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H.B. 303





Sponsor: Steven R. Mascaro

             6      LONG TITLE
             7      General Description:
             8          This bill amends Division of Child and Family Services child abuse, neglect, and
             9      dependency investigation requirements.
             10      Highlighted Provisions:
             11          This bill:
             12          .    provides an exception to the parents' interview requirement under specified
             13      circumstances;
             14          .    provides an exception to the unscheduled visit requirement under specified
             15      circumstances;
             16          .    makes technical corrections to the terms "unsubstantiated" and "substantiated"; and
             17          .    makes other technical corrections.
             18      Monies Appropriated in this Bill:
             19          None
             20      Other Special Clauses:
             21          None
             22      Utah Code Sections Affected:
             23      AMENDS:
             24          62A-4a-202.3, as last amended by Chapter 265, Laws of Utah 2002
             26      Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
             27          Section 1. Section 62A-4a-202.3 is amended to read:

             28           62A-4a-202.3. Investigation -- Substantiation of reports -- Child in protective
             29      custody.
             30          (1) When a child is taken into protective custody in accordance with Section
             31      62A-4a-202.1 , 78-3a-106 , or 78-3a-301 , or when the division takes any other action which
             32      would require a shelter hearing under Subsection 78-3a-306 (1), the division shall immediately
             33      initiate an investigation of the circumstances of the minor and the facts surrounding the minor's
             34      being taken into protective custody.
             35          (2) (a) The division's investigation shall include, among other actions necessary to
             36      meet reasonable professional standards:
             37          [(a)] (i) a search for and review of any records of past reports of abuse or neglect
             38      involving the same child, any sibling or other child residing in that household, and the alleged
             39      perpetrator;
             40          [(b)] (ii) with regard to a child who is five years of age or older, a personal interview
             41      with the child outside of the presence of the alleged perpetrator, conducted in accordance with
             42      the requirements of Subsection (7);
             43          [(c)] (iii) if their whereabouts are known, an interview with at least one of the child's
             44      [natural] parents or [other] guardian[, unless their whereabouts are unknown];
             45          [(d)] (iv) an interview with the person who reported the abuse, unless anonymous;
             46          [(e)] (v) where possible and appropriate, interviews with other third parties who have
             47      had direct contact with the child, including school personnel and the child's health care
             48      provider;
             49          [(f)] (vi) an unscheduled visit to the child's home, unless:
             50          (A) the division has reasonable cause to believe that the reported abuse was committed
             51      by a person who does not:
             52          [(i)] (I) live in the child's home; or
             53          [(ii)] (II) otherwise have access to the child[; and] in the child's home; or
             54          (B) an unscheduled visit is not necessary to obtain evidence for the investigation; and
             55          [(g)] (vii) if appropriate and indicated in any case alleging physical injury, sexual
             56      abuse, or failure to meet the child's medical needs, a medical examination. That examination
             57      shall be obtained no later than 24 hours after the child was placed in protective custody.
             58          (b) For purposes of Subsection (2)(a)(iii):

             59          (i) even if the whereabouts of both parents are known, the division is not required to
             60      interview a second parent unless the division has reason to believe that the second parent has
             61      substantial, relevant information distinct from the information provided by the first parent; and
             62          (ii) all interviews with parents shall be conducted prior to the completion of the
             63      investigation.
             64          (3) The division may rely on a written report of a prior interview rather than
             65      conducting an additional interview, if:
             66          (a) law enforcement has previously conducted a timely and thorough investigation
             67      regarding the alleged abuse [or], neglect, or dependency and has produced a written report;
             68          (b) that investigation included one or more of the interviews required by Subsection
             69      (2); and
             70          (c) the division finds that an additional interview is not in the best interest of the child.
             71          (4) (a) The division's determination of whether a report is substantiated or
             72      unsubstantiated may be based on the child's statements alone.
             73          (b) Inability to identify or locate the perpetrator may not be used by the division as a
             74      basis for determining that a report is unsubstantiated, or for closing the case.
             75          (c) The division may not determine a case to be [unsubstantiated] unsupported or
             76      identify a case as [unsubstantiated] unsupported solely because the perpetrator was an
             77      out-of-home perpetrator.
             78          (d) Decisions regarding whether a report is [substantiated, unsubstantiated] supported,
             79      unsupported, or without merit shall be based on the facts of the case at the time the report was
             80      made.
             81          (5) The division should maintain protective custody of the child if it finds that one or
             82      more of the following conditions exist:
             83          (a) the minor has no natural parent, guardian, or responsible relative who is able and
             84      willing to provide safe and appropriate care for the minor;
             85          (b) shelter of the minor is a matter of necessity for the protection of the minor and there
             86      are no reasonable means by which the minor can be protected in the minor's home or the home
             87      of a responsible relative;
             88          (c) there is substantial evidence that the parent or guardian is likely to flee the
             89      jurisdiction of the court; or

             90          (d) the minor has left a previously court ordered placement.
             91          (6) (a) Within 24 hours after receipt of a child into protective custody, excluding
             92      weekends and holidays, the division shall convene a child protection team to review the
             93      circumstances regarding removal of the child from the child's home or school[,] and prepare the
             94      testimony and evidence that will be required of the division at the shelter hearing, in
             95      accordance with Section 78-3a-306 .
             96          (b) Members of [that] the team shall include:
             97          (i) the caseworker assigned to the case and the caseworker who made the decision to
             98      remove the child;
             99          (ii) a representative of the school or school district in which the child attends school;
             100          (iii) the peace officer who removed the child from the home;
             101          (iv) a representative of the appropriate Children's Justice Center, if one is established
             102      within the county where the child resides;
             103          (v) if appropriate, and known to the division, a therapist or counselor who is familiar
             104      with the child's circumstances; and
             105          (vi) any other individuals [as] determined [to be] appropriate and necessary by the team
             106      coordinator and chair.
             107          (c) At [that] the 24-hour meeting, the division shall have available for review and
             108      consideration[,] the complete child protective services and foster care history of the child and
             109      the child's parents and siblings.
             110          (7) After receipt of a child into protective custody and prior to the adjudication hearing,
             111      all investigative interviews with the child that are initiated by the division shall be audio or
             112      video taped, and the child shall be allowed to have a support person of the child's choice
             113      present. That support person may not be an alleged perpetrator.
             114          (8) The division shall cooperate with law enforcement investigations regarding the
             115      alleged perpetrator.
             116          (9) The division may not close an investigation solely on the grounds that the division
             117      investigator is unable to locate the child[,] until all reasonable efforts have been made to locate
             118      the child and family members. Those efforts include:
             119          (a) visiting the home at times other than normal work hours;
             120          (b) contacting local schools;

             121          (c) contacting local, county, and state law enforcement agencies; and
             122          (d) checking public assistance records.

Legislative Review Note
    as of 2-11-04 11:47 AM

A limited legal review of this legislation raises no obvious constitutional or statutory concerns.

Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel

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