Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

 

Raised Bill No. 1199

January Session, 2011

 

LCO No. 4757

 

*04757_______HS_*

Referred to Committee on Human Services

 

Introduced by:

 

(HS)

 

AN ACT CONCERNING THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES' REGIONAL STRUCTURE, DIFFERENTIAL RESPONSE, AND POVERTY EXEMPTION.

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

Section 1. Subsection (a) of section 17a-3 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2011):

(a) The department shall plan, create, develop, operate or arrange for, administer and evaluate a comprehensive and integrated state-wide program of services, including preventive services, for children and youths whose behavior does not conform to the law or to acceptable community standards, or who are mentally ill, including deaf and hearing impaired children and youths who are mentally ill, emotionally disturbed, substance abusers, delinquent, abused, neglected or uncared for, including all children and youths who are or may be committed to it by any court, and all children and youths voluntarily admitted to, or remaining voluntarily under the supervision of, the commissioner for services of any kind. Services shall not be denied to any such child or youth solely because of other complicating or multiple disabilities. The department shall work in cooperation with other child-serving agencies and organizations to provide or arrange for preventive programs, including, but not limited to, teenage pregnancy and youth suicide prevention, for children and youths and their families. The program shall provide services and placements that are clinically indicated and appropriate to the needs of the child or youth. In furtherance of this purpose, the department shall: (1) Maintain the Connecticut Juvenile Training School and other appropriate facilities exclusively for delinquents; (2) develop a comprehensive program for prevention of problems of children and youths and provide a flexible, innovative and effective program for the placement, care and treatment of children and youths committed by any court to the department, transferred to the department by other departments, or voluntarily admitted to the department; (3) provide appropriate services to families of children and youths as needed to achieve the purposes of sections 17a-1 to 17a-26, inclusive, as amended by this act, 17a-28 to 17a-49, inclusive, as amended by this act, and 17a-51; (4) establish incentive paid work programs for children and youths under the care of the department and the rates to be paid such children and youths for work done in such programs and may provide allowances to children and youths in the custody of the department; (5) be responsible to collect, interpret and publish statistics relating to children and youths within the department; (6) conduct studies of any program, service or facility developed, operated, contracted for or supported by the department in order to evaluate its effectiveness; (7) establish staff development and other training and educational programs designed to improve the quality of departmental services and programs, provided no social worker trainee shall be assigned a case load prior to completing training, and may establish educational or training programs for children, youths, parents or other interested persons on any matter related to the promotion of the well-being of children, or the prevention of mental illness, emotional disturbance, delinquency and other disabilities in children and youths; (8) develop and implement aftercare and follow-up services appropriate to the needs of any child or youth under the care of the department; (9) establish a case audit unit to monitor each [area] regional office's compliance with regulations and procedures; (10) develop and maintain a database listing available community service programs funded by the department; (11) provide outreach and assistance to persons caring for children whose parents are unable to do so by informing such persons of programs and benefits for which they may be eligible; and (12) collect data sufficient to identify the housing needs of children served by the department and share such data with the Department of Economic and Community Development.

Sec. 2. Section 17a-9 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2011):

(a) The commissioner shall appoint, after consultation with the state advisory council, and may remove in a like manner, two deputy commissioners who shall be in the unclassified service. The deputy commissioner for program services shall be a clinically competent professional person experienced in one or more fields of children's services and in the administration of such services, and shall be responsible for the supervision of all clinical treatment and program services of the department. The deputy commissioner of administrative services shall have experience in business or institutional administration and shall be responsible for the organizational and general administrative services of the department.

(b) The commissioner shall appoint, [in accordance with chapter 67,] after consultation with the state advisory council, and may remove in like manner, [such] not more than two program directors [as the commissioner deems necessary] who shall be in the unclassified service, provided [any director's] the title or duties of any director appointed pursuant to this subsection may be changed as the commissioner deems necessary after consultation with the state advisory council. Such directors may oversee community programs and services and the operation of institutions and facilities.

(c) The commissioner shall, in accordance with chapter 67 and after consultation with the state advisory council, appoint the administrative heads of all of the institutions and facilities transferred to the department and such other institutions and facilities as now are or hereafter may be established by or transferred to the department. Such administrative heads shall have skill and experience in the administration of children's services and shall manage their institutions and facilities in accordance with the regulations and orders of the commissioner.

(d) The commissioner shall, after consultation with the state advisory council, appoint and may remove in a like manner, up to six regional directors who shall be in the unclassified service. Each regional director shall have skill and experience in the field of children's services and in the administration of such services. Each regional director shall be subject to the direction of the commissioner and shall be responsible for the operation and administration of services provided or funded by the department in the regions created by the commissioner pursuant to subsection (a) of section 17a-30, as amended by this act.

Sec. 3. Section 17a-22b of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2011):

(a) Each community collaborative shall, within available appropriations, (1) complete a local needs assessment which shall include objectives and performance measures, (2) specify the number of children and youths requiring behavioral health services, and (3) specify the number of children and youths actually receiving community-based and residential services and the type and frequency of such services. Each community collaborative shall submit its local needs assessment to the Commissioner of Children and Families and the Commissioner of Social Services.

(b) The [area] regional offices of the Department of Children and Families shall contract with lead service agencies, within available appropriations, to coordinate the care of all children and youths enrolled in Connecticut Community KidCare residing within their designated catchment areas, including children and youths with complex behavioral health service needs. The lead service agencies shall employ or subcontract for the employment of care coordinators to assist families in establishing and implementing individual service plans for children and youths with complex behavioral health service needs and to improve clinical outcomes and cost effectiveness. Parents shall be afforded a choice of contracted providers for authorized services.

(c) Each community collaborative may establish the number of members and the type of representatives to ensure that the membership of such collaborative is appropriately balanced. The chief elected officers of municipalities served by a community collaborative may designate a member to serve as a representative of the chief elected officials. A community collaborative, at a minimum, shall consist of representatives from the local or regional board of education, special education program, youth services bureau, local departments of social services and public health, representatives from private organizations serving children and youths and a substantial number of parents of children and youths with behavioral health needs. A community collaborative shall participate in the [area] regional advisory councils established under section 17a-30, as amended by this act, provide outreach to community resources, coordinate behavioral health services by forming, with the consent of the family, child specific teams for children and youths with complex behavioral health service needs, conduct community need assessments to identify service gaps and service barriers, identify priority investment areas for the state and lead service agencies and provide public education and support. A community collaborative shall establish a governance structure, determine membership and identify or establish a fiscal agent.

(d) The Commissioner of Children and Families and the Commissioner of Social Services shall, within available appropriations, provide or arrange for the administrative services necessary to operate Connecticut Community KidCare.

Sec. 4. Section 17a-22d of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2011):

The Commissioner of Children and Families may, within available appropriations, provide financial assistance for the establishment of an organization, with local chapters in each [area] region served by the Department of Children and Families, that shall provide family-to-family support and family advocates for children, youths and their families, and when requested by the family, assist the family with the individual service plan process and otherwise encourage active family participation in treatment and Connecticut Community KidCare planning. Such organization shall assure that families have input into the development and implementation of their individual service plans, including those established pursuant to section 17a-127, and into policy and planning for, and the implementation and evaluation of, Connecticut Community KidCare.

Sec. 5. Section 17a-30 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2011):

(a) The commissioner shall create distinct service [areas] regions and shall create in each such [area, an area] region, a regional advisory council to advise the commissioner and the [area] regional director on the development and delivery of services of the department in that [area] region and to facilitate the coordination of services for children, youths and their families in the [area] region.

(b) Each [area] regional advisory council shall consist of no more than twenty-one persons, a majority of whom shall be persons who earn less than fifty per cent of their salaries from the provision of services to children, youths and their families, and the balance representative of private providers of human services throughout the [area] region. The commissioner, or the commissioner's designee, shall appoint one-third of the representatives of each group for a term of three years, one-third for a term of two years, and one-third for a term of one year. No person may serve more than two consecutive three-year terms. All subsequent appointments to replace those whose terms have expired shall be for a term of three years. No person may serve on more than one [area] regional advisory council at a time. The [area] regional director shall make a good faith effort to ensure that, to the extent possible, the membership is qualified and closely reflects the gender and racial diversity of the [area] region. All members shall serve without compensation. Each [area] regional advisory council shall elect two cochairpersons. Each [area] regional advisory council shall meet at least quarterly, or more often at the call of the cochairpersons or a majority of the council members. The [area] regional director, or a designee of the [area] regional director, shall be an ex-officio member of the council without the right to vote. Any member who fails to attend three consecutive meetings or fifty per cent of all meetings during any calendar year shall be deemed to have resigned. A majority of the members in office, but not less than six members, shall constitute a quorum.

Sec. 6. Section 17a-55 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2011):

The Commissioner of Children and Families shall implement a system of awarding grants to community service programs whereby such programs are funded proportionate to their effectiveness in treating clients of the department. The evaluation of a program shall be based on (1) an analysis of program outcomes; (2) an assessment of regional needs for treatment services; [in each service delivery area;] and (3) the availability of the program to clients of the department. The Department of Children and Families shall collect, maintain and analyze the data to be used in the evaluation process on an ongoing basis. The commissioner shall impose a probationary period on a program found to be ineffective and shall propose requirements for the improvement of such a program. The commissioner shall determine the length of the probationary period and shall cease to fund a program which has not met the proposed requirements for improvement within such period.

Sec. 7. Section 17a-101g of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2011):

(a) Upon receiving a report of child abuse or neglect, as provided in sections 17a-101a to 17a-101c, inclusive, or section 17a-103, in which the alleged perpetrator is (1) a person responsible for such child's health, welfare or care, (2) a person given access to such child by such responsible person, or (3) a person entrusted with the care of a child, the Commissioner of Children and Families, or the commissioner's designee, shall cause the report to be classified and evaluated immediately. If the report contains sufficient information to warrant an investigation, the commissioner shall make the commissioner's best efforts to commence an investigation of a report concerning an imminent risk of physical harm to a child or other emergency within two hours of receipt of the report and shall commence an investigation of all other reports within seventy-two hours of receipt of the report. A report classified as lower risk may be referred for family assessment and services pursuant to subsection (g) of this section. Any such report may thereafter be referred for standard child protective services if safety concerns for the child become evident. A report referred for standard child protective services may be referred for family assessment and services at any time if the department determines there is a lower risk to the child. The department shall complete any such investigation not later than forty-five calendar days after the date of receipt of the report. If the report is a report of child abuse or neglect in which the alleged perpetrator is not a person specified in subdivision (1), (2) or (3) of this subsection, the Commissioner of Children and Families shall refer the report to the appropriate local law enforcement authority for the town in which the child resides or in which the alleged abuse or neglect occurred.

(b) The investigation 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, as amended by this act. If the commissioner determines that abuse or neglect has occurred, the commissioner shall also determine whether: (1) There is an identifiable person responsible for such abuse or neglect; and (2) 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 subdivisions (1) and (2) 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.

(c) Except as provided in subsection (d) of this section, no entry of the recommended finding shall be made on the child abuse or neglect registry and no information concerning the finding shall be disclosed by the commissioner pursuant to a check of the child abuse or neglect registry or request for information by a public or private entity for employment, licensure, or reimbursement for child care purposes pursuant to programs administered by the Department of Social Services or pursuant to any other general statute that requires a check of the child abuse or neglect registry until the exhaustion or waiver of all administrative appeals available to the person suspected to be responsible for the abuse or neglect, as provided in section 17a-101k.

(d) If the child abuse or neglect resulted in or involves (1) the death of a child; (2) the risk of serious physical injury or emotional harm of a child; (3) the serious physical harm of a child; (4) the arrest of a person due to abuse or neglect of a child; (5) a petition filed by the commissioner pursuant to section 17a-112 or 46b-129; or (6) sexual abuse of a child, entry of the recommended finding may be made on the child abuse or neglect registry and information concerning the finding may be disclosed by the commissioner pursuant to a check of the child abuse or neglect registry or request for information by a public or private entity for employment, licensure, or reimbursement for child care purposes pursuant to programs administered by the Department of Social Services or pursuant to any other general statute that requires a check of the child abuse or neglect registry, prior to the exhaustion or waiver of all administrative appeals available to the person suspected to be responsible for the abuse or neglect as provided in section 17a-101k.

(e) If the Commissioner of Children and Families, or the commissioner's designee, has probable cause to believe that the child or any other child in the household is in imminent risk of physical harm from the child's surroundings and that immediate removal from such surroundings is necessary to ensure the child's safety, the commissioner, or the commissioner's designee, shall authorize any employee of the department or any law enforcement officer to remove the child and any other child similarly situated from such surroundings without the consent of the child's parent or guardian. The commissioner shall record in writing the reasons for such removal and include such record with the report of the investigation conducted under subsection (b) of this section.

(f) The removal of a child pursuant to subsection (e) of this section shall not exceed ninety-six hours. During the period of such removal, the commissioner, or the commissioner's designee, shall provide the child with all necessary care, including medical care, which may include an examination by a physician or mental health professional with or without the consent of the child's parents, guardian or other person responsible for the child's care, provided reasonable attempts have been made to obtain consent of the child's parents or guardian or other person responsible for the care of such child. During the course of a medical examination, a physician may perform diagnostic tests and procedures necessary for the detection of child abuse or neglect. If the child is not returned home within such ninety-six-hour period, with or without protective services, the department shall proceed in accordance with section 46b-129.

(g) (1) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a) to (f), inclusive, of this section, the commissioner may establish a program of differential response to reports of child abuse and neglect whereby the report may be referred to appropriate community providers for family assessment and services without an investigation or at any time during an investigation, provided there has been an initial safety assessment of the circumstances of a family and child and criminal background checks have been performed on all adults involved in the report.

(2) The commissioner may adopt regulations in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54 to establish a method for the department to monitor the progress of the child and family referred to a community provider pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection and to set standards for reopening an investigation pursuant to this section.

(3) Consistent with the provisions of section 17a-28, the department shall disclose all relevant information in its possession concerning the child and family, including prior child protection activity, to each provider to whom a report has been referred for use by the provider in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of unique needs of the family and the prevention of future reports. Each provider who has received a report of child abuse or neglect referred pursuant to this subsection shall disclose to the department, consistent with the provisions of section 17a-28, all relevant information gathered during assessment, diagnosis and treatment of the child and family. The department may use such information solely to monitor and ensure the continued safety and well-being of the child or children.

Sec. 8. Subdivision (8) of section 46b-120 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2011):

(8) A child or youth may be found "neglected" who, for reasons other than being impoverished, (A) has been abandoned, (B) is being denied proper care and attention, physically, educationally, emotionally or morally, (C) is being permitted to live under conditions, circumstances or associations injurious to the well-being of the child or youth, or (D) has been abused;

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

Section 1

July 1, 2011

17a-3(a)

Sec. 2

July 1, 2011

17a-9

Sec. 3

July 1, 2011

17a-22b

Sec. 4

July 1, 2011

17a-22d

Sec. 5

July 1, 2011

17a-30

Sec. 6

July 1, 2011

17a-55

Sec. 7

July 1, 2011

17a-101g

Sec. 8

July 1, 2011

46b-120(8)

Statement of Purpose:

To change the Department of Children and Families' structure from an area structure to a regional structure, to provide for a differential response by the department and to provide for a poverty exception to the definition of "neglected".

[Proposed deletions are enclosed in brackets. Proposed additions are indicated by underline, except that when the entire text of a bill or resolution or a section of a bill or resolution is new, it is not underlined.]