Today's Law As Amended

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SB-537 Child welfare: domestic violence.(2021-2022)

As Amends the Law Today

 (a) The Legislature finds and declares both of the following:
(1) Families that experience domestic violence are often brought to the attention of the child welfare system. The intersection between domestic violence and the welfare of a child is often complex, with multiple agencies involved in determining the best course of action to aid the child and the family.
(2) Individuals working in the child welfare system and domestic violence advocates have come together to better understand this nexus and to work together to address the impact of domestic violence on children, and the effects of child welfare policy on families experiencing domestic violence.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature to ensure that child welfare policy reflects the most current understanding of domestic violence and trauma, and that both the parents and children are provided with the support they need, including support to prevent entry into the child welfare system or support to reunify as a family.

SEC. 2.

 Section 16515 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

 (a) On or before July 1, 2022, the department shall convene a workgroup to examine the nexus between child welfare and domestic violence and the impacts of child welfare policy on families experiencing domestic violence.
(b) For purposes of this section, “domestic violence” has the same meaning as defined in Section 6211 of the Family Code.
(c) The membership of the workgroup shall include interested parties and stakeholders, including, but not be limited to, representatives from all of the following:
(1) County agencies, including, but not limited to, county child welfare agencies and county agencies representing the domestic violence field.
(2) Domestic violence victim service organizations, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 1037.1 of the Evidence Code.
(3) Child advocacy organizations.
(4) Organizations representing county child welfare workers.
(5) Persons with lived experience in both domestic violence and child welfare systems.
(6) Tribal representatives.
(d) At a minimum, the workgroup shall do all of the following:
(1) Examine policies and procedures related to child welfare engagement in cases in which domestic violence is present in a child’s home.
(2) Review best practices and recommendations from research within California and in other states related to child welfare and domestic violence.
(3) Review available data, and identify additional data needed, to track involvement and outcomes for children and families referred to the child welfare system under circumstances in which domestic violence is present in the home.
(4) Identify gaps in the child welfare system in which additional training, oversight, or policy changes may be needed to achieve improved outcomes for children and families experiencing domestic violence.
(e) (1) Based on the findings of the workgroup, the department, on or before December 31, 2022, shall submit a report to the Legislature containing recommendations on ways to improve outcomes for children and families referred to the child welfare system who are experiencing domestic violence.
(2) The report to be submitted to the Legislature pursuant to subdivision (a) shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.
(f) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2027, and as of that date is repealed.