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H.B. 241





Chief Sponsor: Christine F. Watkins

Senate Sponsor: Luz Robles

             7      LONG TITLE
             8      General Description:
             9          This bill amends Title 62A, Chapter 4a, Child and Family Services by amending the
             10      procedure for taking a foster child away from a foster parent who is that child's relative.
             11      Highlighted Provisions:
             12          This bill:
             13          .    prohibits the Division of Child and Family services from removing a foster child
             14      from a foster parent who is the child's relative without clear and convincing
             15      evidence that the relative is incapable of caring for the child; and
             16          .    makes technical changes.
             17      Money Appropriated in this Bill:
             18          None
             19      Other Special Clauses:
             20          None
             21      Utah Code Sections Affected:
             22      AMENDS:
             23          62A-4a-206, as last amended by Laws of Utah 2010, Chapter 56
             25      Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
             26          Section 1. Section 62A-4a-206 is amended to read:
             27           62A-4a-206. Process for removal of a child from foster family -- Procedural due

             28      process.
             29          (1) (a) The Legislature finds that, except with regard to a child's natural parent or legal
             30      guardian, a foster family has a very limited but recognized interest in its familial relationship
             31      with a foster child who has been in the care and custody of that family. In making
             32      determinations regarding removal of a child from a foster home, the division may not dismiss
             33      the foster family as a mere collection of unrelated individuals.
             34          (b) The Legislature finds that children in the temporary custody and custody of the
             35      division are experiencing multiple changes in foster care placements with little or no
             36      documentation, and that numerous studies of child growth and development emphasize the
             37      importance of stability in foster care living arrangements.
             38          (c) For the reasons described in Subsections (1)(a) and (b), the division shall provide
             39      procedural due process for a foster family prior to removal of a foster child from their home,
             40      regardless of the length of time the child has been in that home, unless removal is for the
             41      purpose of:
             42          (i) returning the child to the child's natural parent or legal guardian;
             43          (ii) immediately placing the child in an approved adoptive home;
             44          (iii) placing the child with a relative, as defined in Subsection 78A-6-307 (1)(b), who
             45      obtained custody or asserted an interest in the child within the preference period described in
             46      Subsection 78A-6-307 (18)(a); or
             47          (iv) placing an Indian child in accordance with preplacement preferences and other
             48      requirements described in the Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 U.S.C. Sec. 1915.
             49          (2) (a) The division shall maintain and utilize due process procedures for removal of a
             50      foster child from a foster home, in accordance with the procedures and requirements of Title
             51      63G, Chapter 4, Administrative Procedures Act.
             52          (b) Those procedures shall include requirements for:
             53          (i) personal communication with, and a written explanation of the reasons for the
             54      removal to, the foster parents prior to removal of the child; and
             55          (ii) an opportunity for foster parents to present their information and concerns to the
             56      division and to:
             57          (A) request a review, to be held before removal of the child, by a third party neutral
             58      fact finder; or

             59          (B) if the child has been placed with the foster parents for a period of at least two years,
             60      request a review, to be held before removal of the child, by:
             61          (I) the juvenile court judge currently assigned to the child's case; or
             62          (II) if the juvenile court judge currently assigned to the child's case is not available,
             63      another juvenile court judge.
             64          (c) If the division determines that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the child is
             65      in danger or that there is a substantial threat of danger to the health or welfare of the child, it
             66      shall place the child in emergency foster care during the pendency of the procedures described
             67      in this subsection, instead of making another foster care placement.
             68          (3) If the division removes a child from a foster home based upon the child's statement
             69      alone, the division shall initiate and expedite the processes described in Subsection (2). The
             70      division may take no formal action with regard to that foster parent's license until after those
             71      processes, in addition to any other procedure or hearing required by law, have been completed.
             72          (4) When a complaint is made to the division by a foster child against a foster parent,
             73      the division shall, within 30 business days, provide the foster parent with information regarding
             74      the specific nature of the complaint, the time and place of the alleged incident, and who was
             75      alleged to have been involved.
             76          (5) Whenever the division places a child in a foster home, it shall provide the foster
             77      parents with:
             78          (a) notification of the requirements of this section;
             79          (b) a written description of the procedures enacted by the division pursuant to
             80      Subsection (2) and how to access those processes; and
             81          (c) written notification of the foster parents' ability to petition the juvenile court
             82      directly for review of a decision to remove a foster child who has been in their custody for 12
             83      months or longer, in accordance with the limitations and requirements of Section 78A-6-318 .
             84          (6) The requirements of this section do not apply to the removal of a child based on a
             85      foster parent's request for that removal.
             86          (7) It is unlawful for a person, with the intent to avoid compliance with the
             87      requirements of this section, to:
             88          (a) take action, or encourage another to take action, against the license of a foster
             89      parent; or

             90          (b) remove a child from a foster home before the child has been placed with the foster
             91      parents for two years.
             92          (8) The division may not remove a foster child from a foster parent who is a relative, as
             93      defined in Subsection 78A-6-307 (1)(b), of the child on the basis of the age or health of the
             94      foster parent without clear and convincing evidence that the foster parent is incapable of caring
             95      for the foster child.

Legislative Review Note
    as of 11-22-11 3:38 PM

Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel

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