Text: H.R.6425 — 109th Congress (2005-2006)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (12/08/2006)


109th CONGRESS
2d Session
H. R. 6425


To amend the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 to improve the health and well-being of maltreated infants and toddlers through the creation of a National Court Teams Resource Center, to assist local Court Teams, and for other purposes.


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

December 8, 2006

Ms. Ros-Lehtinen (for herself, Ms. DeLauro, Mr. Fortuño, Mr. Kildee, and Mrs. Schmidt) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce


A BILL

To amend the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 to improve the health and well-being of maltreated infants and toddlers through the creation of a National Court Teams Resource Center, to assist local Court Teams, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Safe Babies Act of 2006”.

SEC. 2. Findings.

The Congress finds as follows:

(1) Children three years of age and younger have the highest rates of victimization. Infants and toddlers are twice as likely as all other children to become victims of child maltreatment. Children ages three and younger are also 32 percent more likely to be placed in foster care than children ages four to eleven. Once placed in foster care, children three years of age and younger are more likely than older children to be abused and neglected, and they tend to stay in foster care longer than older children.

(2) Infants and toddlers are the most vulnerable to the effects of maltreatment. Research shows that young children who have experienced physical abuse have lower social competence, show less empathy for others, and have difficulty recognizing others’ emotions. They are also more likely than children who have not been maltreated to have deficits in IQ scores, language ability, and school performance.

(3) Research shows that the human brain has achieved 80 to 85 percent of its adult size by the age of three. During those early years, the brain is developing the vast majority of its basic capacity, the development of which can determine future achievement or failure. Therefore, infants and toddlers in foster care are spending the most critical developmental period in situations that may be detrimental to healthy growth and development.

(4) Children under the age of four account for 81 percent of child fatalities, and children under the age of one account for 45 percent of such fatalities.

(5) A rapidly spreading epidemic of methamphetamine use is overwhelming child welfare systems in many States. Iowa is one of the States most ravaged by the methamphetamine epidemic, and it has the third highest rate of per capita methamphetamine treatment admissions in the Nation. In Iowa in 2004, the rate of maltreatment for infants and toddlers was 32.3 per 1,000 children, twice the national average of 16.1 per 1,000 children.

(6) Child welfare systems are not meeting the needs of the children who rely on public intervention to protect them. In the Child and Family Service Reviews for fiscal years 2003 and 2004, the Administration for Children and Families revealed that, of 19 States studied for performance on Child and Family Services Review indicators, none of the States achieved all of the specified outcomes, and all of the States failed to meet the outcome related to the provision of physical and mental health services to children in foster care.

(7) Judges can be powerful catalysts for change in the way communities address the needs of maltreated infants and toddlers. A groundbreaking project in the Juvenile Division of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida has combined the leadership of a family court judge with expertise in early childhood development. This ground breaking collaboration is ensuring that infants and toddlers receive the services they need. Mental health and parenting intervention services are provided for parents and children together. Initial results are promising in terms of eliminating further abuse and neglect and promoting safety and well-being through timely permanent placements.

SEC. 3. Court Teams.

Title II of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 (42 U.S.C. 5611 et seq.) is amended—

(1) by redesignating part F as part G; and

(2) by inserting after part E the following new part:

“PART FCourt Teams

“SEC. 271. Court Teams program authorized.

“(a) Grant authorized.—The Administrator shall award a grant to a national early childhood development organization to—

“(1) establish a National Court Teams Resource Center to—

“(A) promote the well-being of maltreated infants and toddlers and their families (including the special problems created by substance abuse, particularly methamphetamine abuse);

“(B) help prevent the recurrence of abuse and neglect of children; and

“(C) promote timely reunification of families or other successful permanency outcomes for maltreated infants and toddlers in foster care; and

“(2) select, and provide assistance to, local Court Teams created to achieve the goals described in paragraph (1).

“(b) Grant duration.—The grant awarded under this part shall be for a period of 5 years, and shall be renewable at the discretion of the Administrator.

“SEC. 272. Eligibility; application; selection of grantee.

“(a) Eligibility.—To be eligible to receive the grant described in section 271, an entity shall be a national early childhood development organization, as defined in section 276, that has—

“(1) specific expertise in the development of infants and toddlers;

“(2) experience in incorporating the expertise described in paragraph (1) into the judicial system to promote change in the way courts address cases involving maltreated infants and toddlers in foster care; and

“(3) the capacity—

“(A) to establish and maintain the National Court Teams Resource Center described in section 273; and

“(B) to support the implementation and activities of local Court Teams by providing the assistance required under this part.

“(b) Application.—An entity desiring to receive the grant described in section 271 shall submit an application to the Administrator, at such time, in such manner, and containing such information as the Administrator may require. Such application shall—

“(1) describe the expertise of the entity in infant and toddler development, including any experience relevant to the ability of the entity to oversee the implementation of local Court Teams, and the capacity of the entity to provide assistance to local Court Teams;

“(2) include a detailed plan describing how the entity will establish and maintain the National Court Teams Resource Center, and how the entity will carry out the activities of such Center, as described in section 273; and

“(3) explain the process the entity will use to select local Court Teams to receive assistance under this part, including an assurance that the entity will give priority to applications that—

“(A) demonstrate the commitment of—

“(i) at least one qualified judge to lead the local Court Team and serve as Judicial Leader of the Court Team; and

“(ii) community agencies serving maltreated infants and toddlers and their families in such jurisdiction to participate in the local Court Team;

“(B) describe the population of maltreated infants and toddlers in the community within the jurisdiction of the court over which the qualified judge presides, including—

“(i) any problems contributing to the placement of maltreated infants and toddlers under the supervision of the court (including the impact of parental substance abuse, and particularly methamphetamine abuse); and

“(ii) any challenges faced by the court in making decisions that are in the best interests of such maltreated infants and toddlers;

“(C) describe how the local Court Team will carry out the activities required under section 274; and

“(4) demonstrate the ability to meet the all selection criteria, including—

“(A) special expertise in the developmental needs of children three years of age and younger;

“(B) a demonstrated record of providing resources to parents and other caregivers regarding the healthy growth and development of their children;

“(C) a demonstrated record of providing resources for practitioners in the fields of child development, early child care and education, family support, pediatrics, child welfare, and mental health;

“(D) extensive knowledge about how exposure to violence (including domestic violence, community violence, and child maltreatment) influences the growth and development of infants and toddlers;

“(E) a documented history of collaboration with public and private sector groups working to improve the lives of maltreated infants and toddlers, including collaboration with judges at the local level;

“(F) the capacity to analyze child welfare policy at the local, State, and national levels and to offer research-based solutions to the problems confronting child welfare systems across the country;

“(G) the ability to manage multiple complex national resource centers and related activities, including strategic planning, team building, infrastructure development, training for multidisciplinary professionals at all levels, materials development for multiple audiences in a variety of formats, and conference planning and delivery at the local, State, regional, and national levels; and

“(5) include any other information the Administrator may require, including any assurance required by the Administrator that the entity, if selected, will give special consideration to applications that have a significant number of child welfare cases in the jurisdiction of the court over which the qualified judge presides in which substance abuse, and particularly methamphetamine abuse, is involved.

“(c) Selection of Grantee.—In considering grant applications under this part, the Administrator shall select the national early childhood development organization that demonstrates—

“(1) the greatest ability to satisfy the criteria described in subsection (b)(4); and

“(2) the most extensive experience in addressing the needs of abused and maltreated infants and toddlers through training and technical assistance provided to judges, multidisciplinary professionals and community leaders.

“SEC. 273. National Court Teams Resource Center.

“(a) General activities.—The national early childhood development organization receiving the grant authorized under section 271 shall establish and maintain a National Court Teams Resource Center, which shall carry out the following activities:

“(1) Develop a process for selecting, and select, local Court Teams to receive assistance under this part.

“(2) Develop materials to guide qualified judges in the decision-making process regarding maltreated infants and toddlers, and to train members of local Court Teams and others in the community regarding the appropriate care of maltreated infants and toddlers, including the importance of—

“(A) stable foster care placements;

“(B) frequent parent-child visitation;

“(C) reduction of the recurrence of abuse and neglect;

“(D) improving health and well-being; and

“(E) timely permanent placement.

“(3) Conduct national meetings and training sessions for local Court Teams.

“(4) Develop a database that shall be—

“(A) available to each local Court Team to track such Court Team’s progress; and

“(B) used by the National Court Teams Resource Center to facilitate evaluation of the local Court Teams receiving assistance under this part.

“(5) Provide information to communities and courts around the country seeking to adopt the Court Teams approach, including information related to—

“(A) the incorporation of knowledge about infant and toddler development into the resolution of cases by judges with jurisdiction over children in foster care; and

“(B) methods to change State and local government systems for addressing the needs of infants and toddlers in the foster care, and their families.

“(6) Any other activity necessary to provide the assistance required under subsection (b).

“(b) Assistance to local Court Teams.—Assistance provided to local Court Teams by the National Court Teams Resource Center shall include—

“(1) providing direction, coordination, and oversight of the implementation of local Court Teams, as needed;

“(2) providing a Local Community Coordinator for each local Court Team, who shall—

“(A) be selected by the National Court Teams Resource Center after consultation with the Judicial Leader of the local Court Team;

“(B) serve as a resource of child development expertise for the local Court Team; and

“(C) promote coordination (in the jurisdiction of the court over which the Judicial Leader presides) between—

“(i) community agencies that serve children; and

“(ii) providers of resources to support maltreated infants and toddlers; and

“(3) providing training and technical assistance to local Court Teams, including—

“(A) individual consultation on site, through telephone conversations, and through responses to emailed information requests;

“(B) networking assistance and facilitation of telephone conference calls among Judicial Leaders and local Court Team members in different jurisdictions to discuss issues of common concern;

“(C) development and dissemination of training materials, including fact sheets, template forms, and sample operational materials developed by local Court Teams; and

“(D) training for local Court Teams related to—

“(i) the impact of abuse and neglect on infants and toddlers;

“(ii) improved decision-making by courts regarding maltreated infants and toddlers to reduce the recurrence of abuse and neglect and improve developmental outcomes; and

“(4) organizing local training for community members of jurisdictions in which local Court Teams are located, which shall relate to the particular needs of infants and toddlers exposed to maltreatment and trauma, including topics such as—

“(A) general infant and toddler development;

“(B) the impact of abuse and neglect on development;

“(C) a relationship-based mental health intervention model for parents and children together;

“(D) best-practices in family interactions;

“(E) evidence-based parenting interventions; and

“(F) services available to foster children in the community.

“SEC. 274. Local Court Teams.

“(a) Application.—An entity desiring to receive the assistance for local Court Teams made available under this part shall submit an application to the National Court Teams Resource Center at such time, in such manner, and containing such information as the National Court Teams Resource Center may require.

“(b) Eligibility.—To be eligible to receive assistance under this part, a local Court Team shall be comprised of—

“(1) a Judicial Leader, who shall be a qualified judge, and who shall lead and oversee the implementation and ongoing activities of the local Court Team;

“(2) a Local Community Coordinator, selected and provided by the National Court Teams Resource Center in accordance with section 273(b)(2); and

“(3) no fewer than six key stakeholders who—

“(A) are members of the community in which the local Court Team is located;

“(B) are committed to working to restructure the way the jurisdiction responds to the needs of maltreated infants and toddlers; and

“(C) represent a variety of individuals involved with the care of maltreated infants and toddlers, which may include pediatricians, child welfare workers, attorneys, court-appointed special advocates, mental health professionals, substance abuse treatment providers, Early Head Start and child care providers, Court Improvement Program staff, and any other individuals who are involved in the care of maltreated infants and toddlers.

“(c) Required use of assistance.—A local Court Team shall use any assistance received under this part to carry out the following activities:

“(1) Conducting monthly case reviews of each case handled by the local Court Team, in which all individuals and organizations involved in a case meet to review progress in such case, and to monitor and track referral to, delivery of, and barriers against, services for maltreated infants and toddlers and their families.

“(2) Incorporating child-focused services into case plans for maltreated infants and toddlers, including services such as medical, developmental, and mental health interventions and, as appropriate, services for children and parents together.

“(3) Organizing the provision of local training (provided by the National Court Teams Resource Center) to community members of the jurisdiction in which the local Court Team is located, including court officials, child welfare agencies, attorneys, Guardians Ad Litem, court-appointed special advocates, and other individuals and organizations providing services to infants and toddlers in foster care.

“(4) Identifying areas in the community in need of improved mental health and substance abuse treatment, and assisting the National Court Teams Resource Center in improving mental health treatment for parents and children together, and substance abuse treatment for families (including mothers and children), as needed.

“(5) Utilizing resource materials disseminated by the National Court Teams Resource Center to guide judges in the decision-making process regarding maltreated infants and toddlers, and to provide training for Court Team members.

“(6) Participating in the national evaluation conducted by the Administrator in accordance with section 275, to determine the extent to which the activities of the local Court Team reduce the recurrence of abuse and neglect and improve health and developmental outcomes for maltreated infants and toddlers.

“(d) Permissible use of assistance.—A local Court may use the assistance received under this part to carry out the following activities:

“(1) Developing processes for responding to parental substance abuse, such as—

“(A) coordinating with local law enforcement agencies to allow rapid response teams to intervene quickly on behalf of infants and toddlers who are identified by law enforcement personnel as being present during illegal activities related to methamphetamines or other illegal substances; and

“(B) establishing and maintaining relationships with substance abuse treatment programs to increase access to treatment for parents of maltreated infants and toddlers.

“(2) Identifying the areas in the community in need of early childhood mental health services, and assisting the National Court Teams Resource Center in providing relationship-based early childhood mental health services by providing training on parent-child psychotherapy to mental health providers.

“(3) Any other activities that help meet the needs and improve the health and developmental outcomes of maltreated infants and toddlers in foster care.

“SEC. 275. Evaluations and Reports.

“(a) Evaluation form.—Not later than 6 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the National Court Teams Resource Center shall create, and distribute to each local Court Team, an evaluation form that shall be used to periodically collect any data from local Court Teams that the National Court Teams Resource Center determines may be relevant to the reports required by subsection (b).

“(b) Reports to Congress by the Administrator.—At the end of the three-year period beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act, and again at the end of the five-year period beginning on such date of enactment, the Administrator shall—

“(1) compile the data collected in the periodic evaluation forms completed by each local Court Team;

“(2) conduct a national evaluation of Court Teams, based on such compilation of data; and

“(3) report to Congress on the effectiveness of Court Teams, including the extent to which local Court Teams are—

“(A) improving access to services for maltreated infants and toddlers;

“(B) reducing the recurrence of abuse and neglect;

“(C) promoting permanent placements of maltreated infants and toddlers; and

“(D) improving the developmental outcomes for maltreated infants and toddlers who have been in foster care.

“SEC. 276. Definitions.

“For the purposes of this part:

“(1) COURT-APPOINTED SPECIAL ADVOCATE.—The term ‘court-appointed special advocate’ means an individual who is trained by a recognized court-appointed special advocate program and appointed by a court to advocate for the best interests of children who come into the court system primarily as a result of abuse or neglect.

“(2) COURT IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM.—The term ‘Court Improvement Program’ means a program authorized under section 438 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 629h).

“(3) GUARDIAN AD LITEM.—The term ‘Guardian Ad Litem’ means an attorney or court-appointed special advocate who is appointed by a court to advocate for the best interests of children who come into the court system primarily as a result of abuse or neglect.

“(4) MALTREATED INFANT OR TODDLER.—The term ‘maltreated infant or toddler’ means any child three years of age or younger who is the victim of a substantiated case of physical abuse, neglect, medical neglect, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse.

“(5) NATIONAL EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION.—The term ‘national early childhood development organization’ means a national, private, nonprofit organization—

“(A) that is dedicated to supporting the healthy development and well-being of infants, toddlers, and their families; and

“(B) that has the capacity for research, training, information dissemination, and leadership development in all of the professional disciplines related to infants and toddlers three years of age and younger.

“(6) QUALIFIED JUDGE.—The term ‘qualified judge’ means a judge who presides over a court that has jurisdiction over children in foster care, such as a judge for a dependency court or family court.”.

SEC. 4. Authorization of appropriations.

Section 299 of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 (42 U.S.C. 5671) is amended—

(1) in subsection (a)—

(A) in the header, by striking “Parts C and E)” and inserting “Parts C, E, and F)”; and

(B) in paragraph (2), by striking “parts C and E)” and inserting “parts C, E, and F)”;

(2) by redesignating subsection (d) as subsection (e); and

(3) by inserting after subsection (c) the following new subsection:

“(d) Authorization of appropriations for Part F.—There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out part F such sums as may be necessary for fiscal years 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.”.