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AB-1761 Dependent children: placement.(2013-2014)

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AB1761:v96#DOCUMENT

Assembly Bill No. 1761
CHAPTER 765

An act to amend Sections 309 and 361.3 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to juveniles.

[ Approved by Governor  September 29, 2014. Filed with Secretary of State  September 29, 2014. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1761, Hall. Dependent children: placement.
Existing law authorizes a peace officer to take a child into temporary custody under certain circumstances, including if he or she has reasonable cause for believing that the child is the victim of abuse or neglect. Under existing law, if the child is not released to his or her parent or guardian, the juvenile court is required to hold certain hearings to determine whether the child should be adjudged a dependent of the juvenile court, including a detention hearing, jurisdictional hearing, and disposition hearing. Under existing law, if an able and willing relative or nonrelative extended family member, as defined, is available and requests temporary placement of the child pending the detention hearing, the county welfare department is required to initiate an assessment of the relative’s or nonrelative extended family member’s suitability, as specified.
This bill would expand this provision to apply to an able and willing relative or nonrelative extended family member who requests temporary placement of the child after the detention hearing and pending the dispositional hearing. By requiring the county welfare department to conduct these additional assessments, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
Existing law requires that preferential consideration be given to a request by a relative of a child who has been adjudged a dependent of the juvenile court for placement of the child with the relative, as specified. Existing law requires the county social worker, in determining whether placement with a relative is appropriate, to consider certain factors, including the placement of siblings and half-siblings in the same home, if that placement is found to be in the best interest of each of the children. Existing law also requires that, in any case in which more than one appropriate relative requests preferential consideration, each relative be considered under those factors.
This bill would require the county social worker, in determining whether placement with a relative is appropriate, to consider the placement of siblings and half-siblings in the same home, unless that placement would be contrary to the safety and well-being of any of the siblings. The bill would also state that these provisions do not limit the county social worker’s ability to place a child in the home of an appropriate relative or a nonrelative extended family member pending the consideration of other relatives who have requested preferential consideration.
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 309 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

309.
 (a) Upon delivery to the social worker of a child who has been taken into temporary custody under this article, the social worker shall immediately investigate the circumstances of the child and the facts surrounding the child’s being taken into custody and attempt to maintain the child with the child’s family through the provision of services. The social worker shall immediately release the child to the custody of the child’s parent, guardian, or responsible relative, regardless of the parent’s, guardian’s, or relative’s immigration status, unless one or more of the following conditions exist:
(1) The child has no parent, guardian, or responsible relative; or the child’s parent, guardian, or responsible relative is not willing to provide care for the child.
(2) Continued detention of the child is a matter of immediate and urgent necessity for the protection of the child and there are no reasonable means by which the child can be protected in his or her home or the home of a responsible relative.
(3) There is substantial evidence that a parent, guardian, or custodian of the child is likely to flee the jurisdiction of the court.
(4) The child has left a placement in which he or she was placed by the juvenile court.
(5) The parent or other person having lawful custody of the child voluntarily surrendered physical custody of the child pursuant to Section 1255.7 of the Health and Safety Code and did not reclaim the child within the 14-day period specified in subdivision (e) of that section.
(b) In any case in which there is reasonable cause for believing that a child who is under the care of a physician and surgeon or a hospital, clinic, or other medical facility and cannot be immediately moved and is a person described in Section 300, the child shall be deemed to have been taken into temporary custody and delivered to the social worker for the purposes of this chapter while the child is at the office of the physician and surgeon or the medical facility.
(c) If the child is not released to his or her parent or guardian, the child shall be deemed detained for purposes of this chapter.
(d) (1) If an able and willing relative, as defined in Section 319, or an able and willing nonrelative extended family member, as defined in Section 362.7, is available and requests temporary placement of the child pending the detention hearing, or after the detention hearing and pending the dispositional hearing conducted pursuant to Section 358, the county welfare department shall initiate an assessment of the relative’s or nonrelative extended family member’s suitability, which shall include an in-home inspection to assess the safety of the home and the ability of the relative or nonrelative extended family member to care for the child’s needs, and a consideration of the results of a criminal records check conducted pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 16504.5 and a check of allegations of prior child abuse or neglect concerning the relative or nonrelative extended family member and other adults in the home. A relative’s identification card from a foreign consulate or foreign passport shall be considered a valid form of identification for conducting a criminal records check and fingerprint clearance check under this subdivision. Upon completion of this assessment, the child may be placed in the assessed home. For purposes of this paragraph, and except for the criminal records check conducted pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 16504.5, the standards used to determine suitability shall be the same standards set forth in the regulations for the licensing of foster family homes.
(2) Immediately following the placement of a child in the home of a relative or a nonrelative extended family member, the county welfare department shall evaluate and approve or deny the home for purposes of AFDC-FC eligibility pursuant to Section 11402. The standards used to evaluate and grant or deny approval of the home of the relative and of the home of a nonrelative extended family member, as described in Section 362.7, shall be the same standards set forth in regulations for the licensing of foster family homes which prescribe standards of safety and sanitation for the physical plant and standards for basic personal care, supervision, and services provided by the caregiver.
(3) To the extent allowed by federal law, as a condition of receiving funding under Title IV-E of the federal Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 670 et seq.), if a relative or nonrelative extended family member meets all other conditions for approval, except for the receipt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s criminal history information for the relative or nonrelative extended family member, and other adults in the home, as indicated, the county welfare department may approve the home and document that approval, if the relative or nonrelative extended family member, and each adult in the home, has signed and submitted a statement that he or she has never been convicted of a crime in the United States, other than a traffic infraction as defined in paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 42001 of the Vehicle Code. If, after the approval has been granted, the department determines that the relative or nonrelative extended family member or other adult in the home has a criminal record, the approval may be terminated.
(4) If the criminal records check indicates that the person has been convicted of a crime for which the Director of Social Services cannot grant an exemption under Section 1522 of the Health and Safety Code, the child shall not be placed in the home. If the criminal records check indicates that the person has been convicted of a crime for which the Director of Social Services may grant an exemption under Section 1522 of the Health and Safety Code, the child shall not be placed in the home unless a criminal records exemption has been granted by the county based on substantial and convincing evidence to support a reasonable belief that the person with the criminal conviction is of such good character as to justify the placement and not present a risk of harm to the child.
(e) (1) If the child is removed, the social worker shall conduct, within 30 days, an investigation in order to identify and locate all grandparents, adult siblings, and other adult relatives of the child, as defined in paragraph (2) of subdivision (f) of Section 319, including any other adult relatives suggested by the parents. The social worker shall provide to all adult relatives who are located, except when that relative’s history of family or domestic violence makes notification inappropriate, within 30 days of removal of the child, written notification and shall also, whenever appropriate, provide oral notification, in person or by telephone, of all the following information:
(A) The child has been removed from the custody of his or her parent or parents, or his or her guardians.
(B) An explanation of the various options to participate in the care and placement of the child and support for the child’s family, including any options that may be lost by failing to respond. The notice shall provide information about providing care for the child while the family receives reunification services with the goal of returning the child to the parent or guardian, how to become a foster family home or approved relative or nonrelative extended family member as defined in Section 362.7, and additional services and support that are available in out-of-home placements. The notice shall also include information regarding the Kin-GAP Program (Article 4.5 (commencing with Section 11360) of Chapter 2 of Part 3 of Division 9), the CalWORKs program for approved relative caregivers (Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 11200) of Part 3 of Division 9), adoption, and adoption assistance (Chapter 2.1 (commencing with Section 16115) of Part 4 of Division 9), as well as other options for contact with the child, including, but not limited to, visitation. The State Department of Social Services, in consultation with the County Welfare Directors Association of California and other interested stakeholders, shall develop the written notice.
(2) The social worker shall also provide the adult relatives notified pursuant to paragraph (1) with a relative information form to provide information to the social worker and the court regarding the needs of the child. The form shall include a provision whereby the relative may request the permission of the court to address the court, if the relative so chooses. The Judicial Council, in consultation with the State Department of Social Services and the County Welfare Directors Association of California, shall develop the form.
(3) The social worker shall use due diligence in investigating the names and locations of the relatives pursuant to paragraph (1), including, but not limited to, asking the child in an age-appropriate manner about relatives important to the child, consistent with the child’s best interest, and obtaining information regarding the location of the child’s adult relatives. Each county welfare department shall create and make public a procedure by which relatives of a child who has been removed from his or her parents or guardians may identify themselves to the county welfare department and be provided with the notices required by paragraphs (1) and (2).

SEC. 2.

 Section 361.3 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

361.3.
 (a) In any case in which a child is removed from the physical custody of his or her parents pursuant to Section 361, preferential consideration shall be given to a request by a relative of the child for placement of the child with the relative, regardless of the relative’s immigration status. In determining whether placement with a relative is appropriate, the county social worker and court shall consider, but shall not be limited to, consideration of all the following factors:
(1) The best interest of the child, including special physical, psychological, educational, medical, or emotional needs.
(2) The wishes of the parent, the relative, and child, if appropriate.
(3) The provisions of Part 6 (commencing with Section 7950) of Division 12 of the Family Code regarding relative placement.
(4) Placement of siblings and half siblings in the same home, unless that placement is found to be contrary to the safety and well-being of any of the siblings, as provided in Section 16002.
(5) The good moral character of the relative and any other adult living in the home, including whether any individual residing in the home has a prior history of violent criminal acts or has been responsible for acts of child abuse or neglect.
(6) The nature and duration of the relationship between the child and the relative, and the relative’s desire to care for, and to provide legal permanency for, the child if reunification is unsuccessful.
(7) The ability of the relative to do the following:
(A) Provide a safe, secure, and stable environment for the child.
(B) Exercise proper and effective care and control of the child.
(C) Provide a home and the necessities of life for the child.
(D) Protect the child from his or her parents.
(E) Facilitate court-ordered reunification efforts with the parents.
(F) Facilitate visitation with the child’s other relatives.
(G) Facilitate implementation of all elements of the case plan.
(H) Provide legal permanence for the child if reunification fails.
However, any finding made with respect to the factor considered pursuant to this subparagraph and pursuant to subparagraph (G) shall not be the sole basis for precluding preferential placement with a relative.
(I) Arrange for appropriate and safe child care, as necessary.
(8) The safety of the relative’s home. For a relative to be considered appropriate to receive placement of a child under this section, the relative’s home shall first be approved pursuant to the process and standards described in subdivision (d) of Section 309.
In this regard, the Legislature declares that a physical disability, such as blindness or deafness, is no bar to the raising of children, and a county social worker’s determination as to the ability of a disabled relative to exercise care and control should center upon whether the relative’s disability prevents him or her from exercising care and control. The court shall order the parent to disclose to the county social worker the names, residences, and any other known identifying information of any maternal or paternal relatives of the child. This inquiry shall not be construed, however, to guarantee that the child will be placed with any person so identified. The county social worker shall initially contact the relatives given preferential consideration for placement to determine if they desire the child to be placed with them. Those desiring placement shall be assessed according to the factors enumerated in this subdivision. The county social worker shall document these efforts in the social study prepared pursuant to Section 358.1. The court shall authorize the county social worker, while assessing these relatives for the possibility of placement, to disclose to the relative, as appropriate, the fact that the child is in custody, the alleged reasons for the custody, and the projected likely date for the child’s return home or placement for adoption or legal guardianship. However, this investigation shall not be construed as good cause for continuance of the dispositional hearing conducted pursuant to Section 358.
(b) In any case in which more than one appropriate relative requests preferential consideration pursuant to this section, each relative shall be considered under the factors enumerated in subdivision (a). Consistent with the legislative intent for children to be placed immediately with a responsible relative, this section does not limit the county social worker’s ability to place a child in the home of an appropriate relative or a nonrelative extended family member pending the consideration of other relatives who have requested preferential consideration.
(c) For purposes of this section:
(1) “Preferential consideration” means that the relative seeking placement shall be the first placement to be considered and investigated.
(2) “Relative” means an adult who is related to the child by blood, adoption, or affinity within the fifth degree of kinship, including stepparents, stepsiblings, and all relatives whose status is preceded by the words “great,” “great-great,” or “grand,” or the spouse of any of these persons even if the marriage was terminated by death or dissolution. However, only the following relatives shall be given preferential consideration for the placement of the child: an adult who is a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or sibling.
(d) Subsequent to the hearing conducted pursuant to Section 358, whenever a new placement of the child must be made, consideration for placement shall again be given as described in this section to relatives who have not been found to be unsuitable and who will fulfill the child’s reunification or permanent plan requirements. In addition to the factors described in subdivision (a), the county social worker shall consider whether the relative has established and maintained a relationship with the child.
(e) If the court does not place the child with a relative who has been considered for placement pursuant to this section, the court shall state for the record the reasons placement with that relative was denied.
(f) (1) With respect to a child who satisfies the criteria set forth in paragraph (2), the department and any licensed adoption agency may search for a relative and furnish identifying information relating to the child to that relative if it is believed the child’s welfare will be promoted thereby.
(2) Paragraph (1) shall apply if both of the following conditions are satisfied:
(A) The child was previously a dependent of the court.
(B) The child was previously adopted and the adoption has been disrupted, set aside pursuant to Section 9100 or 9102 of the Family Code, or the child has been released into the custody of the department or a licensed adoption agency by the adoptive parent or parents.
(3) As used in this subdivision, “relative” includes a member of the child’s birth family and nonrelated extended family members, regardless of whether the parental rights were terminated, provided that both of the following are true:
(A) No appropriate potential caretaker is known to exist from the child’s adoptive family, including nonrelated extended family members of the adoptive family.
(B) The child was not the subject of a voluntary relinquishment by the birth parents pursuant to Section 8700 of the Family Code or Section 1255.7 of the Health and Safety Code.

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.