BILL REQ. #: H-0670.2
|State of Washington||60th Legislature||2007 Regular Session|
Read first time 02/01/2007. Referred to Committee on Early Learning & Children's Services.
AN ACT Relating to the duties of the department of social and health services; and reenacting and amending RCW 74.13.031.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
Sec. 1 RCW 74.13.031 and 2006 c 266 s 1 and 2006 c 221 s 3 are
each reenacted and amended to read as follows:
The department shall have the duty to provide child welfare services and shall:
(1) Develop, administer, supervise, and monitor a coordinated and comprehensive plan that establishes, aids, and strengthens services for the protection and care of runaway, dependent, or neglected children.
(2) Within available resources, recruit an adequate number of prospective adoptive and foster homes, both regular and specialized, i.e. homes for children of ethnic minority, including Indian homes for Indian children, sibling groups, handicapped and emotionally disturbed, teens, pregnant and parenting teens, and annually report to the governor and the legislature concerning the department's success in: (a) Meeting the need for adoptive and foster home placements; (b) reducing the foster parent turnover rate; (c) completing home studies for legally free children; and (d) implementing and operating the passport program required by RCW 74.13.285. The report shall include a section entitled "Foster Home Turn-Over, Causes and Recommendations."
(3) Investigate complaints of any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker that results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, or sexual abuse or exploitation, or that presents an imminent risk of serious harm, and on the basis of the findings of such investigation, offer child welfare services in relation to the problem to such parents, legal custodians, or persons serving in loco parentis, and/or bring the situation to the attention of an appropriate court, or another community agency: PROVIDED, That an investigation is not required of nonaccidental injuries which are clearly not the result of a lack of care or supervision by the child's parents, legal custodians, or persons serving in loco parentis. If the investigation reveals that a crime against a child may have been committed, the department shall notify the appropriate law enforcement agency.
(4) Offer, on a voluntary basis, family reconciliation services to families who are in conflict.
(5) Monitor out-of-home placements, on a timely and routine basis, to assure the safety, well-being, and quality of care being provided is within the scope of the intent of the legislature as defined in RCW 74.13.010 and 74.15.010, and annually submit a report measuring the extent to which the department achieved the specified goals to the governor and the legislature.
(6) Have authority to accept custody of children from parents and to accept custody of children from juvenile courts, where authorized to do so under law, to provide child welfare services including placement for adoption, to provide for the routine and necessary medical, dental, and mental health care, or necessary emergency care of the children, and to provide for the physical care of such children and make payment of maintenance costs if needed. Except where required by Public Law 95-608 (25 U.S.C. Sec. 1915), no private adoption agency which receives children for adoption from the department shall discriminate on the basis of race, creed, or color when considering applications in their placement for adoption.
(7) Have authority to provide temporary shelter to children who have run away from home and who are admitted to crisis residential centers.
(8) Have authority to purchase care for children; and shall follow in general the policy of using properly approved private agency services for the actual care and supervision of such children insofar as they are available, paying for care of such children as are accepted by the department as eligible for support at reasonable rates established by the department.
(9) Establish a children's services advisory committee which shall assist the secretary in the development of a partnership plan for utilizing resources of the public and private sectors, and advise on all matters pertaining to child welfare, licensing of child care agencies, adoption, and services related thereto. At least one member shall represent the adoption community.
(10)(a) Have authority to provide continued foster care or group care as needed to participate in or complete a high school or vocational school program.
(b)(i) Beginning in 2006, the department has the authority to allow up to fifty youth reaching age eighteen to continue in foster care or group care as needed to participate in or complete a posthigh school academic or vocational program, and to receive necessary support and transition services.
(ii) In 2007 and 2008, the department has the authority to allow up to fifty additional youth per year reaching age eighteen to remain in foster care or group care as provided in (b)(i) of this subsection.
(iii) A youth who remains eligible for such placement and services pursuant to department rules may continue in foster care or group care until the youth reaches his or her twenty-first birthday. Eligibility requirements shall include active enrollment in a posthigh school academic or vocational program and maintenance of a 2.0 grade point average.
(11) Refer cases to the division of child support whenever state or federal funds are expended for the care and maintenance of a child, including a child with a developmental disability who is placed as a result of an action under chapter 13.34 RCW, unless the department finds that there is good cause not to pursue collection of child support against the parent or parents of the child. Cases involving individuals age eighteen through twenty shall not be referred to the division of child support unless required by federal law.
(12) Have authority within funds appropriated for foster care services to purchase care for Indian children who are in the custody of a federally recognized Indian tribe or tribally licensed child-placing agency pursuant to parental consent, tribal court order, or state juvenile court order; and the purchase of such care shall be subject to the same eligibility standards and rates of support applicable to other children for whom the department purchases care.
Notwithstanding any other provision of RCW 13.32A.170 through 13.32A.200 and 74.13.032 through 74.13.036, or of this section all services to be provided by the department of social and health services under subsections (4), (6), and (7) of this section, subject to the limitations of these subsections, may be provided by any program offering such services funded pursuant to Titles II and III of the federal juvenile justice and delinquency prevention act of 1974.
(13) Within amounts appropriated for this specific purpose, provide preventive services to families with children that prevent or shorten the duration of an out-of-home placement.
(14) Have authority to provide independent living services to youths, including individuals who have attained eighteen years of age, and have not attained twenty-one years of age who are or have been in foster care.
(15)(a) Engage in a meet and confer process with certified representatives of licensed foster parents to help ensure that the department is meeting the duties and obligations specified in RCW 74.13.031, 74.13.250, and 74.13.320 regarding the recruitment of foster homes, reducing foster parent turnover rates, providing effective training for foster parents, and administering a coordinated and comprehensive plan that strengthens services for the protection of children.
(b) The department shall meet and confer with certified representatives of licensed foster parents over issues of mutual concern to the department and the foster parents, including but not limited to recruitment, training, compensation and benefits, reduced turnover among foster parents, and recommendations for the creation of a professional career track for foster parents to compliment the continued provision of services by volunteer foster parents to care for abused and neglected children needing special services. The department shall commence meet and confer discussions initially upon certification of a representative according to provisions of this act and thereafter by February 1st of any even-numbered year.
(c) The results of meet and confer discussions shall be committed to writing and be subject to any agency rule-making, statutory, or budgetary changes that may be required to implement the agreements and recommendations from the meet and confer process. Any agreement or recommendations that require rule-making, statutory, or budgetary changes will be contingent upon the successful completion of such rule-making and/or legislative process. The parties will jointly seek the enactment of such legislative or regulatory action.
(d) For purposes of this subsection, the department shall recognize as a certified representative a foster parent organization that has written authorization for representation from at least ten percent of licensed foster parent households in the state, the total number of which is to be defined by the department on January 1st of any given year and made available to any foster parent organization seeking, through written request to the department, to become a certified representative for purposes of this section, provided that such authorization by foster parents has been verified by an outside neutral party, such as the American arbitration association, that is mutually agreeable to the department and the foster parent organization seeking to become a certified representative, provided however, that the costs of such verification shall be fully borne by the organization seeking to be certified as a representative for purposes of this section. A representative organization certified under this subsection shall be deemed the representative of only those foster parents who have expressly authorized that representative organization to represent them for the purposes of this section.
(e) Should a certified representative seek to be the exclusive representative for all licensed foster parents in the state, it must secure a majority vote from licensed foster parents voting in a mail ballot election for representation to be held among all licensed foster parents in the state. Upon written request by a foster parent organization to the department for such an election, the department shall make available to the requesting foster parent organization the names and addresses of licensed foster parents as of January 1st of that year and provide that list to an outside neutral party, such as the American arbitration association, that the department and the requesting foster parent organization can mutually agree upon to conduct an impartial election among foster parents, provided however, that all costs of such an election shall be borne by the foster parent organization requesting the election. If more than one certified representative seeks to be on the ballot for such an election, it shall submit in writing to the department its intention to be on the ballot within thirty days of the written request for an election by another certified representative, and the ballot shall provide the voting foster parents the option of selecting exclusive representation by one of the certified representative organizations or no representation. If more than one certified representative seeks to be on the ballot, the costs of the election shall be equally borne by each of the certified representatives on the ballot.
(f) Nothing in this section is intended to grant employee status or in any way imply an employer-employee relationship between the state or the certified representative and foster parents as a result of foster parents having the right to a certified representative. Any state employment track that may result as an outcome of recommendations from the meet and confer process to create a professional track for foster parents serving children with special needs would be subject to approval by the legislature to create and authorize any new state employment positions and any such positions created would fall under relevant state employment representation and collective bargaining statutes and not this section.
(g) Nothing in this section is intended to give or imply that foster parents have a right to engage in a strike or stoppage of services as a result of having the right to representation.
(h) Nothing in this section shall modify the department's obligation to comply with federal statutes and regulations or court orders regarding the delivery of foster care services; nor the legislature's right to make programmatic modifications to the delivery of state services under this section.
(i) Nothing in this section shall modify the legislature's right to make programmatic modifications to the delivery of state services under this title. Nothing in this section is intended to modify or supplant the statutory or regulatory rights of parents or children in the foster care system.