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H.B. 239

             1     

CHILD PROTECTION REVISIONS

             2     
2010 GENERAL SESSION

             3     
STATE OF UTAH

             4     
Chief Sponsor: Wayne A. Harper

             5     
Senate Sponsor: Margaret Dayton

             6     
             7      LONG TITLE
             8      General Description:
             9          This bill amends provisions of the Utah Human Services Code and the Juvenile Court
             10      Act of 1996 relating to the performance monitoring system of the Division of Child and
             11      Family Services (DCFS), the interviewing of children in DCFS custody, and the
             12      provision of reunification services.
             13      Highlighted Provisions:
             14          This bill:
             15          .    defines terms;
             16          .    amends provisions relating to the performance monitoring system of DCFS;
             17          .    prohibits DCFS from consenting to the interview of a child in DCFS' custody by a
             18      law enforcement officer, unless consent for the interview is obtained from the
             19      child's guardian ad litem;
             20          .    provides for the extension of time, under certain circumstances, during which
             21      reunification services may be provided; and
             22          .    makes technical changes.
             23      Monies Appropriated in this Bill:
             24          None
             25      Other Special Clauses:
             26          None
             27      Utah Code Sections Affected:


             28      AMENDS:
             29          78A-6-312, as last amended by Laws of Utah 2009, Chapter 161
             30          78A-6-314, as last amended by Laws of Utah 2009, Chapter 161
             31      ENACTS:
             32          62A-4a-415, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             33      REPEALS AND REENACTS:
             34          62A-4a-117, as last amended by Laws of Utah 2009, Chapter 75
             35     
             36      Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
             37          Section 1. Section 62A-4a-117 is repealed and reenacted to read:
             38          62A-4a-117. Performance monitoring system -- Annual report.
             39          (1) As used in this section:
             40          (a) "Committee" means the state qualitative improvement committee, established by
             41      the division to provide community and professional input on the performance of the division.
             42          (b) "Performance indicators" means actual performance in a program, activity, or other
             43      function for which there is a performance standard.
             44          (c) (i) "Performance standards" means the targeted or expected level of performance of
             45      each area in the child welfare system, including:
             46          (A) child protection services;
             47          (B) adoption;
             48          (C) foster care; and
             49          (D) other substitute care.
             50          (ii) "Performance standards" includes the performance goals and measures in effect in
             51      2008 that the division was subject to under federal court oversight, as amended pursuant to
             52      Subsection (2), including:
             53          (A) the qualitative case review; and
             54          (B) the case process review.
             55          (2) (a) The division may not amend the performance standards unless the amendment
             56      is:
             57          (i) necessary and proper for the effective administration of the division; or
             58          (ii) necessary to comply with, or implement changes in, the law.


             59          (b) Before amending the performance standards, the division shall provide written
             60      notice of the proposed amendment to the committee.
             61          (c) The notice described in Subsection (2)(b) shall include:
             62          (i) the proposed amendment;
             63          (ii) a summary of the reason for the proposed amendment; and
             64          (iii) the proposed effective date of the amendment.
             65          (d) Within 45 days after the day on which the division provides the notice described in
             66      Subsection (2)(b) to the committee, the committee shall provide to the division written
             67      comments on the proposed amendment.
             68          (e) The division may not implement a proposed amendment to the performance
             69      standards until the earlier of:
             70          (i) seven days after the day on which the division receives the written comments
             71      regarding the proposed change described in Subsection (2)(d); or
             72          (ii) 52 days after the day on which the division provides the notice described in
             73      Subsection (2)(b) to the committee.
             74          (f) The division shall:
             75          (i) give full, fair, and good faith consideration to all comments and objections received
             76      from the committee;
             77          (ii) notify the committee in writing of:
             78          (A) the division's decision regarding the proposed amendment; and
             79          (B) the reasons that support the decision;
             80          (iii) include complete information on all amendments to the performance standards in
             81      the report described in Subsection (4); and
             82          (iv) post the changes on the division's website.
             83          (3) The division shall maintain a performance monitoring system to regularly:
             84          (a) collect information on performance indicators; and
             85          (b) compare performance indicators to performance standards.
             86          (4) Before January 1 each year the director shall submit a written report to the Child
             87      Welfare Legislative Oversight Panel and the Joint Health and Human Services Appropriations
             88      Subcommittee that includes:
             89          (a) a comparison between the performance indicators for the prior fiscal year and the


             90      performance standards;
             91          (b) for each performance indicator that does not meet the performance standard:
             92          (i) the reason the standard was not met;
             93          (ii) the measures that need to be taken to meet the standard; and
             94          (iii) the division's plan to comply with the standard for the current fiscal year;
             95          (c) data on the extent to which new and experienced division employees have received
             96      training pursuant to statute and division policy; and
             97          (d) an analysis of the use and efficacy of in-home services, both before and after
             98      removal of a child from the child's home.
             99          Section 2. Section 62A-4a-415 is enacted to read:
             100          62A-4a-415. Law enforcement interviews of children in state custody.
             101          (1) Except as provided in Subsection (2), the division may not consent to the interview
             102      of a child in the division's custody by a law enforcement officer, unless consent for the
             103      interview is obtained from the child's guardian ad litem.
             104          (2) Subsection (1) does not apply if a guardian ad litem is not appointed for the child.
             105          Section 3. Section 78A-6-312 is amended to read:
             106           78A-6-312. Dispositional hearing -- Reunification services -- Exceptions.
             107          (1) The court may:
             108          (a) make any of the dispositions described in Section 78A-6-117 ;
             109          (b) place the minor in the custody or guardianship of any:
             110          (i) individual; or
             111          (ii) public or private entity or agency; or
             112          (c) order:
             113          (i) protective supervision;
             114          (ii) family preservation;
             115          (iii) subject to Subsection 78A-6-117 (2)(n)(iii), medical or mental health treatment; or
             116          (iv) other services.
             117          (2) (a) (i) Whenever the court orders continued removal at the dispositional hearing,
             118      and that the minor remain in the custody of the division, the court shall first:
             119          (A) establish a primary permanency goal for the minor; and
             120          (B) determine whether, in view of the primary permanency goal, reunification services


             121      are appropriate for the minor and the minor's family, pursuant to Subsection (3).
             122          (ii) Subject to Subsection (2)(b), if the court determines that reunification services are
             123      appropriate for the minor and the minor's family, the court shall provide for reasonable
             124      parent-time with the parent or parents from whose custody the minor was removed, unless
             125      parent-time is not in the best interest of the minor.
             126          (iii) (A) In cases where obvious sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, abandonment,
             127      severe abuse, or severe neglect are involved, neither the division nor the court has any duty to
             128      make "reasonable efforts" or to, in any other way, attempt to provide reunification services, or
             129      to attempt to rehabilitate the offending parent or parents.
             130          (B) In all cases, the minor's health, safety, and welfare shall be the court's paramount
             131      concern in determining whether reasonable efforts to reunify should be made.
             132          (b) (i) For purposes of Subsection (2)(a)(ii), parent-time is in the best interests of a
             133      minor unless the court makes a finding that it is necessary to deny parent-time in order to:
             134          (A) protect the physical safety of the minor;
             135          (B) protect the life of the minor; or
             136          (C) prevent the minor from being traumatized by contact with the parent due to the
             137      minor's fear of the parent in light of the nature of the alleged abuse or neglect.
             138          (ii) Notwithstanding Subsection (2)(a)(ii), a court may not deny parent-time based
             139      solely on a parent's failure to:
             140          (A) prove that the parent has not used legal or illegal substances; or
             141          (B) comply with an aspect of the child and family plan that is ordered by the court.
             142          (c) (i) In addition to the primary permanency goal, the court shall establish a concurrent
             143      permanency goal that shall include:
             144          (A) a representative list of the conditions under which the primary permanency goal
             145      will be abandoned in favor of the concurrent permanency goal; and
             146          (B) an explanation of the effect of abandoning or modifying the primary permanency
             147      goal.
             148          (ii) A permanency hearing shall be conducted in accordance with Subsection
             149      78A-6-314 (1)(b) within 30 days after the day on which the dispositional hearing ends if
             150      something other than reunification is initially established as a minor's primary permanency
             151      goal.


             152          (iii) (A) The court may amend a minor's primary permanency goal before the
             153      establishment of a final permanency plan under Section 78A-6-314 .
             154          (B) The court is not limited to the terms of the concurrent permanency goal in the event
             155      that the primary permanency goal is abandoned.
             156          (C) If, at any time, the court determines that reunification is no longer a minor's
             157      primary permanency goal, the court shall conduct a permanency hearing in accordance with
             158      Section 78A-6-314 on or before the earlier of:
             159          (I) 30 days [from] after the day on which the court makes the determination described
             160      in this Subsection (2)(c)(iii)(C); or
             161          [(II) 12 months from the day on which the minor was first removed from the minor's
             162      home.]
             163          (II) the day on which the provision of reunification services, described in Section
             164      78A-6-314 , ends.
             165          (d) (i) (A) If the court determines that reunification services are appropriate, it shall
             166      order that the division make reasonable efforts to provide services to the minor and the minor's
             167      parent for the purpose of facilitating reunification of the family, for a specified period of time.
             168          (B) In providing the services described in Subsection (2)(d)(i)(A), the minor's health,
             169      safety, and welfare shall be the division's paramount concern, and the court shall so order.
             170          (ii) The court shall:
             171          (A) determine whether the services offered or provided by the division under the child
             172      and family plan constitute "reasonable efforts" on the part of the division;
             173          (B) determine and define the responsibilities of the parent under the child and family
             174      plan in accordance with Subsection 62A-4a-205 (6)(e); and
             175          (C) identify on the record the responsibilities described in Subsection (2)(d)(ii)(B), for
             176      the purpose of assisting in any future determination regarding the provision of reasonable
             177      efforts, in accordance with state and federal law.
             178          (iii) (A) The time period for reunification services may not exceed 12 months from the
             179      date that the minor was initially removed from the minor's home, unless the time period is
             180      extended under Subsection 78A-6-314 (8).
             181          (B) Nothing in this section may be construed to entitle any parent to an entire 12
             182      months of reunification services.


             183          (iv) If reunification services are ordered, the court may terminate those services at any
             184      time.
             185          (v) If, at any time, continuation of reasonable efforts to reunify a minor is determined
             186      to be inconsistent with the final permanency plan for the minor established pursuant to Section
             187      78A-6-314 , then measures shall be taken, in a timely manner, to:
             188          (A) place the minor in accordance with the permanency plan; and
             189          (B) complete whatever steps are necessary to finalize the permanent placement of the
             190      minor.
             191          (e) Any physical custody of the minor by the parent or a relative during the period
             192      described in Subsection (2)(d) does not interrupt the running of the period.
             193          (f) (i) If reunification services are ordered, a permanency hearing shall be conducted by
             194      the court in accordance with Section 78A-6-314 at the expiration of the time period for
             195      reunification services.
             196          (ii) [The] Unless the time for the provision of reunification services is extended under
             197      Subsection 78A-6-314 (8), a permanency hearing shall be held no later than 12 months after the
             198      original removal of the minor.
             199          (iii) If reunification services are not ordered, a permanency hearing shall be conducted
             200      within 30 days, in accordance with Section 78A-6-314 .
             201          (g) With regard to a minor who is 36 months of age or younger at the time the minor is
             202      initially removed from the home, the court shall:
             203          (i) hold a permanency hearing eight months after the date of the initial removal,
             204      pursuant to Section 78A-6-314 ; and
             205          (ii) order the discontinuance of those services after eight months from the initial
             206      removal of the minor from the home if the parent or parents have not made substantial efforts
             207      to comply with the child and family plan.
             208          (h) With regard to a minor in the custody of the division whose parent or parents are
             209      ordered to receive reunification services but who have abandoned that minor for a period of six
             210      months from the date that reunification services were ordered:
             211          (i) the court shall terminate reunification services; and
             212          (ii) the division shall petition the court for termination of parental rights.
             213          (i) When a court conducts a permanency hearing for a minor under Section 78A-6-314 ,


             214      the court shall attempt to keep the minor's sibling group together if keeping the sibling group
             215      together is:
             216          (i) practicable; and
             217          (ii) in accordance with the best interest of the minor.
             218          (3) (a) Because of the state's interest in and responsibility to protect and provide
             219      permanency for minors who are abused, neglected, or dependent, the Legislature finds that a
             220      parent's interest in receiving reunification services is limited.
             221          (b) The court may determine that:
             222          (i) efforts to reunify a minor with the minor's family are not reasonable or appropriate,
             223      based on the individual circumstances; and
             224          (ii) reunification services should not be provided.
             225          (c) In determining "reasonable efforts" to be made with respect to a minor, and in
             226      making "reasonable efforts," the minor's health, safety, and welfare shall be the paramount
             227      concern.
             228          (d) (i) There is a presumption that reunification services should not be provided to a
             229      parent if the court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that any of the following
             230      circumstances exist:
             231          (A) the whereabouts of the parents are unknown, based upon a verified affidavit
             232      indicating that a reasonably diligent search has failed to locate the parent;
             233          (B) subject to Subsection (3)(d)(ii), the parent is suffering from a mental illness of such
             234      magnitude that it renders the parent incapable of utilizing reunification services;
             235          (C) the minor was previously adjudicated as an abused child due to physical abuse,
             236      sexual abuse, or sexual exploitation, and following the adjudication the minor:
             237          (I) was removed from the custody of the minor's parent;
             238          (II) was subsequently returned to the custody of the parent; and
             239          (III) is being removed due to additional physical abuse, sexual abuse, or sexual
             240      exploitation;
             241          (D) the parent:
             242          (I) caused the death of another minor through abuse or neglect; or
             243          (II) committed, aided, abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit:
             244          (Aa) murder or manslaughter of a child; or


             245          (Bb) child abuse homicide;
             246          (E) the minor suffered severe abuse by the parent or by any person known by the
             247      parent, if the parent knew or reasonably should have known that the person was abusing the
             248      minor;
             249          (F) the minor is adjudicated an abused child as a result of severe abuse by the parent,
             250      and the court finds that it would not benefit the minor to pursue reunification services with the
             251      offending parent;
             252          (G) the parent's rights are terminated with regard to any other minor;
             253          (H) the minor is removed from the minor's home on at least two previous occasions
             254      and reunification services were offered or provided to the family at those times;
             255          (I) the parent has abandoned the minor for a period of six months or longer;
             256          (J) the parent permitted the child to reside, on a permanent or temporary basis, at a
             257      location where the parent knew or should have known that a clandestine laboratory operation
             258      was located; or
             259          (K) any other circumstance that the court determines should preclude reunification
             260      efforts or services.
             261          (ii) The finding under Subsection (3)(d)(i)(B) shall be based on competent evidence
             262      from at least two medical or mental health professionals, who are not associates, establishing
             263      that, even with the provision of services, the parent is not likely to be capable of adequately
             264      caring for the minor within 12 months [from] after the day on which the court finding is made.
             265          (4) In determining whether reunification services are appropriate, the court shall take
             266      into consideration:
             267          (a) failure of the parent to respond to previous services or comply with a previous child
             268      and family plan;
             269          (b) the fact that the minor was abused while the parent was under the influence of
             270      drugs or alcohol;
             271          (c) any history of violent behavior directed at the child or an immediate family
             272      member;
             273          (d) whether a parent continues to live with an individual who abused the minor;
             274          (e) any patterns of the parent's behavior that have exposed the minor to repeated abuse;
             275          (f) testimony by a competent professional that the parent's behavior is unlikely to be


             276      successful; and
             277          (g) whether the parent has expressed an interest in reunification with the minor.
             278          (5) (a) If reunification services are not ordered pursuant to Subsection (3)[(a)], and the
             279      whereabouts of a parent become known within six months [of] after the day on which the
             280      out-of-home placement of the minor is made, the court may order the division to provide
             281      reunification services.
             282          (b) The time limits described in Subsection (2) are not tolled by the parent's absence.
             283          (6) (a) If a parent is incarcerated or institutionalized, the court shall order reasonable
             284      services unless it determines that those services would be detrimental to the minor.
             285          (b) In making the determination described in Subsection (6)(a), the court shall
             286      consider:
             287          (i) the age of the minor;
             288          (ii) the degree of parent-child bonding;
             289          (iii) the length of the sentence;
             290          (iv) the nature of the treatment;
             291          (v) the nature of the crime or illness;
             292          (vi) the degree of detriment to the minor if services are not offered;
             293          (vii) for a minor 10 years of age or older, the minor's attitude toward the
             294      implementation of family reunification services; and
             295          (viii) any other appropriate factors.
             296          (c) Reunification services for an incarcerated parent are subject to the [12-month] time
             297      limitation imposed in Subsection (2).
             298          (d) Reunification services for an institutionalized parent are subject to the [12-month]
             299      time limitation imposed in Subsection (2), unless the court determines that continued
             300      reunification services would be in the minor's best interest.
             301          (7) If, pursuant to Subsections (3)(d)(i)(B) through (K), the court does not order
             302      reunification services, a permanency hearing shall be conducted within 30 days, in accordance
             303      with Section 78A-6-314 .
             304          Section 4. Section 78A-6-314 is amended to read:
             305           78A-6-314. Permanency hearing -- Final plan -- Petition for termination of
             306      parental rights filed -- Hearing on termination of parental rights.


             307          (1) (a) When reunification services have been ordered in accordance with Section
             308      78A-6-312 , with regard to a minor who is in the custody of the Division of Child and Family
             309      Services, a permanency hearing shall be held by the court no later than 12 months after the
             310      [original removal of] day on which the minor was initially removed from the minor's home.
             311          (b) If reunification services were not ordered at the dispositional hearing, a permanency
             312      hearing shall be held within 30 days [from the date of] after the day on which the dispositional
             313      hearing ends.
             314          (2) (a) If reunification services were ordered by the court in accordance with Section
             315      78A-6-312 , the court shall, at the permanency hearing, determine, consistent with Subsection
             316      (3), whether the minor may safely be returned to the custody of the minor's parent.
             317          (b) If the court finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that return of the minor to
             318      the minor's parent would create a substantial risk of detriment to the minor's physical or
             319      emotional well-being, the minor may not be returned to the custody of the minor's parent.
             320          (c) Prima facie evidence that return of the minor to a parent or guardian would create a
             321      substantial risk of detriment to the minor is established if the parent or guardian fails to:
             322          (i) participate in a court approved child and family plan;
             323          (ii) comply with a court approved child and family plan in whole or in part; or
             324          (iii) meet the goals of a court approved child and family plan.
             325          (3) In making a determination under Subsection (2)(a), the court shall review and
             326      consider:
             327          (a) the report prepared by the Division of Child and Family Services;
             328          (b) any admissible evidence offered by the minor's guardian ad litem;
             329          (c) any report submitted by the division under Subsection 78A-6-315 (3)(a)(i);
             330          (d) any evidence regarding the efforts or progress demonstrated by the parent; and
             331          (e) the extent to which the parent cooperated and [availed himself of] utilized the
             332      services provided.
             333          (4) [(a)] With regard to a case where reunification services were ordered by the court, if
             334      a minor is not returned to the minor's parent or guardian at the permanency hearing, the court
             335      shall, unless the time for the provision of reunification services is extended under Subsection
             336      (8):
             337          [(i)] (a) order termination of reunification services to the parent;


             338          [(ii)] (b) make a final determination regarding whether termination of parental rights,
             339      adoption, or permanent custody and guardianship is the most appropriate final plan for the
             340      minor, taking into account the minor's primary permanency goal established by the court
             341      pursuant to Section 78A-6-312 ; and
             342          [(iii)] (c) establish a concurrent plan that identifies the second most appropriate final
             343      plan for the minor.
             344          [(b)] (5) If the Division of Child and Family Services documents to the court that there
             345      is a compelling reason that adoption, reunification, guardianship, and a placement described in
             346      Subsection 78A-6-306 (6)(e) are not in the minor's best interest, the court may order another
             347      planned permanent living arrangement, in accordance with federal law.
             348          [(c)] (6) If the minor clearly desires contact with the parent, the court shall take the
             349      minor's desire into consideration in determining the final plan.
             350          [(d)] (7) [Consistent with Subsection (4)(e)] Except as provided in Subsection (8), the
             351      court may not extend reunification services beyond 12 months [from the date] after the day on
             352      which the minor was initially removed from the minor's home, in accordance with the
             353      provisions of Section 78A-6-312 [, except that the].
             354          (8) (a) Subject to Subsection (8)(b), the court may extend reunification services for no
             355      more than 90 days if the court finds, beyond a preponderance of the evidence, that:
             356          (i) there has been substantial compliance with the child and family plan;
             357          (ii) reunification is probable within that 90-day period; and
             358          (iii) the extension is in the best interest of the minor.
             359          [(e)] (b) (i) [In no event may] Except as provided in Subsection (8)(c), the court may
             360      not extend any reunification services [extend] beyond 15 months [from the date] after the day
             361      on which the minor was initially removed from the minor's home.
             362          (ii) Delay or failure of a parent to establish paternity or seek custody does not provide a
             363      basis for the court to extend services for that parent beyond [that] the 12-month period
             364      described in Subsection (7).
             365          (c) In accordance with Subsection (8)(d), the court may extend reunification services
             366      for one additional 90-day period, beyond the 90-day period described in Subsection (8)(a), if:
             367          (i) the court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that:
             368          (A) the parent has substantially complied with the child and family plan;


             369          (B) it is likely that reunification will occur within the additional 90-day period; and
             370          (C) the extension is in the best interest of the child;
             371          (ii) the court specifies the facts upon which the findings described in Subsection
             372      (8)(c)(i) are based; and
             373          (iii) the court specifies the time-period in which it is likely that reunification will occur.
             374          (d) A court may not extend the time-period for reunification services without
             375      complying with the requirements of this Subsection (8) before the extension.
             376          (e) In determining whether to extend reunification services for a minor, a court shall
             377      take into consideration the status of the minor siblings of the minor.
             378          [(f)] (9) The court may, in its discretion:
             379          [(i)] (a) enter any additional order that it determines to be in the best interest of the
             380      minor, so long as that order does not conflict with the requirements and provisions of
             381      Subsections (4)[(a)] through [(e)] (8); or
             382          [(ii)] (b) order the division to provide protective supervision or other services to a
             383      minor and the minor's family after the division's custody of a minor has been terminated.
             384          [(5)] (10) If the final plan for the minor is to proceed toward termination of parental
             385      rights, the petition for termination of parental rights shall be filed, and a pretrial held, within 45
             386      calendar days after the permanency hearing.
             387          [(6)] (11) (a) Any party to an action may, at any time, petition the court for an
             388      expedited permanency hearing on the basis that continuation of reunification efforts are
             389      inconsistent with the permanency needs of the minor.
             390          (b) If the court so determines, it shall order, in accordance with federal law, that:
             391          (i) the minor be placed in accordance with the permanency plan; and
             392          (ii) whatever steps are necessary to finalize the permanent placement of the minor be
             393      completed as quickly as possible.
             394          [(7)] (12) Nothing in this section may be construed to:
             395          (a) entitle any parent to reunification services for any specified period of time;
             396          (b) limit a court's ability to terminate reunification services at any time prior to a
             397      permanency hearing; or
             398          (c) limit or prohibit the filing of a petition for termination of parental rights by any
             399      party, or a hearing on termination of parental rights, at any time prior to a permanency hearing.


             400          [(8)] (13) (a) Subject to Subsection [(8)] (13)(b), if a petition for termination of
             401      parental rights is filed prior to the date scheduled for a permanency hearing, the court may
             402      consolidate the hearing on termination of parental rights with the permanency hearing.
             403          (b) For purposes of Subsection [(8)] (13)(a), if the court consolidates the hearing on
             404      termination of parental rights with the permanency hearing:
             405          (i) the court shall first make a finding regarding whether reasonable efforts have been
             406      made by the Division of Child and Family Services to finalize the permanency goal for the
             407      minor; and
             408          (ii) any reunification services shall be terminated in accordance with the time lines
             409      described in Section 78A-6-312 .
             410          (c) A decision on a petition for termination of parental rights shall be made within 18
             411      months from the day on which the minor is removed from the minor's home.
             412          [(9)] (14) If a court determines that a child will not be returned to a parent of the child,
             413      the court shall consider appropriate placement options inside and outside of the state.




Legislative Review Note
    as of 1-5-10 1:10 PM


Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel


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