Substitute House Bill No. 6227
Public Act No. 11-105
AN ACT CONCERNING A REGIONAL STRUCTURE FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES AND MISCELLANEOUS CHANGES TO THE GENERAL STATUTES CONCERNING THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:
Section 1. Section 17a-98a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2011):
[(a)] The Department of Children and Families, in consultation with the Departments of Social Services, Mental Health and Addiction Services and Developmental Services, shall establish, within available appropriations, a kinship navigator program. Such program shall ensure that: (1) When the Department of Children and Families determines that it is in the best interest of the child to be placed with a relative for foster care, the department informs the relative regarding procedures to become licensed as a foster parent, and (2) grandparents and other relatives caring for a minor child are provided with information on the array of state services and benefits for which they may be eligible, including the subsidy program established pursuant to section 17a-126, as amended by this act. The Commissioner of Children and Families shall, within available appropriations, ensure that information on the array of services available under the kinship navigator program is accessible through the 2-1-1 Infoline program.
[(b) Not later than January 1, 2008, and annually thereafter, the Commissioner of Children and Families shall report, in accordance with section 11-4a, on the implementation of the kinship navigator program to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to human services. ]
Sec. 2. Section 17a-6b of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2011):
(a) The advisory group for the Connecticut Juvenile Training School, established pursuant to subsection (b) of section 17a-6, [and the Connecticut Juvenile Training School public safety committee, established pursuant to section 17a-27f,] shall provide an on-going review of the Connecticut Juvenile Training School with recommendations for improvement or enhancement. The review shall include, but not be limited to:
(1) The number, age, ethnicity and race of the residents placed at the training school, including the court locations that sentenced them, the number sentenced from each court location and the offenses for which they were sentenced;
(2) The percentage of residents in need of substance abuse treatment and the programming interventions provided to assist residents;
(3) A review of the program and policies of the facility;
(4) The educational and literacy programs available to the residents, including the educational level of residents, the number of residents requiring special education and related services, including school attendance requirements, the number of residents who are educated in the alternative school and the reasons for such education;
(5) The vocational training programs available to the residents and the actual number of residents enrolled in each training program, including all vocational attendance requirements;
(6) The delinquency recidivism rates of such residents, which shall include the number of children discharged to residential placement, the number of children discharged due to expiration of the period of commitment and the number of children returned to the Connecticut Juvenile Training School;
(7) The diagnosis of each resident after intake assessment;
(8) The costs associated with the operation of the training school, including staffing costs and average cost per resident; [and]
(9) Reintegration strategies and plans to transition the residents to their home communities; and
(10) A review of safety and security issues that affect the host municipality.
(b) The Department of Children and Families shall serve as administrative staff of the advisory group referred to in subsection (a) of this section.
(c) Not later than February 4, 2004, and annually thereafter, the Commissioner of Children and Families shall report, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a, to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to the judiciary and human services and to the select committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to children with respect to the Connecticut Juvenile Training School.
(d) Each report required pursuant to subsection (c) of this section shall summarize the information and recommendations specified in subsection (a) of this section and shall also include such other information that the Department of Children and Families has identified as requiring immediate legislative action.
Sec. 3. Section 17a-126 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2011):
(a) As used in this section, (1) "relative caregiver" means a person who is caring for a child related to such person because the parent of the child has died or become otherwise unable to care for the child for reasons that make reunification with the parent and adoption not viable options within the foreseeable future, and (2) "commissioner" means the Commissioner of Children and Families.
(b) The commissioner shall establish a program of subsidized guardianship for the benefit of children in foster care who have been living with relative caregivers, who are licensed foster care providers pursuant to section 17a-114, and who have been in foster care [or certified relative care] for not less than six consecutive months. A relative caregiver may request a guardianship subsidy from the commissioner.
(c) If a relative caregiver who is receiving a guardianship subsidy for a related child is also caring for the child's sibling who is not related to the caregiver, the commissioner shall provide a guardianship subsidy to such relative caregiver [if the sibling has been in foster care for not less than eighteen months, and the commissioner shall, within available appropriations, provide a guardianship subsidy to such relative caregiver] in accordance with regulations adopted by the commissioner pursuant to subsection (e) of this section. For purposes of this subsection, "child's sibling" includes a stepbrother, stepsister, a half-brother or a half-sister.
(d) The commissioner shall provide the following subsidies under the subsidized guardianship program in accordance with this section and the regulations adopted pursuant to subsection (e) of this section: (1) A special-need subsidy, which shall be a lump sum payment for one-time expenses resulting from the assumption of care of the child and shall not exceed two thousand dollars; and (2) a medical subsidy comparable to the medical subsidy to children in the subsidized adoption program. [if the child lacks private health insurance. ] The subsidized guardianship program shall also provide a monthly subsidy on behalf of the child payable to the relative caregiver that is based on the circumstances of the relative caregiver and the needs of the child and shall not exceed the foster care maintenance payment that would have been paid on behalf of the child if the child had remained in licensed foster care.
(e) The commissioner shall adopt regulations, in accordance with chapter 54, implementing the subsidized guardianship program established under this section. Such regulations shall include all federal requirements necessary to maximize federal reimbursement available to the state, including, but not limited to, (1) eligibility for the program, (2) the maximum age at which a child is no longer eligible for a guardianship subsidy, including the maximum age, for purposes of claiming federal reimbursement under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, at which a child is no longer eligible for a guardianship subsidy, and (3) a procedure for determining the types and amounts of the subsidies.
(f) At a minimum, the guardianship subsidy provided under this section shall continue until the child reaches the age of eighteen or the age of twenty-one if such child is in full-time attendance at a secondary school, technical school or college or is in a state accredited job training program or otherwise meets the criteria set forth in federal law. Annually, the subsidized guardian shall submit to the commissioner a sworn statement that the child is still living with and receiving support from the guardian. The parent of any child receiving assistance through the subsidized guardianship program shall remain liable for the support of the child as required by the general statutes.
(g) A guardianship subsidy shall not be included in the calculation of household income in determining eligibility for benefits of the relative caregiver of the subsidized child or other persons living within the household of the relative caregiver.
(h) Payments for guardianship subsidies shall be made from moneys available from any source to the commissioner for child welfare purposes. The commissioner shall develop and implement a plan that: (1) Maximizes use of the subsidized guardianship program to decrease the number of children in the legal custody of the commissioner and to reduce the number of children who would otherwise be placed into nonrelative foster care when there is a family member willing to provide care; (2) maximizes federal reimbursement for the costs of the subsidized guardianship program, provided whatever federal maximization method is employed shall not result in the relative caregiver of a child being subject to work requirements as a condition of receipt of benefits for the child or the benefits restricted in time or scope other than as specified in subsection (c) of this section; and (3) ensures necessary transfers of funds between agencies and interagency coordination in program implementation. The commissioner shall seek all federal waivers and reimbursement as are necessary and appropriate to implement this plan.
(i) In the case of the death, severe disability or serious illness of a relative caregiver who is receiving a guardianship subsidy, the commissioner may transfer the guardianship subsidy to a new relative caregiver who meets the Department of Children and Families foster care safety requirements and is appointed as legal guardian by a court of competent jurisdiction.
(j) Nothing in this section shall prohibit the commissioner from continuing to pay guardianship subsidies to those relative caregivers who entered into written subsidy agreements with the Department of Children and Families prior to October 5, 2009.
Sec. 4. Section 45a-709 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2011):
(a) Notwithstanding any provision of sections [17a-91,] 17a-112, 17a-113, 17a-148, 45a-187, 45a-606, 45a-607, 45a-706 to 45a-708, inclusive, 45a-715 to 45a-718, inclusive, 45a-724, 45a-727, 45a-732 to 45a-734, inclusive, and 52-231a, to the contrary, any adoption completed after October 1, 1973, in which the application and agreement of adoption were received by the Court of Probate before October 1, 1973, shall be valid, provided the adoption would have been valid under the general statutes in effect on September 30, 1973.
(b) Applications for termination of parental rights, appointment of statutory parents or for adoptions or any actions taken in accordance with the applications which were received by the Court of Probate prior to May 10, 1974, shall be valid if they conform to the provisions of sections [17a-91,] 17a-112, 17a-148, 45a-606, 45a-706 to 45a-708, inclusive, 45a-715 to 45a-718, inclusive, 45a-724, 45a-727, 45a-731 to 45a-734, inclusive, and 52-231a in effect on May 9, 1974.
Sec. 5. 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. 6. 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. 7. 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. 8. 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. 9. 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. 10. 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. 11. Sections 17a-27f and 17a-91 of the general statutes are repealed. (Effective July 1, 2011)
Approved July 8, 2011