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AB-320 Child Advocacy Centers.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 03/20/2017 09:00 PM
AB320:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  March 20, 2017

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 320


Introduced by Assembly Member Cooley

February 06, 2017


An act to add Section 11166.4 to the Penal Code, and to amend Section 18961.7 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to child abuse.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 320, as amended, Cooley. Children’s advocacy centers. Child Advocacy Centers.
Existing law states the intent of the Legislature that the law enforcement agencies and the county welfare or probation department of each county develop and implement cooperative arrangements in order to coordinate existing duties in connection with the investigation of suspected child abuse or neglect cases. Existing law requires a local law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over a reported case of child abuse to report to the county welfare or probation department that it is investigating the case, and requires the county welfare department or probation department, in certain cases, to evaluate what action or actions would be in the best interest of the child and to submit its findings to the district attorney, as specified.

This bill would authorize a county to initiate a formal interagency protocol agreement to create multidisciplinary teams in order to implement a coordinated multidisciplinary response to intervention in reports involving child physical or sexual abuse, exploitation, or maltreatment. The bill would require a county that initiates an interagency protocol agreement to include as members of the multidisciplinary team representatives from the district attorney’s office, local city and county law enforcement agencies, and the child protective services agency, and would require the interagency protocol agreement to be signed by all members of the multidisciplinary team. The bill would require that representatives of the multidisciplinary team work together at a children’s advocacy center to conduct interviews and make informed decisions about the investigation, treatment, management, and prosecution of child abuse cases and to provide culturally competent services or referrals and

This bill would authorize a county, in order to implement a multidisciplinary response to investigate reports involving child physical or sexual abuse, exploitation, or maltreatment, to use a Child Advocacy Center. The bill would require a Child Advocacy Center to meet specified standards, including the use of representatives from specified disciplines and providing dedicated child-focused settings for interviews and other services. The bill would authorize multidisciplinary team members to share with each other information in their possession concerning the child, the family of the child, and the person who is the subject of the abuse or neglect investigation, as specified. The bill would provide that a member of a multidisciplinary team and a child forensic interviewer or other provider of a children’s advocacy center shall not be civilly or criminally liable for providing services to children or nonoffending family members.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NO   Local Program: NO  

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


SECTION 1.

 Section 11166.4 is added to the Penal Code, to read:

11166.4.
 (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) Perpetration of child abuse and neglect is detrimental to children.
(2) All victims of child abuse or neglect deserve to be treated with dignity, respect, courtesy, and sensitivity as a matter of high public importance.
(3) In any investigation of suspected child abuse or neglect, all persons participating in the investigation of the case should consider the needs of the child victim and do whatever is necessary to prevent psychological harm to the child and ensure that children disclosing abuse are not further victimized by the intervention systems designed to protect them.
(4) A multidisciplinary approach to investigating child abuse and neglect is associated with less anxiety, fewer interviews, and increased support for the child, as well as interagency collaboration, coordination, intervention, and sharing of information.
(5) A multidisciplinary response to allegations of child abuse and neglect has been found most effective and least traumatic when coordinated through a children’s advocacy center.
(6) The formation use of multidisciplinary teams and the establishment of children’s advocacy centers throughout the State of California are is necessary to coordinate investigation and prosecution of child abuse and neglect and to facilitate treatment referrals.
(b) (1) Each county may initiate a formal interagency protocol agreement with the appropriate agencies to create multidisciplinary teams in order use a Child Advocacy Center, pursuant to paragraph (2), to implement a coordinated multidisciplinary response to intervention in response, including a multidisciplinary personnel team pursuant to Section 18961.7 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, to investigate reports involving child physical or sexual abuse, exploitation, or maltreatment. The purpose of the team shall be to assist in the evaluation and investigation of reports and to provide consultation and coordination for agencies involved in child abuse cases.

(2)A county that initiates an interagency protocol agreement pursuant to paragraph (1), shall include as members of the multidisciplinary team representatives from the district attorney’s office, local city and county law enforcement agencies, and the child protective services agency. Members may also include individuals or representatives from organizations that have knowledge of and experience in child abuse and neglect, including, but not limited to, medical and mental health practitioners, victim advocacy, and trained child forensic interviewers on the staff of, or professionally connected with, a children’s advocacy center.

(3)The interagency protocol agreement shall be signed by all members of the multidisciplinary team.

(c)(1)Representatives of the multidisciplinary team shall work together at a children’s advocacy center, which is a child-focused, facility-based program, to conduct interviews and make informed decisions about the investigation, treatment, management, and prosecution of child abuse cases and to provide culturally competent services or referrals that include, but are not limited to, forensic interviews, forensic medical examinations, mental health services, and victim support and advocacy.

(2)A children’s advocacy center shall regularly coordinate multidisciplinary team discussions and information sharing related to case status and services needed, provided, or both, and monitor case outcomes.

(2) A county that utilizes a Child Advocacy Center to coordinate its multidisciplinary response pursuant to paragraph (1) shall require that the Child Advocacy Center meet the following standards:
(A) The multidisciplinary team associated with the Child Advocacy Center has at least one representative from each of the following disciplines: law enforcement, child protective services, district attorney’s offices, medical providers, mental health providers, and victim advocates, as well as a representative of the Child Advocacy Center. Members of the multidisciplinary team may fill more than one role as needed.
(B) The multidisciplinary team associated with the Child Advocacy Center shall have cultural competency and diversity training to meet the needs of the community it serves.
(C) The Child Advocacy Center shall have a designated legal entity responsible for the governance of its operations. This entity shall oversee ongoing business practices of the Child Advocacy Center, including setting and implementing administrative policies, hiring and managing personnel, obtaining funding, supervising program and fiscal operations, and long-term planning.
(D) The Child Advocacy Center shall provide a dedicated child-focused setting designed to provide a safe, comfortable, and neutral place where forensic interviews and other Child Advocacy Center services can be appropriately provided for children and families.
(E) The Child Advocacy Center shall use written protocols for case review and case review procedures. Additionally, the center shall use a case tracking system to provide information on essential demographics and case information.
(F) The Child Advocacy Center shall verify that members of the multidisciplinary team responsible for medical evaluations have specific training in child abuse or child sexual abuse examinations.
(G) The Child Advocacy Center shall verify that members of the multidisciplinary team responsible for mental health services are trained in, and deliver, trauma-focused, evidence-supported mental health treatments.
(H) The Child Advocacy Center shall verify that interviews conducted in the course of investigations are conducted in a forensically sound manner and occur in a child-focused setting designed to provide a safe, comfortable, and dedicated place for children and families.
(3) Nothing in this section precludes a county from utilizing more than one Child Advocacy Center.

(d)

(c) Notwithstanding any other law providing for the confidentiality of information or records relating to the investigation of suspected child abuse or neglect, the multidisciplinary team members, including agency representatives, child forensic interviewers, and other providers at the Children’s Advocacy Centers, a Child Advocacy Center, are authorized to share with other multidisciplinary team members any information or records concerning the child and family and the person who is the subject of the investigation of suspected child abuse or neglect for the sole purpose of facilitating a forensic interview or case discussion or providing services to the child or family; provided, however, that the shared information or records shall be treated as privileged and confidential to the extent required by law by the receiving multidisciplinary team members.

(e)A member of a multidisciplinary team and a child forensic interviewer or other provider of a children’s advocacy center shall not be civilly or criminally liable for providing services to children or nonoffending family members.

SEC. 2.

 Section 18961.7 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

18961.7.
 (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a county may establish a child abuse multidisciplinary personnel team within that county to allow provider agencies to share confidential information in order for provider agencies to investigate reports of suspected child abuse or neglect made pursuant to Section 11160, 11166, or 11166.05 of the Penal Code, or for the purpose of child welfare agencies making a detention determination.
(b) For the purposes of this section, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
(1) “Child abuse multidisciplinary personnel team” means any team of two or more persons who are trained in the prevention, identification, or treatment of child abuse and neglect cases and who are qualified to provide a broad range of services related to child abuse. The team may include, but shall not be limited to:
(A) Psychiatrists, psychologists, marriage and family therapists, or other trained counseling personnel.
(B) Police officers or other law enforcement agents.
(C) Medical personnel with sufficient training to provide health services.
(D) Social services workers with experience or training in child abuse prevention.
(E) Any public or private school teacher, administrative officer, supervisor of child welfare attendance, or certified pupil personnel employee.
(F) Child forensic interviewers and other personnel formally engaged or employed by a Child Advocacy Center.
(2) “Provider agency” means any governmental or other agency that has as one of its purposes the prevention, identification, management, or treatment of child abuse or neglect. The provider agencies serving children and their families that may share information under this section shall include, but not be limited to, the following entities or service agencies:
(A) Social services.
(B) Children’s services.
(C) Health services.
(D) Mental health services.
(E) Probation.
(F) Law enforcement.
(G) Schools.
(H) Child Advocacy Centers as specified in Section 11166.4 of the Penal Code.
(c) (1) Notwithstanding Section 827 of the Welfare and Institutions Code or any other provision of law, during a 30-day period, or longer if documented good cause exists, following a report of suspected child abuse or neglect, members of a child abuse multidisciplinary personnel team engaged in the prevention, identification, and treatment of child abuse may disclose to and exchange with one another information and writings that relate to any incident of child abuse that may also be designated as confidential under state law if the member of the team having that information or writing reasonably believes it is generally relevant to the prevention, identification, or treatment of child abuse. Any discussion relative to the disclosure or exchange of the information or writings during a team meeting is confidential and, notwithstanding any other provision of law, testimony concerning that discussion is not admissible in any criminal, civil, or juvenile court proceeding.
(2) Disclosure and exchange of information pursuant to this section may occur telephonically and electronically if there is adequate verification of the identity of the child abuse multidisciplinary personnel who are involved in that disclosure or exchange of information.
(3) Disclosure and exchange of information pursuant to this section shall not be made to anyone other than members of the child abuse multidisciplinary personnel team, and those qualified to receive information as set forth in subdivision (d).
(d) The child abuse multidisciplinary personnel team may designate persons qualified pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (b) to be a member of the team for a particular case. A person designated as a team member pursuant to this subdivision may receive and disclose relevant information and records, subject to the confidentiality provisions of subdivision (f).
(e) The sharing of information permitted under subdivision (c) shall be governed by protocols developed in each county describing how and what information may be shared by the child abuse multidisciplinary team to ensure that confidential information gathered by the team is not disclosed in violation of state or federal law. A copy of the protocols shall be distributed to each participating agency and to persons in those agencies who participate in the child abuse multidisciplinary team.
(f) Every member of the child abuse multidisciplinary personnel team who receives information or records regarding children and families in his or her capacity as a member of the team shall be under the same privacy and confidentiality obligations and subject to the same confidentiality penalties as the person disclosing or providing the information or records. The information or records obtained shall be maintained in a manner that ensures the maximum protection of privacy and confidentiality rights.
(g) This section shall not be construed to restrict guarantees of confidentiality provided under state or federal law.
(h) Information and records communicated or provided to the team members by all providers and agencies, as well as information and records created in the course of a child abuse or neglect investigation, shall be deemed private and confidential and shall be protected from discovery and disclosure by all applicable statutory and common law protections. Existing civil and criminal penalties shall apply to the inappropriate disclosure of information held by the team members.