Child Custody; Task Force; DHS
Establishes a task force to examine situations resulting in a child fatality or a serious injury due to drug use by a parent, guardian, or caregiver, and develop a plan to prevent such situations from occurring. Establishes a system for the Department of Human Services to allow children to continue to reside in pre-existing caregivers' safe homes rather than enter into foster care, subject to certain conditions.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TWENTY-FIFTH LEGISLATURE, 2009
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
RELATING TO CHILDREN.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. (a) The department of human services shall convene a task force to examine the factors in situations of alleged illegal substance use by a parent, guardian, or caregiver that have resulted in a child's death or serious injury. The task force shall develop a plan and recommendations that will prevent children from being injured or exposed to unreasonable risk of injury or neglect by parents, guardians, or caregivers who test positive for illegal substance use.
(b) The department of human services shall convene a task force chaired by the director of human services or the director's designee to include the following members:
(1) A representative from the department of health alcohol and drug abuse division to provide expertise regarding services, assessment, and treatment of substance abusing parents;
(2) A representative from the department of health adult mental health division to provide expertise regarding issues related to parents with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health issues, treatment modalities, and treatment effectiveness;
(3) A representative from the department of human services child protective services to provide expertise as responders to reports of abuse, assessment and prevention services, and monitoring;
(4) A representative from the Honolulu police department to provide expertise as first responders, and assess child safety and the need for protective custody;
(5) The chair of the senate committee on human services, or a designee;
(6) The chair of the senate committee on health, or a designee;
(7) The chair of the house of representatives committee on human services, or a designee;
(8) The chair of the house of representatives committee on health, or a designee;
(9) A representative from a community organization with expertise in substance abuse prevention and ongoing services;
(10) A physician with expertise in substance abuse, particularly methamphetamines, and a child protection team background; and
(11) A representative from a community organization with expertise on legal issues related to out-of-home care, advocacy on behalf of parents, and legal representation of children.
(c) The department shall submit a report of task force findings, any actions taken, and any recommendations and proposed legislation to the legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the regular session of 2010.
(d) The task force shall cease to exist on June 30, 2010.
SECTION 2. Section 587-2, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding two new definitions to be appropriately inserted and to read as follows:
""Caregiver" means an adult, other than a child's legal custodian, with whom the child has resided for a continuous period of six months or more, with the verbal or written consent of the child's legal custodian. The term "caregiver" shall not apply to situations involving voluntary placement of a child or a court order.
"Safe home" means a home, other than a child's family home, where the child has resided with the consent of the child's legal custodian, and where a caregiver has demonstrated an ongoing willingness and ability to provide a residence where the child is not subject to harm or threatened harm, as determined by the department. A safe home shall not apply to situations involving voluntary placement of a child or a court order."
SECTION 3. Section 587-21, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (b) to read as follows:
"(b) Upon satisfying itself as to the course of action that should be pursued to best accord with the purpose of this chapter, the department shall:
(1) Terminate the investigation if the child is residing with a caregiver in a safe home; provided that there is documentation of the following:
(A) The concerns, findings, and problems that initially warranted the department's involvement;
(B) The specific needs of parents, the specific services offered to address those needs, and whether the parents declined services;
(C) The parents' acknowledgment that they understand the risks of having their parental rights terminated;
(D) Whether the caregiver is eligible to be licensed as a foster parent by the department; provided that the department has the discretion to determine that, even if the caregiver's home is not in total accordance with relevant foster care licensing standards, the home is a safe home;
(E) The length of time the child can live with the caregiver and the agreed-upon conditions for the child's return, including any period for advance mandatory notice from the caregiver to the department if the caregiver seeks to permanently return the child to the child's legal custodian;
(F) Whether the caregiver and the child shall be entitled to the same benefits and services that are available to a foster parent and a foster child, including legal services, and whether the caregiver has been informed of these benefits and services, including information on obtaining an adoption or guardianship;
(G) Whether the parents and the caregiver agree that the caregiver can return the child to the parents only with prior notification from the department; and
(H) That the child's legal custodian agrees to place the child with the caregiver, or that the child's legal custodian cannot be located based on available information;
(2) If the department determines there is a need, a caregiver may be offered diversion or legal assistance services, to the extent that funding and services are available; provided that the department has determined that the caregiver is able to provide a safe home without the services offered;
(1)] (3) Resolve the matter in an
informal fashion appropriate under the circumstances[ ;], including referral
of the child and other family members to state or community resources that
provide the assistance needed to address the problems in the family home;
(2)] (4) Seek to enter into a service
plan, without filing a petition in court, with members of the child's family
and other authorized agency as the department deems necessary to the success of
the service plan, including the member or members of the child's family who
have legal custody of the child. The service plan may include an agreement
with the child's family to voluntarily place the child in the foster custody of
the department or other authorized agency[ ,]; provided that
placement preference shall be given to an appropriate relative identified by
the department, or to place the child and the necessary members of the child's
family under the family supervision of the department or other authorized
agency; provided further that if a service plan is not successfully completed
within six months, the department shall file a petition or ensure that a
petition is filed by another appropriate authorized agency in court under this
chapter and the case shall be reviewed as is required by federal law;
(3)] (5) Assume temporary foster
custody of the child pursuant to section 587-24(a) and file a petition with the
court under this chapter within three working days, excluding Saturdays,
Sundays, and holidays, after the date of the department's assumption of
temporary foster custody of the child; provided that placement preference shall
be given to an appropriate relative identified by the department; or
(4)] (6) File a petition or [ ensure
that a petition is filed by] refer the matter to another appropriate
authorized agency, which may file a petition for jurisdiction of the child
in court under this chapter."
SECTION 4. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.
SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2009.