The act requires the department of human services to promulgate rules that facilitate communication and family time between children and their parents who are incarcerated.
The act requires the court to appoint counsel for a respondent parent who is incarcerated, unless the court determines the respondent is able to financially secure counsel or chooses to proceed without counsel.
The act requires the court and the prison or jail where the parent is incarcerated to facilitate the parent's attendance and participation in proceedings for the parent's dependency and neglect case.
Under current law, after an order of adjudication in a dependency and neglect case, the court holds a dispositional hearing. The act requires, except in instances when the proposed disposition is termination of the parent-child legal relationship, if a child's parent is incarcerated, that the county department of human services include information in the report that details the services and treatment available to a parent at the facility or jail where the parent is incarcerated.
Under current law, the court may terminate the parent-child legal relationship based on statutorily created circumstances. The act eliminates the parent's incarceration and related conditions as a basis for terminating the parent-child relationship.
Under current law, if the court finds that there is not a substantial probability that the child will be returned to a parent or legal guardian within 6 months and the child satisfies criteria for adoption, the court may require the county department of human services to show cause why it should not file a motion to terminate the parent-child legal relationship. The act states that such cause may exist if the parent is incarcerated, detained by the United States department of homeland security, or deported and has maintained a meaningful and safe relationship with the child while incarcerated, detained, or deported. If a child's parent is incarcerated and the parent has maintained a meaningful and safe relationship with the child while incarcerated, the court shall make findings regarding whether a permanent placement for the child exists that permits the parent to maintain a relationship with the child, including guardianship or allocation of parental responsibilities, giving primary consideration to the child's mental, physical, and emotional needs.
The act requires the department of corrections to:
- Develop opportunities and promulgate policies to facilitate continued relationships between children and their parents who are incarcerated;
- Designate a family services coordinator, who is responsible for duties related to children and their parents who are incarcerated; and
- Create and submit an annual report to the judiciary committees of the senate and house of representatives concerning parents who are incarcerated, and make the report publicly available.
The act requires each sheriff to designate one individual responsible for communicating between the jail and county department of human services concerning children subject to an open dependency and neglect case whose parents are incarcerated in the jail.
For the 2023-24 state fiscal year, the act appropriates:
- $31,110 to the department of corrections from the general fund;
- $15,111 to the department of human services from the general fund, and assumes the department of human services will receive $4,481 in federal funds; and
- $7,425 to the judicial department from the general fund for use by the trial courts.
APPROVED by Governor May 15, 2023
EFFECTIVE January 1, 2024
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)