California Legislature—2015–16 Regular Session

Assembly BillNo. 260


Introduced by Assembly Member Lopez

February 9, 2015


An act to amend Sections 300 and 16002.5 of, and to add Section 825.5 to, the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to foster care.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 260, as introduced, Lopez. Foster care: parenting youth.

Existing law establishes the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, which may adjudge a child to be a dependent of the court under certain circumstances, including when the child has been left without any provision for support or when a parent or guardian fails to provide the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical treatment. Existing law provides that the Legislature declares that a child whose parent has been adjudged a dependent child of the court shall not be considered at risk of abuse or neglect solely because of the age, dependent status, or foster care status of the parent.

This bill would additionally declare that a child whose parent has been adjudged a dependent child of the court shall not be considered at risk of abuse or neglect solely on the basis of information concerning the parent’s placement history, behaviors, health or mental health diagnoses, or any other circumstances, occurring prior to the birth of the child.

Existing law requires the clerk of the superior court to open a separate court file for nonminor dependents under the dependency, delinquency, or transition jurisdiction of the court and limits access to those files.

This bill would require the clerk of the superior court to maintain court files and records concerning a minor dependent parent or a nonminor dependent parent separate from court files and records concerning his or her child, as specified. The bill would prohibit dependency court records concerning a minor dependent parent or a nonminor dependent parent from being disclosed to counsel in the child’s dependency proceedings or admitted as evidence in the child’s dependency procedings, except pursuant to a certain court order.

Existing law declares the intent of the Legislature to maintain the continuity of the family unit and to support and preserve families headed by minor dependant parents and nonminor dependent parents. Existing law requires foster care placements for minor parents and their children to demonstrate a willingness and ability to provide support and assistance to minor parents and their children.

This bill would additionally require those foster care placements to support the preservation of the family unit and provide preventive services to address any concerns regarding the safety, health, or well-being of the child, and to prevent, whenever possible, the filing of a petition to declare the child a dependent of the juvenile court.

Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: no.

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

P2    1

SECTION 1.  

Section 300 of the Welfare and Institutions Code
2 is amended to read:

3

300.  

Any child who comes within any of the following
4descriptions is within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court which
5may adjudge that person to be a dependent child of the court:

6(a) The child has suffered, or there is a substantial risk that the
7child will suffer, serious physical harm inflicted nonaccidentally
8upon the child by the child’s parent or guardian. For the purposes
9of this subdivision, a court may find there is a substantial risk of
10serious future injury based on the manner in which a less serious
11injury was inflicted, a history of repeated inflictions of injuries on
12the child or the child’s siblings, or a combination of these and other
13actions by the parent or guardian which indicate the child is at risk
14of serious physical harm. For purposes of this subdivision, “serious
15 physical harm” does not include reasonable and age-appropriate
16spanking to the buttocks where there is no evidence of serious
17physical injury.

P3    1(b)  (1)  The child has suffered, or there is a substantial risk
2that the child will suffer, serious physical harm or illness, as a
3result of the failure or inability of his or her parent or guardian to
4adequately supervise or protect the child, or the willful or negligent
5failure of the child’s parent or guardian to adequately supervise
6or protect the child from the conduct of the custodian with whom
7the child has been left, or by the willful or negligent failure of the
8parent or guardian to provide the child with adequate food,
9clothing, shelter, or medical treatment, or by the inability of the
10parent or guardian to provide regular care for the child due to the
11parent’s or guardian’s mental illness, developmental disability, or
12substance abuse. No child shall be found to be a person described
13by this subdivision solely due to the lack of an emergency shelter
14for the family. Whenever it is alleged that a child comes within
15the jurisdiction of the court on the basis of the parent’s or
16guardian’s willful failure to provide adequate medical treatment
17or specific decision to provide spiritual treatment through prayer,
18the court shall give deference to the parent’s or guardian’s medical
19treatment, nontreatment, or spiritual treatment through prayer alone
20in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church
21or religious denomination, by an accredited practitioner thereof,
22and shall not assume jurisdiction unless necessary to protect the
23child from suffering serious physical harm or illness. In making
24its determination, the court shall consider (1) the nature of the
25treatment proposed by the parent or guardian, (2) the risks to the
26child posed by the course of treatment or nontreatment proposed
27by the parent or guardian, (3) the risk, if any, of the course of
28treatment being proposed by the petitioning agency, and (4) the
29likely success of the courses of treatment or nontreatment proposed
30by the parent or guardian and agency. The child shall continue to
31be a dependent child pursuant to this subdivision only so long as
32is necessary to protect the child from risk of suffering serious
33physical harm or illness.

34(2) The Legislature finds and declares that a child who is
35sexually trafficked, as described in Section 236.1 of the Penal
36Code, or who receives food or shelter in exchange for, or who is
37paid to perform, sexual acts described in Section 236.1 or 11165.1
38of the Penal Code, and whose parent or guardian failed to, or was
39unable to, protect the child, is within the description of this
40subdivision, and that this finding is declaratory of existing law.
P4    1These children shall be known as commercially sexually exploited
2children.

3(c) The child is suffering serious emotional damage, or is at
4substantial risk of suffering serious emotional damage, evidenced
5by severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or untoward aggressive
6behavior toward self or others, as a result of the conduct of the
7parent or guardian or who has no parent or guardian capable of
8providing appropriate care. No child shall be found to be a person
9described by this subdivision if the willful failure of the parent or
10guardian to provide adequate mental health treatment is based on
11a sincerely held religious belief and if a less intrusive judicial
12intervention is available.

13(d) The child has been sexually abused, or there is a substantial
14risk that the child will be sexually abused, as defined in Section
1511165.1 of the Penal Code, by his or her parent or guardian or a
16member of his or her household, or the parent or guardian has
17failed to adequately protect the child from sexual abuse when the
18parent or guardian knew or reasonably should have known that
19the child was in danger of sexual abuse.

20(e) The child is under the age of five years and has suffered
21severe physical abuse by a parent, or by any person known by the
22parent, if the parent knew or reasonably should have known that
23the person was physically abusing the child. For the purposes of
24this subdivision, “severe physical abuse” means any of the
25following: any single act of abuse which causes physical trauma
26of sufficient severity that, if left untreated, would cause permanent
27physical disfigurement, permanent physical disability, or death;
28any single act of sexual abuse which causes significant bleeding,
29deep bruising, or significant external or internal swelling; or more
30than one act of physical abuse, each of which causes bleeding,
31deep bruising, significant external or internal swelling, bone
32fracture, or unconsciousness; or the willful, prolonged failure to
33provide adequate food. A child may not be removed from the
34physical custody of his or her parent or guardian on the basis of a
35finding of severe physical abuse unless the social worker has made
36an allegation of severe physical abuse pursuant to Section 332.

37(f) The child’s parent or guardian caused the death of another
38child through abuse or neglect.

39(g) The child has been left without any provision for support;
40physical custody of the child has been voluntarily surrendered
P5    1pursuant to Section 1255.7 of the Health and Safety Code and the
2child has not been reclaimed within the 14-day period specified
3in subdivision (e) of that section; the child’s parent has been
4incarcerated or institutionalized and cannot arrange for the care of
5the child; or a relative or other adult custodian with whom the child
6resides or has been left is unwilling or unable to provide care or
7support for the child, the whereabouts of the parent are unknown,
8and reasonable efforts to locate the parent have been unsuccessful.

9(h) The child has been freed for adoption by one or both parents
10for 12 months by either relinquishment or termination of parental
11rights or an adoption petition has not been granted.

12(i) The child has been subjected to an act or acts of cruelty by
13the parent or guardian or a member of his or her household, or the
14parent or guardian has failed to adequately protect the child from
15an act or acts of cruelty when the parent or guardian knew or
16reasonably should have known that the child was in danger of
17being subjected to an act or acts of cruelty.

18(j) The child’s sibling has been abused or neglected, as defined
19in subdivision (a), (b), (d), (e), or (i), and there is a substantial risk
20that the child will be abused or neglected, as defined in those
21subdivisions. The court shall consider the circumstances
22surrounding the abuse or neglect of the sibling, the age and gender
23of each child, the nature of the abuse or neglect of the sibling, the
24mental condition of the parent or guardian, and any other factors
25the court considers probative in determining whether there is a
26substantial risk to the child.

27It is the intent of the Legislature that nothing in this section
28disrupt the family unnecessarily or intrude inappropriately into
29family life, prohibit the use of reasonable methods of parental
30discipline, or prescribe a particular method of parenting. Further,
31nothing in this section is intended to limit the offering of voluntary
32services to those families in need of assistance but who do not
33come within the descriptions of this section. To the extent that
34savings accrue to the state from child welfare services funding
35obtained as a result of the enactment of the act that enacted this
36section, those savings shall be used to promote services which
37support family maintenance and family reunification plans, such
38as client transportation, out-of-home respite care, parenting
39training, and the provision of temporary or emergency in-home
40caretakers and persons teaching and demonstrating homemaking
P6    1skills. The Legislature further declares that a physical disability,
2such as blindness or deafness, is no bar to the raising of happy and
3well-adjusted children and that a court’s determination pursuant
4to this section shall center upon whether a parent’s disability
5prevents him or her from exercising care and control. The
6Legislature further declares that a child whose parent has been
7adjudged a dependent child of the court pursuant to this section
8shall not be considered to be at risk of abuse or neglect solely
9because of the age, dependent status, or foster care status of the
10begin delete parent.end deletebegin insert parent, or solely on the basis of information concerning
11the parent’s placement history, behaviors, health or mental health
12diagnoses, or any other circumstances, occurring prior to the birth
13of the child.end insert

14As used in this section, “guardian” means the legal guardian of
15the child.

16

SEC. 2.  

Section 825.5 is added to the Welfare and Institutions
17Code
, to read:

18

825.5.  

The clerk of the superior court shall maintain court files
19and records concerning a minor dependent parent or a nonminor
20dependent parent of a child who is the subject of a dependency
21petition separate from court files and records concerning the child.
22Dependency court records concerning a minor dependent parent
23or a nonminor dependent parent shall not be disclosed to counsel
24in the child’s dependency proceedings or admitted as evidence in
25the child’s dependency procedings except pursuant to a court order
26issued in response to a petition filed under subparagraph (P) of
27paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 827.

28

SEC. 3.  

Section 16002.5 of the Welfare and Institutions Code
29 is amended to read:

30

16002.5.  

It is the intent of the Legislature to maintain the
31continuity of the family unit and to support and preserve families
32headed by minor parents and nonminor dependent parents who
33are themselves under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court by
34ensuring that minor parents and nonminor dependent parents and
35their children are placed together in as family-like a setting as
36possible, unless it has been determined that placement together
37poses a risk to the child. It is also the intent of the Legislature to
38ensure that complete and accurate data on parenting minor and
39nonminor dependents is collected, and that the State Department
40of Social Services shall ensure that the following information is
P7    1publicly available on a quarterly basis by county about parenting
2minor and nonminor dependents: total number of parenting minor
3and nonminor dependents in each county, their age, their ethnic
4group, their placement type, their time in care, the number of
5children they have, and whether their children are court dependents.

6(a) To the greatest extent possible, minor parents and nonminor
7dependent parents and their children shall be provided with access
8to existing services for which they may be eligible, that are
9specifically targeted at supporting, maintaining, and developing
10both the parent-child bond and the dependent parent’s ability to
11provide a permanent and safe home for the child. Examples of
12these services may include, but are not limited to, child care,
13parenting classes, child development classes, and frequent
14visitation.

15(b) Child welfare agencies may provide minor parents and
16nonminor dependent parents with access to social workers or
17resource specialists who have received training on the needs of
18teenage parents and available resources, including, but not limited
19to, maternal and child health programs, child care, and child
20development classes. Child welfare agencies are encouraged to
21update the case plans for pregnant and parenting dependents within
2260 calendar days of the date the agency is informed of a pregnancy.
23When updating the case plan, child welfare agencies may hold a
24specialized conference to assist pregnant or parenting foster youth
25and nonminor dependents with planning for healthy parenting and
26identifying appropriate resources and services, and to inform the
27case plan. The specialized conference shall include the pregnant
28or parenting minor or nonminor dependent, family members, and
29other supportive adults, and the specially trained social worker or
30resource specialist. The specialized conference may include other
31individuals, including, but not limited to, a public health nurse, a
32community health worker, or other personnel with a comprehensive
33knowledge of available maternal and child resources, including
34public benefit programs. Participation in the specialized conference
35shall be voluntary on the part of the foster youth or nonminor
36dependent and assistance in identifying and accessing resources
37shall not be dependent on participation in the conference.

38(c) The minor parents and nonminor dependent parents shall be
39given the ability to attend school, complete homework, and
P8    1participate in age and developmentally appropriate activities
2unrelated to and separate from parenting.

3(d) Child welfare agencies, local educational agencies, and child
4care resource and referral agencies may make reasonable and
5coordinated efforts to ensure that minor parents and nonminor
6dependent parents who have not completed high school have access
7to school programs that provide onsite or coordinated child care.

8(e) Foster care placements for minor parents and nonminor
9dependent parents and their children shall demonstrate a
10willingness and ability to provide support and assistance to minor
11parents and nonminor dependent parents and theirbegin delete children.end delete
12begin insert children, shall support the preservation of the family unit, and
13shall provide preventive services to address any concerns
14regarding the safety, health, or wellend insert
begin insert-being of the child, and to
15prevent, whenever possible, the filing of a petition to declare the
16child a dependent of the juvenile court pursuant to Section 300.end insert

17(f) Contact between the child, the custodial parent, and the
18noncustodial parent shall be facilitated if that contact is found to
19be in the best interest of the child.

20(g) For the purpose of this section, “child” refers to the child
21born to the minor parent.

22(h) For the purpose of this section, “minor parent” refers to a
23dependent child who is also a parent.

24(i) For the purpose of this section, “nonminor dependent parent”
25refers to a nonminorbegin insert dependent,end insert as described in subdivision (v) of
26Sectionbegin delete 11400end deletebegin insert 11400,end insert who also is a parent.



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