HCS/SCS/SB 96 – This act modifies provisions relating to the needs and rights of children.
FOSTER PUPIL RIGHTS TO EDUCATION: Each school district must perform the following actions as they relate to foster care pupils: ensure and facilitate proper educational placements, assist in transfers between schools, ensure transfer of grades and credits, request school records, and submit school records that have been requested.
A child placing agency will promote educational stability for foster care children when making placements. A foster care child may continue to attend his or her school of origin pending resolution of a dispute. Each school district must accept for credit any full or partial course work satisfactorily completed by a pupil while attending certain schools. A pupil who completes the graduation requirements of his or her school district of residence while under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court will receive a diploma
If a foster care pupil is absent from school because of a change in placement by the court or child placing agency, or because of a verified court appearance or related court-ordered activity, the pupil's grades and credits will be calculated as of the date the pupil left school. Such absence will not result in a lowering of the pupil's grades.
Subject to federal law, school districts are authorized to permit access of pupil school records to a child placing agency for the purpose of fulfilling educational case management responsibilities required by the juvenile officer or by law and to assist with the school transfer or placement of a pupil.
These provisions are identical to provisions contained in CCS#2/SS/HCS/HB 154 (2009) and HCS#2/SS/SB 291 (2009) and are similar to SB 1000 (2008) and SB 630 (2007). (SECTIONS 167.018 & 167.019)
EDUCATIONAL PLACEMENT OF FOSTER CHILDREN WITH SIBLINGS: Foster children must be placed in the same educational setting as their siblings to the degree possible. Any foster parent licensed by the Department of Social Services may make educational choices for a foster child in his or her care as long the educational program of choice is permitted under Missouri law, compliments the educational experience of any sibling groups, and is not unduly disruptive as described in the act. Only a court may prohibit a licensed foster parent from exercising discretion with educational placement of foster children. (Section 167.021)
FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT OF PARENTS AND GUARDIANS TO DIRECT THE UPBRINGING OF THEIR CHILDREN: Children who are not declared wards of the state are recognized as under the authority, control, and responsibility of their parents or legal guardians. Parents and legal guardians have a natural and fundamental right to direct the care, education, and upbringing of their children. No government action must burden, abridge, or hinder this fundamental right unless there is a compelling government interest that is the least restrictive means of furthering the government interest. (Section 210.005)
ADVERTISEMENTS FOR REPORTS OF POSSIBLE CHILD ABUSE OR NEGLECT: Any advertisement or promotion that is used beginning January 1, 2010 to education or encourage the public to report possible cases of child abuse or neglect must contain the statement that a false or misleading report that is provided to the department not in good faith may be punishable as a violation of law. Materials produced by the department prior to June 1, 2009 are not subject to this requirement and may be used until they are depleted from the department's existing stock. (Section 210.131)
INVESTIGATION INVOLVING DEATH OR INJURY OF FOSTER CHILDREN: If a foster child dies or is seriously injured after a report is made, the hotline worker or workers taking reports and any division case workers assigned to the investigation of such reports will receive a preliminary evaluation to determine whether there should be an assessment of competency for the workers. If required, such an assessment must be completed within three days of the child's death.
This provision is also contained in HB 393 (2009). (Section 210.135)
CHILD ABUSE HOTLINE: Callers to the child abuse and neglect hotline must be instructed by hotline staff to call 911 in instances where the child may be in immediate danger. (Section 210.145)
EMERGENCY PLACEMENT OF CHILDREN WITH GRANDPARENTS: This act provides that when an emergency placement of a child is deemed necessary, the Children's Division within the Department of Social Services must immediately begin diligent efforts to locate, contact, and place the child with a grandparent of the child. Diligent efforts are defined in the act, and such efforts shall be made to contact the grandparent within three hours from the time the emergency placement is deemed necessary. During such three-hour period, the child may be placed in an emergency placement. If a grandparent cannot be located within the three-hour period, the child may be temporarily placed in emergency placement. However, after such placement was made, the division shall still make diligent efforts to contact the grandparent and place the child with a grandparent or another relative, with first consideration given to a grandparent. Prior to any emergency placement of the child the division shall assure that the child's physical needs are met.
Placement shall not be made with the grandparent when the division determines that the placement would not be in the best interests of the child. The placement with a grandparent shall also be subject to an emergency placement background check. The division shall document the reason why placing the child with a grandparent is deemed to not be in the interest of the child.
When a court determines that a child must be placed in a foster home, the division must make diligent efforts to locate the grandparents of the child and determine if they wish to be considered for placement of the child.
Nothing in the act shall be construed to interfere with or supercede laws related to parental rights or judicial authority.
These provisions are substantially similar to provisions contained in CCS#2/SS/HCS/HB 154 (2009). (Sections 210.305 & 210.565)
FULL SCHOOL DAY OF EDUCATION FOR PUPILS IN FOSTER CARE OR LICENSED RESIDENTIAL CARE FACILITIES: Each child who is in foster care or who is placed in a licensed residential care facility is entitled to a full school day of education unless the school district determines that fewer hours are warranted. A full school day is defined as six hours under the guidance and direction of teachers in the education process for children in foster care or for children placed for treatment in a licensed residential care facility by the Department of Social Services.
For children placed for treatment in a licensed residential care facility by the Department of Social Services, the Commissioner of Education, or his or her designee, will be an ombudsman to assist the family support team and school district. The ombudsman will have the final decision over discrepancies regarding school day length. A full school day of education will be provided pending the ombudsman's final decision.
These provisions are identical to provisions contained in CCS#2/SS/HCS/HB 154 (2009) and HCS#2/SS/SB 291 (2009) and are similar to SB 1000 (2008) and SB 630 (2007). (SECTION 210.1050)
TISSUE SAMPLES FROM ABORTIONS OF CHILDREN UNDER AGE 18 IN FOSTER CARE: A child under age eighteen in foster care who seeks an abortion must be afforded any services or treatments otherwise provided to a victim of a sexual offense. Any abortion obtained by such a child must have a tissue sample preserved for DNA testing purposes to determine if the pregnancy was the result of a criminal offense. Any such tissue samples must be collected by the Department of Health and Senior Services, which must perform the DNA testing. The results of any DNA testing of an aborted child's tissue sample must be provided to the prosecuting attorney of the child's county of residence or the county in which the child resided at the time calculated to be the beginning of the pregnancy. (Section 453.330)
CHILD WITNESS PROTECTION: This act requires that a child witness, fourteen years old or under, or after written findings on the record, a person fifteen to seventeen years old, who testifies at certain types of judicial proceedings be accommodated by the court in several ways.
The judge shall ensure that any oath is administered to the child in a manner that the child may fully understand their duty to tell the truth. The judge shall ensure that questions are stated in a form which is appropriate to the age of the child, and explain to the child that if they do not understand the question they have a right to say that they do not understand the question. The judge may limit the length of a child's testimony and the time for their testimony to normal school hours. After filing a motion thirty days before the judicial proceeding, a child may have a toy or blanket with them, if all the parties agree, or if the child cannot reliably testify without the item and allowing the item is not likely to prejudice the judge/jury in evaluating the child's testimony. After filing a motion thirty days before the judicial proceeding, a child is also allowed to have a support person designated by the court in the courtroom. The court may allow the support person to be in close proximity to the child if all the parties agree, or if the child cannot reliably testify without the support person and allowing the support person is not likely to prejudice the judge/jury in evaluating the child's testimony. The judge may rephrase any question, so that the child is not intimidated. At least thirty days prior to the judicial proceeding the judge may order adjustments to the layout of the courtroom, that the proceeding be conducted outside the normal courtroom, or that the formalities of the proceedings be relaxed.
These provisions are identical to HCS/HB 863 (2009) and are similar to HB 1611 (2008). (Section 491.725)
MISSOURI STATE FOSTER CARE AND ADOPTION BOARD: This act creates the Missouri State Foster Care and Adoption Board within the Office of Administration. It will draft and provide independent review of policies and procedures of the Children's Division related to foster care and adoption. The board will consist of sixteen members, fourteen of which will be appointed by regional foster care and adoption boards to represent seven areas of the state, and two of which will be from the Statewide Foster Care and Adoption Association. Members will serve a term of at least two years and may be reappointed. The board's business must be conducted in accordance with the public meetings provisions of the Sunshine Law. The board must provide an annual report of its activities to the director of the Department of Social Services, the Governor, the Office of the Child Advocate, and upon request, to the member of the General Assembly. The board must operate independent of the Children's Division. (Section 1)