The State’s Child Advocate, Jennifer Griffith, has announced that she has appointed a panel of eight community professionals to conduct a multidisciplinary review of the death of a seven month old infant. This child was not in state custody at the time of the fatality, but was previously involved in a case that was open to the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF).
The RI Senate Task Force charged with investigating the Department of Children, Youth, and Families and the two networks that provide services to DCYF families, has recommended that DCYF “monitor the networks more closely and be more involved with the families it serves” according to the Providence Journal. The task force offered 20 recommendations to improve DCYF.
At a Senate meeting to discuss Rhode Island’s budget deficits, DCYF Director Janice DeFrances proposed changes that would save nearly $1.6 million, against a projected deficit of $13.8 million for the Department. However, Ms. DeFrances stated to the Senate that costs for out-of-state placements, a delay in plans to establish an in-state group home for adolescent girls, and the loss of $3 million in federal dollars have all contributed to the current deficit.
AN ACT RELATING TO STATE AFFAIRS AND GOVERNMENT - CHILD ADVOCATE OFFICE
Introduced By: Senators Satchell, Ottiamo, Cool Rumsey, Goldin, and Miller
Date Introduced: March 04, 2014
It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
SECTION 1. Chapter 42-73 of the General Laws entitled "Child Advocate Office" is
hereby amended by adding thereto the following sections:
42-73-2.1. Advisory committee established. – There is hereby established an advisory committee to the office of the child advocate established under § 42-73-1. The advisory committee shall consist of nine (9) members, one attorney appointed by the Rhode Island Bar Association; one judge or magistrate of the family court appointed by the chief judge of the family court; one pediatrician with expertise in child and adolescent treatment or child abuse and neglect appointed by the Rhode Island Medical Society; one psychologist with expertise in child and adolescent treatment appointed by the Rhode Island Psychological Association; one Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker appointed by the Rhode Island Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers; one psychiatrist with expertise in child and adolescent treatment appointed by the Rhode Island Medical Society; and three (3) members, one of whom is a youth or parent (foster or birth) formerly involved in the state child welfare system, familiar with duties established under § 42-73-7, appointed by the child advocate. No one shall be eligible for appointment unless he or she is a resident of this state. No member of the advisory committee shall be a person who is a volunteer for, a board member of, or is employed by or contractor of, any entity or agency subject to the review of, or evaluation or monitoring by the child advocate pursuant to chapter 42-73 of title 42, or who lobbies on behalf of any entity or agency subject to the review of, or evaluation or monitoring by, the child advocate pursuant to chapter42-73 of title 42. Each member of the advisory committee shall serve a term of five (5) years and may be reappointed at the conclusion of such term. All initial appointments to the advisory committee shall be made no later than October 1, 2014. Any vacancy in the membership of the committee shall be filled by the appointing authority for the unexpired portion of the term. The committee shall elect from among the members a chair and a vice-chair.
42-73-2.2. Duties. – It shall be the duty of the advisory committee to:
(a) Provide advice and support to the child advocate related to the duties described in § 42-73-7. The committee’s duties include, but are not limited to, the following:
(1) Establish a regular meeting schedule and form subcommittees as may be appropriate;
(2) Meet with the child advocate and staff to review and assess patterns of treatment and services, policy implications, and necessary systemic improvements;
(3) Provide an annual report on its activities and recommendations in conjunction with the child advocate, and submit the report to the governor, the president of the senate, and the speaker of the house of representatives, on or by December 31, 2015, and annually thereafter.
(b) The advisory committee shall be subject to the confidentiality provisions of § 42-73-10.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon passage.