HCS/HBs 1123 & 1221 - This act modifies several provisions relating to child protection
TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS (Section 211.447)
This act modifies the definition of and the grounds for determining abandonment of child in a termination of parental rights proceeding. Under this act, a mandatory termination of parental rights shall be initiated when the court finds a child under three years of age to be abandoned, including when a parent has, for a period of sixty days immediately prior to the filing of the petition for termination of parental rights, willfully, substantially, and continuously neglected to provide the child with necessary care and protection. A discretionary termination of parental rights may occur when the court finds a child three years of age or older has been abandoned, including when a parent has, for a period of 6 months immediately prior to the filing of the petition to terminate parental rights, willfully, substantially, and continuously neglected to provide the child with necessary care and protection. This act repeals a ground for a mandatory or discretionary termination of parental rights when a child has been abandoned if the parent, without good cause, left the child without any provision for parental support and without making arrangements to visit or communicate with the child.
Under current law, a termination of parental rights shall occur if the parent has been found guilty of certain felony offenses when the child or any child in the family was a victim. This act adds additional felony offenses to the list and removes the requirement that the child be a child in the family or that the child reside with the parent at the time of the offense.
This act repeals references to "forcible" rape and rape "in the first degree" when referring to certain grounds for termination of parental rights.
This act modifies determinations of parental unfitness in a discretionary termination of parental rights proceedings to include circumstances when the child has been in foster care under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court for at least 15 of the 22 months prior to the filing of the petition.
This provision is substantially similar to a provision in the perfected SS/SB 327 (2021), SCS/HCS/HB 429 (2021), and SB 888 (2020).
ADOPTION REGULATIONS (Sections 453.014, 453.030, and 453.070)
This act modifies provisions granting, under current law, the Department of Social Services and the Department of Health and Senior Services regulatory authority for placing a child for adoption to instead grant such authority to the Children's Division and to repeal such authority from the Department of Health and Senior Services.
These provisions are identical to provisions in SCS/HCS/HB 429 (2021) and substantially similar to provisions in the perfected SS/SB 327 (2021) and SB 888 (2020).
ADOPTION PROCEEDINGS (Sections 453.030 and 453.040)
Under current law, prospective adoptive parents or the child-placing agency shall pay reasonable attorney fees incurred by the birth parent throughout the adoption process, unless the court determines the adoptive parents are unable to pay such fees. This act repeals this provision, while retaining the provision guaranteeing the birth parent the right to legal representation. Additionally, this act permits the court to appoint an attorney to represent a birth parent under the age of 18 in cases where the birth parent requests an attorney, the hiring of an attorney would represent a financial hardship for the birth parent, and the birth parent is not already represented by counsel.
Finally, this act modifies the circumstances in which a parent's consent to adoption is not required to reflect the changes made to identifying "abandoned" children in termination of parental rights proceedings.
These provisions are substantially similar to provisions in the perfected SS/SB 327 (2021), SCS/HCS/HB 429 (2021) and SB 888 (2020).