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  81R636 MCK-D
 
  By: Dutton H.B. No. 948
 
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
  relating to investigations and other procedures with respect to
  allegations of child abuse and neglect.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Section 261.103, Family Code, is amended by
  adding Subsection (d) to read as follows:
         (d)  The department or other entity receiving a report of
  abuse or neglect shall maintain an audio recording of each report
  made over the telephone.
         SECTION 2.  Section 261.302, Family Code, is amended by
  amending Subsections (a) and (f) and adding Subsections (e-1),
  (e-2), and (e-3) to read as follows:
         (a)  The investigation may include:
               (1)  a visit to the child's home, unless the alleged
  abuse or neglect can be confirmed or clearly ruled out without a
  home visit; and
               (2)  an interview with and examination of the subject
  child, any other child in the home, or the child's parents, which
  may include a medical, psychological, or psychiatric examination as
  authorized by Subsection (e-1).
         (e-1)  Except as provided by Subsection (e-2), an
  investigation that includes an examination of the subject child or
  any other child in the household may not include a medical,
  psychological, or psychiatric examination of the child unless:
               (1)  the child's parent, conservator, or legal guardian
  consents in writing to the examination; or
               (2)  the department obtains a court order for the
  medical, psychological, or psychiatric examination.
         (e-2)  If during the investigation a department investigator
  believes that a child needs emergency medical attention before a
  representative of a law enforcement agency is able to arrive, the
  investigator may obtain medical assistance for the child from
  emergency medical services personnel, as defined by Section
  773.003, Health and Safety Code.
         (e-3)  This section does not limit the authority of a law
  enforcement agency to perform its duties under any other law.
         (f)  A person commits an offense if the person is notified of
  the time of the transport of a child by the department and the
  location from which the transport is initiated and the person is
  present at the location when the transport is initiated and
  attempts to interfere with the department's investigation. An
  offense under this subsection is a Class B misdemeanor. It is an
  exception to the application of this subsection that the department
  requested the person to be present at the site of the transport.  
  This subsection only applies when the department has taken custody
  of a child under Section 262.104, an ongoing court-ordered
  investigation is being conducted, or the child's parent,
  conservator, or legal guardian has consented to the transport.
         SECTION 3.  Section 261.3021, Family Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         Sec. 261.3021.  CASEWORK DOCUMENTATION AND MANAGEMENT. (a)
  Subject to the appropriation of money for these purposes, the
  department shall:
               (1)  identify critical investigation actions that
  impact child safety and require department caseworkers to document
  those actions in a child's case file not later than the day after
  the action occurs;
               (2)  identify and develop a comprehensive set of
  casework quality indicators that must be reported in real time to
  support timely management oversight;
               (3)  provide department supervisors with access to
  casework quality indicators and train department supervisors on the
  use of that information in the daily supervision of caseworkers;
               (4)  develop a case tracking system that notifies
  department supervisors and management when a case is not
  progressing in a timely manner;
               (5)  use current data reporting systems to provide
  department supervisors and management with easier access to
  information; and
               (6)  train department supervisors and management on the
  use of data to monitor cases and make decisions.
         (b)  The department shall record and maintain all interviews
  and documents pertaining to an investigation, including original
  notes.
         SECTION 4.  Section 261.307(a), Family Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         (a)  As soon as possible after initiating an investigation of
  a parent or other person having legal custody of a child, the
  department shall provide to the person:
               (1)  a summary that:
                     (A)  is brief and easily understood;
                     (B)  is written in a language that the person
  understands, or if the person is illiterate, is read to the person
  in a language that the person understands; and
                     (C)  contains the following information:
                           (i)  the department's procedures for
  conducting an investigation of alleged child abuse or neglect,
  including:
                                 (a)  a description of the
  circumstances under which the department would request to remove
  the child from the home through the judicial system; and
                                 (b)  an explanation that the law
  requires the department to refer all reports of alleged child abuse
  or neglect to a law enforcement agency for a separate determination
  of whether a criminal violation occurred;
                           (ii)  the person's right to file a complaint
  with the department or to request a review of the findings made by
  the department in the investigation;
                           (iii)  the person's right to review all
  records of the investigation unless the review would jeopardize an
  ongoing criminal investigation or the child's safety;
                           (iv)  the person's right to seek legal
  counsel;
                           (v)  references to the statutory and
  regulatory provisions governing child abuse and neglect and how the
  person may obtain copies of those provisions; and
                           (vi)  the process the person may use to
  acquire access to the child if the child is removed from the home;
               (2)  if the department determines that removal of the
  child may be warranted, a proposed child placement resources form
  that:
                     (A)  instructs the parent or other person having
  legal custody of the child to:
                           (i)  complete and return the form to the
  department or agency; and
                           (ii)  identify in the form three individuals
  who reside in the state within 100 miles from the child's primary
  residence who could serve as [be] relative caregivers or designated
  caregivers, as those terms are defined by Section 264.751, before a
  suit affecting the parent-child relationship is filed and until the
  suit is dismissed; and
                     (B)  informs the parent or other person of a
  location that is available to the parent or other person to submit
  the information in the form 24 hours a day either in person or by
  facsimile machine or e-mail; and
               (3)  an informational manual required by Section
  261.3071.
         SECTION 5.  Section 261.309, Family Code, is amended by
  amending Subsection (d) and adding Subsections (b-1), (c-1), (c-2),
  and (e-1) to read as follows:
         (b-1)  The immediate supervisor shall submit a written
  report at the conclusion of the informal review under Subsection
  (b). The report must summarize the person's case or complaint and
  contain the supervisor's findings relating to the person's case or
  complaint. The department shall make the written report available
  to the person under investigation.
         (c-1)  At the administrative review under Subsection (c),
  the person conducting the review for the department shall allow the
  person challenging the findings to question the investigative
  workers and immediate supervisors who developed the department's
  findings. The department may postpone the administrative review for
  not more than 30 days to ensure attendance of necessary
  investigative workers and immediate supervisors.
         (c-2)  The department shall make an audio recording of the
  administrative review and preserve the recording until the first
  anniversary of the date the administrative review concludes. The
  department shall make the audio recording available to any party
  involved in the review not later than the 10th day after the date
  the person requests access to the recording.
         (d)  Unless a civil or criminal court proceeding or an
  ongoing criminal investigation relating to the alleged abuse or
  neglect investigated by the department is pending, the department
  employee shall conduct the review prescribed by Subsection (c) as
  soon as possible but not later than the 45th day after the date the
  department receives the request. If a civil court proceeding
  initiated by the department, a [or] criminal court proceeding, or
  an ongoing criminal investigation is pending, the department may
  postpone the review until the court proceeding is completed. The
  department shall conduct the review not later than the 45th day
  after the date the court proceeding or investigation is completed.
         (e-1)  A person under investigation for allegedly abusing or
  neglecting the person's child is not subject to, and cannot be
  required to submit to, the jurisdiction of the State Office of
  Administrative Hearings in any proceeding in connection to the
  alleged abuse or neglect.
         SECTION 6.  Section 261.310(d), Family Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         (d)  The standards shall:
               (1)  recommend that videotaped and audiotaped
  interviews be uninterrupted;
               (2)  recommend a maximum number of interviews with and
  examinations of a suspected victim;
               (3)  provide procedures to preserve evidence,
  including the original audio recordings of the intake telephone
  calls, original notes, videotapes, and other audiotapes, for one
  year from the later of the date the evidence is created or the date
  of a final judgment in a case for which the evidence is created; and
               (4)  provide that an investigator of suspected child
  abuse or neglect make a reasonable effort to locate and inform each
  parent of a child of any report of abuse or neglect relating to the
  child.
         SECTION 7.  Sections 262.112(a) and (b), Family Code, are
  amended to read as follows:
         (a)  The Department of Family and Protective [and
  Regulatory] Services and the parent, conservator, or legal guardian
  of a child are [is] entitled to an expedited hearing under this
  chapter in any proceeding in which a hearing is required if the
  department determines that a child should be removed from the
  child's home because of an immediate danger to the physical health
  or safety of the child.
         (b)  In any proceeding in which an expedited hearing is held
  under Subsection (a), the department, parent, conservator,
  guardian, or other party to the proceeding is entitled to an
  expedited appeal on a ruling by a court that the child may or may not
  be removed from the child's home.
         SECTION 8.  Section 262.114, Family Code, is amended to read
  as follows:
         Sec. 262.114.  EVALUATION OF IDENTIFIED RELATIVES AND OTHER
  DESIGNATED INDIVIDUALS; PLACEMENT.  (a) If a governmental entity
  determines, after completing an investigation, that a child should
  be removed from the child's home and placed in the custody of the
  Department of Family and Protective Services, the department shall,
  on receiving the child placement resources form as provided under
  Section 261.307, [Before a full adversary hearing under Subchapter
  C, the Department of Family and Protective Services must]
  immediately perform a background and criminal history check of:
               (1)  the relatives or other designated individuals
  identified as a potential relative or designated caregiver, as
  defined by Section 264.751; and
               (2)  each person over 18 years of age who resides in the
  designated person's household [, on the proposed child placement
  resources form provided under Section 261.307].
         (a-1)  The department shall evaluate each person listed on
  the form by the standards outlined in Section 262.115 to determine
  the relative or other designated individual who would be the most
  appropriate substitute caregiver for the child [and must complete a
  home study of the most appropriate substitute caregiver, if any,
  before the full adversary hearing].
         (a-2)  The right of the parent, conservator, or legal
  guardian of the child to designate the person with whom the child is
  placed continues until the date the suit affecting the parent-child
  relationship is dismissed. The parent, conservator, or legal
  guardian may change the person designated on the child placement
  resources form as a relative or designated caregiver. The
  department shall place the child with the person subsequently
  designated as a relative or designated caregiver, if the child is
  removed from the care of a person who was previously designated.
         (a-3)  If the parent, conservator, or legal guardian fails to
  designate [Until the department identifies] a relative or other
  designated individual qualified to be a substitute caregiver, the
  department must continue to explore substitute caregiver options.
  The time frames in this subsection do not apply to a relative or
  other designated individual located more than 100 miles from the
  child's primary residence [in another state].
         (b)  [The department may place a child with a relative or
  other designated individual identified on the proposed child
  placement resources form if the department determines that the
  placement is in the best interest of the child.] The department may
  place the child with the relative or designated individual before
  conducting the background and criminal history check or home study
  required under Subsection (a). The department shall provide a copy
  of an informational manual required under Section 261.3071 to the
  relative or other designated caregiver at the time of the child's
  placement.
         (c)  The department shall provide the mother of a child who
  is breast-feeding with scheduled visitation periods at appropriate
  intervals to allow the mother to continue breast-feeding the child,
  unless the court finds after a hearing that the mother is not fit
  for these visitation periods.
         (d)  At each hearing conducted in a suit affecting the
  parent-child relationship filed under this chapter, the court shall
  inform the child's parent, conservator, or legal guardian orally
  and in writing of that person's right to designate a relative or
  designated caregiver with whom the child is placed.
         SECTION 9.  Subchapter B, Chapter 262, Family Code, is
  amended by adding Section 262.115 to read as follows:
         Sec. 262.115.  LIMITATION ON PLACEMENT WITH DESIGNATED
  PERSON. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (c), the department
  may not place a child with a person designated by the child's
  parent, conservator, or legal guardian under Section 262.114 if the
  department determines that:
               (1)  the placement would expose the child to immediate
  danger to the child's physical health or safety; or
               (2)  the designated person or another person in the
  designated person's household:
                     (A)  is listed in the department's statewide
  central registry system with a finding that the department
  confirmed, had reason to believe, or could not determine that the
  person abused or neglected a child;
                     (B)  is the subject of a report of child abuse or
  neglect being investigated by the department;
                     (C)  has been found to have committed family
  violence and is or has been the subject of a protective order
  rendered under Title 4;
                     (D)  has been convicted of a felony, is under
  indictment for or charged with an offense punishable as a felony, or
  is under investigation by a state or federal law enforcement agency
  for an offense punishable as a felony; or
                     (E)  has previously voluntarily relinquished
  parental rights as the result of an allegation of child abuse or
  neglect.
         (b)  A law enforcement agency in this state, on request by
  the department, shall assist in conducting a criminal background
  check on a designated person or any other person in the designated
  person's household.
         (c)  The department may place a child with a person described
  by Subsection (a) if the department determines that placement of
  the child with the designated person will not endanger the child.
         (d)  If the department determines that the designated person
  under Section 262.114 is not an appropriate placement for the
  child, the department shall immediately provide the parent,
  conservator, or legal guardian with written notice stating the
  specific facts leading to the department's objections to the
  placement. The parent, conservator, or legal guardian may
  challenge the department's placement decision by filing a motion
  for a hearing before the court. The court shall render an order
  regarding placement of the child after hearing testimony from the
  parties. The court may approve the placement of the child with the
  designated person and order any modification the court determines
  necessary to address the department's written objections.
         SECTION 10.  Sections 263.103(a) and (d), Family Code, are
  amended to read as follows:
         (a)  Before the service plan is signed, the child's parents
  and the representative of the department or other agency shall
  discuss each term and condition of the plan. The representative
  shall inform the parents that the service plan is voluntary and can
  only be made mandatory by the department if a suit affecting the
  parent-child relationship has been filed and the department has
  obtained court authorization.
         (d)  The plan takes effect when[:
               [(1)]  the child's parents and the appropriate
  representative of the department or other authorized agency sign
  the plan. If the child's parents refuse to sign the plan, a motion
  may be filed by any party for a hearing at which the court shall
  either accept the plan or modify the plan based on the testimony of
  the parties[; or
               [(2)     the department or other authorized agency files
  the plan without the parents' signatures].
         SECTION 11.  Section 264.751(1), Family Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
               (1)  "Designated caregiver" means an individual
  qualified under Section 262.114 [who has a longstanding and
  significant relationship with a child for whom the department has
  been appointed managing conservator and] who:
                     (A)  is appointed to provide substitute care for
  the child, but is not licensed or certified to operate a foster
  home, foster group home, agency foster home, or agency foster group
  home under Chapter 42, Human Resources Code; or
                     (B)  is subsequently appointed permanent managing
  conservator of the child after providing the care described by
  Paragraph (A).
         SECTION 12.  Section 264.753, Family Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         Sec. 264.753.  EXPEDITED PLACEMENT.  Because there is a
  rebuttable presumption that placing a child in the care of a person
  designated by the child's parent, conservator, or legal guardian is
  in the child's best interest, the [The] department or other
  authorized entity shall expedite the completion of the background
  and criminal history check according to Section 262.114[, the home
  study,] and any other administrative procedure to ensure that the
  child is placed with a qualified relative or caregiver as soon as
  possible after the date the caregiver is identified.
         SECTION 13.  Section 264.754, Family Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         Sec. 264.754.  INVESTIGATION OF [PROPOSED] PLACEMENT OF
  CHILD WITH DESIGNATED CAREGIVER.  After [Before] placing a child
  with a proposed relative or other designated caregiver under the
  standards of Sections 262.114 and 262.115, the department may
  [must] conduct a comprehensive [an] investigation, including a home
  study, to determine whether the designated [proposed] placement
  meets the minimum standards for the health and safety of the child.
  There is a rebuttable presumption that a placement with a
  designated caregiver is in the child's best interest.
         SECTION 14.  Section 261.302(c), Family Code, is repealed.
         SECTION 15.  The changes in law made by this Act apply only
  to an investigation of a report of child abuse or neglect that is
  made, or a suit affecting the parent-child relationship that is
  commenced, on or after the effective date of this Act. A report
  that is made or a suit that is commenced before the effective date
  of this Act is governed by the law in effect on the date the report
  was made or the suit was commenced, and the former law is continued
  in effect for that purpose.
         SECTION 16.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2009.