Senate Bill No. 404
(By Senators Cookman, Stollings, Miller, Williams, Fitzsimmons, Green and Palumbo)
[Introduced March 1, 2013; referred to the Committee on Education; and then to the Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §49-1-3 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating generally to child abuse and neglect; and clarifying that a child who is physically healthy and presumed safe is a neglected child if the child is habitually absent from school without good cause.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §49-1-3 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 1. PURPOSES; DEFINITIONS.
§49-1-3. Definitions relating to abuse and neglect.
(1) “Abused child” means a child whose health or welfare is harmed or threatened by:
(A) A parent, guardian or custodian who knowingly or intentionally inflicts, attempts to inflict or knowingly allows another person to inflict physical injury or mental or emotional injury upon the child or another child in the home;
(B) Sexual abuse or sexual exploitation;
(C) The sale or attempted sale of a child by a parent, guardian or custodian in violation of section sixteen, article four, chapter forty-eight of this code; or
(D) Domestic violence as defined in section two hundred two, article twenty-seven, chapter forty-eight of this code.
In addition to its broader meaning, physical injury may include an injury to the child as a result of excessive corporal punishment.
(2) “Abusing parent” means a parent, guardian or other custodian, regardless of his or her age, whose conduct, as alleged in the petition charging child abuse or neglect, has been adjudged by the court to constitute child abuse or neglect.
(3) “Battered parent” means a parent, guardian or other
custodian who has been judicially determined not to have condoned
the abuse or neglect and has not been able to stop the abuse or
neglect of the child or children due to being the victim of
domestic violence as defined by section two hundred two, article
twenty-seven, chapter forty-eight of this code, which domestic
violence was perpetrated by the person or persons determined to
have abused or neglected the child or children.
(4) “Child abuse and neglect” or “child abuse or neglect” means physical injury, mental or emotional injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, sale or attempted sale or negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child by a parent, guardian or custodian who is responsible for the child's welfare, under circumstances which harm or threaten the health and welfare of the child.
(5) “Child abuse and neglect services” means social services which are directed toward:
(A) Protecting and promoting the welfare of children who are abused or neglected;
(B) Identifying, preventing and remedying conditions which cause child abuse and neglect;
(C) Preventing the unnecessary removal of children from their families by identifying family problems and assisting families in resolving problems which could lead to a removal of children and a breakup of the family;
(D) In cases where children have been removed from their families, providing services to the children and the families so as to reunify such children with their families or some portion thereof;
(E) Placing children in suitable adoptive homes when reunifying the children with their families, or some portion thereof, is not possible or appropriate; and
(F) Assuring the adequate care of children who have been placed in the custody of the department or third parties.
(6) “Child advocacy center (CAC)” means a community-based organization that is a member in good standing with the West Virginia Child Abuse Network, Inc., and is working to implement the following program components:
(A) Child-appropriate/child-friendly facility: A child advocacy center provides a comfortable, private, child-friendly setting that is both physically and psychologically safe for clients.
(B) Multidisciplinary team (MDT): A multidisciplinary team for response to child abuse allegations includes representation from the following: Law enforcement; child protective services; prosecution; mental health; medical; victim advocacy; and child advocacy center.
(C) Organizational capacity: A designated legal entity responsible for program and fiscal operations has been established and implements basic sound administrative practices.
(D) Cultural competency and diversity: The CAC promotes policies, practices and procedures that are culturally competent. “Cultural competency” is defined as the capacity to function in more than one culture, requiring the ability to appreciate, understand and interact with members of diverse populations within the local community.
(E) Forensic interviews: Forensic interviews are conducted in a manner which is of a neutral, fact-finding nature and coordinated to avoid duplicative interviewing.
(F) Medical evaluation: Specialized medical evaluation and treatment are to be made available to CAC clients as part of the team response, either at the CAC or through coordination and referral with other specialized medical providers.
(G) Therapeutic intervention: Specialized mental health services are to be made available as part of the team response, either at the CAC or through coordination and referral with other appropriate treatment providers.
(H) Victim support/advocacy: Victim support and advocacy are to be made available as part of the team response, either at the CAC or through coordination with other providers, throughout the investigation and subsequent legal proceedings.
(I) Case review: Team discussion and information sharing regarding the investigation, case status and services needed by the child and family are to occur on a routine basis.
(J) Case tracking: CACs must develop and implement a system for monitoring case progress and tracking case outcomes for team components: Provided, That a child advocacy center may establish a safe exchange location for children and families who have a parenting agreement or an order providing for visitation or custody of the children that require a safe exchange location.
(7) “Court-appointed special advocate (CASA) program” means a community organization that screens, trains and supervises CASA volunteers to advocate for the best interests of children who are involved in abuse and neglect proceedings. Court-appointed special advocate programs will be operated under the following guidelines:
(A) Standards: CASA programs shall be members in good standing with the West Virginia Court Appointed Special Advocate Association, Inc., and the National Court Appointed Special Advocates Association and adhere to all standards set forth by these entities.
(B) Organizational capacity: A designated legal entity responsible for program and fiscal operations has been established and implements basic sound administrative practice.
(C) Cultural competency and diversity: CASA programs promote policies, practices and procedures that are culturally competent. “Cultural competency” is defined as the capacity to function in more than one culture, requiring the ability to appreciate, understand and interact with members of diverse populations within the local community.
(D) Case management: CASA programs must utilize a uniform case management system to monitor case progress and track outcomes.
(E) Case review: CASA volunteers meet with CASA staff on a routine basis to discuss case status and outcomes.
(F) Training: Court-appointed special advocates shall serve as volunteers without compensation and shall receive training consistent with state and nationally developed standards.
(8) “Imminent danger to the physical well being of the child” means an emergency situation in which the welfare or the life of the child is threatened. Such emergency situation exists when there is reasonable cause to believe that any child in the home is or has been sexually abused or sexually exploited, or reasonable cause to believe that the following conditions threaten the health or life of any child in the home:
(A) Nonaccidental trauma inflicted by a parent, guardian, custodian, sibling or a babysitter or other caretaker;
(B) A combination of physical and other signs indicating a pattern of abuse which may be medically diagnosed as battered child syndrome;
(C) Nutritional deprivation;
(D) Abandonment by the parent, guardian or custodian;
(E) Inadequate treatment of serious illness or disease;
(F) Substantial emotional injury inflicted by a parent, guardian or custodian;
(G) Sale or attempted sale of the child by the parent, guardian or custodian; or
(H) The parent, guardian or custodian abuse of alcohol or drugs or other controlled substance as defined in section one hundred one, article one, chapter sixty-a of this code, has impaired his or her parenting skills to a degree as to pose an imminent risk to a child's health or safety.
(9) “Legal guardianship” means the permanent relationship between a child and caretaker, established by order of the circuit court having jurisdiction over the child, pursuant to the provisions of this chapter and chapter forty-eight of this code.
(10) “Multidisciplinary team” means a group of professionals and paraprofessionals representing a variety of disciplines who interact and coordinate their efforts to identify, diagnose and treat specific cases of child abuse and neglect. Multidisciplinary teams may include, but are not limited to, medical, educational, child care and law-enforcement personnel, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists. Their goal is to pool their respective skills in order to formulate accurate diagnoses and to provide comprehensive coordinated treatment with continuity and followup for both parents and children. “Community team” means a multidisciplinary group which addresses the general problem of child abuse and neglect in a given community and may consist of several multidisciplinary teams with different functions.
(11)(A) “Neglected child” means a child:
(i) Whose physical or mental health is harmed or threatened by a present refusal, failure or inability of the child's parent, guardian or custodian to supply the child with necessary food, clothing, shelter, supervision, medical care or education, when such refusal, failure or inability is not due primarily to a lack of financial means on the part of the parent, guardian or custodian; or
(ii) Who is presently without necessary food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education or supervision because of the disappearance or absence of the child's parent or custodian; or
(iii) Who is otherwise physically healthy and presumed safe but is habitually absent from school without good cause. Provided, That this subparagraph (iii) does not apply to the parents of any child who is educated pursuant to the home instruction exemption from the compulsory school attendance requirements set forth in section one, article eight, chapter eighteen of this code.
(B) “Neglected child” does not mean a child whose education is conducted within the provisions of section one, article eight, chapter eighteen of this code.
(12) “Parent” means an individual defined has as a parent by law or on the basis of a biological relationship, marriage to a person with a biological relationship, legal adoption or other recognized grounds.
(13) “Parental rights” means any and all rights and duties regarding a parent to a minor child, including, but not limited to, custodial rights and visitational rights and rights to participate in the decisions affecting a minor child.
(14) “Parenting skills” means a parent's competencies in
providing physical care, protection, supervision and psychological
support appropriate to a child's age and state of development.
(15) “Sexual abuse” means:
(A) As to a child who is less than sixteen years of age, any of the following acts which a parent, guardian or custodian shall engage in, attempt to engage in or knowingly procure another person to engage in, with such child, notwithstanding the fact that the child may have willingly participated in such conduct or the fact that the child may have suffered no apparent physical injury or mental or emotional injury as a result of such conduct:
(i) Sexual intercourse;
(ii) Sexual intrusion; or
(iii) Sexual contact;
(B) As to a child who is sixteen years of age or older, any of the following acts which a parent, guardian or custodian shall engage in, attempt to engage in or knowingly procure another person to engage in, with such child, notwithstanding the fact that the child may have consented to such conduct or the fact that the child may have suffered no apparent physical injury or mental or emotional injury as a result of such conduct:
(i) Sexual intercourse;
(ii) Sexual intrusion; or
(iii) Sexual contact;
(C) Any conduct whereby a parent, guardian or custodian displays his or her sex organs to a child, or procures another person to display his or her sex organs to a child, for the purpose of gratifying the sexual desire of the parent, guardian or custodian, of the person making such display, or of the child, or for the purpose of affronting or alarming the child.
(16) “Sexual contact” means sexual contact as that term is defined in section one, article eight-b, chapter sixty-one of this code.
(17) “Sexual exploitation” means an act whereby:
(A) A parent, custodian or guardian, whether for financial gain or not, persuades, induces, entices or coerces a child to engage in sexually explicit conduct as that term is defined in section one, article eight-c, chapter sixty-one of this code;
(B) A parent, guardian or custodian persuades, induces, entices or coerces a child to display his or her sex organs for the sexual gratification of the parent, guardian, custodian or a third person, or to display his or her sex organs under circumstances in which the parent, guardian or custodian knows such display is likely to be observed by others who would be affronted or alarmed.
(18) “Sexual intercourse” means sexual intercourse as that term is defined in section one, article eight-b, chapter sixty-one of this code.
(19) “Sexual intrusion” means sexual intrusion as that term is defined in section one, article eight-b, chapter sixty-one of this code.
(20) “Placement” means any temporary or permanent placement of a child who is in the custody of the state in any foster home, group home or other facility or residence.
(21) “Serious physical abuse” means bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death, which causes serious or prolonged disfigurement, prolonged impairment of health or prolonged loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.
(22) “Siblings” means children who have at least one biological parent in common or who have been legally adopted by the same parents or parent.
(23) “Time-limited reunification services” means individual, group and family counseling, inpatient, residential or outpatient substance abuse treatment services, mental health services, assistance to address domestic violence, services designed to provide temporary child care and therapeutic services for families, including crisis nurseries and transportation to or from any such services, provided during fifteen of the most recent twenty-two months a child has been in foster care, as determined by the earlier date of the first judicial finding that the child is subjected to abuse or neglect, or the date which is sixty days after the child is removed from home.
(NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to clarify that a child who is physically healthy and presumed safe is a neglected child if he or she is habitually absent from school without good cause. This bill provides an exemption for parents whose children are receiving home instruction.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.)