House Committee Substitute

HCS/SS/SCS/SB 160 - This act modifies several provisions relating to child protection, including: (1) the Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect; (2) definitions of child abuse and neglect; (3) records of child abuse and neglect; (4) the Foster Care Bill of Rights; (5) foster care kinship placements; and (6) juvenile court proceedings.


This act extends the expiration date of provisions relating to the Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect from January 15, 2018, to January 15, 2023.

This provision is identical to a provision in SCS/HCS/HB 1158 (2017).


This act modifies the definition of child abuse and the definition of child neglect to include victims of sex trafficking or severe forms of trafficking. Additionally, the definition of "those responsible for the care, custody, and control of the child" is modified to add any person who takes control of the child by deception, force, or coercion.

This provision is identical to provisions in SCS/HCS/HB 260 (2017) and SCS/HCS/HB 1158 (2017).


Under current law, the Children's Division is required to retain certain investigation reports and accompanying identifying information. In instances involving investigation reports where the Division has sufficient evidence to determine that a child was abused or neglected, but not sufficient evidence to identify a specific perpetrator or perpetrators, the Division shall retain all identifying information for use in subsequent investigations or family assessments of the same child, the child's family, or members of the child's household. If the Division made a finding of abuse or neglect against an unknown perpetrator prior to August 28, 2017, the Division shall remove the unknown perpetrator from the central registry, but shall retain and utilize all identifying information for use under this act. The Division shall notify the parents of the child that it has been unable to determine the identity of the perpetrator and that the Division shall retain, utilize, and disclose all information and findings as provided for in current law in family assessment and services cases.

Under current law, the Division may reopen a case for review upon the request of specified persons if new evidence is obtained that the Division's decision was based on fraud or misrepresentation of material facts and there is evidence that the Division's decision would have been different. This act removes those requirements. Instead, the Division may reopen a case for review if new, specific, and credible evidence is obtained.

This provision is identical to provisions in SCS/HCS/HB 260 (2017) and SCS/HCS/HB 1158 (2017) and substantially similar to SB 535 (2017).


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 placing 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 SCS/SB 1051 (2016).


This act modifies foster child placement statutes to expand the definition of "relative" to include a person who is not related to the child, but has a close relationship with the child or child's family, as well as modifies the order or preference for placement to include those relatives unrelated by blood or affinity within the third degree.

This provision is identical to a provision in SCS/HCS/HB 260 (2017).

JUVENILE COURT PROCEEDINGS (Sections 211.059, 211.081, 211.211, 211.351, 211.361, 211.401, and 211.447)

This act requires a child taken into custody a juvenile officer to be advised, both orally and in writing, prior to questioning of certain rights. Such child shall be advised of the limited role of the juvenile officer during questioning by law enforcement and that the juvenile officer is not legal counsel for the child. The juvenile office may not participate in questioning the child regarding the alleged offense(s). Additionally, a child is entitled to be represented by a guardian ad litem in certain juvenile court proceedings.

This act grants a family court administrator in certain circuits the authority to appoint a juvenile officer. The presiding judge of the circuit shall ensure that any case in the family court or juvenile court division in which a juvenile officer is a participant is not heard by a judge who is the appointing authority for the juvenile officer.

Finally, this act modifies the duties of a juvenile officer in investigating and offering reports into evidence. Additionally, in cases of involving petitions to terminate parental rights, a juvenile officer shall make a preliminary inquiry and it if appears that information previously referred to the officer could justify the filing of a petition, the officer may do so. This act repeals language permitting the informant, following a juvenile officer's refusal to file a petition to terminate parental rights, to bring the matter directly to the attention of the judge and permitting the judge to order the officer to take further action.

These provisions are identical to HB 768 (2017).

Provisions of this act have an emergency clause.


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