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  • Summary date: Jul 10 2023 - View Summary


  • Summary date: Apr 18 2023 - View Summary

    Enacts new Article 3A, Child Advocacy Centers in GS Chapter 108A, providing the following. Defines Children's Advocacy Center as a child-focused, trauma-informed, facility-based program in good standing with Children's Advocacy Centers of NC Inc. or its successor, that assists in the coordination of the investigation of child maltreatment by promoting a coordinated, multidisciplinary response to cases of child maltreatment in which representatives from law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, mental health, forensic interviewing, medical, or victim advocacy groups or disciplines collaborate regarding the  investigation, prosecution, safety, treatment, and support services, including forensic interviews, medical examinations, mental health services, advocacy, consultation, and training, to be provided, directly or by formalized  agreements, for children suspected to be victims of child maltreatment and  their appropriate caregivers.

    Defines child as any individual under age 18, or for referrals made by law enforcement, any individual who has a developmental disability, as defined in GS 122C-3(12a), that severely impacts conceptual, social, and practical areas of living to the extent the individual cannot live in an independent environment. Also defines the following terms: caregiver, child maltreatment, child medical evaluation, Children’s Advocacy Center of NC, Inc., department, forensic interview, law enforcement child medical evaluation, multidisciplinary team, National Children’s Alliance, national standards, and state standards.

    Requires a Child Advocacy Center (CAC) to meet all of the following in order to receive State funds or federal funds administered or distributed by a State agency or any other funds appropriated or allocated by the NCGA: (1) found to be in good standing with State standards set forth by Children's Advocacy Centers of NC  Inc. (CACNC) or its successor (with provisions that CACNC will inform State partners when a CAC is no longer in good standing); (2) is an independent agency, which may be affiliated with an umbrella organization or a part of a governmental entity, with sound administrative policies and procedures designed to ensure quality of services and sustainability including specified standards; (3) provides a child-friendly, trauma-informed space for children suspected to be victims of child maltreatment and their appropriate caregivers; (4) conducts on-site interviews of children by a forensic interviewer in appropriate cases of suspected child maltreatment; (5) maintains a multidisciplinary team (MDT) that meets regularly and are routinely involved in investigations and multidisciplinary team interventions; (6) has a written interagency agreement signed by authorized representatives of all MDT participants that commits the signed parties to the multidisciplinary model for the investigation of child maltreatment, with the agreement reviewed and signed annually; (7) provides a space for MDT meetings; (8) establishes and maintains written protocols that comply with State and federal laws governing the specified topics; (9) has a designated staff that is supervised and approved by the CAC’s Board of Directors or other governing entity; (10) provides case tracking of child abuse cases served through the CAC, according to written protocols and sets out additional items the CAC must track; (11) provides or refers child medical evaluations and law enforcement child medical evaluations, as requested by a department or a law enforcement agency; (12) provides mental health services or referrals for those mental health services, which will be provided by licensed mental health professionals who deliver trauma-focused, evidence-supported treatment and who meet State standards; (13) provides training for various disciplines in the community that deal with child maltreatment; (14) provides victim support and advocacy that meets State and national standards; (15) maintains diversity, equity, and inclusion by completing a community assessment every three years, which does at least the listed items; (16) provides annual trainings or educational opportunities for multidisciplinary team members’ professional development; (17) ensures that CAC employees and volunteers are properly screened and trained in accordance with State and national standards; and (18) provides all services to a child client regardless of the child's or child's family's ability to pay for those services.  Makes the CACNC, or its successor, responsible for tracking and documenting compliance and any funds it administers to an eligible CAC.

    Enacts GS 108A-75.3, pertaining to sharing of information. Authorizes a department to share information relevant to the protection of a child with the MDT, subject to state and federal laws and rules. Authorizes other MDT members to share information relevant to the protection of a child with the MDT, subject to state and federal statutes and rules. Authorizes the chief district court judge of the judicial district in which the MDT sits to enter an administrative order designating certain local agencies located within the jurisdiction as authorized to share information concerning a case of suspected child maltreatment in which the county department of social services (department) is not involved, with designated agencies required to share information in their possession upon request and to the extent permitted by federal law and regulations, for so long as the child's case is being investigated by law enforcement or the child is receiving services at the Center. Deems shared information confidential except for disclosures required by law and limits use to the extent necessary for the agency to perform its required duties. Specifies that the provisions do not require disclosure or release of information in the possession of a district attorney. Specifies that information shared between MDT members must comply with federal law or regulation and remain confidential, except to the extent necessary for the protection of a child. Provides an MDT member limited liability for state civil and criminal law violations for good faith participation in team discussions by providing information about a child being reviewed by the MDT.

    Enacts GS 108A-75.4 relating to access to CAC records, which provides the following. Creates distinct confidentiality provisions for child medical evaluations, forensic interviews, and information received from a CAC based on whether a referral to the CAC is by a department or law enforcement, with disclosure of information and records in cases referred by a department also governed by various statutes of GS Chapter 7B identified. Designates the following records in cases referred by law enforcement as confidential and only released in accordance with GS 108A-75.4: a law enforcement child medical evaluation, forensic interview, or any other information received by law enforcement from a CAC, including electronic records. Permits release only to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and county departments, law enforcement agencies, a prosecuting DA, or the Attorney General, certain health care entities and providers providing medical or psychiatric care to the child (in the case of medical or mental health records), the NC Child Fatality Task Force or a permitted by GS 7B-3100, which governs the disclosure of juvenile records.

    Otherwise, requires a court order to release records created, compiled, maintained, or received by a CAC, which requires finding that the records are necessary for the determination of a criminal, civil, or administrative matter and the information cannot be obtained from DHHS, a law enforcement agency, the prosecuting attorney, a department, or the Attorney General. Requires inclusion of an order for an in camera inspection and protective order. Provides further limitations for such orders. Provides for information sharing between employees and designated agents of CAC’s, between CAC’s and the CACNC. or other contract services providers, and a CAC and other CAC’s or an MDT, as specified. Exempts DHHS, a department, law enforcement agencies, the prosecuting attorney, a court of competent jurisdiction and the Attorney General from the authorized limited disclosure described above, regarding sharing information with the CACNC or other contract service providers when necessary for the child, caregiver, or a CAC to receive essential support or services, with necessary confidentiality provisions in place, consistent with state and federal law. Provides for continued confidentiality of disclosed information. Deems records created under the Article to not be public records.

    Enacts GS 108A-75.5 (child medical evaluation requirement) which permits a department to use a CAC for the provision of a child medical evaluation but specifies that the provisions of the Article do not bind a department to use a CAC for the provision of services related to a child medical evaluation. Enacts GS 108A-75.6 which provides limited immunity from liability for a board member, staff member or volunteer of a CAC or CACNC arising from performance of acts within their duties or participation in a judicial proceeding if they act in good faith. Specifies that immunity does not extend to acts of gross negligence, wanton conduct, or intentional wrongdoing.

    GS 7B-505.1, which requires a health care provider to disclose confidential information about a juvenile to a director of a department with custody of the juvenile and a parent, guardian, or custodian. Adds to the provisions, deeming a child medical evaluation performed by a health care provider rostered with the NC Child Medical Evaluation Program to be governed by new GS 108A-75.4.

    Effective July 1, 2024.