of the notice. At that hearing, the court shall confirm the registered order unless the respondent establishes that: (1) The issuing court did not have jurisdiction under a provision substantially similar to section 12, 13 or 14 of [this act] public act 99-185; (2) the child custody determination sought to be registered has been vacated, stayed or modified by a court having jurisdiction to do so pursuant to a statute substantially similar to sections 12 to 14, inclusive, of [this act] public act 99-185; or (3) the respondent was entitled to notice of the proceedings before the court that issued the order for which registration is sought, but such notice was not given in a manner reasonably calculated to give actual notice.

Sec. 4. Subsection (a) of section 46a-13k of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) There is established an Office of the Child Advocate. The Governor, with the approval of the General Assembly, shall appoint a person with knowledge of the child welfare system and the legal system to fill the Office of the Child Advocate. Such person shall be qualified by training and experience to perform the duties of the office as set forth in section 46a-13l, as amended by this act. The appointment shall be made from a list of at least three persons prepared and submitted by the advisory committee established pursuant to section 46a-13q. Upon any vacancy in the position of Child Advocate, the advisory committee shall meet to consider and interview successor candidates and shall submit to the Governor a list of no less than five and no more than seven of the most outstanding candidates, on or before sixty days of said vacancy. Such list shall rank the candidates in the order of committee preference. Upon receipt of the list of candidates from the advisory committee, the Governor shall designate a candidate for Child Advocate from among the choices within eight weeks of receipt of such list. If at any time any of the candidates withdraw from consideration prior to confirmation by the General Assembly, the designation shall be made from the remaining candidates on the list submitted to the Governor. If a candidate has not been designated by the Governor within the eight-week time period, the candidate ranked first shall receive the designation and be referred to the General Assembly for confirmation. If the General Assembly is not in session, the designated candidate shall serve as acting Child Advocate, and be entitled to the compensation, privileges and powers of the Child Advocate until the General Assembly meets to take action on said appointment. The person appointed Child Advocate shall serve for a term of four years and may be reappointed or shall continue to hold office until [his] such person's successor is appointed and qualified. Upon any vacancy in the position of Child Advocate and until such time as a candidate has been confirmed by the General Assembly or, if the General Assembly is not in session, has been designated by the Governor, the Associate Child Advocate shall serve as the acting Child Advocate and be entitled to the compensation, privileges and powers of the Child Advocate.

Sec. 5. Section 46a-13l of the general statutes, as amended by section 8 of public act 99-2 of the June special session, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(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-13q, inclusive, as amended by this act, 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;

[(4)] (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;

[(5)] (6) Recommend changes in state policies concerning children including changes in the system of providing juvenile justice, child care, foster care and treatment;

[(6)] (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;

[(7)] (8) Provide training and technical assistance to attorneys representing children and guardians ad litem appointed by the Superior Court;

[(8)] (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;

[(9)] (10) Serve or designate a person to serve as a member of the child fatality review panel established in subsection (b) of this section; and

[(10)] (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.

(b) There is established a child fatality review panel composed of seven permanent members as follows: A pediatrician, appointed by the Governor; a representative of law enforcement, appointed by the president pro tempore of the Senate; the Child Advocate, or a designee; a public child welfare practitioner, 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 medical examiner, appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives; and the Chief State's Attorney, or a designee. A majority of the panel may select not more than two additional temporary members with particular expertise or interest to serve on the review of a specific fatality. 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 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, 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.

(e) Upon request of two-thirds of the members of the panel and within available appropriations, the Governor, the General Assembly 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) 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.

(g) 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.

Sec. 6. Subsection (b) of section 17a-101 of the general statutes, as amended by section 13 of public act 99-102, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(b) The following persons shall be mandated reporters: Any physician or surgeon licensed under the provisions of chapter 370, any resident physician or intern in any hospital in this state, whether or not so licensed, [and] any registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, medical examiner, dentist, dental hygienist, psychologist, school teacher, school principal, school guidance counselor, school paraprofessional, social worker, police officer, clergyman, pharmacist, physical therapist, optometrist, chiropractor, podiatrist, mental health professional or physician assistant, any person who is a licensed substance abuse counselor, any person who is a licensed marital and family therapist, any person who is a sexual assault counselor or a battered women's counselor as defined in section 52-146k, [or] any person paid to care for a child in any public or private facility, day care center or family day care home licensed by the state, the Child Advocate and any employee of the Office of Child Advocate.

Sec. 7. This act shall take effect from its passage, except that sections 1 to 3, inclusive, and 5 and 6 shall take effect July 1, 2000.

Approved May 16, 2000