Revision: July 5, 2018, 8:47 a.m.
SB 479 - FINAL VERSION
SENATE BILL 479
SPONSORS: Sen. Carson, Dist 14; Sen. Bradley, Dist 3; Sen. Avard, Dist 12; Sen. Hennessey, Dist 5; Rep. M. MacKay, Hills. 30; Rep. Berrien, Rock. 18; Rep. Guthrie, Rock. 13
COMMITTEE: Health and Human Services
I. Requires the office of the child advocate to submit its annual report to the oversight commission on children's services, clarifies the duties of the commission, and repeals the commission's reporting requirement.
II. Revises the complaint investigation procedures and confidentiality requirements of the office of the child advocate.
III. Makes the commission to review child abuse fatalities permanent and establishes an annual reporting requirement.
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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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.
05/10/2018 1952EBA 18-3007
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eighteen
Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:
363:1 Office of the Child Advocate. Amend RSA 170-G:18, V to read as follows:
V. Beginning November 1, 2017, and each November 1 thereafter, the director of the office of the child advocate shall submit an annual report of its activity[,] and findings[,] and present his or her recommendations to the oversight commission on children's services established pursuant to RSA 170-G:19. The report shall also be provided to the commissioner of the department of health and human services, the governor, the speaker of the house of representatives, the senate president, and the state library. The director shall make the annual report available to the public on a state Internet website.
363:2 Oversight Commission on Children's Services; Duties. Amend RSA 170-G:19, III(b) and (c) to read as follows:
(b) Provide oversight to the office of the child advocate in the office's efforts to support an effective, comprehensive, and coordinated system of services and programs for children, youth, and families.
(c) [Analyze] Review with the office of the child advocate the efficacy of selected programs and services of the department, including the characteristics of target populations, trends affecting program costs and participation, and alternative approaches to programmatic and administrative concerns.
363:3 Office of the Child Advocate; Complaint Investigation. RSA 170-G:18, III(i) is repealed and reenacted to read as follows:
(i) Upon its own initiative or upon receipt of a complaint, review and if deemed necessary, investigate actions of the division for children, youth and families, or any entity that provides services to children under contract with and at the direction of the division, and make appropriate referrals. Findings of all investigations and responses to all complaints received shall be summarized in the annual report of the office of the child advocate.
363:4 New Paragraph; Office of the Child Advocate; Confidentiality of Complaints; Limited Disclosure. Amend RSA 170-G:18 by inserting after paragraph III the following new paragraph:
III-a.(a) The office of the child advocate investigations and oversight activities and the information gathered in such investigations and oversight activities, including the identity of any complainant, shall be exempt from the public disclosure provisions of RSA 91-A.
(b) The director of the office of the child advocate may disclose confidential information about a child to any individual or entity that is responsible for, or provides services to, the child. Any disclosure of confidential information shall be the minimum necessary to ensure proper care and treatment for the child or to identify, prevent, or treat the abuse or neglect of a child.
(c) The director of the office of the child advocate shall have the same authority as the commissioner of the department of health and human services to publicly release information pursuant to RSA 126-A:5, XII in furtherance of the mission and responsibilities of the office.
(d) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, if the director of the office of the child advocate determines that the health, safety, and welfare of children are at risk, the director may publicly disclose the details of investigation findings, subject to the following limitations:
(1) Names, addresses, or other identifying information of individuals who are the subject of any confidential proceeding or statutory confidential provision shall not be released to the public.
(2) Investigation findings shall not be released if there is a pending law enforcement investigation or prosecution.
V. On or before November 1, 2018, and each November 1 thereafter, the commission shall submit an annual report of its findings and any recommendations for proposed legislation to the president of the senate, the speaker of the house of representatives, the senate clerk, the house clerk, the governor, and the state library.
I. RSA 170-G:19, V, relative to the reporting requirement of the commission on children's services.
II. 2015; 127:5, relative to the prospective repeal of the commission to review child abuse fatalities.
Approved: July 02, 2018
Effective Date: July 02, 2018