Bill Text - HB260 (2013)

(New Title) relative to voluntary services provided to children in need under RSA 169-D.

Revision: March 7, 2013, midnight


6Mar2013… 0447h





AN ACT relative to voluntary services provided to children in need under RSA 169-D.

SPONSORS: Rep. Lovejoy, Rock 36; Rep. Copeland, Rock 19

COMMITTEE: Children and Family Law


This bill expands the definition of a child in need of services under RSA 169-D and requires consideration of voluntary services before proceeding with a petition under RSA 169-D. The bill also requires the department of health and human services to collect certain data regarding petitions under RSA 169-D.

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

6Mar2013… 0447h




In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Thirteen

AN ACT relative to voluntary services provided to children in need under RSA 169-D.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1 Children in Need of Services; Applicability of Chapter. RSA 169-D:1, IV and V are repealed and reenacted to read as follows:

IV. To protect the integrity of the family by authorizing adjudication and the imposition of dispositional judgment requiring participation in a plan of services only after appropriate voluntary alternatives have been unsuccessful; and

V. When appropriate voluntary service options have been unsuccessful, to provide effective judicial procedures through which family service plans are executed and enforced, and which assure the parties fair hearings at which their constitutional and other rights as citizens are recognized and protected.

2 Definition of Child in Need of Services. RSA 169-D:2, II is repealed and reenacted to read as follows:

II. “Child in need of services” means a child under the age of 18 who is:

(a) Subject to compulsory school attendance, and who is habitually, willfully, and without good and sufficient cause, truant from school; or

(b) A child who habitually runs away from home or who repeatedly disregards the reasonable and lawful commands of his or her parents, guardian, or custodian and places himself or herself or others in unsafe circumstances; or

(c) Is diagnosed with a severe emotional, cognitive, or other mental health issue and engages in aggressive, fire-setting, or sexualized behaviors that pose a danger to the child or others; and

(d) Is expressly found to be in need of care, guidance, counseling, discipline, supervision, treatment, or rehabilitation.

3 New Paragraph; Definition Added. Amend RSA 169-D:2 by inserting after paragraph XIII the following new paragraph:

XIV. “Truant” means a child between the ages of 6 and 18 years who is either not attending school as required by law or who is not participating in an alternative learning plan under RSA 193:1. “Truancy” shall have the same meaning as in RSA 189:35-a.

4 Petition. Amend RSA 169-D:5, I to read as follows:

I. A petition alleging a child is in need of services may[, with the consent of the department,] be filed by a parent, legal guardian or custodian, school official, or law enforcement officer with a judge or clerk of the court in the judicial district in which the child is found or resides. The petition shall be in writing and verified under oath. The following notice shall be printed on the front of the petition in bold in no smaller than 14 point font size: “See back for important information and financial obligations.” The back of the petition shall include a notice of liability for parents and other individuals chargeable by law for the child’s support and necessities.

5 New Paragraph; Petition. Amend RSA 169-D:5 by inserting after paragraph II the following new paragraph:

II-a. Any petition filed shall include language demonstrating that appropriate voluntary services have been attempted, the nature of voluntary services attempted, and the reason court compulsion is necessary. If, upon review of the petition, the court is not satisfied that the petition includes sufficient information to find that appropriate voluntary services were attempted and unsuccessful, the court shall, prior to scheduling the child’s initial appearance, refer the petition to the department, which shall proceed pursuant to RSA 169-D:9.

6 New Section; Voluntary Services. Amend RSA 169-D by inserting after section 5-b the following new section:

169-D:5-c Voluntary Services. The department may offer the child and family, on a voluntary basis, any services permitted under RSA 169-D:17.

7 Issuance of Summons and Notice. RSA 169-D:6, I is repealed and reenacted to read as follows:

I.(a) After a legally sufficient petition has been filed, unless the case is referred to the department pursuant to RSA 169-D:5 or a consent order is entered and approved, the court shall schedule an initial appearance and issue a summons, including a copy of the petition, to be served personally upon the person having custody or control of the child or with whom the child may be, requiring that person to appear with the child on the specified date and time. Refusal of the child to participate in the development of a voluntary service plan may constitute sufficient information that voluntary service and support options have been unsuccessful.

(b) If personal service is not possible, service shall occur at the usual place of abode of the person having custody or control of the child or with whom the child may be, requiring that person to appear with the child at a specified place and time which time shall not be less than 24 hours after service. If the person so notified is not the parent or guardian of the child, then a parent or guardian shall be notified, provided they and their residence are known.

8 Diversion and Pre-adjudicatory Procedure. RSA 169-D:9 is repealed and reenacted to read as follows:

169-D:9 Pre-adjudicatory Procedure.

I. Except in emergencies, the department, its agent, or any person or agency it designates shall determine what voluntary service options are available to the child and family. To achieve this purpose, the department may designate a multi-disciplinary team to consider the facts and circumstances of the case, the needs of the child and family, and available diversion programs, services, and resources. This conference shall be attended by the child, if appropriate, his or her parents, legal guardians or custodians, and representatives of any public institution or agency having legal responsibility over the child, and may be attended by parties invited by the family and representatives of any public or private institutions or agencies having discretionary ability to coordinate and/or supply services to the child or family. If the child does not attend a multi-disciplinary conference, an appropriate individual shall be designated to solicit the child’s input and help the child understand available service options and supports.

II. If available, a multi-disciplinary conference may be held at any time before or after a petition is filed but shall be held before the child’s initial appearance pursuant to RSA 169-D:11.

III. At any time before or after a petition is filed, the child, his or her caretakers, and the department may effect an individualized voluntary family services plan, which shall include:

(a) Identification of the conduct of the child, caretaker, or any family member which is causing harm to the child.

(b) A description of the services that are needed for the child, the child’s caretakers, or other family members, the availability of such services within the community, and a plan for ensuring that any such services that are available will be secured and provided.

(c) The name of the person within the affected public service agency who is directly responsible for assuring that the voluntary family services plan is implemented.

(d) An estimate of the time anticipated to be necessary to accomplish the goals set out in the plan.

(e) Any other provisions deemed appropriate by the parties.

IV. A voluntary family services plan shall set forth in writing the terms and conditions agreed to by the child, the child’s caretaker, and all parties responsible for implementation of the voluntary services plan. A written copy of the plan shall be submitted to each party or person responsible for implementation of the plan.

V. A voluntary services plan may be amended by agreement of the parties at any time. If a petition has been filed, the amended plan shall be submitted to the court.

VI. If a petition has been filed, the voluntary family services plan shall be submitted to the court. A voluntary services plan shall stay the proceedings for a period not to exceed 90 days from the date of implementation, unless the parties agree, in writing, to an extension for additional periods not to exceed 90 days. If the parties determine services are necessary for longer than 180 days, the department shall submit a report to the court which outlines the progress that has been achieved during the duration of services and explains why continued services are necessary. Such reports shall be filed every 180 days until voluntary services are discontinued. If, upon reviewing the report, the court questions the need for continued services, it shall schedule a show cause hearing, at which the child, if appropriate, the child’s parent or caretaker, and the department shall appear.

VII. When the petitioning person or agency, the court, the department, or a member of the multi-disciplinary team suspects that a child has a disability, an administrator at the responsible school district shall be notified. If appropriate, the school district shall refer the child for evaluation to determine if the child is in need of special education and related services.

VIII. A voluntary family services plan shall not be considered an adjudicatory hearing pursuant to RSA 169-B or 169-D, or a criminal trial. Evidence of the existence of such agreement shall not be used against the child over objection in any juvenile adjudicatory hearing or criminal trial.

IX. Any incriminating statement made by the child during discussions or conferences incident to the voluntary family services plan shall not be used against the child, over objection, in adjudicatory hearing pursuant to RSA 169-B or 169-D, or a criminal trial. Any such statement may be reported as the basis for a referral to the department pursuant to RSA 169-C, if there is reasonable basis to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare is endangered by abuse or neglect.

X. A voluntary family services plan suspends the proceedings on the petition. If the child satisfies the terms of the voluntary family services plan, he or she shall be discharged from further services or supervision, and the pending complaint or petition shall be dismissed with prejudice.

9 Initial Appearance. Amend RSA 169-D:11, II(c) and (d) to read as follows:

(c) Establish any conditions for release; [and]

(d) Set a hearing date[.]; and

(e) Inquire of the juvenile and a parent or guardian of the juvenile if the juvenile has been:

(1) Determined to have an intellectual disability; or

(2) Determined to have a mental illness, emotional or behavioral disorder, or another disorder that may impede the child’s decision-making abilities; or

(3) Identified as eligible for special education services.

10 New Section; Data Collection. Amend RSA 169-D by inserting after section 30 the following new section:

169-D:31 Data Collection.

I. The department shall establish a system to collect data. The system shall collect information related to:

(a) The person or entity who referred the child for services and/or filed the petition.

(b) The racial and ethnic identity of the child.

(c) The insurance status and coverage of child served.

(d) The length of time a child receives services under this chapter, including the time prior and subsequent to the filing of a petition.

(e) The identity of any public or private organization to whom the department has referred a child or family.

(f) Any other information, including outcome data, that may assist the department and the court in evaluating the availability and effectiveness of services for children who receive assistance under this chapter.

II. The department shall, upon request, make available to members of the public, compilations of the data which do not contain identifying information.

11 Effective Date. This act shall take effect September 1, 2013.





AN ACT relative to voluntary services provided by the department of health and human services to children in need.


      The Department of Health and Human Services and the New Hampshire Municipal Association state this bill, as introduced, will increase state expenditures and revenue, and decrease local expenditures by an indeterminable amount in FY 2014 and in each year thereafter. There will be no fiscal impact on county or local revenue, or county expenditures.


    The Department of Health and Human Services states the bill would authorize the Department to provide voluntary services to children and families under the CHINS statute. It would also require the Department to adopt rules relative to these services. The Department states it is not clear who would qualify for the services or what services would be provided, but assumes the adoption of administrative rules would clarify these issues. The Department assumes the bill will result in an indeterminable increase in state expenditures and state revenue if federal funds are available to cover a portion of the increased costs. The Department assumes an effective date of July 1, 2013.

      The New Hampshire Municipal Association states this bill allows the Department of Health and Human Services to offer voluntary services to the family of a minor child without making a determination that the child is a child in need of services as defined in statute. The Association assumes the services would have the potential to reduce the burden on municipal services such as police and welfare, but the Association is not able to estimate the reduction in local expenditures as the services are voluntary and subject to available appropriations.