SB 0745 Modifies various provisions regarding foster care and protective services for children
Sponsor:Dougherty Co-Sponsor(s)
LR Number:2771S.04I Fiscal Note:2771-04
Committee:Aging, Families, Mental & Public Health
Last Action:01/21/04 - Hearing Conducted S Aging, Families, Mental & Public Journal page:
Health Committee
Effective Date:August 28, 2004
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Current Bill Summary

SB 745 - This act modifies various provisions regarding foster care and protective services for children.

CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT - The Children's Division is required to establish protocols for ensuring the safety of children; providing due process for those accused of child abuse and neglect; and hotline calls. The Division must use a structured decision-making model to classify all reports, which must be initiated within twenty-four hours and classified based on the level of risk and injury to the child (Section 210.145).

The Division cannot meet with a child in a school or facility building where the abuse is alleged to have occurred (Section 210.145).

Identifying information in investigative reports that are based on insufficient evidence of abuse and neglect shall be retained for five years. Individuals included in the Central Registry prior to May of 1999 may request a review of their case record to determine if the allegation should be classified as family assessment rather than an investigation. Those that are classified as family assessments shall be removed from the Registry (Section 210.152).

An officer must cease questioning if the child wishes to have his or her parent, legal guardian, or attorney present (Section 211.059).

The age limitation for statements by children to be admissible is changed from twelve to fourteen (Sections 491.075 and 492.304).

CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT REVIEW BOARDS - The Division shall establish a sufficient number of boards to ensure that cases are reviewed in a timely manner (Section 210.153).

CHILDREN'S DIVISION - By January 1, 2005, the Division must identify all children in its custody and report to the General Assembly on the type of foster care being provided (Section 210.112).

By January 15, 2006, the Division must report to the General Assembly on the privatization of services (Section 210.113).

The Division must conduct a diligent search for the natural parents of a child in its custody if their location is unknown (Section 210.127).

CHILDREN'S HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM - Any child with special health care needs that does not have access to employer- subsidized health insurance is not required to be without health care coverage for six months prior to eligibility for services and is not subject to the 30-day waiting period following enrollment (Section 208.647).

COMPULSORY SCHOOL ATTENDANCE - Juvenile officers must notify and report to the school district any violations of compulsory school attendance when the only basis for action involves an alleged violation of compulsory school attendance. The school district must immediately refer all private, parochial, or home school matters to the prosecuting attorney of the county where the child legally resides. Public school violations of compulsory school attendance may be referred by the school district to the prosecuting attorney (Section 211.031).

COURT PROCEEDINGS - The court shall make reasonable efforts to inform parties of a status conference to be held within three days of child being taken into custody. Certain issues must be addressed at the status conference, including whether the child can be immediately returned to his or her home. A protective custody hearing may be requested at the status hearing and must be held within fourteen days of the request. Continuances will not be granted except upon a written motion. An adjudication must be held no later than sixty days after the child has been taken into custody. If the court determines there is sufficient cause for the child to remain in custody, then a dispositional review must be conducted within ninety days. During the first year the child is in custody, review hearings must be conducted every 90 to 120 days and at least every six months thereafter (Section 211.032).

Upon the motion of any parent or their child, the court shall grant a change of judge, a change of venue, or both (Section 211.031).

DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES - It is the goal of the General Assembly for the Department to attain accreditation by the Council for Accreditation for Families and Children's Services. The Department must implement a pilot program in three circuits and attain accreditation in those circuits within three years. Full accreditation by the Department should occur within six years (Section 210.114).

Beginning February 1, 2005, the Department is required to submit an annual statistical report to the Governor and the General Assembly regarding the number of children receiving protective services from the state and private service providers (Section 210.188).

The Department of Social Services shall submit amendments to state plans and seek waivers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for reimbursements under Title IV-E and Title XIX. The Department must also take the necessary steps for federal block grant money for foster care and adoption assistance (Section 210.535).

The Department of Social Services, in conjunction with the Department of Mental Health, must apply for federal waivers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in order to provide services to children (Section 211.181).

FAMILY SUPPORT TEAM MEETINGS - The Children's Division must arrange a team meeting immediately following the status hearing and any additional team meetings prior to taking any action on the placement of a child. The parent or legal guardian, foster parents, guardian ad litem, juvenile officer, caseworker, court- appointed-special advocate, and any designee of the parent shall be notified and invited to participate in all team meetings. At the conclusion of the meeting, all parties must sign a form that states that they are aware of the team's decision. Any dissenting views will be noted on the form and included in the child's case records (Section 210.762).

All information provided at family support meetings is confidential, except a parent may waive confidentiality. Any party that does not agree to confidentiality may be excluded from the meetings (Section 210.763).

FOSTER CARE - For the emergency placement of a child, the juvenile court or the Children's Division may request that a name-based criminal history record check must include full orders of protection and outstanding warrants of each person over the age of 18 who reside in the home. Within five days of the emergency placement, all persons 18 and over in the home must submit two sets of fingerprints for a more extensive criminal background check. A child shall immediately be removed from the home if any person residing in the home fails to provide the requested fingerprints. If the placement of a child is denied due to the results of a name-based search and the denial is subsequently contested, all persons 18 and over in the home will be required to submit two sets of fingerprints for the criminal background checks (Section 210.482).

For the licensing of foster parents, the Division must conduct a search for ex parte or full orders of protection on any adult in the applicant's household through the Office of State Courts Administrator. A response shall be provided to the Division within 10 days of a request. The Division must also conduct a criminal background fingerprint check of state and federal criminal database information (Section 210.487).

The Division shall provide standards and training for the licensing of prospective foster parents and performance-based criteria for the evaluation of licensed foster parents (Section 210.542).

The Division must notify the child's parent or legal guardian that the child has been placed in foster care, except in instances of imminent harm. A child shall not be removed from school for placement in foster care without a court order specifying that the child shall be removed from school (Section 210.760).

If placement results in the child attending a new school, records shall be automatically transferred to the new school. Upon request of the foster family and whenever possible, the child will continue attending at the same school (Section 211.032).

GUARDIAN AD LITEMS AND VOLUNTEER ADVOCATES - Guardian ad litems and volunteer advocates shall be informed of meetings and have the right to attend any meetings involving the child. Guardian ad litems must advocate for timely hearings. The court shall have the authority to conduct general and criminal background checks, including a check of the Family Care Safety Registry (Section 210.160).

LICENSE-EXEMPT CHILD CARE FACILITIES - If a license-exempt facility or program receives a school exception, they must annually submit documentation to the Department verifying the license-exempt status (Section 210.201).

MISSOURI FAMILY TRUST - New language allows the Missouri Family Trust to be used by residents of adjacent states. Upon the death of a life beneficiary, the state of Missouri will receive from the beneficiary's account the amount of total medical assistance paid on behalf of the life beneficiary. If there is any amount remaining in the account, then an amount equal to 75% of the principal balance will be distributed to the life beneficiary's heirs. If there are no heirs, the remaining balance will be distributed to the charitable trust (Sections 402.199 - 402.217).

OFFICE OF CHILD ADVOCATE - The "Office of the Child Advocate for Children's Protection and Services" is created within the Office of Administration to assure that children receive adequate protection and care from services and programs offered by the Departments of Mental Health and Social Services (Sections 37.700 - 37.730).

PRIVATIZATION OF SERVICES - Whenever available and appropriate, the Children's Division is required to contract for the provision of children's services through private children's services providers and community agencies. The state will continue to be the sole provider of child abuse and neglect hotline services, the initial child abuse and neglect investigation, and the initial family assessment. These private children's services providers and agencies must undergo background checks pursuant to Chapter 43, RSMo and submit the names of all employees to the Family Care Safety Registry (Section 210.109).

RELATIVE PLACEMENT - The Division must place children in their custody with relatives, unless it is contrary to the best interests of the child. If it is not in the best interests of the child, the court shall make a specific finding on the record detailing why the child is not to be placed with relatives. The age of the child's relative shall not be the only factor that the Division takes into consideration when making placement decisions and recommendations to the court. The Division must adhere to the Indian Child Welfare Act when placing a Native American child in protective custody (Section 210.565).

SCHOOL AND SCHOOL EMPLOYEES - The school district shall ensure that a criminal background check is conducted on any person employed after January 1, 2005, before they have contact with a child. Individuals must submit two sets of fingerprints, which shall be used by the Highway Patrol, the Family Care Safety Registry, and the FBI. Fees for the federal and state background checks shall be paid by the employee. School district policies may provide that the applicant be reimbursed for these costs. Information shall be reported to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education by school officials, who will be immune from civil liability (Section 168.283).

The Division and school employees are prohibited from performing a strip search of any student, without the permission of the parent (Section 210.760).

Individuals that are obtaining a school bus driver permit are required to submit two sets of fingerprints to the highway patrol. The first is used to search the criminal history repository and the other is forwarded to the FBI. The applicant shall pay the fee (Section 302.272).

SCREENING FOR LEAD POISONING - The Departments of Health and Senior Services and Social Services shall devise a three-year educational strategy to increase the number of children on Medicaid that are tested for lead poisoning. The goal of the educational strategy is to have 75% of the children tested by August 28, 2008 (Section 701.336).

TASK FORCE ON CHILDREN'S JUVENILE JUSTICE - The Task Force on Children's Juvenile Justice established by the Children's Division shall conduct an independent review of the policies, procedures, and cases of state and local agencies and their effectiveness. The Task Force may have access to information on cases it has been asked to review and may receive assistance from the Department of Social Services, but is prohibited from disclosing information about specific cases (Section 210.187).