S1648 SHH Statement 61004 by uue15995



                        STATEMENT TO

                      SENATE, No. 1648

                       with committee amendments

                        DATED: JUNE, 10, 2004

       The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens
   Committee reports favorably and with committee amendments Senate
   Bill No. 1648.
       As amended by committee, the purpose of this bill is to better
   protect abused and neglected children, and children at risk of abuse or
   neglect, throughout New Jersey, and more generally to improve the
   quality of services provided by the State to children and families in the
   child welfare system.
       The bill restructures child protection services within the
   Department of Human Services, establishes the Office of Children's
   Services (OCS) in the department, and provides for a third deputy
   commissioner within the department to assume responsibility for the
   operation of OCS. The new deputy commissioner will oversee the
   Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) and two new divisions
   created under the bill.
       -- The bill establishes OCS in order to oversee such entities within
   the department as are designated by the Commissioner of Human
   Services, including, but not limited to, DYFS, the Division of Child
   Behavioral Health Services and the Division of Prevention and
   Community Partnerships. The Division of Child Behavioral Health
   Services and the Division of Prevention and Community Partnerships
   are created under the bill and will, along with DYFS, operate under
   the umbrella of OCS.
       -- The bill provides that different entities within the State child
   welfare system may provide similar categories of services but for
   different reasons; for example, DYFS and the new Division of Child
   Behavioral Health Services will both provide out-of-home placements,
   but the primary reason for the former will be protection of the child
   and for the latter will be treatment of the child.
       -- The bill transfers responsibility for the following activities from
   DYFS to the Department of Human Services:
       * the conduct of criminal history record background checks on

resource family parents (defined below), child care center employees
and family day care providers;
    * the licensure of resource family homes (defined below) and child
care centers and registration of family day care providers; and
    * the investigation of institutional abuse or neglect of children and
imposition of appropriate sanctions on an institution for failure to take
required remedial action.
    -- The bill establishes the New Jersey Child Welfare Training
Academy in the department for the purpose of providing a training
program to meet the needs of the child welfare system Statewide. The
training program is to provide:
    * pre-service and in-service training for public employees of the
child welfare system;
    * training opportunities for community-based entities and other
child welfare system stakeholders as designated by the commissioner;
    * pre-service and in-service training for resource families.
    -- The academy will be responsible for developing and managing
the training activities provided under this program, for which purpose
it will:
    * administer, coordinate and evaluate all training activities under
the program;
    * seek to partner with social work and other professionals to
ensure that the training provided under the program reflects best
    * develop training curricula, resources and products;
    * schedule and provide notice of training events and provide
training materials for those events;
    * employ and compensate training event instructors as necessary;
    * create mechanisms and processes to assess, identify and monitor
training needs for public employees of the child welfare system,
including competency-based training;
    * create mechanisms and processes to evaluate the effectiveness
of the training provided under the program;
    * provide for the development of multimedia training tools to
inform, educate and train public agency staff, resource families and
others in the child welfare system;
    * determine the minimum number of pre-service and in-service
training hours required of, and ensure the availability of sufficient
training opportunities for, public agency staff Statewide; and
    * conduct any other activities necessary to develop, implement
and manage the training program.
    -- The training provided to resource families under the bill is to
include courses in the role of caregivers as part of the care and
treatment of children requiring out-of-home placement, and a resource
family parent will be required to complete the number of hours of pre-
service and in-service training prescribed under the training program
as a condition of licensure under the "Resource Family Parent

Licensing Act" (N.J.S.A.30:4C-27.3 et seq.), formerly the "Foster
Parent Licensing Act."
    -- The bill directs the department, through OCS or as otherwise
designated by the Commissioner of Human Services, to provide
services to individuals who are between 18 and 21 years of age and
meet the following conditions:
    * The individual was receiving services from OCS, or otherwise
from the department as designated by the commissioner, on or after
the individual's 16th birthday;
    * The individual, on or after the individual's 18th birthday, has
not requested that these services be terminated; and
    * OCS or another entity designated by the commissioner
determines that a continuation of services is in the individual's best
interest and would assist the individual to become an independent and
productive adult.
    -- The bill requires that a representative of DYFS, or such other
entity in the Department of Human Services as may be designated by
the commissioner to investigate child abuse or neglect, initiate an
investigation of a report of child abuse or neglect made pursuant to
N.J.S.A.9:6-8.10 within 24 hours of receipt of the report, unless
DYFS or the other entity authorizes a delay based upon the request of
a law enforcement official.
    -- The bill requires DYFS to maintain a centralized emergency
telephone hotline for the receipt of calls involving a report, complaint
or allegation of child abuse or neglect.
    -- The bill renames the central registry operated by DYFS as the
child abuse registry and designates it as the repository of all
information regarding child abuse or neglect that is accessible to the
public pursuant to State and federal law.
    -- The bill expands the list of persons or entities to whom the
Department of Human Services is authorized to release records of
child abuse reports to include members of a family team or other case
planning group formed by DYFS and established in accordance with
regulations adopted by the commissioner for the purpose of addressing
the child's safety, permanency or well-being, when the provision of
such information is in the best interests of the child as determined by
    -- The bill adopts the following terms:
    * "resource family parent" to mean any person with whom a child
in the care, custody or guardianship of DYFS is placed for temporary
or long-term care and includes any person with whom a child is placed
by DYFS for the purpose of adoption; and
    * "resource family home" to mean a private residence, other than
a children's group home or shelter home, in which board, lodging, care
and temporary out-of-home placement services are provided by a
resource family parent on a 24-hour basis to a child under the auspices
of DYFS or any public or private agency authorized to place children
in New Jersey.

    -- The bill makes placement by informed consent an option, rather
than mandating that informed consent for an out-of-home placement
be sought prior to seeking a court order for placement. This change
anticipates the future elimination of voluntary out-of-home placements
as envisioned in the comprehensive child welfare reform plan issued by
the Department of Human Services.
    -- The bill provides for the gradual elimination of long-term foster
care with custody as a permanency option for children, in the belief
that other permanency options (such as adoption or kinship legal
guardianship) are preferable alternatives for children who cannot live
with their birth families; and, to that end, the bill repeals
N.J.S.A.30:4C-26.10 through 26.19 (the "Long-Term Foster Care
Custody Act") effective September 1, 2005.
    -- The bill amends N.J.S.A.30:4C-27.16 to stipulate that staff
members of State-operated children's psychiatric facilities providing
inpatient treatment shall be required to undergo criminal history record
and child abuse information background checks.
    -- Finally, the bill also repeals the following provisions of statutory
law, which are obviated by the bill:
    * N.J.S.A.30:4C-5 (concerning authorization of the Bureau of
Childrens Services to accept the care or custody of, or provide welfare
services for, any child); and
    * N.J.S.A.30:4C-27.13 (concerning the provision of care by a
certified foster parent until DYFS conducts an on-site inspection and
reevaluation of the foster parent's home for the purpose of licensure).
    The committee amendments:
    --replace references to "Division of Prevention and Community
Development" with "Division of Prevention and Community
Partnerships;" and
    --amend N.J.S.A.30:4C-27.16 to stipulate that staff members of
State-operated children's psychiatric facilities providing inpatient
treatment shall be required to undergo criminal history record
background and child abuse record information checks.
    As amended, this bill is identical to Assembly Bill No. 2985 (1R)
(Previte), which is pending before the General Assembly.

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