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AB-1911 Child abuse reporting: cross-reporting among local agencies.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 04/11/2018 09:00 PM
AB1911:v95#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  April 11, 2018
Amended  IN  Assembly  April 02, 2018
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 14, 2018
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 08, 2018

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 1911


Introduced by Assembly Member Lackey
(Principal coauthor: Senator Wilk)

January 23, 2018


An act to add Section 11166.6 to the Penal Code, relating to child abuse.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1911, as amended, Lackey. Child abuse reporting: cross-reporting among local agencies.
Existing law requires a county probation or welfare department to immediately, or as soon as practicably possible, report to the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the case, to the agency given responsibility for investigation of child welfare cases, and to the district attorney’s office every known or suspected instance of child abuse or neglect, as specified. 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, no later than January 1, 2029, require each county to establish a private and secure online database for cross-reporting substantiated allegations reports of child abuse and neglect. The bill would require each county to develop a process for a person to petition to have his or her name removed from the database if the report regarding the individual is unsubstantiated. The bill would require each database to be implemented with policies to oversee the sharing of information, including, but not limited to, cross-reporting among the county welfare department, the district attorney’s office, and local law enforcement agencies, to ensure that each agency carries out its mandated investigative response to reports of child abuse or neglect. The bill would require unsubstantiated reports to be purged from the database. The bill would state findings and declarations of the Legislature regarding reporting child abuse and neglect. By imposing new duties on counties, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
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 the statutory provisions noted above.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

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


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) Cross-reporting among law enforcement agencies, county welfare departments, and county district attorney’s offices is mandated in cases involving allegations of child abuse and neglect. neglect immediately or as soon as practically possible by the telephone and by written report within 36 hours of receiving the information concerning the incident. (Subdivision (a) of Section 11166 of the Penal Code).

(b)Each agency plays an integral role in safeguarding child welfare.

(c)Open communication among agencies is imperative to ensure child safety.

(b) Written mandated reports are made by completing the Suspected Child Abuse Report (SCAR) (Form SS-8572). Once a written SCAR is created, that document must be cross-reported among the county probation or welfare department, the law enforcement agency, and the district attorney’s office (Subdivisions (j) and (k) of Section 11166 of the Penal Code).
(c) The current process of telephone, fax, or electronic transmission of the report is antiquated and has not ensured the consistent and timely sharing and coordination of Form SS-8572. The current system also does not confirm that designated agencies receive or act upon the form.
(d) The current system does not allow for the consistent and timely sharing of historical information among designated agencies. Previously submitted reports and previously completed investigations of abuse and neglect by both child welfare and law enforcement agencies help determine the level of risk to children when assessing current reports of suspected child abuse and neglect.
(e) The current system of sharing SCARs among designated agencies contains numerous opportunities for inconsistencies due to human error. The manual system of sharing Form SS-8572 and other pertinent information is currently a process whereby individual staff will cross-report the form and, in their assessment, other relevant reports at their discretion. The current process for sharing and coordinating investigations among agencies contains gaps which have the potential to perpetuate unaccountability among coordinating agencies rendering vulnerable children at continued risk of abuse and neglect.
(f) Los Angeles County envisioned, created, and currently utilizes an Electronic Suspected Child Abuse Report System (eSCARS) which facilitates the mandated duty to cross-report reports of suspected child abuse and neglect among all affected agencies in order to be in compliance with the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (Subdivision (a) of Section 11166 of the Penal Code).
(g) The eSCARS is a secure, web-based application linking the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, forty-five other independent law enforcement agencies in the county, the district attorney’s office, and other relevant government agencies with each other. The eSCARS assists in the elimination of errors and lengthy time delays that transpire when paper-based methods of reporting are employed. The eSCARS also expedites the secure electronic transmission and receipt of SCARs among all relevant agencies. It has reduced paper costs, printing, clerical and manual processes, and significantly cut backlogs at the agencies.

SEC. 2.

 Section 11166.6 is added to the Penal Code, to read:

11166.6.
 (a) This section shall be known, and may be cited, as Gabriel’s Law.
(b) No later than January 1, 2029, each county shall establish a private and secure online database for purposes of cross-reporting substantiated allegations reports of child abuse and neglect among agencies and individuals authorized to receive that information.
(c) The database shall reflect a real time, Web-based information sharing system that allows rapid and secure electronic transmission and receipt of mandated cross-reports, ensuring that the proper agencies receive the report and providing a detailed history of past incidents of abuse entered into the system by child and family welfare agencies.
(d) Each county shall develop policies and procedures for entering, reviewing, and purging information in the database, criteria for substantiating reports, and retention periods for information.
(e) Each county shall develop a process for an individual to petition to have his or her name removed from the database if the report against the individual is found to be unsubstantiated.
(f) A county with an existing online reporting system that meets these requirements is deemed to be compliant with this section.

(c)

(g) Each online database shall be implemented with policies to oversee the sharing of information, including, but not limited to, cross-reporting among the county welfare department, the district attorney’s office, and local law enforcement agencies, to ensure that each agency carries out its mandated investigative response to reports of child abuse or neglect.
(h) Each database shall be used and operated in compliance with all applicable state and federal regulations, statutes, and guidelines.
(i) The database shall be used by law enforcement officials, child and family welfare service agencies, and district attorneys’ offices only for the purposes of reporting and investigating reports of child abuse and neglect.
(j) All reports that are not substantiated shall be purged from the database.

(d)

(k) For purposes of this section, “cross-reporting” means the transmission of information to agencies given responsibility for the investigation of cases falling under Section 300 of the Welfare and Institutions Code and subject to the mandated reporter requirements of Section 11166.

(e)

(l) This section does not relieve a law enforcement agency or child protective agency from the duty to submit a substantiated report of child abuse or severe neglect to the Department of Justice for inclusion in the Child Abuse Central Index as required by Section 11169.

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.