HB1540 (2020) Detail

Extending the foster care children's bill of rights.


HB 1540 - AS INTRODUCED

 

 

2020 SESSION

20-2608

05/08

 

HOUSE BILL 1540

 

AN ACT extending the foster care children's bill of rights.

 

SPONSORS: Rep. Long, Hills. 10

 

COMMITTEE: Children and Family Law

 

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ANALYSIS

 

This bill extends the foster care children's bill of rights to any child who receives services through the division for children, youth and families (DCYF).

 

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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

20-2608

05/08

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twenty

 

AN ACT extending the foster care children's bill of rights.

 

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

 

1  Statement of Purpose.

I.  The rights and privileges enumerated in this act are intended to establish a mandatory standard of conduct for division of children, youth and families ("DCYF") staff and providers in the delivery of care and services to youth with a commitment to permanency, safety, and well-being.  The principles and requirements enumerated in the following provisions shall establish a foundation for all actions and decisions taken by DCYF staff and their contractors, agents, and other providers.

These rights and privileges, guaranteed to all youth who come into contact with the child protection system, are a reminder to all of those providing services and care that children are fully realized people deserving of interactions that honor their inherent dignity, right to respect, and right to personal agency to the extent that is reasonable, appropriate, and possible in a given situation.  DCYF and its providers should make all decisions, and execute decisions, that affect youth through the lens of trauma-informed care that understands, recognizes, and responds to the effects of all types of trauma affecting physical, psychological, and emotional safety.  The goal of DCYF and its providers should be to leave youth with the coping tools to heal from trauma, rather than inflicting more upon them in the course of their contact with the system.

II.  The following assumptions, beliefs, and goals form the foundation for this children's bill of rights:

(a)  Everyone deserves to be safe.

(b)  All children and youth need and deserve permanency and a life of wellbeing.

(c)  Everyone, regardless of age, deserves to be treated with courtesy and respect.

(d)  All children, youth, and families have strengths.

(e)  All children and youth belong with a family or other sources of caring and support.

2  Children's Bill of Rights.  RSA 170-G:20 and 170-G:21, and the subdivision heading preceding RSA 170-G:20 are repealed and reenacted to read as follows:

Children's Bill of Rights

170-G:20  Best Interest of the Child Standard.  The rights of children who are assessed by, receive services from, or are otherwise involved with, the department of health and human services, division for children, youth and families (DCYF) shall be interpreted and based on the best interests of the child standard as required under RSA 169-B, RSA 169-C, and RSA 169-D.  DCYF staff and their providers shall make careful and sensible decisions that maintain the health, safety, and best interests of a child while at the same time encouraging the emotional and developmental growth of the child.  The rights and privileges established in this section are to be applied in accordance with the best interests of the child standard, in a context appropriate to the age and developmental level of the child.

170-G:21  Children's Bill of Rights.  All children who are assessed by, receive services from, or are otherwise involved with DCYF and its designated providers shall have the rights enumerated in paragraphs I through XV.  These rights shall also inure to any child who is placed in a foster home or other out-of-home placement pursuant to a juvenile court proceeding under RSA 169-B, RSA 169-C, or RSA 169-D.  Such children shall have the right:

I.  To be supported in a healthy growth and developmental process from early childhood to adulthood and to be protected from all forms of abuse and neglect.

II.  To receive appropriate and team recommended assessments and treatments, including counseling, medical care, and dental treatment, within a reasonable period.  Such treatments and services shall be provided by appropriately qualified and licensed providers.  The child and/or guardian shall have the right to be informed of such provider's qualifications and credentials.  This shall include the right to choose an alternative qualified and licensed professional.

III.  To receive support from DCYF staff, and his or her foster family or residential provider in maintaining positive contact with significant people, such as relatives, friends, teachers, and community supports, including assistance with obtaining contact information, transportation, and reasonable visitation opportunities.

IV.  To develop a group of supportive adults, which may include DCYF staff, foster parents, residential staff, therapists, and other individuals with responsibility for case planning, and to maintain contact with bonded caretakers or providers where clinically indicated.

V.  To be treated with courtesy and respect by DCYF staff, foster parents, residential staff, and providers without regard to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, or disability and to participate in activities associated with his or her religious beliefs.

VI.  To participate in regular activities consistent with his or her age, cultural and ethnic background, and developmental level, such as opening a bank account, celebrating birthdays, participating in graduations, and obtaining an identity card, unless restricted by the child's treatment plan, case plan, or the availability of financial resources.

VII.  To receive notice of any meetings regarding the child's case and to have opportunities to resolve potential barriers to participation, such as a lack of transportation or conflict with the child's academic schedule.  This shall include the right to an interpreter.

VIII.  To receive timely information about decisions that affect the child's life and to be notified of changes that affect his or her case plan, treatment plan, permanency, safety, stability, or wellbeing, and to have his or her voice considered in these decisions.

IX.  To be informed of all assistance that DCYF offers children related to permanency planning, education, employment, housing, and wellbeing.  Such services shall be provided at no cost to the child or his or her caregiver.

X.  To receive assistance in acquiring life skills, education, training, and career guidance to accomplish personal goals, prepare for the future, and to become a self-sufficient adult.

XI.  To have an achievable transition plan for when the child leaves DCYF involvement that is created for the child with the help of his or her support group.

XII.  To attend and participate in court hearings to the extent permitted by the court and appropriate given the age and experience of the child.  This shall include the right to an interpreter.

XIII.  To utilize technology, such as social networking sites and cell phones, based on the child's level of maturity and responsibility and taking into account the environment in which the child is living, the support of his or her treatment team, the financial costs involved, and the child's ability to maintain privileges.

XIV.  To be informed in writing, at least every 6 months, of the process for contacting the child protective services worker's supervisor, or other DCYF staff, the guardian ad litem, and the office of the child advocate.

XV.  To be informed in writing, at least every 6 months, by DCYF of the rights set forth in this section and to receive assistance in obtaining and enforcing them.

170-G:22  Rulemaking.  The commissioner of the department of health and human services shall adopt rules under RSA 541-A, to ensure that the rights enumerated in RSA 170-G:21 shall be communicated to any child who is assessed by, receives services from, or is otherwise involved with DCYF and its designated providers.  These rules shall provide that such communication:

I.  Shall be made at least every 6 months.

II.  Shall be made by written notice to be signed and acknowledged by the DCYF representative, and the child or his or her representative.

III.  Shall include an explanation of the procedure to be followed in the event that the child or his or her representative has a concern or grievance.

IV.  Shall make it clear that the rights enumerated in RSA 170-G:21 are binding on all providers engaged by DCYF in connection with the child's case.

170-G:23  Definitions.  In this subdivision:

I.  "Provider" means any individual or organization that DCYF engages to provide services for youth with child protection system involvement, including but not limited to therapists, case managers, foster parents, guardians ad litem or court appointed special advocates, and parent aids.

II.  "Qualified and licensed providers" mean providers who are generally recognized in their field as having the expertise to perform a specific task or offer a specific service.  For those professions that require a license or certification to provide certain services, the license/certification held by the licensee/ certificate holder shall be current and in good standing.

III.  "Services" mean anything provided to a child or made available to them by DCYF or one of its providers.  This includes, but is not limited to, assessments, treatment, court intervention, voluntary services, and out-of-home placements.

3  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

Links

HB1540 at GenCourtMobile
HB1540 Discussion

Action Dates

Date Body Type
March 3, 2020 House Hearing
March 3, 2020 House Exec Session

Bill Text Revisions

HB1540 Revision: 7169 Date: Dec. 3, 2019, 11:03 a.m.

Docket

Date Status
Jan. 8, 2020 Introduced 01/08/2020 and referred to Children and Family Law HJ 1 P. 26
March 3, 2020 Public Hearing: 03/03/2020 01:00 pm LOB 206
March 3, 2020 Executive Session: 03/03/2020 03:00 pm LOB 206