PA 10-93—sHB 5448

Public Health Committee

Human Services Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEVELOPMENTAL SERVICES

SUMMARY: This act makes minor changes to the Department of Developmental Services' (DDS) Birth-to-Three program and several departmental advisory bodies. It also removes from the sunset review process the DDS abuse and neglect registry, which is scheduled to terminate on July 1, 2012 unless reestablished.

The act allows the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to provide DDS with limited abuse and neglect investigation records of children (who are already DDS clients) enrolled in the DDS Voluntary Services Program. Prior law allowed this only for program applicants.

The act also makes technical and conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2010

BIRTH-TO-THREE

Definitions

The act expands the definition of “parent” under the Birth-to-Three Program to conform to the federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. Under the act, parent means a (1) biological, adoptive, or foster parent of a child; (2) a guardian, except the DCF commissioner; (3) an individual acting in the place of a biological or adoptive parent, including a grandparent, stepparent, or other relative with whom the child lives; (4) an individual legally responsible for the child's welfare; or (5) an appointed surrogate parent.

The act also specifies, that for the purposes of fees charged by the DDS commissioner for Birth-to-Three services, “parent” includes only the child's biological or adoptive parent or legal guardian. By law, the commissioner may charge fees to any parent or guardian, regardless of income, and must do so for any parent or guardian with a family income of $45,000 or more unless the child is Medicaid-eligible.

Service Provision and Rate Setting

The act permits DDS to arrange for Birth-to-Three services through means other than contract, including providing them directly or arranging them through other state agencies. It requires DDS to establish statewide rates for paying the Birth-to-Three service providers with which it contracts or otherwise arranges for early intervention services. (DDS has already set these rates. )

The act removes a requirement for DDS to monitor contractors' administrative spending and annually justify to the Appropriations and Public Health committees and Office of Policy and Management secretary expenditures over 20% of the contracted amount. It instead requires DDS to monitor all Birth-to-Three service providers for quality and accountability in accordance with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Interagency Coordinating Councils

The act allows DDS to establish a local interagency coordinating council in each region of the state; under prior law, DDS had to establish at least one council per region. But the act removes the definition of region, which currently ties these councils to DDS' three regions. Consequently, it is not clear where the councils could be located under the act. Lastly, the act requires these councils to advise DDS rather than the regional Birth-to-Three managers.

The act also corrects references to federal laws governing the Birth-to-Three program and repeals several obsolete statutes.

ADVISORY COMMITTEES

The act allows an appointed member of the Council on Developmental Services who has served the maximum six years (or three years for the Southbury Training School board representative) to continue to serve until a successor is chosen. The council advises the DDS commissioner on state programs and can recommend legislation to the governor and General Assembly.

The act allows the Office of Protection and Advocacy and Children's Commission executive directors, the State Interagency Birth-to-Three Coordinating Council chair, and the child advocate to appoint designees to the Family Support Council. The council helps DDS and other state agencies identify and promote needed services and coordinate their activities.

The act removes from the membership of DDS' regional planning and advisory councils one practicing attorney in Connecticut familiar with mental retardation issues. Instead, it adds one member who is receiving DDS services. It also deletes obsolete language referring to the ARC of Connecticut.

Finally, the act replaces the Camp Harkness Booster Club representative from the Camp Harkness Advisory Committee with a representative of a tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation that promotes and supports the camp and its camping programs. It also deletes obsolete language referring to the ARC of New London County.

DDS VOLUNTARY SERVICES PROGRAM

The law allows limited disclosure of DCF records to DDS without the consent of the person named in the records. The act allows DCF to disclose a written summary of any child abuse or neglect investigation it conducted for any child enrolled in DDS's Voluntary Services Program, not just those applying for the program (an applicant must already be a DDS client).

It requires DDS to notify parents and guardians at the time a child's annual service plan is updated that DDS may obtain these records from DCF without their consent. Prior law required DDS to do this only when parents and guardians applied to enroll a child in the program.

By law, DCF can disclose records it or someone else created, without consent, in a variety of situations. As with these disclosures, before releasing a record under the act, DCF must determine disclosure is in a person's best interest and that the records are not privileged or confidential under state or federal law.

BACKGROUND

Sunset Review

Under the sunset review law, licensing, regulatory, and other state agencies and programs terminate on set dates unless the General Assembly reestablishes them after the Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee conducts a performance audit of each. The committee must review the public need for each entity or program according to established criteria and report its recommendations to the legislature for the entity's or program's abolition, reestablishment, modification, or consolidation (CGS 2c-2b).

OLR Tracking: ND: ss: pf: ts