AN ACT TO REFORM THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM IN THIS STATE; IMPROVE ACCOUNTABILITY AND STATE OVERSIGHT OF THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM; REQUIRE THE STATE TO DEVELOP A PLAN FOR A REGIONAL SYSTEM OF SOCIAL SERVICES DEPARTMENTS; ESTABLISH A CHILD WELL-BEING TRANSFORMATION COUNCIL TO IMPROVE COORDINATION, COLLABORATION, AND COMMUNICATION AMONG CHILD-SERVING AGENCIES; ESTABLISH A PILOT PROGRAM TO HELP YOUTH IN SUBSTITUTE CARE OBTAIN DRIVERS LICENSES; 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; AND REDUCE THE TIME FRAME FOR LICENSURE APPROVAL REGARDING FOSTER CARE.
Includes whereas clauses.
Directs the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to develop a plan for creating no more than 30 regional social services departments. Requires DHHS to submit a preliminary plan to the legislature by January 15, 2019, and a final plan by March 31, 2019. If DHHS fails to meet the deadline for the final plan, the legislature shall develop the plan. The plan must provide for implementation of the regional system by January 1, 2022.
Directs the School of Government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to convene a Social Services Regionalization Working Group (Working Group) to develop recommendations regarding the Department's plan. Specifies the membership of the Working Group, authorizes the co-chairs to appoint ad hoc subcommittees, and details the issues that the group must consider. Requires the Working Group to submit an interim report by June 30, 2018, and a final report by December 1, 2018. Appropriates $48,400 in FY 2017-18 and $24,700 in FY 2018-19 from the General Fund to the School of Government. Also appropriates from the General Fund to DHHS $38,039 in FY 2017-18 and $16,303 in FY 2018-19 for reimbursement of expenses related to the Working Group. Appropriations effective July 1, 2017.
Directs the Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM), in consultation with DHHS, to contract with an outside organization to evaluate the state’s child welfare system, develop a plan for reforming the system, and provide ongoing evaluation and oversight of the state’s implementation of the reform plan. Specifies issues that the outside organization must address in its evaluation and reform plan. Requires the outside organization to develop a Dashboard, which must be a standard set of performance and outcome metrics that indicate how effectively the child welfare system is working. Directs DHHS to conduct a comprehensive review of all child welfare policies and update them as appropriate to conform with changes in the system related to both regionalization and child welfare reform. Requires that all drafts of revised policies must be reviewed by the outside organization. Requires OSBM, DHHS, and the outside organization to submit several reports to the legislature throughout the contracting, reform, and policy review processes. Appropriates $3.1 million from the General Fund to DHHS to implement the requirements related to child welfare reform. Appropriation effective July 1, 2017.
Amends GS 108A-74 to establish a new system for state oversight of administration of child welfare programs at the local level. Directs DHHS to establish performance and outcome metrics for child welfare programs and requires local social services agencies to meet mandated performance requirements aligned with those metrics. If a local social services agency fails to meet the requirements, DHHS and the local agency must enter into a corrective action plan. If a local social services agency fails to complete the corrective action plan, DHHS must temporarily assume administration of all or part of the agency’s child welfare program. Authorizes DHHS to restore administrative responsibilities to the local agency once the Secretary determines that the agency will be able to meet performance requirements. Effective six months after all 100 counties have implemented the child welfare component of the North Carolina Families Accessing Services through Technology (NCFAST) system.
Creates new GS Chapter 143, Article 81, establishing the Child Well-Being Transformation Council (Council). Provides that the Council will serve as a means for coordination, collaboration, and communication among private and public organizations involved in providing public services to children. New GS 143-775 specifies composition requirements, appointing authorities, and terms. Requires that initial members be appointed on or after July 1, 2018. New GS 143-776 outlines the powers and duties of the Council. Directs the Council to focus initially on the child protective services system but authorizes the Council to expand beyond child protective services after 2022. Requires the Council to submit annual reports to the legislature. Appropriates $12,692 in FY 2018-19 from the General Fund to the Legislative Services Commission to support the Council. All provisions related to the Council, including the appropriation, are effective July 1, 2017.
Directs DHHS to establish a two-year pilot program to reimburse costs associated with obtaining a driver's license, including education, fees, and insurance, for older youth who are in substitute care. Directs DHHS to report to the legislature by March 1, 2018. Appropriates to DHHS $75,000 for FY 2017-18 and $75,000 for FY 2018-19. All provisions related to this pilot program are effective July 1, 2017.
Directs DHHS to establish a pilot program that allows for a waiver of the requirement that foster parents maintain outside employment if the foster home is utilizing Intensive Alternative Family Treatment (IAFT). DHHS shall solicit participation in the pilot from local management entities/managed care organizations (LME/MCOs). Participating LME/MCOs must compare specified outcome data for foster youth utilizing IAFT who are participating in the pilot with those who are not. LME/MCOs must submit reports to DHHS and DHHS must submit a report to the legislature by December 1, 2018.
Amends GS 7B-1001(a)(5) to shorten the amount of time a parent has to appeal orders entered pursuant to GS 7B-906.2(b) (concurrent permanent plans) from 180 days to 65 days.
Amends GS 131D-10.3 to add a new paragraph (d1) requiring DHHS to grant or deny a license to provide foster care or therapeutic foster care within three months of the date of application. Also directs DHHS to further examine the system for processing these applications to further reduce the time frames.
Except as otherwise provided above, provisions are effective when they become law.