AN ACT TO ESTABLISH SOCIAL SERVICES REGIONAL SUPERVISION AND COLLABORATION; REFORM THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM IN THIS STATE; IMPROVE ACCOUNTABILITY AND STATE OVERSIGHT OF THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM; REQUIRE WRITTEN AGREEMENTS, CORRECTIVE ACTION, AND STATE INTERVENTION WITH SOCIAL SERVICES DEPARTMENTS; CREATE REGIONAL SOCIAL SERVICE DEPARTMENTS; ESTABLISH A CHILD WELL‑BEING TRANSFORMATION COUNCIL; ESTABLISH A DRIVERS LICENSE PILOT PROJECT; ESTABLISH A PILOT PROGRAM TO AUTHORIZE A WAIVER OF THE EMPLOYMENT REQUIREMENT FOR FOSTER PARENTS OF CHILDREN RECEIVING INTENSIVE ALTERNATIVE FAMILY TREATMENT; REDUCE THE TIME FRAME A PARENT HAS TO APPEAL FROM A TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS ORDER; REDUCE THE TIME FRAME FOR LICENSURE APPROVAL REGARDING FOSTER CARE; AND REQUIRE CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICE OBSERVATION BEFORE PHYSICAL CUSTODY OF CHILD MAY BE RETURNED.
Senate committee substitute makes the following changes to the 2nd edition. The committee substitute adds in the provisions of the 1st edition of S 594 and makes the following changes.
Changes the long and short titles.
Part I. Social Services Regional Supervision and Collaboration; Working Group
Deletes and replaces the previous directive and related provisions for the Department of Health and Human Services (Department) to develop a plan for regional organization, administration, and governance of the social services system in North Carolina. Instead directs the Department to develop a plan for establishing regional offices charged with supervision of administration of social services at the local level. Requires the plan to identify any necessary legislative and regulatory changes necessary to improve regional collaboration among county or regional social services agencies or programs. Directs the Department to take into consideration recommendations of the Social Services Regional Supervision and Collaboration Working Group created by this act. Requires the Department to submit the plan to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services (Committee) by November 15, 2018, which must provide for the system of regional supervision to be operational no later than March 1, 2020. Prohibits the Department from implementing the plan without an act by the General Assembly.
Makes changes to the composition of the Social Services Regional Supervision and Collaboration Working Group (Working Group). Maintains the previous provisions concerning ad hoc subcommittees. Additionally, replaces the duties set forth for the Working Group. Now directs the Working Group to divide its work into two stages: (1) Stage One, to address regional supervision and (2) Stage Two, to address interagency collaboration and regionalization. Requires the Working Group to convene its first meeting no later than October 6, 2017. Specifies the components the Working Group is to develop recommendations for in Stage One, including methods for holding the regional offices accountable for performance and responsiveness. Details the duties of the Working Group in Stage Two, including developing a vision for transitioning the state from a county-administered system to a regionally administered system.
Changes the reporting requirements of the Working Group. Directs the Working Group to submit a report to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services and the Department at the conclusion of Stage One, no later than April 15, 2018. Authorizes the Committee to terminate the Working Group after receiving the Stage One report if it believes the Working Group is not making sufficient progress. Directs the Working Group to submit a report to the Committee and the Department at the conclusion of Stage Two, no later than February 1, 2019. Makes conforming changes to the provisions concerning the role of the School of Government (SOG).
Deletes the previous appropriations provisions for the SOG and the Department.
Makes conforming changes.
Part III. Reforming State Supervision and Accountability of the State's Social Services System
Deletes and replaces the previous directive and related provisions for the Office of State Budget and Management (Office) to develop and issue a request for proposal (RFP) to contract with a third-party organization to evaluate the State's child welfare system, develop a plan for reforming the system, and provide ongoing evaluation and oversight of the agency's implementation of the system. Instead directs the Office, in consultation with the Department of Health and Human Services (Department), to develop and issue an RFP no later than September 20, 2017, to contract with a third-party organization to develop a plan to reform the state supervision and accountability for the social services system (system reform). Adds that the social services system includes child welfare, adult protective services, guardianship, public assistance, and child support enforcement.
Details 10 duties of the organization in developing the system reform plan, including developing a plan for consistent, standardized continuous quality improvement for social services at the State, regional, and county levels. Requires the organization to engage the services of national technical advisors with broad expertise and experience in implementing large-scale, systemic social services reform. Additionally, requires that the contract with the organization require the organization to develop a child welfare reform plan that makes recommendations regarding the 10 specified components of the child welfare system, including child fatality oversight and the provision of health care, mental health, and educational services to children and families involved with the child welfare system (modifies and adds to the components specified in the previous edition's directive concerning child welfare reform). Makes conforming and technical changes to the charges of the organization in developing the child welfare components of the reform plan.
Modifies the provisions pertaining to the creation of a Social Services System Transparency and Wellness Dashboard (Dashboard). Now requires the Dashboard to include regular reports of the components of social services, including child welfare, adult services, public assistance, and child support enforcement. Directs the Department to work closely with the organization to identify available data sources to include in the Dashboard for the relevant programs. Requires the data from the Dashboard to be readily available on the Department's website. Makes conforming changes.
Makes conforming and technical changes to the provisions concerning the reporting and implementation requirements. Modifies the preliminary report requirements to now require the preliminary report to set forth the progress made on the developing of the reform plan and the objectives for the subsequent 180 days. Deletes the reporting and review requirements of the Department set out in previous subdivisions (4) and (5) of Section 2.1(e). Instead, directs the Department to submit preliminary recommendations to the Committee by October 1, 2018, regarding necessary legislative changes to implement the reform plan. Permits the Department to submit additional subsequent reports to the Committee as the reform plan is further developed and implemented.
Deletes the appropriations provisions to the Department, Division of Social Services.
Maintains the effective July 1, 2017, provision for this Part.
Part III. Local DSS Written Agreements; Corrective Action; State Intervention
Deletes the changes to GS 108A-74, that were to be effective six months after all 100 counties in the State have implemented the child welfare component to the NC Families Accessing Services through Technology (NC FAST) system.
Now amends GS 108A-74 as follows, effective upon ratification and applying to written agreements required pursuant to GS 108A-74(a1) for fiscal years 2018-19 and 2019-20. Renames the statute. Adds to the defined terms in subsection (a), defining child welfare services or program to mean protective, foster care, and adoption services related to juveniles alleged to be abused, neglected, or dependent as required by GS Chapter 7B. Defines social services programs and other medical assistance to mean social services and public assistance programs established in this Chapter other than the medical assistance program, including child welfare programs, adult protective services, guardianship services for adults, and programs of public assistance established in this Chapter. Also defines the term to include the child support enforcement program established in Article 9 of GS Chapter 110.
Adds new subsection (a1), directing the Secretary for the Department (Secretary) to require, beginning in fiscal year 2018-19, all departments of social services to enter into a written agreement each year that specifies mandated performance requirements and administrative responsibilities with regard to all social services programs other than medical assistance. Details parameters of the written agreement, including: (1) requiring the mandated performance requirements to be based upon standardized metrics utilizing reliable data when possible; (2) requiring the administrative responsibilities address staff training, data submission, and communication with the Department; (3) permitting the written agreement to be standardized or tailored to address issues in specific jurisdictions; and (4) requiring that the written agreement authorize the Department to withhold state and federal funds in the event the department fails to satisfy mandated performance requirements or comply with the terms of the agreement.
Further amends GS 108A-74, as amended, effective March 1, 2020, for all written agreements required pursuant to GS 108A-74 entered into on or after that date. Renames the statute. Modifies the defined terms in subsection (a). Defines department of social services (was, county department of social services) to mean the department responsible for administration of the social services and programs of public assistance in a county, including a county department of social services, a consolidated human services agency, or a regional social services department, whichever applies (was, also means the consolidated human services agency department). Defines director of social services (was, county director of social services) to mean the person responsible for managing and administering the department of social services, including a county social services director, a regional social services director or a human services director, whichever applies (was, also means the human services director). Defines board of social services (was, county board of social services) to mean the governing body responsible for oversight of the department of social services, including a regional board of social services, a consolidated human services board, or a board of county commissioners that has assumed the powers and duties of a social services governing board pursuant to GS 153A-77(a), whichever applies (was, also means the consolidated human services board). Makes technical changes.
Deletes subsection (a1), as enacted by this act. Adds new subsection (a2), similarly directing the Secretary to require all departments of social services to enter into a written agreement each year that specifies mandated performance requirements and administrative responsibilities with regard to all social services programs other than medical assistance. Details parameters of the written agreement required under new subsection (a2), which track and expand upon those set out in subsection (a1). Adds that (1) the mandated performance requirements must be based upon standardized metrics utilizing data and outcome measures derived from the Dashboard and other reliable data sources (deleted subsection (a1) did not reference Dashboard) and (2) the written agreement must authorize the Department to withhold state or federal funds in the event the department fails to satisfy mandated performance requirements or comply with the terms of the agreement or applicable law (deleted subsection (a1) did not include failure to comply with applicable law).
Adds new subsection (a3), providing that if a department of social services agency fails to meet the requirements for the specified time frame, the Secretary and the department of social services must enter into a corrective action plan within 60 working days. Additionally authorizes the Secretary to also require a corrective action plan more quickly in urgent circumstances. Details the components of the corrective action plan, including a schedule and plan for providing updates to the social services board regarding the department's progress implementing the corrective action plan. Amends subsections (b) and (c), providing that if a department of social services agency fails to complete the corrective action plan, the Department must temporarily assume administration of all or part of the agency’s child welfare program after giving notice as specified. Details the duties of the Secretary during the period of assumption of administration of the social services program, including working with the department of social services to develop a plan for the department to resume program administration. Adds new subsection (c1), authorizing the Department to restore administrative responsibilities to the department of social services once the Secretary determines that the agency will be able to meet performance requirements. Makes conforming changes to delete subsections (d), (e), (f), and (g).
Makes clarifying and technical changes.
Directs the Department to report to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services by August 1 of every year regarding oversight of the local administration of social services programs other than medical assistance. Provides requirements for the contents of the report. Provides additional requirements for the contents of reports made on August 1, 2021, and thereafter.
Part IV. Regional Social Services Departments
Enacts new GS Chapter 108A, Article 1, Part 2B (Regional Social Services Departments), as follows.
New GS 108A-15.3A authorizes the creation of regional social services departments including multiple counties upon the authorization of the counties’ boards of commissioners and, if applicable, either the county board of social services or consolidated human services board with jurisdiction over each of the counties involved. Authorizes counties to join existing regional social services departments upon authorization of the boards of commissioners of each of itself and each of the already-involved counties and, if applicable, either the county board of social services or consolidated human services board with jurisdiction over the joining county, and requires the joining county to contribute financially to the regional department. Authorizes regional social services departments to incorporate all or some of the programs and services offered by the county departments, and to cover multiple judicial districts. Encourages the inclusion of complete judicial districts. Directs regional social services departments to have centralized administrative operations geographically located in one county, but maintain a physical presence for delivery of social services in each served county. Provides that a regional social services department is a public authority.
New GS 108A-15.3B provides for the governance of regional social services department by regional boards of social services, which have the same powers and duties as a county social services board. Provides for the size, membership appointment, vacancy appointment, governance, removal of membership, compensation, and terms of service of members of the regional board of social services. Provides that whenever a county joins or withdraws from an existing regional social services department, the regional board of social services is dissolved, and a new board is appointed under this statute. Authorizes a regional board of social services to provide liability insurance for members of the board and employees of the regional social services department, and to hire attorneys. Purchasing liability insurance under this statute waives the regional board of social services’ and the regional social services department’s governmental immunity to the extent of insurance coverage for any act or omission occurring in the exercise of a governmental function, and an insurer waives any defense based on that governmental immunity.
New GS 108A-15.3C provides for the dissolution of a regional social services department upon the determination of the board of commissioners of each of its counties determining that the department is not operating in the best interests of the respective counties, or for the withdrawal of a county from a regional social services department upon its board of commissioners making the same determination. Dissolution or withdrawal is effective only at the end of the fiscal year in which the dissolution or withdrawal transpired. Prohibits dissolution without prior written notice to the Department. Provides for the distribution of any budgetary surplus at the time of dissolution or withdrawal on a specified pro rata basis to the counties comprising the region, as determined on the basis of an audit performed as specified.
New GS 108A-15.3D provides for a regional social services director, appointed by the regional social services board, with all the powers and duties of a director of social services under GS 108A-14 and other applicable laws.
Amends GS 108A-1. Requires counties to have a governing board for social services, which may take one of several specified forms, including the currently authorized forms, a board of county commissioners assuming the powers and duties of a county board of social services or consolidated human services board, or a regional board of social services. Makes conforming changes.
Amends GS 7B-101. Includes regional social services departments within the definition of department for that subchapter. Makes a conforming change to the definition of director.
Amends GS 7B-400. Clarifies that abuse, neglect, or dependency proceedings are to be commenced in the judicial district in which the juvenile resides or is present at the time the petition is filed (currently, does not specify which kind of district, or when a juvenile’s presence is to be ascertained). Directs a regional social services department that includes counties in more than one judicial district to file in the district where the child resides or was present when the report under GS 7B-301 was received.
Amends GS 143B-153. Directs the Social Services Commission to adopt rules concerning the obligation of counties to contribute financially to a regional social services department.
Part V. Child Well-Being Transformation Council
Codifies the provisions in new Article 82 instead of Article 81. Amends the named entities that promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm to refer to those involving education, health care, social services, and juvenile justice in addition to those involving child care. Increases the number of members on the NC Child Well-Being Transformation Council (Council) from 13 to 17, adding in the following members: one who represents the Hospital Association who serves a one year term and is appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Speaker of the House, one who is a representative from a local management entity/managed care organization who serves a one year term and is appointed by the Governor, one who represents the Division of Public Health with expertise in substance abuse disorders who serves a term of two years and is appointed by the Governor, and one who is a director of a county department of social services who serves a one-year term and is appointed by the Governor. Changes the appointing entity for the member who is a representative from the NC Pediatric Society from the Governor to the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. Amends the term length of various other Council members. Makes additional conforming changes. Amends the Council’s duties to make clarifying changes. Also deletes duties that were effective beginning July 1, 2020, as well as those effective by 2022 and thereafter. Instead, beginning March 1, 2020, requires the Council to monitor changes in the social services and child welfare system associated with reform and regional supervision; identify gaps in coordination, collaboration, and communication related to all publicly funded child serving programs; and recommend changes necessary to remedy gaps or problems impacting coordination, collaboration, and communication among publicly funded child-serving agencies.
Deletes the appropriation of funds to the Council.
Part VI. Driver License Pilot Project
Provides that the General Assembly recognizes that not having a driver's license is a barrier to community-based activities for older youth in foster care, as defined in GS 131D-10.2(9) (was, for older youth in substitute care).
Deletes the appropriation for the pilot project.
Part VII. Pilot Waiver for IAFT Foster Parents
Clarifies that the pilot program is to allow the waiver of employment requirements for foster parents with children using the Intensive Alternative Family Treatment (IAFT).
Part VIII. Termination of Parental Rights/Appeals
Deletes the changes to GS 7B-1001 made in the previous edition and replaces them with the following.
Amends the juvenile matters that may be appealed, with appeal of a final order made directly to the Court of Appeals, to include an order under GS 7B-906.2(b) eliminating reunification as a permanent plan by (1) a parent who is a party and has preserved the right to appeal the order in writing within 30 days after entry and service of the order, a termination of parental rights petition or motion has not been filed within 65 days of entry and service of the order, and a notice of appeal of the order eliminating reunification is filed within 30 days after entry and service of the expiration of the 65 days or (2) a party who is a guardian or custodian with whom reunification is not a permanent plan.
Adds that in a juvenile matter under Subchapter I (Abuse, Neglect, Dependency), appeal of a final order is made directly to the Supreme Court in: (1) any order that terminates parental rights or denies a petition or motion to terminate parental rights and (2) an order eliminating reunification as a permanent plan if (a) the right to appeal the order eliminating reunification has been preserved in writing within 30 days of entry and service of the order, (b) a motion or petition to terminate the parent’s rights is filed within 65 days of entry and service of the order eliminating reunification and the motion or petition to terminate rights is heard and granted and the order terminating parental rights is appealed in a proper and timely manner, and (c) a separate notice of appeal of the order eliminating reunification is filed within 30 days after entry and service of a termination of parental rights order. Specifies that under scenario (2), the Supreme Court must review the order eliminating reunification together with an appeal of the order terminating parental rights. If the order eliminating reunification is vacated or reversed, the order terminating parental rights must be vacated.
This part is effective January 1, 2019, and applies to appeals filed on or after that date.
Make the act effective when it becomes law, unless otherwise provided.
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