HCS/SB 850 - This act modifies several provisions relating to records involving children, including: (1) vital records; (2) records of child abuse and neglect investigations; (3) adoption and foster care records; and (4) post adoption contact agreements.
VITAL RECORDS (Section 193.265)
Under this act, no fee shall be required or collected for a birth, death, or marriage certificate if the request is made by the Children's Division or Division of Youth Services on behalf of a child under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.
This provision is identical to SB 827 (2018) and HB 1470 (2018) and substantially similar to provisions in the truly agreed to and finally passed CCS/SB 819 (2018) and HCB 11 (2018).
RECORDS OF CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT INVESTIGATIONS (Sections 210.145, 210.150, 210.151, and 210.152)
Under this act, the Children's Division may accept a report for a child abuse or neglect investigation or family assessment if the child or alleged perpetrator resides in Missouri, may be found in Missouri, or if the incident occurred in Missouri. If the Division receives a report in which neither the child nor the perpetrator lives in Missouri or may be found in Missouri and the incident did not occur in Missouri, the Division shall document the report and communicate it and relevant information and records to the appropriate agencies in the state where the child is believed to be located.
The Division shall be permitted to co-investigate a report of child abuse or neglect, as well as share records and information with child welfare, law enforcement, or judicial officers in Missouri or another state, territory, or nation when the Division determines it is appropriate to do so. Documents other than substantiated reports and related material shall be shared only if the Department of Social Services determines, in writing, that the receiving agency is prohibited by law or has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Children's Division agreeing to refrain sharing such material, as specified in this act.
Currently, the Division may permit specified persons to have access to certain records for which the Division has received a report of child abuse or neglect and for which the Division has determined that there is insufficient evidence. This act removes the requirement that the Division make a determination that there is insufficient evidence prior to allowing specified individuals access to the records.
These provisions are substantially similar to provisions in the truly agreed to and finally passed CCS/SB 819 (2018) and SCS/SB 858 (2018).
This act permits the Children's Division, a juvenile officer, or a prosecuting or circuit attorney to petition the circuit court on an for an order directing a parent or guardian of a child who is the subject of a child abuse or neglect investigation to present the child at a designated time and place to a Division worker for a visual assessment as specified in the act.
The court shall enter an order under this act if the court determines that there is probable cause to believe that the assessment is reasonably necessary for the completion of an investigation or the collection of evidence and doing so would be in the best interests of the child. The act specifies the procedure for granting an ex parte order, as well as the procedure for any person served with an order under this act to file a motion for a protective order or other relief. Any person who knowingly violates an order shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
Finally, this act permits the tolling of statutory timelines for the Children's Division regarding investigations from the date the Division files a petition for a order until the information is produced in full, the subpoena is withdrawn, or a court quashes the subpoena.
These provisions are similar to provisions in SS/SCS/SB 890 (2018).
Currently, the Children's Division is required to retain or remove identifying information contained in a child abuse or neglect investigation report according to specified time lines depending on the type of report. This act requires the Division to retain or remove all information in a report, including identifying information, and modifies the retention time lines. Investigation reports where the Division finds insufficient evidence of abuse or neglect shall be retained for ten years following the end of the investigation. Reports where the Division is unable to locate the child alleged to have been abused or neglected shall be maintained for eighteen years from the date of the report.
This provision is similar to a provision in the truly agreed to and finally passed CCS/SB 819 (2018).
ADOPTION AND FOSTER CARE RECORDS (Sections 210.498, 453.121, and 610.021)
Under this act, records relating to foster home or kinship placements of children in foster care shall be considered closed records under state law. Such records may be disclosed as provided for in this act. A parent or legal guardian of a child in foster care may have access to investigation records kept by the Children's Division regarding the denial, suspension, or revocation of the license of a foster home in which the child was placed. The Division's response to a request for the release of such information shall not include financial, medical, or other personal information relating to the foster home provider and the foster home provider's family, unless the Division determines that the information is directly relevant to the disposition of the investigation and report.
The Division may disclose or utilize information and records relating to foster homes in its discretion and as needed for the administration of the foster care program. The Director of the Department of Social Services shall authorize the disclosure of such information in cases of child fatalities or near-fatalities to courts, juvenile officers, law enforcement agencies, and prosecuting and circuit attorneys upon written request and as related to their duties under law. Finally, the Division may disclose such information and records to specified individuals that have a need for the information to conduct their lawful duties.
This act also provides that all papers, records, and information known to or in the possession of an adoptive parent or adoptive child that pertain to an adoption may be disclosed by the adoptive parent or adoptive child. Nothing in this act shall be construed to create a right to have access to information not otherwise allowed under existing state law concerning information in adoption records.
These provisions are identical to SCS/SB 715 (2018) and substantially similar to provisions in the truly agreed to and finally passed CCS/SB 819 (2018).
POST ADOPTION CONTACT AGREEMENTS (Sections 453.015, 453.030, and 453.080)
Under current law, written consent to an adoption shall be required from (1) the mother of the child and (2) the presumptive or putative father or the child's current adoptive parents or other legally recognized mother and father. This act requires written consent from all three categories of individuals. Additionally, a birth father or the current adoptive parents of a child may execute a written consent to adoption before or after the birth of the child and before or after the commencement of adoption proceedings. Properly executed consent to adoption under this provision is irrevocable. The consent shall be signed in the presence of two adult witnesses, one of whom may be the attorney representing the party executing the consent. The court shall receive and acknowledge a properly executed consent to adoption if such consent is in the best interests of the child.
This act permits out of state adoptive petitioners to appear by their attorney or by telephone or video conference rather than in person.
This act removes a requirement that a court consider whether the adoption would be in compliance with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act.
Finally, this act permits adoptive parents and the birth parents of a child to enter into a written post adoption contact agreement to allow contact, communication, and the exchange of photographs after the adoption between the parties. Any agreement shall be voluntary, contain provisions specified in the act, be in writing, signed by the parties to the agreement, and approved by the court. The court shall enforce an agreement unless doing so would not be in the best interest of the child.
These provisions are substantially similar to provisions in SB 992 (2018) and similar to provisions in the truly agreed to and finally passed CCS/SB 819 (2018).
HA#1: MODIFIES LANGUAGE REGARDING CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT RECORD SHARING
HA#2: MODIFIES LANGUAGE REGARDING VITAL RECORDS
HA#3: MODIFIES LANGUAGE REGARDING ADOPTION PROCEEDINGS
HA#4: MODIFIES LANGUAGE REGARDING CONSENT TO ADOPT