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AB-1440 Child abuse and neglect: reports.(2011-2012)

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AB1440:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  March 29, 2012

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2011–2012 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 1440


Introduced  by  Assembly Member Perea
(Coauthor(s): Assembly Member Alejo, Allen, Blumenfield, Bonilla, Hueso, Lara, Nestande)
(Coauthor(s): Senator Blakeslee, Cannella)

January 04, 2012


An act to amend Section 10850.4 of, and to add Section 10850.45 to, the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to child abuse and neglect.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1440, as amended, Perea. Child abuse and neglect: reports.
(1) Existing law requires the custodian of records within a county child welfare agency, within 5 business days of learning that a child fatality has occurred in the county and that there is a reasonable suspicion that the fatality was caused by abuse or neglect, to release upon request specified records, subject to the redaction of certain identifying personal information, of child abuse or neglect that results in the death of a child. Existing law requires each county welfare agency or department to notify the State Department of Social Services, as provided, of all child fatalities that occurred within its jurisdiction that were the result of child abuse or neglect.
This bill would require each county child welfare agency, within 60 calendar days of determining that abuse or neglect led to a child’s death in the county, as described, to review the child’s death and prepare a written report containing specified information. The bill would require the county child welfare agency to submit this report to the State Department of Social Services within 10 business days of its completion. By increasing the duties of local agencies, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
(2) Existing law requires the State Department of Social Services to annually issue a report identifying the child fatalities and any systemic issues or patterns revealed by the notices submitted by county welfare services departments or agencies and other relevant information.
This bill, commencing January 1, 2013, would require this report to include additional information provided to the department pursuant to the above-described reports prepared by county child welfare agencies.
(3) The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to these statutory provisions.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 10850.4 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

10850.4.
 (a) Within five business days of learning that a child fatality has occurred in the county and that there is a reasonable suspicion that the fatality was caused by abuse or neglect, the custodian of records for the county child welfare agency, upon request, shall release the following information:
(1) The age and gender of the child.
(2) The date of death.
(3) Whether the child was in foster care or in the home of his or her parent or guardian at the time of death.
(4) Whether an investigation is being conducted by a law enforcement agency or the county child welfare agency.
(b) All cases in which abuse or neglect leads to a child’s death shall be subject to the disclosures required in subdivision (c). Abuse or neglect is determined to have led to a child’s death if one or more of the following conditions are met:
(1) A county child protective services agency determines that the abuse or neglect was substantiated.
(2) A law enforcement investigation concludes that abuse or neglect occurred.
(3) A coroner or medical examiner concludes that the child who died had suffered abuse or neglect.
(c) Upon completion of the child abuse or neglect investigation into the child’s death, as described in subdivision (b), the following documents from the juvenile case file shall be released by the custodian of records upon request, subject to the redactions set forth in subdivision (e):
(1) All of the information in subdivision (a).
(2) For cases in which the child’s death occurred while living with a parent or guardian, all previous referrals of abuse or neglect of the deceased child while living with that parent or guardian shall be disclosed along with the following documents:
(A) The emergency response referral information form and the emergency response notice of referral disposition form completed by the county child welfare agency relating to the abuse or neglect that caused the death of the child.
(B) Any cross reports completed by the county child welfare agency to law enforcement relating to the deceased child.
(C) All risk and safety assessments completed by the county child welfare services agency relating to the deceased child.
(D) All health care records of the deceased child, excluding mental health records, related to the child’s death and previous injuries reflective of a pattern of abuse or neglect.
(E) Copies of police reports about the person against whom the child abuse or neglect was substantiated.
(3) For cases in which the child’s death occurred while the child was in foster care, the following documents in addition to those specified in paragraphs (1) and (2) generated while the child was living in the foster care placement that was the placement at the time of the child’s death:
(A) Records pertaining to the foster parents’ initial licensing and renewals and type of license or licenses held, if in the case file.
(B) All reported licensing violations, including notices of action, if in the case file.
(C) Records of the training completed by the foster parents, if in the case file.
(d) The documents listed in subdivision (c) shall be released to the public by the custodian of records within 10 business days of the request or the disposition of the investigation, whichever is later.
(e) (1) Prior to releasing any document pursuant to subdivision (c), the custodian of records shall redact the following information:
(A) The names, addresses, telephone numbers, ethnicity, religion, or any other identifying information of any person or institution, other than the county or the State Department of Social Services, that is mentioned in the documents listed in paragraphs (2) and (3) of subdivision (c).
(B) Any information that would, after consultation with the district attorney, jeopardize a criminal investigation or proceeding.
(C) Any information that is privileged, confidential, or not subject to disclosure pursuant to any other state or federal law.
(2) (A) The State Department of Social Services shall promulgate a regulation listing the laws described in subparagraph (C) of paragraph (1) and setting forth standards governing redactions.
(B) Notwithstanding the rulemaking provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code), until emergency regulations are filed with the Secretary of State, the State Department of Social Services may implement the changes made to Section 827 and this section at the 2007–08 Regular Session of the Legislature through all-county letters or similar instructions from the director. The department shall adopt as emergency regulations, as necessary to implement those changes, no later than January 1, 2009.
(C) The adoption of regulations pursuant to this paragraph shall be deemed to be an emergency necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety, or general welfare. The emergency regulations authorized by this section shall be exempt from review by the Office of Administrative Law. The emergency regulations authorized by this section shall be submitted for filing with the Secretary of State and shall remain in effect for no more than 180 days, by which time the final regulations shall be adopted.
(f) Upon receiving a request for the documents listed in subdivision (c), the custodian of records shall notify and provide a copy of the request upon counsel for any child who is directly or indirectly connected to the juvenile case file. If counsel for a child, including the deceased child or any sibling of the deceased child, objects to the release of any part of the documents listed in paragraphs (2) and (3) of subdivision (c), they may petition the juvenile court for relief to prevent the release of any document or part of a document requested pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 827.
(g) Documents from the juvenile case file, other than those listed in paragraphs (2) and (3) of subdivision (c), shall only be disclosed upon an order by the juvenile court pursuant to Section 827.
(h) Once documents pursuant to this section have been released by the custodian of records, the State Department of Social Services or the county welfare department or agency may comment on the case within the scope of the release.
(i) Information released by a custodian of records consistent with the requirements of this section does not require prior notice to any other individual.
(j) (1) Each county welfare department or agency shall notify the State Department of Social Services of every child fatality that occurred within its jurisdiction that was the result of child abuse or neglect. Based on these notices and any other relevant information in the State Department of Social Services’ possession, the department shall annually issue a report identifying the child fatalities and any systemic issues or patterns revealed by the notices and other relevant information. The State Department of Social Services, after consultation with interested stakeholders, shall provide instructions by an all-county letter regarding the procedure for notification.
(2) Commencing January 1, 2013, the report required under paragraph (1) shall also be based upon the county child welfare agency death review reports provided to the State Department of Social Services pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 10850.45, and shall include the following additional information:
(A) Child death information stated separately for each county.
(B) Whether each county prepared and submitted to the State Department of Social Services the child death review reports required by Section 10850.45.
(C) A comparison of child death information over multiple years, commencing with the 2013 calendar year up to the current year in which the report is being prepared, and an analysis of whether these deaths indicate any systemic issues or patterns that need improvement.
(D) Of the number of all child deaths resulting from abuse or neglect in each county, the percentage of these deaths that were those of children who had previously received child welfare services in the county where the child’s death occurred.
(k) For purposes of this section, the following definitions apply:
(1) “Child abuse or neglect” has the same meaning as defined in Section 11165.6 of the Penal Code.
(2) “Custodian of records,” for the purposes of this section and paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 827, means the county welfare department or agency.
(3) “Juvenile case files” or “case files” include any juvenile court files, as defined in Rule 5.552 of the California Rules of Court, and any county child welfare department or agency or State Department of Social Services records regardless of whether they are maintained electronically or in paper form.
(4) “Substantiated” has the same meaning as defined in Section 11165.12 of the Penal Code.
(l) A person disclosing juvenile case file information as required by this section shall not be subject to suit in civil or criminal proceedings for complying with the requirements of this section.
(m) This section shall apply only to deaths that occur on or after January 1, 2008.
(n) Nothing in this section shall require a custodian of records to retain documents beyond any date otherwise required by law.
(o) Nothing in this section shall be construed as requiring a custodian of records to obtain documents not in the case file.

SEC. 2.

 Section 10850.45 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

10850.45.
 (a) A county child welfare agency shall, within 60 calendar days of determining that abuse or neglect led to a child’s death in the county as described in subdivision (b) of Section 10850.4, review the child’s death and prepare a written report that contains all of the following:
(1) An analysis of the circumstances leading to the child’s death.
(2) An evaluation of whether child welfare services provided to the child, if any, could have been improved.
(3) If the agency’s evaluation under paragraph (2) determines that child welfare services delivered to the child could have been improved, recommendations regarding how to improve the delivery of child welfare services for children in the future.
(b) (1) A county child welfare agency shall provide the State Department of Social Services with a copy of each report prepared pursuant to subdivision (a), within 10 calendar business days of completing the report.
(2) The State Department of Social Services shall review the reports provided under paragraph (1) for any systemic issues or patterns that need improvement.

SEC. 3.

 If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.