BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






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          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                        SB 478|
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                                   THIRD READING 


          Bill No:  SB 478
          Author:   Huff (R)
          Amended:  6/1/15  
          Vote:     21  

           SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE:  6-0, 4/14/15
           AYES:  Hancock, Anderson, Leno, McGuire, Monning, Stone
           NO VOTE RECORDED:  Liu

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE:  7-0, 5/28/15
           AYES:  Lara, Bates, Beall, Hill, Leyva, Mendoza, Nielsen

           SUBJECT:   Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act:  mandated  
                     reporters:  pilot program


          SOURCE:    Los Angeles County
                     County Welfare Directors Association of California


          DIGEST:  This bill authorizes a 5-year pilot program for  
          Internet-based reporting of child abuse and neglect in up to 10  
          counties, as specified.


          ANALYSIS:   


          Existing law:


          1)Establishes the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act  
            ("CANRA"), which generally is intended to protect children  








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            from abuse and neglect.  (Penal Code  11164.)


          2)Enumerates 44 categories of mandatory child abuse reporters.   
            (Penal Code  11165.7.)


          3)Requires mandated reporters to make reports of suspected child  
            abuse or neglect, as specified.  (Penal Code  11165.9.)


          4)Generally requires mandated reporters 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.  The mandated reporter shall  
            make an initial report by telephone to the agency immediately  
            or as soon as is practicably possible, and shall prepare and  
            send, fax, or electronically transmit a written follow-up  
            report within 36 hours of receiving the information concerning  
            the incident. The mandated reporter may include with the  
            report any non-privileged documentary evidence the mandated  
            reporter possesses relating to the incident."  (Penal Code   
            11166.)


          5)Requires that reports of suspected child abuse or neglect be  
            made "to any police department or sheriff's department, not  
            including a school district police or security department,  
            county probation department, if designated by the county to  
            receive mandated reports, or the county welfare department. .  
            . . " (Penal Code  11165.9.)    


          This bill:


          1)Authorizes a county welfare agency, as specified below, to  
            "develop a pilot program for Internet-based reporting of child  
            abuse and neglect."


          2)Requires the Department of Social Services to "consult with  







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            the County Welfare Directors Association of California and any  
            interested county welfare agencies to determine which counties  
            may be involved in the pilot."


          3)Authorizes the pilot program to operate in up to 10 counties.


          4)Authorizes the pilot program to "receive reports of suspected  
            child abuse or neglect," and requires the program to meet all  
            of the following conditions:


               a)     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.


               b)     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.


               c)     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.


               d)     The mandated reporter is required to cooperate with  
                 any requests by the agency for additional information, if  
                 needed, to investigate the report, subject to applicable  
                 confidentiality requirements.


               e)     The system can only be used by mandated reporters  
                 who are any of the following:


                 i) A peace officer, as specified; 









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                 ii) A probation officer;


                  iii) A school teacher, counselor, or administrator;


                  iv) A physician, surgeon, or licensed nurse; or 


                  v)  A coroner.


          1)Provides that in a county where the pilot program is active, a  
            mandated child abuse or neglect reporter may use the  
            Internet-based reporting tool in lieu of   the required  
            initial telephone report.


          Background


          Existing law establishes the 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  







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          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.)


          FISCAL EFFECT:   Appropriation:    No          Fiscal  
          Com.:YesLocal:   No


          According to the Senate Appropriations Committee:




                 Interagency reporting workload impact: potential  
               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  







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               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. 




                 Department of Social Services (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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          SUPPORT:   (Verified5/29/15)


          Los Angeles County (co-source)
          County Welfare Directors Association of California (co-source)
          California State Association of Counties
          LIUNA Locals 777 & 792
          Junior Leagues of California State Public Affairs Committee
          Urban Counties Caucus


          OPPOSITION:   (Verified5/29/15)


          None received


          ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT:     


               The author states:


               The Child Protective Hotline and emergency response  
               system that sends social workers to investigate  
               allegations of abuse and neglect is the first touch  
               point between the public and the county agency  
               responsible for ensuring the safety of thousands of  
               vulnerable children.  Los Angeles County is the  
               largest in the state, with 2.4 million children and  
               youth between the ages of 0-20 years.   Currently the  
               Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) employs  
               7,500 workers, 3,200 of which are children's social  
               workers.  According to the DCFS current budget report,  
               over 214,000 calls were made to the Child Protection  
               Hotline last year.


               While DCFS has made great improvements to call/wait  
               times on the telephonic system, historically some  
               years have seen tremendous spikes in the amount of  







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               calls placed.  1998 was likely the worst year in which  
               some peak-hour waits lasted anywhere from 45 minutes  
               to 4 hours!  Every possible resource is given to  
               ensure that any hotline calls are investigated and the  
               information is shared appropriately with law  
               enforcement and child advocates. Yet, it is clear that  
               child abuse and neglect cases go up with the poverty  
               and unemployment rates.  Due to its sheer size, the  
               workload for Los Angeles County social workers can be  
               incredibly daunting at critical times when resources  
               become strained.


               This pilot program is absolutely essential for the  
               well-being of so many at-risk kids.  By virtually  
               eliminating wait times, an online reporting system  
               will increase efficiencies at every level of the  
               non-emergency and emergency response services.  SB 478  
               will be an excellent resource to help county social  
               workers assess and respond to child abuse and neglect  
               cases in a timely manner.   


           



          Prepared by:Alison Anderson / PUB. S. / 
          6/1/15 17:36:31


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