Text: H.R.5403 — 109th Congress (2005-2006)All Information (Except Text)

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Public Law No: 109-239 (07/03/2006)

 
[109th Congress Public Law 239]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]


[DOCID: f:publ239.109]

[[Page 507]]

   SAFE AND TIMELY INTERSTATE PLACEMENT OF FOSTER CHILDREN ACT OF 2006

[[Page 120 STAT. 508]]

Public Law 109-239
109th Congress

                                 An Act


 
 To improve protections for children and to hold States accountable for 
 the safe and timely placement of children across State lines, and for 
         other purposes. <<NOTE: July 3, 2006 -  [H.R. 5403]>> 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress <<NOTE: Safe and Timely Interstate 
Placement of Foster Children Act of 2006. 42 USC 1305 note.>> assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Safe and Timely Interstate Placement 
of Foster Children Act of 2006''.

SEC. 2. SENSE OF THE CONGRESS.

    It is the sense of the Congress that--
            (1) the States should expeditiously ratify the revised 
        Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children recently 
        promulgated by the American Public Human Services Association;
            (2) this Act and the revised Interstate Compact for the 
        Placement of Children should not apply to those seeking 
        placement in a licensed residential facility primarily to access 
        clinical mental heath services;
            (3) the States should recognize and implement the deadlines 
        for the completion and approval of home studies as provided in 
        section 4 to move children more quickly into safe, permanent 
        homes; and
            (4) Federal policy should encourage the safe and expedited 
        placement of children into safe, permanent homes across State 
        lines.

SEC. 3. ORDERLY AND TIMELY PROCESS FOR INTERSTATE PLACEMENT OF CHILDREN.

    Section 471(a) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 671(a)) is 
amended--
            (1) by striking ``and'' at the end of paragraph (23);
            (2) by striking the period at the end of paragraph (24) and 
        inserting ``; and''; and
            (3) by adding at the end the following:
            ``(25) <<NOTE: Procedures.>> provide that the State shall 
        have in effect procedures for the orderly and timely interstate 
        placement of children; and procedures implemented in accordance 
        with an interstate compact, if incorporating with the procedures 
        prescribed by paragraph (26), shall be considered to satisfy the 
        requirement of this paragraph.''.

SEC. 4. HOME STUDIES.

    (a) Orderly Process.--
            (1) In general.--Section 471(a) of the Social Security Act 
        (42 U.S.C. 671(a)) is further amended--

[[Page 120 STAT. 509]]

                    (A) by striking ``and'' at the end of paragraph 
                (24);
                    (B) by striking the period at the end of paragraph 
                (25) and inserting ``; and''; and
                    (C) by adding at the end the following:
            ``(26) provides that--
                    ``(A)(i) <<NOTE: Deadline. Contracts.>> within 60 
                days after the State receives from another State a 
                request to conduct a study of a home environment for 
                purposes of assessing the safety and suitability of 
                placing a child in the home, the State shall, directly 
                or by contract--
                          ``(I) conduct and complete the study; and
                          ``(II) <<NOTE: Reports.>> return to the other 
                      State a report on the results of the study, which 
                      shall address the extent to which placement in the 
                      home would meet the needs of the child; and
                    ``(ii) in the case of a home study begun on or 
                before September 30, 2008, if the State fails to comply 
                with clause (i) within the 60-day period as a result of 
                circumstances beyond the control of the State (such as a 
                failure by a Federal agency to provide the results of a 
                background check, or the failure by any entity to 
                provide completed medical forms, requested by the State 
                at least 45 days before the end of the 60-day period), 
                the State shall have 75 days to comply with clause (i) 
                if the State documents the circumstances involved and 
                certifies that completing the home study is in the best 
                interests of the child; except that
                    ``(iii) this subparagraph shall not be construed to 
                require the State to have completed, within the 
                applicable period, the parts of the home study involving 
                the education and training of the prospective foster or 
                adoptive parents;
                    ``(B) the State shall treat any report described in 
                subparagraph (A) that is received from another State or 
                an Indian tribe (or from a private agency under contract 
                with another State) as meeting any requirements imposed 
                by the State for the completion of a home study before 
                placing a child in the home, unless, within 14 days 
                after receipt of the report, the State determines, based 
                on grounds that are specific to the content of the 
                report, that making a decision in reliance on the report 
                would be contrary to the welfare of the child; and
                    ``(C) the State shall not impose any restriction on 
                the ability of a State agency administering, or 
                supervising the administration of, a State program 
                operated under a State plan approved under this part to 
                contract with a private agency for the conduct of a home 
                study described in subparagraph (A).''.
            (2) Report to the congress.--Within 12 months after the date 
        of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Health and Human 
        Services shall submit to the Committee on Ways and Means of the 
        House of Representatives and the Committee on Finance of the 
        Senate a written report on--
                    (A) how frequently States need the extended 75-day 
                period provided for in clause (ii) of section 
                471(a)(26)(A) of the Social Security Act in order to 
                comply with clause (i) of such section;

[[Page 120 STAT. 510]]

                    (B) the reasons given for utilizing the extended 
                compliance period;
                    (C) the extent to which utilizing the extended 
                compliance period leads to the resolution of the 
                circumstances beyond the control of the State; and
                    (D) the actions taken by States and any relevant 
                Federal agencies to resolve the need for the extended 
                compliance period.
            (3) Sense of the congress.--It is the sense of the Congress 
        that each State should--
                    (A) use private agencies to conduct home studies 
                when doing so is necessary to meet the requirements of 
                section 471(a)(26) of the Social Security Act; and
                    (B) give full faith and credit to any home study 
                report completed by any other State or an Indian tribe 
                with respect to the placement of a child in foster care 
                or for adoption.

    (b) Timely Interstate Home Study Incentive Payments.--Part E of 
title IV of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 670-679b) is amended by 
inserting after section 473A the following:

``SEC. 473B. <<NOTE: 42 USC 673c note.>> TIMELY INTERSTATE HOME STUDY 
            INCENTIVE PAYMENTS.

    ``(a) Grant Authority.--The Secretary shall make a grant to each 
State that is a home study incentive-eligible State for a fiscal year in 
an amount equal to the timely interstate home study incentive payment 
payable to the State under this section for the fiscal year, which shall 
be payable in the immediately succeeding fiscal year.
    ``(b) Home Study Incentive-Eligible State.--A State is a home study 
incentive-eligible State for a fiscal year if--
            ``(1) the State has a plan approved under this part for the 
        fiscal year;
            ``(2) the State is in compliance with subsection (c) for the 
        fiscal year; and
            ``(3) based on data submitted and verified pursuant to 
        subsection (c), the State has completed a timely interstate home 
        study during the fiscal year.

    ``(c) Data Requirements.--
            ``(1) In general.--A State is in compliance with this 
        subsection for a fiscal year if the State has provided to the 
        Secretary a written report, covering the preceding fiscal year, 
        that specifies--
                    ``(A) the total number of interstate home studies 
                requested by the State with respect to children in 
                foster care under the responsibility of the State, and 
                with respect to each such study, the identity of the 
                other State involved;
                    ``(B) the total number of timely interstate home 
                studies completed by the State with respect to children 
                in foster care under the responsibility of other States, 
                and with respect to each such study, the identity of the 
                other State involved; and
                    ``(C) such other information as the Secretary may 
                require in order to determine whether the State is a 
                home study incentive-eligible State.
            ``(2) Verification of data.--In determining the number of 
        timely interstate home studies to be attributed to a State under 
        this section, the Secretary shall check the data provided

[[Page 120 STAT. 511]]

        by the State under paragraph (1) against complementary data so 
        provided by other States.

    ``(d) Timely Interstate Home Study Incentive Payments.--
            ``(1) In general.--The timely interstate home study 
        incentive payment payable to a State for a fiscal year shall be 
        $1,500, multiplied by the number of timely interstate home 
        studies attributed to the State under this section during the 
        fiscal year, subject to paragraph (2).
            ``(2) Pro rata adjustment if insufficient funds available.--
        If the total amount of timely interstate home study incentive 
        payments otherwise payable under this section for a fiscal year 
        exceeds the total of the amounts made available pursuant to 
        subsection (h) for the fiscal year (reduced (but not below zero) 
        by the total of the amounts (if any) payable under paragraph (3) 
        of this subsection with respect to the preceding fiscal year), 
        the amount of each such otherwise payable incentive payment 
        shall be reduced by a percentage equal to--
                    ``(A) the total of the amounts so made available (as 
                so reduced); divided by
                    ``(B) the total of such otherwise payable incentive 
                payments.
            ``(3) Appropriations available for unpaid incentive payments 
        for prior fiscal years.--
                    ``(A) In general.--If payments under this section 
                are reduced under paragraph (2) or subparagraph (B) of 
                this paragraph for a fiscal year, then, before making 
                any other payment under this section for the next fiscal 
                year, the Secretary shall pay each State whose payment 
                was so reduced an amount equal to the total amount of 
                the reductions which applied to the State, subject to 
                subparagraph (B) of this paragraph.
                    ``(B) Pro rata adjustment if insufficient funds 
                available.--If the total amount of payments otherwise 
                payable under subparagraph (A) of this paragraph for a 
                fiscal year exceeds the total of the amounts made 
                available pursuant to subsection (h) for the fiscal 
                year, the amount of each such payment shall be reduced 
                by a percentage equal to--
                          ``(i) the total of the amounts so made 
                      available; divided by
                          ``(ii) the total of such otherwise payable 
                      payments.

    ``(e) Two-Year Availability of Incentive Payments.--Payments to a 
State under this section in a fiscal year shall remain available for use 
by the State through the end of the next fiscal year.
    ``(f) Limitations on Use of Incentive Payments.--A State shall not 
expend an amount paid to the State under this section except to provide 
to children or families any service (including post-adoption services) 
that may be provided under part B or E. Amounts expended by a State in 
accordance with the preceding sentence shall be disregarded in 
determining State expenditures for purposes of Federal matching payments 
under sections 423, 434, and 474.
    ``(g) Definitions.--In this section:
            ``(1) Home study.--The term `home study' means an evaluation 
        of a home environment conducted in accordance

[[Page 120 STAT. 512]]

        with applicable requirements of the State in which the home is 
        located, to determine whether a proposed placement of a child 
        would meet the individual needs of the child, including the 
        child's safety, permanency, health, well-being, and mental, 
        emotional, and physical development.
            ``(2) Interstate home study.--The term `interstate home 
        study' means a home study conducted by a State at the request of 
        another State, to facilitate an adoptive or foster placement in 
        the State of a child in foster care under the responsibility of 
        the State.
            ``(3) Timely interstate home study.--
        The <<NOTE: Deadline. Reports.>> term `timely interstate home 
        study' means an interstate home study completed by a State if 
        the State provides to the State that requested the study, within 
        30 days after receipt of the request, a report on the results of 
        the study. The preceding sentence shall not be construed to 
        require the State to have completed, within the 30-day period, 
        the parts of the home study involving the education and training 
        of the prospective foster or adoptive parents.

    ``(h) Limitations on Authorization of Appropriations.--
            ``(1) In general.--For payments under this section, there 
        are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary--
                    ``(A) $10,000,000 for fiscal year 2007;
                    ``(B) $10,000,000 for fiscal year 2008;
                    ``(C) $10,000,000 for fiscal year 2009; and
                    ``(D) $10,000,000 for fiscal year 2010.
            ``(2) Availability.--Amounts appropriated under paragraph 
        (1) are authorized to remain available until expended.''.

    (c) <<NOTE: Effective date. 42 USC 673c and note.>> Repealer.--
Effective October 1, 2010, section 473B of the Social Security Act is 
repealed.

SEC. 5. SENSE OF THE CONGRESS.

    It is the sense of the Congress that State agencies should fully 
cooperate with any court which has authority with respect to the 
placement of a child in foster care or for adoption, for the purpose of 
locating a parent of the child, and such cooperation should include 
making available all information obtained from the Federal Parent 
Locator Service.

SEC. 6. CASEWORKER VISITS.

    (a) Purchase of Services in Interstate Placement Cases.--Section 
475(5)(A)(ii) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 675(5)(A)(ii)) is 
amended by striking ``or of the State in which the child has been 
placed'' and inserting ``of the State in which the child has been 
placed, or of a private agency under contract with either such State''.
    (b) Increased Visits.--Section 475(5)(A)(ii) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 
675(5)(A)(ii)) is amended by striking ``12'' and inserting ``6''.

SEC. 7. HEALTH AND EDUCATION RECORDS.

    Section 475 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 675) is amended--
            (1) in paragraph (1)(C)--
                    (A) by striking ``To the extent available and 
                accessible, the'' and inserting ``The''; and
                    (B) by inserting ``the most recent information 
                available regarding'' after ``including''; and
            (2) in paragraph (5)(D)--

[[Page 120 STAT. 513]]

                    (A) by inserting ``a copy of the record is'' before 
                ``supplied''; and
                    (B) by inserting ``, and is supplied to the child at 
                no cost at the time the child leaves foster care if the 
                child is leaving foster care by reason of having 
                attained the age of majority under State law'' before 
                the semicolon.

SEC. 8. RIGHT TO BE HEARD IN FOSTER CARE PROCEEDINGS.

    (a) In General.--Section 475(5)(G) of the Social Security Act (42 
U.S.C. 675(5)(G)) is amended--
            (1) by striking ``an opportunity'' and inserting ``a 
        right'';
            (2) by striking ``and opportunity'' and inserting ``and 
        right''; and
            (3) by striking ``review or hearing'' each place it appears 
        and inserting ``proceeding''.

    (b) Notice of Proceeding.--Section 438(b) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 
638(b)) <<NOTE: 42 USC 629h.>> is amended by inserting ``shall have in 
effect a rule requiring State courts to ensure that foster parents, pre-
adoptive parents, and relative caregivers of a child in foster care 
under the responsibility of the State are notified of any proceeding to 
be held with respect to the child, and'' after ``highest State court''.

SEC. 9. COURT IMPROVEMENT.

    Section 438(a)(1) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 629h(a)(1)) 
is amended--
            (1) by striking ``and'' at the end of subparagraph (C); and
            (2) by adding at the end the following:
                    ``(E) that determine the best strategy to use to 
                expedite the interstate placement of children, 
                including--
                          ``(i) requiring courts in different States to 
                      cooperate in the sharing of information;
                          ``(ii) authorizing courts to obtain 
                      information and testimony from agencies and 
                      parties in other States without requiring 
                      interstate travel by the agencies and parties; and
                          ``(iii) permitting the participation of 
                      parents, children, other necessary parties, and 
                      attorneys in cases involving interstate placement 
                      without requiring their interstate travel; and''.

SEC. 10. REASONABLE EFFORTS.

    (a) In General.--Section 471(a)(15)(C) of the Social Security Act 
(42 U.S.C. 671(a)(15)(C)) is amended by inserting ``(including, if 
appropriate, through an interstate placement)'' after ``accordance with 
the permanency plan''.
    (b) Permanency Hearing.--Section 471(a)(15)(E)(i) of such Act (42 
U.S.C. 671(a)(15)(E)(i)) is amended by inserting ``, which considers in-
State and out-of-State permanent placement options for the child,'' 
before ``shall''.
    (c) Concurrent Planning.--Section 471(a)(15)(F) of such Act (42 
U.S.C. 671(a)(15)(F)) is amended by inserting ``, including identifying 
appropriate in-State and out-of-State placements'' before ``may''.

SEC. 11. CASE PLANS.

    Section 475(1)(E) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 675(1)(E)) 
is amended by inserting ``to facilitate orderly and timely in-State and 
interstate placements'' before the period.

[[Page 120 STAT. 514]]

SEC. 12. CASE REVIEW SYSTEM.

    Section 475(5)(C) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 675(5)(C) is 
amended--
            (1) by inserting ``, in the case of a child who will not be 
        returned to the parent, the hearing shall consider in-State and 
        out-of-State placement options,'' after ``living arrangement''; 
        and
            (2) by inserting ``the hearing shall determine'' before 
        ``whether the''.

SEC. 13. USE OF INTERJURISDICTIONAL RESOURCES.

    Section 422(b)(12) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 622(b)(12)) 
is amended--
            (1) by striking ``develop plans for the'' and inserting 
        ``make'';
            (2) by inserting ``(including through contracts for the 
        purchase of services)'' after ``resources''; and
            (3) by inserting ``, and shall eliminate legal barriers,'' 
        before ``to facilitate''.

SEC. 14. <<NOTE: 42 USC 622 note.>> EFFECTIVE DATE.

    (a) In General.--Except as otherwise provided in this section, the 
amendments made by this Act shall take effect on October 1, 2006, and 
shall apply to payments under parts B and E of title IV of the Social 
Security Act for calendar quarters beginning on or after such date, 
without regard to whether regulations to implement the amendments are 
promulgated by such date.
    (b) Delay Permitted If State Legislation Required.--If the Secretary 
of Health and Human Services determines that State legislation (other 
than legislation appropriating funds) is required in order for a State 
plan under part B or E of title IV of the Social Security Act to meet 
the additional requirements imposed by the amendments made by a 
provision of this Act, the plan shall not be regarded as failing to meet 
any of the additional requirements before the 1st day of the 1st 
calendar quarter beginning after the first regular session of the State 
legislature that begins after the date of the enactment of this Act. If 
the State has a 2-year legislative session, each year of the session is 
deemed to be a separate regular session of the State legislature.

    Approved July 3, 2006.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--H.R. 5403:
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CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 152 (2006):
            May 24, considered and passed House.
            June 23, considered and passed Senate.

                                  <all>