Summary: S.708 — 106th Congress (1999-2000)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for S.708. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in Senate (03/24/1999)

Strengthening Abuse and Neglect Courts Act of 1999 - Directs the Attorney General to award grants to State and local courts to: (1) enable such courts to develop and implement automated data collection and case-tracking systems for proceedings conducted by, or under the supervision of, an abuse and neglect court; (2) encourage the replication of such systems in abuse and neglect courts in other jurisdictions; and (3) require the use of such systems to evaluate a court's performance in complying with requirements of part B (child and family services) and part E (Federal payments for foster care and adoption assistance) of title IV of the Social Security Act.

Sets forth provisions regarding limits on the number and use of grants, application and matching requirements, considerations in evaluating grant applications, length of awards, fund availability, and reporting requirements for grantees and the Attorney General. Authorizes appropriations.

(Sec. 5) Amends the Social Security Act (the Act) to direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make grants, subject to appropriations, to State or local courts for purposes of: (1) promoting the permanency goals established in the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA); and (2) enabling such courts to reduce existing backlogs of cases pending in abuse and neglect courts, especially regarding cases to terminate parental rights and cases in which parental rights to a child have been terminated but an adoption of the child has not yet been finalized.

Sets forth provisions regarding application requirements, use of funds, number of grants, funds availability, and a report on the use of funds. Authorizes appropriations.

(Sec. 6) Amends the Act to include as a component of the quarterly Federal payments to States for foster care and adoption assistance programs an amount equal to 75 percent of State program expenditures during the quarter for training of judges, judicial personnel, law enforcement personal, agency attorneys, attorneys representing parents in proceedings conducted by or under the supervision of an abuse and neglect court, attorneys representing children in such proceedings, guardians ad litem, and volunteers who participate in court-appointed special advocate programs to the extent such training is related to provisions of and amendments made by ASFA, provided that any such training that is offered to judges or other judicial personnel shall be offered by or under contract with the State or local agency in collaboration with the judicial conference or other appropriate judicial governing body operating in the State.

(Sec. 7) Amends the Act to require the State plan, in order for a State to be eligible for such payments, to provide that the State (by January 1, 2001) develop and encourage the implementation of guidelines for all agency attorneys, including legal education requirements for such attorneys regarding the handling of abuse, neglect, and dependency proceedings.

(Sec. 8) Directs the Secretary to provide technical assistance, training, and evaluations authorized under this section through grants, contracts, or cooperative arrangements with other entities, and ensure that entities that have not had a previous contractual relationship with a Federal agency can compete for such grants.

Provides that technical assistance shall be provided for the purpose of supporting and assisting State and local courts that handle child abuse, neglect, and dependency matters to effectively carry out new responsibilities enacted as part of ASFA and to speed the process of adoption of children and legal finalization of permanent families for children in foster care by improving practices of the courts involved in that process.

Sets forth provisions regarding permissible activities under this section, including specialized training on child development that is appropriate for court-related personnel and the development of standards of practice for agency attorneys. Requires that any training offered to judicial personnel be offered in collaboration with the judicial conference or other appropriate judicial governing body. Authorizes appropriations.

(Sec. 9) Directs the Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to make a grant to the National Court-Appointed Special Advocate Association for purposes of: (1) expanding the recruitment of, and building the capacity of, court- appointed special advocate programs located in the 15 largest urban areas; (2) developing regional, multijurisdictional special advocate programs serving rural areas; and (3) providing training and supervision of volunteers in special advocate programs.

Sets forth provisions regarding: (1) limits on administrative expenditures; and (2) determination of what constitutes urban and rural areas. Authorizes appropriations.