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  86R4369 LHC-D
 
  By: Guillen H.B. No. 3648
 
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
  relating to the powers and duties of the office of independent
  ombudsman for the Texas Juvenile Justice Department.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Section 261.001, Human Resources Code, is
  amended by amending Subdivision (1) and adding Subdivisions (1-a)
  and (1-b) to read as follows:
               (1)  "Child" means an individual who is:
                     (A)  10 years of age or older and younger than 19
  years of age; and
                     (B)  placed in or committed to a facility by an
  order issued by a juvenile court.
               (1-a) "Facility" means a post-adjudication secure or
  nonsecure correctional or detention facility or a
  post-adjudication residential facility that serves children and
  that is operated by:
                     (A)  the department, a juvenile board, a juvenile
  probation department, or other governmental entity; or
                     (B)  a private entity under a contract with a
  governmental entity.
               (1-b)  "Independent ombudsman" means the individual
  who has been appointed under this chapter to the office of
  independent ombudsman.
         SECTION 2.  Section 261.002, Human Resources Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
         Sec. 261.002.  ESTABLISHMENT; PURPOSE.  The office of
  independent ombudsman is a state agency established for the purpose
  of investigating, evaluating, and securing the rights of the
  children placed in or committed to a facility [the department],
  including a child released under supervision before final
  discharge.
         SECTION 3.  Section 261.055(b), Human Resources Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
         (b)  The independent ombudsman shall immediately report to
  the board, the governor, the lieutenant governor, the speaker of
  the house of representatives, the state auditor, and the office of
  the inspector general of the department any particularly serious or
  flagrant:
               (1)  case of abuse or injury of a child placed in or 
  committed to a facility [the department];
               (2)  problem concerning the administration of a
  facility [department] program or operation;
               (3)  problem concerning the delivery of services in a
  facility [operated by or under contract with the department]; or
               (4)  interference by an operator of a facility [the
  department] with an investigation conducted by the office.
         SECTION 4.  Section 261.056(a), Human Resources Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
         (a)  The operator of a facility [department] shall allow any
  child placed in or committed to the facility [the department] to
  communicate with the independent ombudsman or an assistant to the
  ombudsman.  The communication:
               (1)  may be in person, by mail, or by any other means;
  and
               (2)  is confidential and privileged.
         SECTION 5.  Section 261.057, Human Resources Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
         Sec. 261.057.  PROMOTION OF AWARENESS OF OFFICE. The
  independent ombudsman shall promote awareness among the public and
  the children placed in or committed to a facility [the department]
  of:
               (1)  how the office may be contacted;
               (2)  the purpose of the office; and
               (3)  the services the office provides.
         SECTION 6.  Section 261.058(b), Human Resources Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
         (b)  The office and the board shall adopt rules necessary to
  implement Section 261.060, including rules that establish
  procedures for an operator of a facility [the department] to review
  and comment on reports of the office and for the operator 
  [department] to expedite or eliminate review of and comment on a
  report due to an emergency or a serious or flagrant circumstance
  described by Section 261.055(b).
         SECTION 7.  Section 261.060(a), Human Resources Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
         (a)  The office shall accept, both before and after
  publication, comments from the board or the operator of a facility,
  as applicable, concerning the following types of reports published
  by the office under this chapter:
               (1)  the office's quarterly report under Section
  261.055(a);
               (2)  reports concerning serious or flagrant
  circumstances under Section 261.055(b); and
               (3)  any other formal reports containing findings and
  making recommendations concerning systemic issues that affect an
  operator of a facility [the department].
         SECTION 8.  Section 261.101(a), Human Resources Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
         (a)  The independent ombudsman shall:
               (1)  review the procedures established by the board and
  evaluate the delivery of services to children to ensure that the
  rights of children are fully observed;
               (2)  review complaints filed with the independent
  ombudsman concerning the actions of an operator of a facility [the
  department] and investigate each complaint in which it appears that
  a child may be in need of assistance from the independent ombudsman;
               (3)  conduct investigations of complaints, other than
  complaints alleging criminal behavior, if the office determines
  that:
                     (A)  a child placed in or committed to a facility
  [the department] or the child's family may be in need of assistance
  from the office; or
                     (B)  a systemic issue in the [department's]
  provision of services by an operator of a facility is raised by a
  complaint;
               (4)  review or inspect periodically each facility [the
  facilities] and the procedures of each facility [any institution or
  residence in which a child has been placed by the department,
  whether public or private,] to ensure that the rights of children
  are fully observed;
               (5)  provide assistance to a child or family who the
  independent ombudsman determines is in need of assistance,
  including advocating with an agency, provider, or other person in
  the best interests of the child;
               (6)  review court orders as necessary to fulfill its
  duties;
               (7)  recommend changes in any procedure relating to the
  treatment of children placed in or committed to a facility [the
  department];
               (8)  make appropriate referrals under any of the duties
  and powers listed in this subsection;
               (9)  supervise assistants who are serving as advocates
  in their representation of children placed in or committed to a
  facility [the department] in internal administrative and
  disciplinary hearings;
               (10)  review reports received by the department
  relating to complaints regarding juvenile probation programs,
  services, or facilities and analyze the data contained in the
  reports to identify trends in complaints;
               (11)  report a possible standards violation by a local
  juvenile probation department to the appropriate division of the
  department; and
               (12)  immediately report the findings of any
  investigation related to the operation of a [post-adjudication
  correctional] facility in a county to the chief juvenile probation
  officer and the juvenile board of the county.
         SECTION 9.  Section 261.102, Human Resources Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
         Sec. 261.102.  TREATMENT OF [DEPARTMENT] EMPLOYEES WHO
  COOPERATE WITH INDEPENDENT OMBUDSMAN.  The operator of a facility 
  [department] may not discharge or in any manner discriminate or
  retaliate against an employee who in good faith makes a complaint to
  the office of independent ombudsman or cooperates with the office
  in an investigation.
         SECTION 10.  Section 261.104, Human Resources Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
         Sec. 261.104.  MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING. (a)  The office
  and an operator of a facility [the department] shall enter into a
  memorandum of understanding concerning:
               (1)  the most efficient manner in which to share
  information with one another; and
               (2)  the procedures for handling overlapping
  monitoring duties and activities performed by the office and the
  department or a county.
         (b)  The memorandum of understanding entered into under
  Subsection (a), at a minimum, must:
               (1)  address the interaction of the office with that
  portion of the department that conducts an internal audit under
  Section 203.013;
               (2)  address communication between the office and the
  operator of a facility [department] concerning individual
  situations involving children placed in or committed to the
  facility [department] and how those situations will be documented
  and handled;
               (3)  contain guidelines on the office's role in
  relevant working groups and policy development decisions at the
  department or with the county;
               (4)  ensure opportunities for sharing information
  between the office and the department or county for the purposes of
  assuring quality and improving programming within the facility 
  [department]; and
               (5)  preserve the independence of the office by
  authorizing the office to withhold information concerning matters
  under active investigation by the office from the operator of a
  facility [department] and the [department] staff of the facility 
  and to report the information to the board and the governor.
         SECTION 11.  Sections 261.151(a) and (c), Human Resources
  Code, are amended to read as follows:
         (a)  The independent ombudsman has access to the
  [department's] records of the operator of a facility relating to
  the children placed in or committed to the facility [department].
         (c)  A local law enforcement agency shall allow the
  independent ombudsman access to its records relating to any child
  in the care or custody of an operator of a facility [the
  department].
         SECTION 12.  Section 261.152, Human Resources Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
         Sec. 261.152.  ACCESS TO INFORMATION OF PRIVATE ENTITIES.  
  The independent ombudsman shall have access to the records of a
  private entity that relate to a child placed in or committed to a
  facility [the department].
         SECTION 13.  The following provisions of the Human Resources
  Code are repealed:
               (1)  Section 261.101(e), as added by Section 11(b),
  Chapter 854 (S.B. 1149), Acts of the 84th Legislature, Regular
  Session, 2015; and
               (2)  Section 261.101(e), as amended by Chapter 962
  (S.B. 1630), Acts of the 84th Legislature, Regular Session, 2015.
         SECTION 14.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2019.