AN ACT TO SET CERTAIN CRITERIA FOR CHILDREN'S ADVOCACY CENTERS TO BE ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE STATE FUNDS, TO GOVERN THE SHARING OF INFORMATION AND RECORDS OF CHILDREN'S ADVOCACY CENTERS AND MULTIDISCIPLINARY TEAMS, AND TO ESTABLISH CERTAIN IMMUNITY FOR CHILDREN'S ADVOCACY CENTERS.
Senate committee substitute to the 2nd edition makes the following changes.
Modifies new Article 3A, Child Advocacy Centers in GS Chapter 108A, as follows. Adds caregiver and child medical evaluation to the Article's defined terms. Defines child medical evaluation as a medical evaluation of a child performed by a medical provider who is rostered with UNC-Chapel Hill, NC Child Medical Evaluation Program, which includes a forensic interview when possible, performed at a Children's Advocacy Center (Center) or another facility pursuant to an agreement with a Center. Revises the definitions for the terms child, child maltreatment, Children's Advocacy Center, forensic interview, and multidisciplinary team. No longer references a successor to the Children's Advocacy Centers of NC in the definition of Children's Advocacy Center; makes conforming changes to remove such references throughout the Article. Among other changes, now provides that a multidisciplinary team (MDT) works solely on behalf of the children served by a Center, and includes professionals who work collaboratively pursuant to a written protocol to share information on service provision and investigations by law enforcement or the department to inform the investigation and prosecution of child maltreatment cases and to coordinate services in response to reports made of child maltreatment (was, to coordinate, investigate, and be involved in the prosecution of child abuse cases to assure the most effective coordinated response to reports of child maltreatment). Allows inclusion of appropriate caregivers (was, nonoffending caregivers and families in the MDT); makes changes throughout to refer to "appropriate caregivers" rather than "nonoffending family members." Now defines child maltreatment to include any acts or series of acts of commission or omission involving sexual or physical abuse of a child, neglect of a child, human trafficking of a child, exploitation of a child, or the abuse, neglect, or dependency of a child. Makes changes to consistently refer to "child maltreatment" throughout rather than "child abuse."
Makes technical changes to and modifies the eligibility criteria set forth for a Center to receive State or federal funds administered or distributed by a State agency, or other legislative appropriations, as follows. Requires a Center to be an independent agency (was, an independent nonprofit agency), which can be a nonprofit or affiliated with an umbrella organization (previously allowed affiliation with an umbrella organization). Requires establishing and maintaining written protocols on specified subjects that comply with state and federal laws, in addition to State and national standards. Adds to the protocols required to include written protocols on the confidentiality of a department's protective services information and records and information sharing among MDT members that complies with State and federal law and rules for the participating entities (was, sharing among MDT members only). Requires provision of medical exams or referrals for exams in each case to be provided by health care providers with specific training in child sexual and physical abuse who are rostered with the NC Child Medical Evaluation Program who meet required State and national standards for training, documentation, and review (previously, did not specify for each exam, did not require rostering, and also referenced standards of the Center's written protocols). Specifies provision of mental health services or referrals services must be made by licensed mental health professionals, in each case (previously, referred to licensed professionals and did not specify required in each case), who deliver trauma-focused, evidence-supported treatment and who meet minimum standards established by the Children's Advocacy Centers of NC, Inc. Requires maintaining diversity, equity, and inclusion (was, cultural competency and diversity) by completing a community assessment every three years, and requires the assessment to include identifying (was, determining) underserved populations and identifying and addressing gaps in services to those populations (previously, did not specify the gaps to be identified were specific to underserved populations).
Replaces the previous content of proposed GS 108A-75.3, regarding sharing of information, and now provides the following. Authorizes the 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, to carry out a treatment plan or recommendations, or to improve the educational opportunities 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.
Replaces the previous content of proposed GS 108A-75.4, relating to access to the Children's Advocacy Center records, and now provides the following. Creates distinct confidentiality provisions for child medical evaluations, forensic interviews, and information received from a Center based on whether a referral to the Center 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, and disclosure of information and records in cases referred by law enforcement limited to release to four described categories of recipients, or as 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 Center, 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 the Department of Health and Human Services, 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 Centers, between Centers and the Children's Advocacy Centers of NC Inc. or other contract services providers, and a Center and other Centers 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 in subsection (f), regarding sharing information with the Children's Advocacy Centers of NC, Inc. or other contract service providers when necessary for the child, caregiver, or a Center 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.
Amends 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.
Changes the effective date of the act to July 1, 2023 (was, July 1, 2022).