AN ACT TO DIRECT THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES TO MAKE REFORMS TO IMPROVE SOCIAL SERVICES, THE FOSTER CARE SYSTEM, AND CHILD WELFARE SERVICES; TO MAKE APPROPRIATIONS TO TRANSITION TO REGIONAL SUPERVISION; TO IMPROVE INTERCOUNTY COLLABORATION BETWEEN DEPARTMENTS OF SOCIAL SERVICES; AND TO SUPPORT THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FAMILY FIRST PREVENTION SERVICES ACT, AS RECOMMENDED BY THE NORTH CAROLINA CHILD WELL-BEING TRANSFORMATION COUNCIL.
Directs the Department of Health and Human Service (DHHS), Division of Social Services (DSS), to develop policies and procedures that require coordination between counties for children who reside outside of the county that has custody of the child no later than 90 days after the child's 17th birthday. Requires ensuring a point of contact with the custody county to assist with securing public assistance and access to physical and mental health services for which the child is eligible. Requires the policies and procedures to ensure educational plans, employment plans, and mechanisms to ensure continuity and amplify services for children transitioning out of foster care. Directs DHHS to report to the specified NCGA committee chairs by February 1, 2022, on its progress in policy development and implementation, its method of dissemination to counties, and DHHS's oversight and accountability for county implementation.
Directs DSS to develop policies and procedures to outline the permanency plan process and to require all county caseworkers to begin developing permanency plans no later than 90 days after the child's 17th birthday and to finalize permanency plans no later than 15 days prior to transitioning out of foster care on a child's 18th birthday, subject to federal law. Directs DSS to study the current age of transitioning out of foster care and evaluate if the age of transition should be changed and the associated impacts, benefits, and outcomes. Requires DHHS to report to the specified NCGA committee chairs by April 1, 2022, on the polices and procedures, and recommended legislation.
Directs DHHS to develop and implement a plan to encourage keeping foster children in community-based settings and avoid inappropriate residential behavioral health placement. Requires implementation of the plan by April 1, 2022, with reporting to the specified NCGA committee chairs by July 1, 2022.
Directs DHHS to study the statutory requirements of the social services system, juvenile justice system, and the Medicaid and NC Health Choice program applicable to children of foster care. Identifies five required areas of study, including (1) differences, consistencies, overlaps, and gaps in those state systems and programs as applied to children in foster care, and (2) benefits and challenges of the current managed care arrangement with LME/MCOs for providing services to children and their families. Requires DHHS to report to the specified NCGA committees by February 1, 2023.
Directs DHHS to develop and identify standardized, trauma-informed assessment tools and require that only trained clinicians deemed as appropriate by DHHS assess the applicability of the use of the tool in the treatment. Requires DHHS to evaluate the costs and benefits of implementing the tools including training and administration, and costs of measuring and monitoring fidelity of the tools, including data collection and analysis. Requires DHHS to report to the specified NCGA committee chairs by June 1, 2022.
Directs DSS to define and implement oversight mechanisms for the Guardianship Assistance Program and the Kinship Care Program (programs); increase the use of the programs statewide; explore the feasibility of reducing the ages served by the programs; reduce the age of eligibility of the Guardianship Assistance Program to 12; and provide recommendations to incentive the use of the programs with cost estimates and anticipated outcomes. Specifies that the provisions do not provide for guardianship replacing or supplanting permanency. Directs DHHS to report to the specified NCGA committee chairs by February 1, 2022.
Directs DSS and the NC Association of Regional Councils of Governments to explore entering into a memorandum of agreement to use the Councils' physical space and office-related needs for DSS staff and facilitate cooperation between regions. Requires evaluation of estimated costs by region for the office space and sample agreements. Requires DSS to file a report to the specified NCGA committee chairs by June 1, 2022.
Directs DHHS to compile a list of programs that qualify for federal reimbursement through the Family First Prevention Services Act, as specified in federal law, and submit an annual report to the specified NCGA committee beginning December 1, 2022, and through December 1, 2025, as specified.
Directs DSS to study the confidentiality laws that apply to State social services and programs. Requires DSS to request recommendations to improve intercounty cross-sector communication and delivery of services. Identifies four required areas of study, including studying all state laws imposing confidentiality that apply to social services and specified chapters of the NC Administrative Code, and revisions necessary to accommodate the anticipated changes to the judicial system's IT platform. Requires consultation with specified state departments, divisions and agencies. Requires DSS to report to the specified NCGA committee chairs by June 1, 2022.
Repeals GS 131D-10.9A, which establishes the Permanency Innovation Initiative Oversight Committee.
Amends GS 115C-378 to require the Department of Public Instruction to annual notify all school social workers employed in a public school of the attendance requirement for children ages 7-16.
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