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Subj: 11 bills dealing with DCFS passed the Utah legislature
Date: 3/5/04 12:52:58 PM Mountain Standard Time
The Utah legislative session ended at midnight on Wednesday the 3rd
of March. The following is a list of the bills dealing with DCFS that
made it through both the House and the Senate.
SB 54 S2 videotaping of minors - Wayne HarperGeneral Description:
This bill sets specific requirements for interviewing children during investigations into abuse.
This bill requires that all investigative interviews of children who are believed to have been sexually or seriously physically abused be videotaped or similarly recorded; requires that the child and interviewer be simultaneously recorded; requires that the recording be continuous and display time and date; and requires a worker to audiotape all interviews that are not videotaped except only for the very first 15 minute interviews in initial contact.
HB 60 Protection of children in foster care - David LitvackGeneral Description:
This bill modifies Division of Child and Family Services provisions.
This bill gives the Department of Human Services access to provide a complete case history contained in the Management Information System for the purpose of licensing and monitoring foster parents; gives the Office of the Guardian Ad Litem access only to information about children and families where it has been appointed by a court to represent the interests of the children.
HB 61 S1 Child welfare investigations - Mike ThompsonGeneral Description:
This bill amends Child and Family Services.
This bill prohibits a state officer, peace officer, or child welfare worker from entering the home of a minor who is not under the jurisdiction of the court, unless parental permission is obtained or unless they possess a warrant or exigent circumstances (immediate danger) are present.
HB 90 S1 Access to child welfare hearings - Mike MorleyGeneral Description:
This bill amends the Judicial Code.
This bill opens all juvenile courts to the public on July 1, 2004.
HB 120 Child welfare funding for in-home services - Mike ThompsonGeneral Description:
This bill amends Child and Family Services.
This bill requires the Division of Child and Family Services to seek funding for in-home services to prevent the removal of children from their homes and promote the preservation of families by asking for waivers so as to not follow mandates that come with federal monies.
HB 140 S3 Child and family services related judicial code amendments - LaVar ChristensenGeneral Description:HB 186 Evaluation and counseling prior to termination proceedings - Mike Thompson
This bill amends child welfare provisions in Child and Family Services and the Judicial Code.
This bill exempts health care decisions of a mature minor from the definition of neglect and exempts parents from being charged with abuse if a mature minor makes his or her own medical decisions;
requires the legislative auditor general to complete an audit of child welfare cases to measure compliance by attorney guardians ad litem with their statutory duties;
requires the juvenile court to recognize the rights of parents and children and the limits placed on the Division of Child and Family Services; clarifies how a petition before a juvenile court may be dismissed at any stage of the court proceedings.
requires the Child Welfare Legislative Oversight Panel to study and make recommendations regarding the following:
1- the feasibility of requiring the juvenile court, except in exigent circumstances, to adjudicate a petition alleging child abuse, neglect, or dependency prior to ordering a child into protective custody;
2- establishing a right to a jury trial in a juvenile court proceeding:
(a) to adjudicate a petition alleging child abuse, neglect, or dependency; or
(b) to terminate a parent's rights;
3- the adequacy of warrant provisions in protecting children balanced against preserving and strengthening family ties to the fullest possible extent under the law;
4-whether a presumption of parental fitness and competence in judicial proceedings should be made in determining whether a parent's rights should be terminated;
5- except in clear and verifiable exigent circumstances, how to otherwise strengthen procedural due process safeguards, including notice and an opportunity to be heard, for the parents of children that come under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court for possible child abuse, neglect, or dependency;
6- how to strengthen defense counsel for parents of children taken into protective custody;
7- whether compliance with 42 U.S.C. Sec. 5106a, the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment and Adoption Reform requirements which include the mandatory appointment of a guardian ad litem in child abuse, neglect, and dependency cases with the approximately $250,000 in federal child abuse prevention and treatment grant monies for which the state annually qualifies provides a sufficient comparative benefit to the state in relation to its strong interest in preserving and strengthening family ties to the fullest extent possible under the law;
8- whether the evidentiary standard for the reunification services presumption and proceedings to terminate a parents rights should be changed from clear and convincing to beyond a reasonable doubt;General Description:
This bill modifies sections of the Judicial Code dealing with Juvenile Court proceedings.
This bill allows the juvenile court to appoint any qualified mental health therapist; and prohibits the juvenile court from excluding a mental health therapist because they have not followed the recommendations of the Division of Child and Family Services in another case.
HB 197 Limit on child welfare recommendations and rulings- Mike ThompsonGeneral Description:
This bill amends the Administrative Procedures Act and the Judicial Code.
This bill limits factors that may be considered when an agency or court recommends or rules on the custody, placement, or other disposition alternative of a minor, or the termination of parental rights such as:
(a) legally possesses or uses a firearm or other weapon;
(b) espouses particular religious beliefs or engages in particular religious practices ;
(c) schools the minor or other minors outside the public education system or is otherwise sympathetic to schooling a minor outside the public education system.
HB 198 S2 Child welfare court reports - Mike ThompsonGeneral Description:
This bill amends the Judicial Code to create a disclosure requirement for child welfare reports made in juvenile court.
This bill requires a party to a child welfare hearing to share its report at least five days prior to the proceeding.
HB 268 Child welfare processes - Mike ThompsonGeneral Description:
This bill amends Child and Family Services and the Judicial Code.
This bill amends the definition of "protective services";
requires notice to parents of their statutory and constitutional rights before conducting a child abuse, neglect, or dependency investigation;
prohibits a reporter of child abuse from acting as a support person in a preremoval interview; prohibits a juvenile court from using disability of a parent as a basis for removing a child from the custody of the parent; basis for changing a custody award made in district court;
expands interdisciplinary child protection team membership by adding a member of clergy to be able to be part of the team;
amends preferential placement provisions for children removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect, or dependency;
requires the Division of Child and Family Services to accommodate and honor the moral and religious beliefs of those it serves;
requires the Division of Child and Family Services to design treatment plans in a manner that minimizes disruption to the normal activities of the child's family;
modifies access to juvenile court proceedings;
limits the types of identifying information that may be stricken from a record released by the Division of Child and Family Services to specified individuals;
requires recording of unauthorized ex parte communications concerning an ongoing case between a judge and other parties to an abuse, neglect, or dependency proceeding;
and requires the office of the Guardian ad Litem to provide an annual report to the Legislative Child Welfare interim committee creates a parental legal defense fund and creates an office to be run by an attorney who has experience in child welfare to oversee the parental legal defense fund, train attorneys to properly represent parents and provide expert witnesses for parents.
SB 104 Selection of mental health therapists in termination of parental rights - Parley HellewellGeneral Description:
This bill amends the Termination of Parental Rights Act.
This bill specifies that the juvenile court may not refuse to appoint a mental health therapist because the therapist has not followed the recommendations of the guardian ad litem in another case; and requires the juvenile court to give the parent or guardian strong consideration regarding their choice of a mental health therapist.
But the bills of real change where subverted:
and most Parley Hellewell's bills that would have protected family rights the most while still protecting truly abused children; but these were vigously fought by DCFS (AG&PCMC) because they required restructuring and public accountability. SeeAccountabilityUtah.org
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