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Minutes for HB2425 - Committee on Federal and State Affairs

Short Title

Adding household members to the list of mandatory reporters of child abuse or neglect.

Minutes Content for Tue, May 16, 2017

Chairperson Barker opened the hearing on HB2425.  Jason Long, Revisor of Statutes, provided an overview (Attachment 8).  There were no questions by the Committee.

Chairperson Barker recognized Representative Ruiz as a proponent on HB2425 (Attachment 9).

Chairperson Barker recognized Mark Dupree, Wyandotte County District Attorney, who testified as a proponent (Attachment 10.  Questions were asked by Representatives Rooker, Carpenter, Wolfe Moore, Whitmer, and Smith.  Chairperson Barker asked what reasonable efforts DCF is required to make to check on the welfare of a child.  If they make a couple of attempts and never find anyone home, is that considered a reasonable effort, or are they required to continue until they have actually seen the child.  The witness responded that DCF's policy is that they are to speak to the child and the child's siblings.  The overlay, however, is that reasonable effort means knock on the door two or three times and if they cannot reach them, then they're done and reasonable effort has been met.  DCF workers do not have the authority to force their way into anyone's home so there are times when no contact is ever made with those children. He agreed with Chairperson Barker that the law is that the matter can be turned over to law enforcement to do the investigation if DCF is not able to make contact.  Law enforcement can take the child into temporary custody and the court can issue an ex parte order so that an investigation can be done prior to a court hearing.  His recommendation is that DCF be required to submit these issues to the police department.

Judy Conway, the grandmother of Adrian Jones, testified as a proponent of HB2425 (no written testimony was submitted).  Chairperson Barker advised Ms. Conway to submit her written testimony to the Committee Assistant.  She is in support of HB2425, but thinks that more is needed.  There should be more oversight and accountability in home schools and more accountability on DCF.

Chairperson Barker asked if there were any further proponents on HB2425.  He directed the Committee's attention to the written neutral testimony of Andrew Wiens of the Department for Children and Families (Attachment 11).

Representative Clayton asked the Chairman if the Committee could direct questions to a representative of the Department for Children and Families if there was one in the audience.  Chairperson Barker asked if there were any representatives from DCF present.  Kathy Armstrong, Assistant General Counsel of PPS with DCF, came forward for questioning by Representative Clayton, who wanted to know why DCF had taken a neutral position on HB2425.  Ms. Armstrong stated that although DCF always encourages mandated reporters, in the current law the list of mandated reporters are provided training. The general public doesn't usually read the statutory requirements so she thinks if the list of mandated reporters is expanded, a provision for training and messaging should be included.

Chairperson Barker asked if anyone else wished to provide testimony to the Committee.  Seeing none, he closed the hearing on HB2425.

Chairperson Barker advised that the Committee may have to meet again or have a meeting at the rail.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:08 a.m.