SB 1073 - This act modifies several provisions of law relating to foster care, including: (1) Office of the Child Advocate independent reviews; (2) special education services; (3) the Foster Care Bill of Rights; (4) kin placement; (5) CASA reports; (6) foster parent standing; (7) standards for guardians ad litem; and (8) juvenile officers.
OFFICE OF THE CHILD ADVOCATE REVIEWS (Section 37.719)
Under current law, the office of the child advocate is authorized to conduct an independent review of any entity within a county that has experienced three or more review requests in a calendar year. This act change the number of review requests from three to two, and requires the Office of the Child Advocate to submit any findings and recommendations following a review to the General Assembly.
SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES (Section 162.685)
This act requires that any standards developed by the State Board of Education for the purposes of determining a child's eligibility for special educational services allow the consideration of trauma as a result of experience in foster care.
This provision is identical to SB 1062 (2016).
FOSTER CARE BILL OF RIGHTS (Section 210.564)
This act establishes and enumerates the Foster Care Bill of Rights. The Children's Division shall provide every school-aged foster child and his or her foster parent with an age-appropriate orientation and explanation of the bill of rights, as well as make them readily available and easily accessible online. Additionally, every Children's Division office, residential care facility, child placement agency, or other agency involved in the care and placement of foster children shall post the bill of rights in the office, facility, or agency.
This provision is similar to SB 1051 (2016).
KIN PLACEMENT (Section 210.565)
Under current law, preferential placement of a child first goes to grandparents, next to trusted adults with a pre-existing relationship with the child, and then to licensed foster parents. This act supplants the trusted adults placement option with that of kin or kinship placement, defined in the act as a person who is related to the child by blood or affinity beyond the third degree or a person who is not so related, but has a close relationship with the child or child's family. Additionally, kin who have a child in their care under this provision may have, on a case-by-case basis, licensure standards not related to safety waived, to the same extent as grandparents under current law. Finally, foster children of the opposite sex who are siblings may be permitted to sleep in the same room when placed in the home of a grandparent, other relative, or kin, if doing so would be in the best interests of the children and presents no safety concerns.
This provision is substantially similar to a provision in HCS/SS/SCS/SB 801 (2016) and similar to HB 2492 (2016).
CASA REPORTS (Section 210.566)
This act grants foster parents the right to access and review all reports written or produced by a court-appointed special advocate concerning a child in their care.
FOSTER PARENT STANDING (Section 211.171)
This act grants a foster parent of a child in a juvenile court proceeding specified in the act the right to intervene as a party. The court may not join a foster parent as a party without the foster parent's consent.
GUARDIAN AD LITEM STANDARDS (Section 484.355)
This act specifies the standards that a guardian ad litem (GAL) shall adhere to in family and juvenile courts, including standards relating to GAL case loads; the best interests of the child; diligent advocacy for the child; reasonable access to the child and the child's reasonable access to the GAL; the GAL's access to relevant records relating to the child; confidentiality of information; case review; GAL-child interactions; GAL participation in plans, staffings, and orders relating to the child; GAL presence in court proceedings; and GAL recommendations to the court.
JUVENILE OFFICERS (Section 660.022)
This act requires the Department of Social Services, with the assistance of the Office of State Courts Administrator, to promulgate rules and regulations pertaining to the role of the juvenile officer (JO) in child welfare proceedings, including a JO code of ethics, JO administrative standards, the JO's role in pre-disposition delinquency and status offense proceedings, the JO's role in child abuse and neglect investigations and proceedings, and general practice standards for JOs.