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SB-942 Dependency proceedings: relative caregivers.(2015-2016)



Current Version: 08/01/16 - Amended Assembly        


SB942:v94#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  August 01, 2016
Amended  IN  Assembly  June 15, 2016
Amended  IN  Senate  May 31, 2016
Amended  IN  Senate  April 19, 2016
Amended  IN  Senate  March 31, 2016

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2015–2016 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill No. 942


Introduced by Senator Liu

February 03, 2016


An act to amend Sections 319 and 361.4 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to dependency proceedings.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 942, as amended, Liu. Dependency proceedings: relative caregivers.
Existing law establishes the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, which may adjudge a child to be a dependent of the court under certain circumstances, including when the child suffered, or there is a substantial risk that the child will suffer, serious physical harm, or a parent fails to provide the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical treatment. Existing law establishes the grounds for removal of a dependent child from the custody of his or her parents or guardian, and establishes procedures to determine placement of a dependent child. Existing law prescribes various hearings, including specified review hearings, and other procedures for these purposes. Existing law requires a social worker to conduct specified assessments for purposes of placement.
This bill would require the court to order the social worker to immediately conduct an assessment, as specified, if the child is not placed with a relative at the time of the initial hearing and an able and willing relative is available and requests temporary placement of the child.
Under existing law, if a child is proposed to be placed in the home of a relative, or the home of any prospective guardian or other person who is not a licensed or certified foster parent, the court or social worker placing the child is required to have make an assessment of that person for placement pursuant to specified criteria, including conducting a home visit and having a state-level criminal records check conducted by an appropriate government agency through the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System. Existing For purposes of placement, existing law authorizes a county to issue a criminal records exemption for a qualifying crime for which the relative, prospective guardian, or other person has been convicted only if that county has been granted permission by the Director of Social Services to issue exemptions. Existing law requires the State Department of Social Services to conduct an evaluation of the implementation provisions relating to criminal records exemptions, as specified.
This bill would require a county seeking to issue a criminal records exemption under these provisions to assist the relative, prospective guardian, or other person in locating and obtaining any documents required for the criminal records exemption. The
If the court orders the county to make an assessment under these provisions, the bill would also require the county to complete the assessment process, including any exemptions and waivers, process within a specified timeframe. The bill would authorize the court to conduct a hearing if the assessment process is not complete, as specified, or an exemption or waiver is denied, to determine if the county has abused its discretion.
By imposing these additional duties on county welfare agencies, 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 no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
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 that placement with able and willing relatives at the earliest point in time is in the best interest of a child in the dependency system. Along those lines, research has shown that a child in the dependency system tends to be more emotionally well off when placed with his or her relatives, and reunification with his or her parents is routinely enhanced by placement with those relatives.

SEC. 2.

 Section 319 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

319.
 (a) At the initial petition hearing, the court shall examine the child’s parents, guardians, or other persons having relevant knowledge and hear the relevant evidence as the child, the child’s parents or guardians, the petitioner, or their counsel desires to present. The court may examine the child, as provided in Section 350.
(b) The social worker shall report to the court on the reasons why the child has been removed from the parent’s physical custody, the need, if any, for continued detention, the available services and the referral methods to those services that could facilitate the return of the child to the custody of the child’s parents or guardians, and whether there are any relatives who are able and willing to take temporary physical custody of the child. The court shall order the release of the child from custody unless a prima facie showing has been made that the child comes within Section 300, the court finds that continuance in the parent’s or guardian’s home is contrary to the child’s welfare, and any of the following circumstances exist:
(1) There is a substantial danger to the physical health of the child or the child is suffering severe emotional damage, and there are no reasonable means by which the child’s physical or emotional health may be protected without removing the child from the parent’s or guardian’s physical custody.
(2) There is substantial evidence that a parent, guardian, or custodian of the child is likely to flee the jurisdiction of the court.
(3) The child has left a placement in which he or she was placed by the juvenile court.
(4) The child indicates an unwillingness to return home, if the child has been physically or sexually abused by a person residing in the home.
(c) If the matter is continued pursuant to Section 322 or for any other reason, the court shall find that the continuance of the child in the parent’s or guardian’s home is contrary to the child’s welfare at the initial petition hearing or order the release of the child from custody.
(d) (1) The court shall also make a determination on the record, referencing the social worker’s report or other evidence relied upon, as to whether reasonable efforts were made to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of the child from his or her home, pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 306, and whether there are available services that would prevent the need for further detention. Services to be considered for purposes of making this determination are case management, counseling, emergency shelter care, emergency in-home caretakers, out-of-home respite care, teaching and demonstrating homemakers, parenting training, transportation, and any other child welfare services authorized by the State Department of Social Services pursuant to Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 16500) of Part 4 of Division 9. The court shall also review whether the social worker has considered whether a referral to public assistance services pursuant to Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 11200) and Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 14000) of Part 3, Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 17000) of Part 5, and Chapter 10 (commencing with Section 18900) of Part 6 of Division 9 would have eliminated the need to take temporary custody of the child or would prevent the need for further detention.
(2) If the child can be returned to the custody of his or her parent or guardian through the provision of those services, the court shall place the child with his or her parent or guardian and order that the services shall be provided. If the child cannot be returned to the physical custody of his or her parent or guardian, the court shall determine if there is a relative who is able and willing to care for the child, and has been assessed pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (d) of Section 309.
(3) In order to preserve the bond between the child and the parent and to facilitate family reunification, the court shall consider whether the child can be returned to the custody of his or her parent who is enrolled in a certified substance abuse treatment facility that allows a dependent child to reside with his or her parent. The fact that the parent is enrolled in a certified substance abuse treatment facility that allows a dependent child to reside with his or her parent shall not be, for that reason alone, prima facie evidence of substantial danger. The court shall specify the factual basis for its conclusion that the return of the child to the custody of his or her parent would pose a substantial danger or would not pose a substantial danger to the physical health, safety, protection, or physical or emotional well-being of the child.
(e) If a court orders a child detained, the court shall state the facts on which the decision is based, specify why the initial removal was necessary, reference the social worker’s report or other evidence relied upon to make its determination whether continuance in the home of the parent or legal guardian is contrary to the child’s welfare, order temporary placement and care of the child to be vested with the county child welfare department pending the hearing held pursuant to Section 355 or further order of the court, and order services to be provided as soon as possible to reunify the child and his or her family if appropriate.
(f) (1) If the child is not released from custody, the court may order that the child shall be placed in the assessed home of a relative, in an emergency shelter or other suitable licensed place, in a place exempt from licensure designated by the juvenile court, or in the assessed home of a nonrelative extended family member as defined in Section 362.7 for a period not to exceed 15 judicial days. A runaway and homeless youth shelter licensed by the State Department of Social Services pursuant to Section 1502.35 of the Health and Safety Code shall not be a placement option pursuant to this section.
(2) As used in this section, “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 placement of the child: an adult who is a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or sibling of the child.
(3) The court shall consider the recommendations of the social worker based on the assessment pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (d) of Section 309 of the relative’s home, including the results of a criminal records check and prior child abuse allegations, if any, prior to ordering that the child be placed with a relative. The court shall order the parent to disclose to the social worker the names, residences, and any known identifying information of any maternal or paternal relatives of the child. The social worker shall initiate the assessment pursuant to Section 361.3 of any relative to be considered for continuing placement.
(4) If the child is not placed with a relative at the time of the initial hearing and an able and willing relative is available and requests temporary placement of the child, the court shall order the social worker to immediately conduct an assessment pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (d) of Section 309.
(g) (1) At the initial hearing upon the petition filed in accordance with subdivision (c) of Rule 5.520 of the California Rules of Court or anytime thereafter up until the time that the minor is adjudged a dependent child of the court or a finding is made dismissing the petition, the court may temporarily limit the right of the parent or guardian to make educational or developmental services decisions for the child and temporarily appoint a responsible adult to make educational or developmental services decisions for the child if all of the following conditions are found:
(A) The parent or guardian is unavailable, unable, or unwilling to exercise educational or developmental services rights for the child.
(B) The county placing agency has made diligent efforts to locate and secure the participation of the parent or guardian in educational or developmental services decisionmaking.
(C) The child’s educational and developmental services needs cannot be met without the temporary appointment of a responsible adult.
(2) If the court limits the parent’s educational rights under this subdivision, the court shall determine whether there is a responsible adult who is a relative, nonrelative extended family member, or other adult known to the child and who is available and willing to serve as the child’s educational representative before appointing an educational representative or surrogate who is not known to the child.
(3) If the court cannot identify a responsible adult to make educational decisions for the child and the appointment of a surrogate parent, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 56050 of the Education Code, is not warranted, the court may, with the input of any interested person, make educational decisions for the child. If the child is receiving services from a regional center, the provision of any developmental services related to the court’s decision shall be consistent with the child’s individual program plan and pursuant to the provisions of the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act (Division 4.5 (commencing with Section 4500)). If the court cannot identify a responsible adult to make developmental services decisions for the child, the court may, with the input of any interested person, make developmental services decisions for the child. If the court makes educational or developmental services decisions for the child, the court shall also issue appropriate orders to ensure that every effort is made to identify a responsible adult to make future educational or developmental services decisions for the child.
(4) A temporary appointment of a responsible adult and temporary limitation on the right of the parent or guardian to make educational or developmental services decisions for the child shall be specifically addressed in the court order. An order made under this section shall expire at the conclusion of the hearing held pursuant to Section 361 or upon dismissal of the petition. Upon the entering of disposition orders, additional needed limitation on the parent’s or guardian’s educational or developmental services rights shall be addressed pursuant to Section 361.
(5) This section does not remove the obligation to appoint surrogate parents for students with disabilities who are without parental representation in special education procedures as required by state and federal law, including Section 1415(b)(2) of Title 20 of the United States Code, Section 56050 of the Education Code, Section 7579.5 of the Government Code, and Rule 5.650 of the California Rules of Court.
(6) If the court appoints a developmental services decisionmaker pursuant to this section, he or she shall have the authority to access the child’s information and records pursuant to subdivision (u) of Section 4514 and subdivision (y) of Section 5328, and to act on the child’s behalf for the purposes of the individual program plan process pursuant to Sections 4646, 4646.5, and 4648 and the fair hearing process pursuant to Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 4700) of Division 4.5, and as set forth in the court order.

SEC. 3.

 Section 361.4 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

361.4.
 (a) Prior to placing a child in the home of a relative, or the home of any prospective guardian or other person who is not a licensed or certified foster parent, the county social worker shall visit the home to ascertain the appropriateness of the placement.
(b) (1) Whenever a child may be placed in the home of a relative, or the home of any prospective guardian or other person who is not a licensed or certified foster parent, the court or county social worker placing the child shall cause a state-level criminal records check to be conducted by an appropriate government agency through the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS) pursuant to Section 16504.5. The criminal records check shall be conducted with regard to all persons over 18 years of age living in the home, and on any other person over 18 years of age, other than professionals providing professional services to the child, known to the placing entity who may have significant contact with the child, including any person who has a familial or intimate relationship with any person living in the home. A criminal records check may be conducted pursuant to this section on any person over 14 years of age living in the home who the county social worker believes may have a criminal record. Within 10 calendar days following the criminal records check conducted through the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, the social worker shall ensure that a fingerprint clearance check of the relative and any other person whose criminal record was obtained pursuant to this subdivision is initiated through the Department of Justice to ensure the accuracy of the criminal records check conducted through the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System and shall review the results of any criminal records check to assess the safety of the home. The Department of Justice shall forward fingerprint requests for federal-level criminal history information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation pursuant to this section.
(2) An 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 and under subdivision (c).
(c) Whenever a child may be placed in the home of a relative, or a prospective guardian or other person who is not a licensed or certified foster parent, the county social worker shall cause a check of the Child Abuse Central Index pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 11170 of the Penal Code to be requested from the Department of Justice. The Child Abuse Central Index check shall be conducted on all persons over 18 years of age living in the home. For any application received on or after January 1, 2008, if any person in the household is 18 years of age or older and has lived in another state in the preceding five years, the county social worker shall check the other state’s child abuse and neglect registry to the extent required by federal law.
(d) (1) If the results of the California and federal criminal records check indicates that the person has no criminal record, the county social worker and court may consider the home of the relative, prospective guardian, or other person who is not a licensed or certified foster parent for placement of a child.
(2) If the criminal records check indicates that the person has been convicted of a crime that the Director of Social Services cannot grant an exemption for 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 that the Director of Social Services may grant an exemption for 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 pursuant to paragraph (3).
(3) (A) A county may issue a criminal records exemption only if that county has been granted permission by the Director of Social Services to issue criminal records exemptions. The county may file a request with the Director of Social Services seeking permission for the county to establish a procedure to evaluate and grant appropriate individual criminal records exemptions for persons described in subdivision (b). The director shall grant or deny the county’s request within 14 days of receipt. The county shall evaluate individual criminal records in accordance with the standards and limitations set forth in paragraph (1) of subdivision (g) of Section 1522 of the Health and Safety Code, and shall not place a child in the home of a person who is ineligible for an exemption under that provision. The county shall, to the extent possible, assist the person to locate and obtain any documents required for the criminal records exemption, which may include having a social worker contact any other government entity directly to obtain any required arrest reports or court dispositions.
(B) The department shall monitor county implementation of the authority to grant an exemption under this paragraph to ensure that the county evaluates individual criminal records and allows or disallows placements according to the standards set forth in paragraph (1) of subdivision (g) of Section 1522 of the Health and Safety Code.
(C) If a court orders the county to assess a person described in subdivision (a), the county shall complete the assessment process, including any exemptions and waivers, process described in this section and subdivision (a) of Section 361.3, within 30 calendar days. If the process assessment is not complete within 30 calendar days of the court order, the court may set an order to show cause hearing. If the assessment process is not complete, is not complete within 60 calendar days, or an exemption or waiver is denied, or any administrative process is not complete within 60 calendar days of the court ordering the county to conduct the assessment, the court may conduct a hearing to determine if the county has abused its discretion.
(4) The department shall conduct an evaluation of the implementation of paragraph (3) through random sampling of county exemption decisions.
(5) The State Department of Social Services shall not evaluate or grant criminal records exemption requests for persons described in subdivision (b), unless the exemption request is made by an Indian tribe pursuant to subdivision (f).
(6) If a county has not requested, or has not been granted, permission by the State Department of Social Services to establish a procedure to evaluate and grant criminal records exemptions, the county shall not place a child into the home of a person described in subdivision (b) if any person residing in the home has been convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic violation, except as provided in subdivision (f).
(e) Nothing in this section shall preclude a county from conducting a criminal background check that the county is otherwise authorized to conduct using fingerprints.
(f) The State Department of Social Services shall evaluate a request from an Indian tribe to exempt a crime that is exemptible under Section 1522 of the Health and Safety Code, if needed, to allow placement into an Indian home that the tribe has designated for placement under the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. Sec. 1901 et seq.). However, if the county with jurisdiction over the child that is the subject of the tribe’s request has established an approved procedure pursuant to paragraph (3) of subdivision (d), the tribe may request that the county evaluate the exemption request. Once a tribe has elected to have the exemption request reviewed by either the State Department of Social Services or the county, the exemption decision may only be made by that entity. Nothing in this subdivision limits the duty of a county social worker to evaluate the home for placement or to gather information needed to evaluate an exemption request.

SEC. 4.

 To the extent that this act has an overall effect of increasing the costs already borne by a local agency for programs or levels of service mandated by the 2011 Realignment Legislation within the meaning of Section 36 of Article XIII of the California Constitution, it shall apply to local agencies only to the extent that the state provides annual funding for the cost increase. Any new program or higher level of service provided by a local agency pursuant to this act above the level for which funding has been provided shall not require a subvention of funds by the state nor otherwise be subject to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.