A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: "AN ACT generally revising laws related to PROVIDING FOR CERTIFICATION OF CHILD PROTECTION SPECIALISTS INVESTIGATING MATTERS OF SUSPECTED CHILD ABUSE, NEGLECT, OR ENDANGERMENT; providing implementation instructions; providing rulemaking authority; providing definitions; and AMENDING SECTIONS 37-22-201, 41-3-102, 41-3-108, 41-3-201, 41-3-202, 41-3-205, 41-3-301, 41-3-427, AND 41-3-445, MCA."
NEW SECTION. Section 1. Child protection specialist. The profession of child protection specialist is subject to certification requirements set forth in [sections 1 through 5] and by rules promulgated by the board of behavioral health.
NEW SECTION. Section 3. Certification required for use of title -- exceptions. (1) On certification in accordance with [sections 1 through 5], a person may use the title "certified child protection specialist".
(2) Subsection (1) does not prohibit a qualified member of another profession, such as a law enforcement officer, lawyer, psychologist, pastoral counselor, probation officer, court employee, nurse, school counselor, educator, baccalaureate, master's, or clinical social worker licensed pursuant to Title 37, chapter 22, clinical professional counselor licensed pursuant to Title 37, chapter 23, addiction counselor licensed pursuant to Title 37, chapter 35, or marriage and family therapist licensed pursuant to Title 37, chapter 37, from performing duties and services consistent with the person's licensure or certification and the code of ethics of the person's profession.
(3) Subsection (1) does not prohibit a qualified member of another profession, business, educational program, or volunteer organization who is not licensed or certified or for whom there is no applicable code of ethics, including a guardian ad litem, child advocate, or law enforcement officer, from performing duties and services consistent with the person's training, as long as the person does not represent by title that the person is a certified child protection specialist.
NEW SECTION. Section 4. Certificate requirements -- supervision -- fees. (1) An applicant for certification as a child protection specialist shall submit a written application on a form provided by the board and an application fee prescribed by the board. A certification must be renewed as provided in [section 5].
(3) As a prerequisite to the issuance of a certificate, the board shall require the applicant to submit fingerprints for the purpose of fingerprint background checks by the Montana department of justice and the federal bureau of investigation as provided in 37-1-307.
(4) Pursuant to 37-1-203, an applicant who has a history of criminal convictions has the opportunity to demonstrate to the board that the applicant is sufficiently rehabilitated to warrant the public trust. The board may deny the license if it determines that the applicant is not sufficiently rehabilitated.
NEW SECTION. Section 5. Certificate renewal -- continuing education. A certified child protection specialist shall renew the specialist's certification annually using a process specified by board rule, which must include:
(2) proof of completion of at least 20 hours of continuing education developed or approved by the department, which may include any topic listed in subsection (2) of [section 4] and must include at least one unit focused on:
NEW SECTION. Section 6. Implementation of certification requirement for child protection specialists. (1) A person hired by the department for a child-facing position after [the effective date of this act] shall become a certified child protection specialist pursuant to [sections 1 through 5] before beginning work that involves interaction with minors.
(2) A person already employed by the department in a child-facing position before [the effective date of this act] shall obtain child protection specialist certification pursuant to [sections 1 through 5] by October 1, 2023.
(3) For the purpose of this section, "child-facing position" means an employee role under this chapter that involves regular interaction with minors, including but not limited to investigating reports of child abuse, neglect, or endangerment.
(1) shall recommend prosecutions for violations of 37-22-411, 37-23-311, Title 37, chapter 35, and Title 37, chapter 37, and [sections 1 through 5], to the attorney general or the appropriate county attorney, or both;
(2) shall meet at least once every 3 months to perform the duties described in Title 37, chapters 1, 23, 35, and 37, [sections 1 through 5], and this chapter. The board may, once a year by a consensus of board members, determine that there is no necessity for a board meeting.
(3) shall adopt rules that set professional, practice, and ethical standards for social workers, marriage and family therapists, addiction counselors, child protection specialists, and professional counselors and other rules as may be reasonably necessary for the administration of chapters 23, 35, and 37, [sections 1 through 5], and this chapter; and
(4) may adopt rules governing the issuance of licenses of special competence in particular areas of practice as a licensed professional counselor. The board shall establish criteria for each particular area for which a license is issued."
(ii) willfully surrendering physical custody for a period of 6 months and during that period not manifesting to the child and the person having physical custody of the child a firm intention to resume physical custody or to make permanent legal arrangements for the care of the child;
(4) (a) "Adequate health care" means any medical care or nonmedical remedial health care recognized by an insurer licensed to provide disability insurance under Title 33, including the prevention of the withholding of medically indicated treatment or medically indicated psychological care permitted or authorized under state law.
(b) This chapter may not be construed to require or justify a finding of child abuse or neglect for the sole reason that a parent or legal guardian, because of religious beliefs, does not provide adequate health care for a child. However, this chapter may not be construed to limit the administrative or judicial authority of the state to ensure that medical care is provided to the child when there is imminent substantial risk of serious harm to the child.
(B) exposing a child to the criminal distribution of dangerous drugs, as prohibited by 45-9-101, the criminal production or manufacture of dangerous drugs, as prohibited by 45-9-110, or the operation of an unlawful clandestine laboratory, as prohibited by 45-9-132; or
(c) In proceedings under this chapter in which the federal Indian Child Welfare Act is applicable, this term has the same meaning as "serious emotional or physical damage to the child" as used in 25 U.S.C. 1912(f).
(13)(14) "Indian custodian" means any Indian person who has legal custody of an Indian child under tribal law or custom or under state law or to whom temporary physical care, custody, and control have been transferred by the child's parent.
(b) the United States secretary of the interior as being eligible for the services provided to Indians or because of the group's status as Indians, including any Alaskan native village as defined in federal law.
(15)(16) "Limited emancipation" means a status conferred on a youth by a court in accordance with 41-1-503 under which the youth is entitled to exercise some but not all of the rights and responsibilities of a person who is 18 years of age or older.
(17)(18) "Parent-child legal relationship" means the legal relationship that exists between a child and the child's birth or adoptive parents, as provided in Title 40, chapter 6, part 2, unless the relationship has been terminated by competent judicial decree as provided in 40-6-234, Title 42, or part 6 of this chapter.
(18)(19) "Permanent placement" means reunification of the child with the child's parent, adoption, placement with a legal guardian, placement with a fit and willing relative, or placement in another planned permanent living arrangement until the child reaches 18 years of age.
(19)(20) "Physical abuse" means an intentional act, an intentional omission, or gross negligence resulting in substantial skin bruising, internal bleeding, substantial injury to skin, subdural hematoma, burns, bone fractures, extreme pain, permanent or temporary disfigurement, impairment of any bodily organ or function, or death.
(20)(21) "Physical neglect" means either failure to provide basic necessities, including but not limited to appropriate and adequate nutrition, protective shelter from the elements, and appropriate clothing related to weather conditions, or failure to provide cleanliness and general supervision, or both, or exposing or allowing the child to be exposed to an unreasonable physical or psychological risk to the child.
(iv) causes malnutrition or a failure to thrive or otherwise fails to supply the child with adequate food or fails to supply clothing, shelter, education, or adequate health care, though financially able to do so or offered financial or other reasonable means to do so;
(b) The term includes emergency protective services provided pursuant to 41-3-301, voluntary protective services provided pursuant to 41-3-302, and court-ordered protective services provided pursuant to parts 4 and 6 of this chapter.
(23)(24) (a) "Psychological abuse or neglect" means severe maltreatment through acts or omissions that are injurious to the child's emotional, intellectual, or psychological capacity to function, including the commission of acts of violence against another person residing in the child's home.
(b) a lay expert witness who has substantial experience in the delivery of child and family services to Indians and extensive knowledge of prevailing social and cultural standards and child-rearing practices within the Indian child's tribe; or
(c) a professional person who has substantial education and experience in providing services to children and families and who possesses significant knowledge of and experience with Indian culture, family structure, and child-rearing practices in general.
(25)(26) "Reasonable cause to suspect" means cause that would lead a reasonable person to believe that child abuse or neglect may have occurred or is occurring, based on all the facts and circumstances known to the person.
(26)(27) "Residential setting" means an out-of-home placement where the child typically resides for longer than 30 days for the purpose of receiving food, shelter, security, guidance, and, if necessary, treatment.
(28)(29) (a) "Sexual abuse" means the commission of sexual assault, sexual intercourse without consent, aggravated sexual intercourse without consent, indecent exposure, sexual abuse, ritual abuse of a minor, or incest, as described in Title 45, chapter 5.
(b) Sexual abuse does not include any necessary touching of an infant's or toddler's genital area while attending to the sanitary or health care needs of that infant or toddler by a parent or other person responsible for the child's welfare.
(30) (a) "Social worker" means an employee of the department who, before the employee's field assignment, has been educated or trained in a program of social work or a related field that includes cognitive and family systems treatment or who has equivalent verified experience or verified training in the investigation of child abuse, neglect, and endangerment.
(31) "Treatment plan" means a written agreement between the department and the parent or guardian or a court order that includes action that must be taken to resolve the condition or conduct of the parent or guardian that resulted in the need for protective services for the child. The treatment plan may involve court services, the department, and other parties, if necessary, for protective services.
(32) (a) "Withholding of medically indicated treatment" means the failure to respond to an infant's life-threatening conditions by providing treatment, including appropriate nutrition, hydration, and medication, that, in the treating physician's or physicians' reasonable medical judgment, will be most likely to be effective in ameliorating or correcting the conditions.
(b) The term does not include the failure to provide treatment, other than appropriate nutrition, hydration, or medication, to an infant when, in the treating physician's or physicians' reasonable medical judgment:
(iii) the provision of treatment would be virtually futile in terms of the survival of the infant and the treatment itself under the circumstances would be inhumane. For purposes of this subsection (32), "infant" means an infant less than 1 year of age or an infant 1 year of age or older who has been continuously hospitalized since birth, who was born extremely prematurely, or who has a long-term disability. The reference to less than 1 year of age may not be construed to imply that treatment should be changed or discontinued when an infant reaches 1 year of age or to affect or limit any existing protections available under state laws regarding medical neglect of children 1 year of age or older.
"41-3-108. Child protective teams. The county attorney, county commissioners, guardian ad litem, or department may convene one or more temporary or permanent interdisciplinary child protective teams. These teams may assist in assessing the needs of, formulating and monitoring a treatment plan for, and coordinating services to the child and the child's family. The supervisor of child protective services in a local service area or the supervisor's designee shall serve as the team's coordinator. Members must include:
"41-3-201. Reports. (1) When the professionals and officials listed in subsection (2) know or have reasonable cause to suspect, as a result of information they receive in their professional or official capacity, that a child is abused or neglected by anyone regardless of whether the person suspected of causing the abuse or neglect is a parent or other person responsible for the child's welfare, they shall report the matter promptly to the department of public health and human services.
(e) a social worker licensed pursuant to Title 37, child protection specialist, operator or employee of any registered or licensed day-care or substitute care facility, staff of a resource and referral grant program organized under 52-2-711 or of a child and adult food care program, or an operator or employee of a child-care facility;
(3) A professional listed in subsection (2)(a) or (2)(b) involved in the delivery or care of an infant shall report to the department any infant known to the professional to be affected by a dangerous drug, as defined in 50-32-101.
(ii) other individuals with whom the professional or official works in an official capacity if the individuals are part of a team that responds to matters involving the child or the person about whom the report was made and the professional or official has asked that the information be shared with the individuals; or
(b) The department may provide information in accordance with 41-3-202(8) and also share information about the investigation, limited to its outcome and any subsequent action that will be taken on behalf of the child who is the subject of the report.
(6) (a) Except as provided in subsection (6)(b) or (6)(c), a person listed in subsection (2) may not refuse to make a report as required in this section on the grounds of a physician-patient or similar privilege.
(i) the knowledge or suspicion of the abuse or neglect came from a statement or confession made to the member of the clergy or the priest in that person's capacity as a member of the clergy or as a priest;
(c) A member of the clergy or a priest is not required to make a report under this section if the communication is required to be confidential by canon law, church doctrine, or established church practice.
(c) any other information that the maker of the report believes might be helpful in establishing the cause of the injuries or showing the willful neglect and the identity of the person or persons responsible for the injury or neglect; and
(d) the facts that led the person reporting to believe that the child has suffered injury or injuries or willful neglect, within the meaning of this chapter. (Subsection (5)(a)(iii) terminates September 30, 2021--sec. 12, Ch. 235, L. 2017.)"
"41-3-202. Action on reporting. (1) (a) Upon receipt of a report that a child is or has been abused or neglected, the department shall promptly assess the information contained in the report and make a determination regarding the level of response required and the timeframe within which action must be initiated.
(b) (i) Except as provided in subsection (1)(b)(ii), upon receipt of a report that includes an allegation of sexual abuse or sexual exploitation or if the department determines during any investigation that the circumstances surrounding an allegation of child abuse or neglect include an allegation of sexual abuse or sexual exploitation, the department shall immediately report the allegation to the county attorney of the county in which the acts that are the subject of the report occurred.
(ii) If a victim of sexual abuse or sexual exploitation has attained the age of 14 and has sought services from a contractor as described in 41-3-201(2)(j) that provides confidential services to victims of sexual assault, conditioned upon an understanding that the criminal conduct will not be reported by the department to the county attorney in the jurisdiction in which the alleged crime occurred, the department may not report pursuant to 41-3-205(5)(d) and subsection (1)(b)(i) of this section.
(c) If the department determines that an investigation and a safety and risk assessment are required, a social worker child protection specialist shall promptly conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the allegations of abuse or neglect of the child and perform a safety and risk assessment to determine whether the living arrangement presents an unsafe environment for the child. The safety and risk assessment may include an investigation at the home of the child involved, the child's school or day-care facility, or any other place where the child is present and into all other nonfinancial matters that in the discretion of the investigator are relevant to the safety and risk assessment. In conducting a safety and risk assessment under this section, a social worker child protection specialist may not inquire into the financial status of the child's family or of any other person responsible for the child's care, except as necessary to ascertain eligibility for state or federal assistance programs or to comply with the provisions of 41-3-446.
(2) An initial investigation of alleged abuse or neglect may be conducted when an anonymous report is received. However, if the initial investigation does not within 48 hours result in the development of independent, corroborative, and attributable information indicating that there exists a current risk of physical or psychological harm to the child, a child may not be removed from the living arrangement. If independent, corroborative, and attributable information indicating an ongoing risk results from the initial investigation, the department shall then conduct a safety and risk assessment.
(3) The social worker child protection specialist is responsible for conducting the safety and risk assessment. If the child is treated at a medical facility, the social worker child protection specialist, county attorney, or peace officer, consistent with reasonable medical practice, has the right of access to the child for interviews, photographs, and securing physical evidence and has the right of access to relevant hospital and medical records pertaining to the child. If an interview of the child is considered necessary, the social worker child protection specialist, county attorney, or peace officer may conduct an interview of the child. The interview may be conducted in the presence of the parent or guardian or an employee of the school or day-care facility attended by the child.
(4) Subject to 41-3-205(3), if the child's interview is audiotaped or videotaped, an unedited audiotape or videotape with audio track must be made available, upon request, for unencumbered review by the family.
(5) (a) If from the safety and risk assessment the department has reasonable cause to suspect that the child is suffering abuse or neglect, the department may provide emergency protective services to the child, pursuant to 41-3-301, or voluntary protective services pursuant to 41-3-302, and may provide protective services to any other child under the same care. The department shall:
(b) Except as provided in subsection (5)(c), the department shall destroy all safety and risk assessment determinations and associated records, except for medical records, within 30 days after the end of the 3-year period starting from the date of completion of the safety and risk assessment.
(6) The investigating social worker child protection specialist, within 60 days of commencing an investigation, shall also furnish a written safety and risk assessment to the department and, upon request, to the family. Subject to time periods set forth in subsections (5)(b) and (5)(c), the department shall maintain a record system documenting investigations and safety and risk assessment determinations. Unless records are required to be destroyed under subsections (5)(b) and (5)(c), the department shall retain records relating to the safety and risk assessment, including case notes, correspondence, evaluations, videotapes, and interviews, for 25 years.
(7) Any person reporting abuse or neglect that involves acts or omissions on the part of a public or private residential institution, home, facility, or agency is responsible for ensuring that the report is made to the department.
(8) The department shall, upon request from any reporter of alleged child abuse or neglect, verify whether the report has been received, describe the level of response and timeframe for action that the department has assigned to the report, and confirm that it is being acted upon."
"41-3-205. Confidentiality -- disclosure exceptions. (1) The case records of the department and its local affiliate, the local office of public assistance, the county attorney, and the court concerning actions taken under this chapter and all records concerning reports of child abuse and neglect must be kept confidential except as provided by this section. Except as provided in subsections (9) and (10), a person who purposely or knowingly permits or encourages the unauthorized dissemination of the contents of case records is guilty of a misdemeanor.
(2) Records may be disclosed to a court for in camera inspection if relevant to an issue before it. The court may permit public disclosure if it finds disclosure to be necessary for the fair resolution of an issue before it.
(3) Records, including case notes, correspondence, evaluations, videotapes, and interviews, unless otherwise protected by this section or unless disclosure of the records is determined to be detrimental to the child or harmful to another person who is a subject of information contained in the records, may be disclosed to the following persons or entities in this state and any other state or country:
(a) a department, agency, or organization, including a federal agency, military enclave, or Indian tribal organization, that is legally authorized to receive, inspect, or investigate reports of child abuse or neglect and that otherwise meets the disclosure criteria contained in this section;
(b) a licensed youth care facility or a licensed child-placing agency that is providing services to the family or child who is the subject of a report in the records or to a person authorized by the department to receive relevant information for the purpose of determining the best interests of a child with respect to an adoptive placement;
(d) a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, guardian, mandatory reporter provided for in 41-3-201(2) and (5), or person designated by a parent or guardian of the child who is the subject of a report in the records or other person responsible for the child's welfare, without disclosure of the identity of any person who reported or provided information on the alleged child abuse or neglect incident contained in the records;
(e) a child named in the records who was allegedly abused or neglected or the child's legal guardian or legal representative, including the child's guardian ad litem or attorney or a special advocate appointed by the court to represent a child in a pending case;
(h) a person about whom a report has been made and that person's attorney, with respect to the relevant records pertaining to that person only and without disclosing the identity of the reporter or any other person whose safety may be endangered;
(k) the members of an interdisciplinary child protective team authorized under 41-3-108 or of a family group decisionmaking meeting for the purposes of assessing the needs of the child and family, formulating a treatment plan, and monitoring the plan;
(o) a person or entity who is carrying out background, employment-related, or volunteer-related screening of current or prospective employees or volunteers who have or may have unsupervised contact with children through employment or volunteer activities. A request for information under this subsection (3)(o) must be made in writing. Disclosure under this subsection (3)(o) is limited to information that indicates a risk to children posed by the person about whom the information is sought, as determined by the department.
(p) the news media, if disclosure is limited to confirmation of factual information regarding how the case was handled and if disclosure does not violate the privacy rights of the child or the child's parent or guardian, as determined by the department;
(r) an agency of an Indian tribe, a qualified expert witness, or the relatives of an Indian child if disclosure of the records is necessary to meet requirements of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act;
(z) a principal of a school or other employee of the school district authorized by the trustees of the district to receive the information with respect to a student of the district who is a client of the department.
(i) the member receives a written inquiry regarding a child and whether the laws of the United States or the state of Montana that protect children from abuse or neglect are being complied with or whether the laws need to be changed to enhance protections for children;
(ii) the member submits a written request to the department requesting to review the records relating to the written inquiry. The member's request must include a copy of the written inquiry, the name of the child whose records are to be reviewed, and any other information that will assist the department in locating the records.
(b) Records disclosed pursuant to subsection (4)(a) are confidential, must be made available for the member to view but may not be copied, recorded, photographed, or otherwise replicated by the member, and must remain solely in the department's possession. The member must be allowed to view the records in the local office where the case is or was active.
(b) The records described in subsection (3) must be promptly disclosed by the department to an appropriate individual described in subsection (5)(a) or to a county or regional interdisciplinary child information and school safety team established pursuant to 52-2-211 upon the department's receipt of a report indicating that any of the following has occurred:
(c) (i) The department shall promptly disclose the results of an investigation to an individual described in subsection (5)(a) or to a county or regional interdisciplinary child information and school safety team established pursuant to 52-2-211 upon the determination that:
(ii) For the purposes of this subsection (5)(c), exposure occurs when a child is caused or permitted to inhale, have contact with, or ingest a Schedule I or Schedule II drug that is prohibited by state law or have contact with drug paraphernalia as defined in 45-10-101.
(d) (i) Except as provided in subsection (5)(d)(ii), the records described in subsection (3) must be released within 5 business days to the county attorney of the county in which the acts that are the subject of a report occurred upon the department's receipt of a report that includes an allegation of sexual abuse or sexual exploitation. The department shall also report to any other appropriate individual described in subsection (5)(a) and to a county or regional interdisciplinary child information and school safety team established pursuant to 52-2-211.
(ii) If the exception in 41-3-202(1)(b) applies, a contractor described in 41-3-201(2)(j) that provides confidential services to victims of sexual assault shall report to the department as provided in this part without disclosing the names of the victim and the alleged perpetrator of sexual abuse or sexual exploitation.
(iii) When a contractor described in 41-3-201(2)(j) that provides confidential services to victims of sexual assault provides services to youth over the age of 13 who are victims of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation, the contractor may not dissuade or obstruct a victim from reporting the criminal activity and, upon a request by the victim, shall facilitate disclosure to the county attorney and a law enforcement officer as described in Title 7, chapter 32, in the jurisdiction where the alleged abuse occurred.
(6) A school or school district may disclose, without consent, personally identifiable information from the education records of a pupil to the department, the court, a review board, and the child's assigned attorney, guardian ad litem, or special advocate.
(7) Information that identifies a person as a participant in or recipient of substance abuse treatment services may be disclosed only as allowed by federal substance abuse confidentiality laws, including the consent provisions of the law.
(8) The confidentiality provisions of this section must be construed to allow a court of this state to share information with other courts of this state or of another state when necessary to expedite the interstate placement of children.
(9) A person who is authorized to receive records under this section shall maintain the confidentiality of the records and may not disclose information in the records to anyone other than the persons described in subsections (3)(a) and (5). However, this subsection may not be construed to compel a family member to keep the proceedings confidential.
(10) A news organization or its employee, including a freelance writer or reporter, is not liable for reporting facts or statements made by an immediate family member under subsection (9) if the news organization, employee, writer, or reporter maintains the confidentiality of the child who is the subject of the proceeding.
(12) Copies of records, evaluations, reports, or other evidence obtained or generated pursuant to this section that are provided to the parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, guardian, or parent's or guardian's attorney must be provided without cost. (Bracketed language in subsection (3)(m) terminates September 30, 2021--sec. 12, Ch. 235, L. 2017.)"
"41-3-301. Emergency protective service. (1) Any child protective social worker protection specialist of the department, a peace officer, or the county attorney who has reason to believe any child is in immediate or apparent danger of harm may immediately remove the child and place the child in a protective facility. After ensuring that the child is safe, the department may make a request for further assistance from the law enforcement agency or take appropriate legal action. The person or agency placing the child shall notify the parents, parent, guardian, or other person having physical or legal custody of the child of the placement at the time the placement is made or as soon after placement as possible. Notification under this subsection must include the reason for removal, information regarding the show cause hearing, and the purpose of the show cause hearing and must advise the parents, parent, guardian, or other person having physical or legal custody of the child that the parents, parent, guardian, or other person may have a support person present during any in-person meeting with the social worker child protection specialist concerning emergency protective services.
(2) If a social worker of the department child protection specialist, a peace officer, or the county attorney determines in an investigation of abuse or neglect of a child that the child is in danger because of the occurrence of partner or family member assault, as provided for in 45-5-206, or strangulation of a partner or family member, as provided for in 45-5-215, against an adult member of the household or that the child needs protection as a result of the occurrence of partner or family member assault or strangulation of a partner or family member against an adult member of the household, the department shall take appropriate steps for the protection of the child, which may include:
(a) making reasonable efforts to protect the child and prevent the removal of the child from the parent or guardian who is a victim of alleged partner or family member assault or strangulation of a partner or family member;
(b) making reasonable efforts to remove the person who allegedly committed the partner or family member assault or strangulation of a partner or family member from the child's residence if it is determined that the child or another family or household member is in danger of partner or family member assault or strangulation of a partner or family member; and
(c) providing services to help protect the child from being placed with or having unsupervised visitation with the person alleged to have committed partner or family member assault or strangulation of a partner or family member until the department determines that the alleged offender has met conditions considered necessary to protect the safety of the child.
(3) If the department determines that an adult member of the household is the victim of partner or family member assault or strangulation of a partner or family member, the department shall provide the adult victim with a referral to a domestic violence program.
(5) The department may locate and contact extended family members upon placement of a child in out-of-home care. The department may share information with extended family members for placement and case planning purposes.
(6) If a child is removed from the child's home by the department, a child protective social worker protection specialist shall submit an affidavit regarding the circumstances of the emergency removal to the county attorney and provide a copy of the affidavit to the parents or guardian, if possible, within 2 working days of the emergency removal. An abuse and neglect petition must be filed within 5 working days, excluding weekends and holidays, of the emergency removal of a child unless arrangements acceptable to the agency for the care of the child have been made by the parents or voluntary protective services are provided pursuant to 41-3-302.
(7) Except as provided in the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, if applicable, a show cause hearing must be held within 20 days of the filing of the petition unless otherwise stipulated by the parties pursuant to 41-3-434.
(8) If the department determines that a petition for immediate protection and emergency protective services must be filed to protect the safety of the child, the social worker child protection specialist shall interview the parents of the child to whom the petition pertains, if the parents are reasonably available, before the petition may be filed. The district court may immediately issue an order for immediate protection of the child.
"41-3-427. Petition for immediate protection and emergency protective services -- order -- service. (1) (a) In a case in which it appears that a child is abused or neglected or is in danger of being abused or neglected, the county attorney, the attorney general, or an attorney hired by the county may file a petition for immediate protection and emergency protective services. In implementing the policy of this section, the child's health and safety are of paramount concern.
(b) A petition for immediate protection and emergency protective services must state the specific authority requested and must be supported by an affidavit signed by a representative of the department stating in detail the alleged facts upon which the request is based and the facts establishing probable cause or, if the case is subject to the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, clear and convincing evidence that a child is abused or neglected or is in danger of being abused or neglected. The affidavit of the department representative must contain information, if any, regarding statements made by the parents about the facts of the case.
(c) If from the alleged facts presented in the affidavit it appears to the court that there is probable cause or, if the case is subject to the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, clear and convincing evidence to believe that the child has been abused or neglected or is in danger of being abused and neglected, the judge shall grant emergency protective services and the relief authorized by subsection (2) until the adjudication hearing or the temporary investigative hearing. If it appears from the alleged facts contained in the affidavit that there is insufficient probable cause or, if the case is subject to the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, clear and convincing evidence to believe that the child has been abused or neglected or is in danger of being abused or neglected, the court shall dismiss the petition.
(d) If the parents, parent, guardian, person having physical or legal custody of the child, or attorney for the child disputes the material issues of fact contained in the affidavit or the veracity of the affidavit, the person may request a contested show cause hearing pursuant to 41-3-432 within 10 days following service of the petition and affidavit.
(e) The petition for immediate protection and emergency protective services must include a notice advising the parents, parent, guardian, or other person having physical or legal custody of the child that the parents, parent, guardian, or other person having physical or legal custody of the child may have a support person present during any in-person meeting with a social worker child protection specialist concerning emergency protective services. Reasonable accommodation must be made in scheduling an in-person meeting with the social worker child protection specialist.
(2) Pursuant to subsection (1), if the court finds probable cause or, if the case is subject to the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, clear and convincing evidence based on the petition and affidavit, the court may issue an order for immediate protection of the child. The court shall consider the parents' statements, if any, included with the petition and any accompanying affidavit or report to the court. If the court finds probable cause or, if the case is subject to the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, clear and convincing evidence, the court may issue an order granting the following forms of relief, which do not constitute a court-ordered treatment plan under 41-3-443:
(d) a requirement that the parents, guardian, or other person having physical or legal custody furnish information that the court may designate and obtain evaluations that may be necessary to determine whether a child is a youth in need of care;
(g) a requirement that the parent provide the department with the names and addresses of extended family members who may be considered as placement options for the child who is the subject of the proceeding; and
(h) any other temporary disposition that may be required in the best interests of the child that does not require an expenditure of money by the department unless the court finds after notice and a hearing that the expenditure is reasonable and that resources are available for payment. The department is the payor of last resort after all family, insurance, and other resources have been examined.
(3) An order for removal of a child from the home must include a finding that continued residence of the child with the parent is contrary to the welfare of the child or that an out-of-home placement is in the best interests of the child.
(4) The order for immediate protection of the child must require the person served to comply immediately with the terms of the order and to appear before the court issuing the order on the date specified for a show cause hearing. Upon a failure to comply or show cause, the court may hold the person in contempt or place temporary physical custody of the child with the department until further order.
"41-3-445. Permanency hearing. (1) (a) (i) Subject to subsection (1)(b), a permanency hearing must be held by the court or, subject to the approval of the court and absent an objection by a party to the proceeding, by the foster care review committee, as provided in 41-3-115, or the citizen review board, as provided in 41-3-1010:
(B) no later than 12 months after the initial court finding that the child has been subjected to abuse or neglect or 12 months after the child's first 60 days of removal from the home, whichever comes first.
(ii) Within 12 months of a hearing under subsection (1)(a)(i)(B) and every 12 months thereafter until the child is permanently placed in either an adoptive or a guardianship placement, the court or the court-approved entity holding the permanency hearing shall conduct a hearing and the court shall issue a finding as to whether the department has made reasonable efforts to finalize the permanency plan for the child.
(b) A permanency hearing is not required if the proceeding has been dismissed, the child was not removed from the home, the child has been returned to the child's parent or guardian, or the child has been legally adopted or appointed a legal guardian.
(c) The permanency hearing may be combined with a hearing that is required in other sections of this part or with a review held pursuant to 41-3-115 or 41-3-1010 if held within the applicable time limits. If a permanency hearing is combined with another hearing or a review, the requirements of the court related to the disposition of the other hearing or review must be met in addition to the requirements of this section.
(2) At least 3 working days prior to the permanency hearing, the department shall submit a report regarding the child to the entity that will be conducting the hearing for review. The report must address the department's efforts to effectuate the permanency plan for the child, address the options for the child's permanent placement, examine the reasons for excluding higher priority options, and set forth the proposed plan to carry out the placement decision, including specific times for achieving the plan.
(3) At least 3 working days prior to the permanency hearing, the guardian ad litem or an attorney or advocate for a parent or guardian may submit an informational report to the entity that will be conducting the hearing for review.
(4) In a permanency hearing, the court or other entity conducting the hearing shall consult, in an age-appropriate manner, with the child regarding the proposed permanency or transition plan for the child.
(5) (a) The court's order must be issued within 20 days after the permanency hearing if the hearing was conducted by the court. If a member of the child's extended family, including an adult sibling, grandparent, great-grandparent, aunt, or uncle, has requested that custody be awarded to that family member or that a prior grant of temporary custody with that family member be made permanent, the department shall investigate and determine if awarding custody to that family member is in the best interests of the child. The department shall provide the reasons for any denial to the court. If the court accepts the department's custody recommendation, the court shall inform any denied family member of the reasons for the denial to the extent that confidentiality laws allow. The court shall include the reasons for denial in the court order if the family member who is denied custody requests it to be included.
(b) If an entity other than the court conducts the hearing, the entity shall keep minutes of the hearing and the minutes and written recommendations must be provided to the court within 20 days of the hearing.
(c) If an entity other than the court conducts the hearing and the court concurs with the recommendations, the court may adopt the recommendations as findings with no additional hearing required. In this case, the court shall issue written findings within 10 days of receipt of the written recommendations.
(7) In its discretion, the court may enter any other order that it determines to be in the best interests of the child that does not conflict with the options provided in subsection (8) and that does not require an expenditure of money by the department unless the court finds after notice and a hearing that the expenditures are reasonable and that resources are available for payment. The department is the payor of last resort after all family, insurance, and other resources have been examined.
(e) long-term custody if the child is in a planned permanent living arrangement and if it is established by a preponderance of the evidence, which is reflected in specific findings by the court, that:
(ii) the child has an emotional or mental handicap that is so severe that the child cannot function in a family setting and the best interests of the child are served by placement in a residential or group setting;
(iv) the child's parent is incarcerated and circumstances, including placement of the child and continued, frequent contact with the parent, indicate that it would not be in the best interests of the child to terminate parental rights of that parent; or
(B) the department has made reasonable efforts to reunite the parent and child, further efforts by the department would likely be unproductive, and reunification of the child with the parent or guardian would be contrary to the best interests of the child;
(D) the child has been in a placement in which the foster parent or relative has committed to the long-term care and to a relationship with the child, and it is in the best interests of the child to remain in that placement.
(a) be developed in consultation with the child and in consultation with up to two members of the child's case planning team who are chosen by the child and who are not a foster parent or social worker child protection specialist for the child;
(b) identify one person from the case management team, who is selected by the child, to be designated as the child's advisor and advocate for the application of the reasonable and prudent parenting standard; and
(10) A permanency hearing must document the intensive, ongoing, and unsuccessful efforts made by the department to return the child to the child's home or to secure a permanent placement of the child with a relative, legal guardian, or adoptive parent.
(11) The court may terminate a planned permanent living arrangement upon petition of the birth parents or the department if the court finds that the circumstances of the child or family have substantially changed and the best interests of the child are no longer being served."
New language in a bill appears underlined, deleted material appears stricken.
Sponsor names are handwritten on introduced bills, hence do not appear on the bill until it is reprinted.
See the status of this bill for the bill's primary sponsor.
Prepared by Montana Legislative Services