BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
                             Senator Ricardo Lara, Chair
                            2015 - 2016  Regular  Session

          SB 478 (Huff) - Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act:  mandated  
          reporters:  pilot program
          
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          |Version: February 26, 2015      |Policy Vote: PUB. S. 6 - 0      |
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          |Urgency: No                     |Mandate: No                     |
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          |Hearing Date: May 28, 2015      |Consultant: Jolie Onodera       |
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          SUSPENSE FILE. AS AMENDED.




          


          Bill  
          Summary:  SB 478 would authorize a county welfare agency to  
          develop a five-year pilot program for internet-based reporting  
          of child abuse and neglect, to be used by specified mandated  
          reporters in lieu of or in addition to the initial telephone  
          report requirement under existing law. This bill would require  
          the Department of Social Services (DSS) to consult with  
          specified agencies to determine which counties may be involved  
          in the pilot program. 


          Fiscal Impact (as approved May 28,  
          2015):  
            Interagency reporting workload impact  : potential  







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            increases/decreases in local agency costs, potentially  
            state-reimbursable (General Fund), across all local agencies  
            involved in the ICAN reporting process. While the use of an  
            internet-based reporting tool in a pilot county could  
            potentially reduce the level of child welfare agency workload  
            necessary to accept and refer suspected child abuse reports  
            via telephone, to the extent fewer reports are initiated by  
            telephone could conversely generate additional workload for  
            follow-up information required, and/or restrict the ability of  
            the receiving agency from immediately electronically  
            transferring a call to another agency, thereby increasing the  
            number of reports that must be accepted, referred/retained,  
            and recorded by a receiving agency. The statewide cost  
            estimate adopted by the Commission on State Mandates for the  
            Interagency Child Abuse and Neglect Investigation Reports  
            (00-TC-22) reflects a prospective cost of $2.6 million  
            annually for ICAN-related activities. The 2015-16 May Revision  
            proposes to suspend the ICAN mandate, rendering its provisions  
            optional for local agencies in FY 2015-16, thereby allowing  
            the deferral of payment of $90.4 million in prior-year claims.  
            To the extent the ICAN mandate is ultimately not suspended,  
            however, any increase in local costs could be reimbursable by  
            the state (General Fund).
            Internet-based reporting tool  : unknown, potentially  
            significant one-time and ongoing non-reimbursable county  
            welfare agency costs to develop, test, and operate an  
            internet-reporting tool. The May Revision proposes a $4  
            million General Fund grant program to fund ICAN activities  
            carried out by county welfare and probation departments in  
            counties that choose to participate. As a result, these local  
            costs could potentially be funded with General Fund to the  
            extent the ICAN mandate is suspended and the grant program is  
            funded in the final Budget. To the extent other local agencies  
            (city/county police, sheriff's departments, county probation  
            departments) within a pilot county that are required to accept  
            mandated reports incur increased costs (as the bill authorizes  
            mandated reporters to utilize the reporting tool in the pilot  
            area, but does not specifically restrict reporting to child  
            welfare agencies), these costs could potentially be found to  
            be reimbursable by the state (General Fund) if the ICAN  
            mandate is not suspended. 
            DSS consultation  : minor one-time costs (General Fund) for the  
            DSS to consult with specified agencies to determine county  
            involvement in the pilot program.








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          Background:  Existing law establishes the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting  
          Act (CANRA), which requires a mandated reporter, as defined, to  
          make a report to a specified agency whenever the mandated  
          reporter, in his or her professional capacity or within the  
          scope of his or her employment, has knowledge of or observes a  
          child whom the mandated reporter knows or reasonably suspects  
          has been the victim of child abuse or neglect. (Penal Code (PC)  
           11166(a).) Existing law enumerates 44 categories of mandated  
          reporters of child abuse or neglect. (PC  11165.7.)
          Existing law requires the mandated reporter to make an initial  
          report by telephone to the agency immediately or as soon as is  
          practicably possible, and to prepare and send, fax, or  
          electronically transmit a written follow-up report within 36  
          hours of receiving the information concerning the incident. (PC  
           11166(a).)


          Existing law specifies that reports of suspected child abuse or  
          neglect shall be made to a police department or sheriff's  
          department, not including a school district police or security  
          department, a county probation department, if designated by the  
          county to receive mandated reports, or a county welfare  
          department. These agencies are required to accept a report of  
          suspected child abuse or neglect whether offered by a mandated  
          reporter or another person, or referred by another agency, even  
          if the agency to whom the report is being made lacks subject  
          matter or geographical jurisdiction to investigate the reported  
          case, unless the agency can immediately electronically transfer  
          the call to an agency with proper jurisdiction. (PC 11165.9.)

          When an agency takes a report about a case of suspected child  
          abuse or neglect in which that agency lacks jurisdiction, the  
          agency is required to immediately refer the case by telephone,  
          fax, or electronic transmission to an agency with proper  
          jurisdiction. Agencies that are required to receive reports of  
          suspected child abuse or neglect may not refuse to accept a  
          report of suspected child abuse or neglect from a mandated  
          reporter or another person unless otherwise authorized, and are  
          required to maintain a record of all reports received. (PC  
          11165.9.)










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          Proposed  
          Law:  This bill would authorize a county welfare agency to  
          develop a five-year pilot program for internet-based reporting  
          of child abuse and neglect, as follows:
                 Requires the DSS to consult with the County Welfare  
               Directors Association and any interested county welfare  
               agencies to determine which counties may be involved in the  
               pilot program. 


                 Specifies the pilot program may operate in a specific  
               region to receive reports of suspected child abuse or  
               neglect, subject to all of the following conditions:


                  o         The suspected child abuse or neglect does not  
                    indicate that the child is subject to an immediate  
                    risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation or that the  
                    child is in imminent danger of severe harm or death.


                  o         The agency provides an internet form that  
                    includes qualifying questions in order to obtain  
                    necessary information required to assess the need for  
                    child welfare services and a response.


                  o         The mandated reporter is required to complete  
                    all required fields, including identity and contact  
                    information of the mandated reporter, in order to  
                    submit the report.


                  o         The mandated reporter is required to cooperate  
                    with any requests by the agency for additional  
                    information, if needed, to investigate the report.


                  o         The system can only be used by the following  
                    mandated reporters:
                                     A peace officer, as specified.
                                     A probation officer.
                                     A school teacher, counselor, or  
                         administrator.








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                                     A physician and surgeon,  
                         psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed nurse,  
                         marriage and family therapist, or clinical social  
                         worker, as specified.
                                     A coroner.
                 Specifies in an area where the pilot program is active,  
               the specified mandated reporter may use the internet-based  
               reporting tool in lieu of or in addition to the required  
               initial telephone report required under existing law.


                 Specifies the pilot shall remain in effect only until  
               January 1, 2021, unless a later enacted statute, as  
               specified, deletes or extends that date.


          Related Legislation:  SB 332 (Block) 2015 would authorize school  
          district police departments to receive mandated reports of  
          suspected child abuse or neglect. This bill is scheduled to be  
          heard today by this Committee.


          Prior  
          Legislation:  AB 776 (Chu) Chapter 713/2005 authorized the  
          filing of a one-time alternate faxed or electronic mandated  
          reporting form on suspected child abuse in lieu of the initial  
          telephone report, as specified. The DSS was required to submit a  
          report to the Legislature at the end of the three-year operative  
          period or January 1, 2009, to provide data about the use of the  
          alternative method of reporting.  
          The use of the new reporting form was contingent upon the  
          completion of necessary modifications to the CWS/CMS system.  
          Ultimately, DSS determined it was not possible to complete the  
          CWS/CMS modifications within the timeframes provided, and a  
          statewide survey was taken of the counties to obtain input on  
          the issue. In its report, Suspected Child Abuse One-Time  
          Reporting Form (January 2009), the DSS reported the following  
          major consensus of survey results among 25 counties that  
          completed the survey, as follows:

             1.   That the current system of receiving a phone call for an  
               initial report of child abuse is preferred over an initial  
               report via fax or email. This is due to the difficulties in  
               contacting the mandated reporter and the possible problems  








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               in not being able to determine details about a situation  
               over the phone.
             2.   That mandated reporters need more and better training,  
               particularly about providing information in reporting  
               suspected child abuse.
             3.   That the counties are comfortable with the current  
               system using the SS 8572 with an initial phone call.
             4.   That there is concern about putting children at risk  
               with a reporting system that allows for an initial fax or  
               email of suspected child abuse without a phone call.
             5.   That depending on the size of the county and the  
               population being served, there are times when a mandated  
               reporter may have difficulty in contacting a particular  
               county agency.


          Staff  
          Comments:  By authorizing county welfare agencies to revise the  
          process for mandated reporting of suspected child abuse or  
          neglect, this bill could potentially result in fiscal impacts to  
          not only the participating child welfare agency, but to other  
          local agencies involved in the child abuse reporting process  
          under the ICAN mandate. 
          The statewide cost estimate adopted by the CSM for the  
          Interagency Child Abuse and Neglect Investigation Reports  
          (00-TC-22) reflects total costs of $90.4 million through FY  
          2012-13, and prospective costs of $2.6 million annually for  
          ICAN-related activities including distributing forms, accepting  
          and referring initial child abuse reports, cross-reporting  
          between local agencies and to the district attorney's office,  
          reporting to licensing agencies, completing investigations and  
          forwarding substantiated reports to the DOJ (for county  
          probation and county welfare departments only), and records  
          retention. 

          Staff notes the 2015-16 Governor's Budget proposes to suspend  
          the ICAN mandate, rendering its provisions optional for local  
          agencies in FY 2015-16, thereby allowing the deferral of payment  
          of $90.4 million in prior-year claims. To the extent the ICAN  
          mandate is ultimately not suspended, however, any increase in  
          local costs could be reimbursable by the state (General Fund)  
          under the existing ICAN mandate decision.

          As the provisions of this measure allow specified mandated  








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          reporters to utilize the internet-based reporting tool in lieu  
          of or in addition to the required initial telephone report, it  
          is unclear if a greater number of suspected child abuse reports  
          would potentially be accepted, referred, and recorded, resulting  
          in additional state-reimbursable costs (for example, if a  
          mandated reporter submitted an electronic report to a child  
          welfare agency as well as telephoned the local law enforcement  
          agency). 


          While the use of an internet-based reporting tool in a pilot  
          county could potentially reduce the level of child welfare  
          agency workload necessary to accept and refer suspected child  
          abuse reports via telephone, to the extent fewer reports are  
          initiated by telephone could conversely generate additional  
          workload for a receiving agency for follow-up information  
          required, and/or restrict the ability of a receiving agency from  
          immediately electronically transferring a call to another agency  
          with jurisdiction, thereby increasing the number of reports that  
          must be accepted, referred/retained, and recorded by a receiving  
          agency.      


          A county welfare agency opting into the pilot would potentially  
          incur significant one-time and ongoing non-reimbursable costs  
          (Local/Federal) to develop and operate the internet-reporting  
          tool, as well as provide staff training on the process. However,  
          as the Governor's Budget proposes a $4 million General Fund  
          grant program to fund ICAN activities carried out by county  
          welfare and probation departments in counties that choose to  
          participate, these local agency costs could potentially be  
          funded with General Fund to the extent the ICAN mandate is  
          ultimately suspended and the grant program is funded in the  
          final Budget.

          This bill authorizes specified mandated reporters to use the  
          internet-based reporting tool "in an area where the pilot  
          program is active". As the bill does not specifically restrict  
          the use of the tool to submit initial reports to a county  
          welfare agency, it is unclear if other receiving agencies in the  
          area where the pilot program is active could be required to  
          accept reports through the internet-reporting tool. To the  
          extent other local agencies required to accept mandated reports  
          (city and county police and sheriff's departments, county  








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          probation departments) incur increased costs for revising  
          processes and training associated with the tool, these costs  
          could potentially be found to be reimbursable by the state  
          (General Fund). The magnitude of costs would be dependent on the  
          number of county agencies participating in the pilot, which is  
          unknown and not limited in number. 

          Author amendments (as adopted May 28, 2015):
                 Clarify the pilot is to operate in a county versus a  
               region or area.
                 Delete the potential duplication of mandated reporting  
               via telephone and electronic reporting.
                 Remove psychiatrists and psychologists as mandated  
               reporters for the pilot. 
                 Limit the pilot to 10 counties.
                 Add coauthors.
                 Make other technical changes.


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