Bill Text: TX SB821 | 2019-2020 | 86th Legislature | Enrolled


Bill Title: Relating to children's advocacy centers.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Republican 2-0)

Status: (Passed) 2019-06-02 - Effective on 9/1/19 [SB821 Detail]

Download: Texas-2019-SB821-Enrolled.html
 
 
  S.B. No. 821
 
 
 
 
AN ACT
  relating to children's advocacy centers.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Section 264.402, Family Code, is amended to read
  as follows:
         Sec. 264.402.  ESTABLISHMENT OF CHILDREN'S ADVOCACY CENTER.
  On the execution of a memorandum of understanding under Section
  264.403, a children's advocacy center may be established by
  community members and the participating agencies [entities]
  described by Section 264.403(a) to serve a county or two or more
  contiguous counties in which a center has not been established.
         SECTION 2.  Section 264.403, Family Code, is amended to read
  as follows:
         Sec. 264.403.  INTERAGENCY MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING.
  (a)  A [Before a] center shall enter into [may be established under
  Section 264.402,] a memorandum of understanding regarding
  participation in the multidisciplinary team response under Section
  264.406.  The center and each of the following agencies [operation
  of the center] must execute the memorandum of understanding [be
  executed among]:
               (1)  [the division of] the department responsible for
  child abuse and neglect investigations;
               (2)  each [representatives of] county and municipal law
  enforcement agency with jurisdiction to [agencies that]
  investigate child abuse and neglect in the area to be served by the
  center; and
               (3)  each [the] county or district attorney with
  jurisdiction to prosecute [who routinely prosecutes] child abuse
  and neglect cases in the area to be served by the center[; and
               [(4)     a representative of any other governmental entity
  that participates in child abuse investigations or offers services
  to child abuse victims that desires to participate in the operation
  of the center].
         (b)  A memorandum of understanding executed under this
  section shall include the agreement of each participating agency
  [entity] to cooperate in:
               (1)  minimizing the revictimization of alleged abuse
  and neglect victims and nonoffending family members through the
  investigation, assessment, intervention, and prosecution
  processes; and
               (2)  maintaining [developing] a cooperative[,] team
  approach to facilitate successful outcomes in the criminal justice
  and [investigating] child protection systems through shared
  fact-finding and strong, collaborative case development [abuse;
               [(2)     reducing, to the greatest extent possible, the
  number of interviews required of a victim of child abuse to minimize
  the negative impact of the investigation on the child; and
               [(3)     developing, maintaining, and supporting, through
  the center, an environment that emphasizes the best interests of
  children and that provides investigatory and rehabilitative
  services].
         (c)  The [A] memorandum of understanding must be reexecuted:
               (1)  at least every three years;
               (2)  on a significant change to the memorandum of
  understanding; [executed under this section may include the
  agreement of one] or
               (3)  on a change of a signatory of a [more]
  participating agency [entities to provide office space and
  administrative services necessary for the center's operation].
         SECTION 3.  Subchapter E, Chapter 264, Family Code, is
  amended by adding Section 264.4031 to read as follows:
         Sec. 264.4031.  MULTIDISCIPLINARY TEAM WORKING PROTOCOL.
  (a)  A center shall adopt a multidisciplinary team working
  protocol. The working protocol must include:
               (1)  the center's mission statement;
               (2)  the role of each participating agency on the
  multidisciplinary team and the agency's commitment to the center;
               (3)  specific criteria for referral of cases for a
  multidisciplinary team response and specific criteria for the
  referral and provision of each service provided by the center;
               (4)  processes and general procedures for:
                     (A)  the intake of cases, including direct
  referrals from participating agencies described by Section
  264.403(a) and reports from the department that involve the
  suspected abuse or neglect of a child or the death of a child from
  abuse or neglect;
                     (B)  the availability outside scheduled business
  hours of a multidisciplinary team response to cases and provision
  of necessary center services;
                     (C)  information sharing to ensure the timely
  exchange of relevant information;
                     (D)  forensic interviews;
                     (E)  family and victim advocacy;
                     (F)  medical evaluations and medical treatment;
                     (G)  mental health evaluations and mental health
  treatment;
                     (H)  multidisciplinary team case review; and
                     (I)  case tracking; and
               (5)  provisions for addressing conflicts within the
  multidisciplinary team and for maintaining the confidentiality of
  information shared among members of the multidisciplinary team.
         (b)  The working protocol must be executed by the
  participating agencies required to enter into the memorandum of
  understanding under Section 264.403.
         (c)  The working protocol must be reexecuted:
               (1)  at least every three years;
               (2)  on a significant change to the working protocol;
  or
               (3)  on a change of a signatory of a participating
  agency.
         SECTION 4.  Section 264.404, Family Code, is amended by
  amending Subsection (a) and adding Subsection (c) to read as
  follows:
         (a)  In addition to any other persons appointed or elected to
  serve on the governing board of a [children's advocacy] center, the
  governing board must include an executive officer of, or an
  employee with decision-making authority selected by an executive
  officer of:
               (1)  the department responsible for child abuse and
  neglect investigations;
               (2)  a law enforcement agency with jurisdiction to
  investigate [that investigates] child abuse and neglect in the area
  served by the center;
               [(2)     the child protective services division of the
  department;] and
               (3)  the county or district attorney's office with
  jurisdiction to prosecute [involved in the prosecution of] child
  abuse and neglect cases in the area served by the center.
         (c)  The governing board members required under Subsection
  (a) may not constitute a majority of the membership of a center's
  governing board.
         SECTION 5.  Section 264.405, Family Code, is amended to read
  as follows:
         Sec. 264.405.  CENTER DUTIES. (a)  A center shall:
               (1)  receive, review, and track department reports
  relating to the suspected abuse or neglect of a child or the death
  of a child from abuse or neglect to ensure a consistent,
  comprehensive approach to all cases that meet the criteria outlined
  in the multidisciplinary team working protocol adopted under
  Section 264.4031;
               (2)  coordinate the activities of participating
  agencies relating to abuse and neglect investigations and delivery
  of services to alleged abuse and neglect victims and their
  families;
               (3)  facilitate assessment of alleged abuse or neglect
  [assess] victims [of child abuse] and their families to determine
  their need for services relating to the investigation of [child]
  abuse or neglect and[;
               [(2)]  provide needed services [determined to be needed
  under Subdivision (1)]; and
               (4)  comply with the standards adopted under Section
  264.409(c).
         (b)  A center shall [(3)] provide:
               (1)  facilitation of a multidisciplinary team response
  to abuse or neglect allegations;
               (2)  a formal process that requires the
  multidisciplinary team to routinely discuss and share information
  regarding investigations, case status, and services needed by
  children and families;
               (3)  a system to monitor the progress and track the
  outcome of each case;
               (4)  a child-focused setting that is comfortable,
  private, and physically and psychologically safe for diverse
  populations [a facility] at which a multidisciplinary team
  [appointed under Section 264.406] can meet to facilitate the
  efficient and appropriate disposition of [child] abuse and neglect
  cases through the civil and criminal justice systems;
               (5)  culturally competent services for children and
  families throughout the duration of a case;
               (6)  victim support and advocacy services for children
  and families;
               (7)  forensic interviews that are conducted in a
  neutral, fact-finding manner and coordinated to avoid duplicative
  interviewing;
               (8)  access to specialized medical evaluations and
  treatment services for victims of alleged abuse or neglect;
               (9)  evidence-based, trauma-focused mental health
  services for children and nonoffending members of the child's
  family; and
               (10)  opportunities for community involvement through
  a formalized volunteer program dedicated to supporting the center
  [(4)     coordinate the activities of governmental entities relating
  to child abuse investigations and delivery of services to child
  abuse victims and their families].
         (c)  The duties prescribed to a center under Subsection
  (a)(1) do not relieve the department or a law enforcement agency of
  its duty to investigate a report of abuse or neglect as required by
  other law.
         SECTION 6.  Section 264.406, Family Code, is amended to read
  as follows:
         Sec. 264.406.  MULTIDISCIPLINARY TEAM. (a)  A center's
  multidisciplinary team must include employees of the participating
  agencies described by Section 264.403(a) [who are professionals
  involved in the investigation or prosecution of child abuse cases].
         (b)  A representative of any other entity may participate in
  the multidisciplinary team response as provided by the
  multidisciplinary team working protocol adopted under Section
  264.4031 if:
               (1)  the entity participates in or provides the
  following:
                     (A)  child abuse or neglect investigations;
                     (B)  abuse or neglect investigations involving
  persons with a disability;
                     (C)  services to alleged child abuse or neglect
  victims; or
                     (D)  services to alleged victims who are persons
  with a disability;
               (2)  the center and the participating agencies agree in
  writing to the entity's participation; and
               (3)  the entity signs the memorandum of understanding
  executed under Section 264.403 and the working protocol adopted
  under Section 264.4031.
         (c) [(b)]  A [center's] multidisciplinary team shall be
  actively [may also include professionals] involved in the following 
  [the delivery of services, including medical and mental health
  services, to child abuse victims and the victims' families.
         [(c)  A] multidisciplinary team response [shall meet at
  regularly scheduled intervals to]:
               (1)  coordinating [review child abuse cases determined
  to be appropriate for review by the multidisciplinary team; and
               [(2)  coordinate] the actions of the participating
  agencies [entities] involved in the investigation and prosecution
  of [the] cases and the delivery of services to alleged [the child]
  abuse or neglect victims and the victims' families; and
               (2)  conducting at regularly scheduled intervals
  multidisciplinary review of appropriate abuse or neglect cases as
  provided by the working protocol adopted under Section 264.4031.
         (d)  A multidisciplinary team may review an [a child] abuse
  or neglect case in which the alleged perpetrator [does not have
  custodial control or supervision of the child or] is not a person
  responsible for a [the] child's care, custody, or welfare [or
  care].
         (e)  A [When acting in the member's official capacity, a]
  multidisciplinary team member is authorized to share with and
  receive from other multidisciplinary team members information made
  confidential by Chapter 552, Government Code, Section 40.005 or
  48.101, Human Resources Code, or Section 261.201 or 264.408 of this
  code when acting in the member's official capacity as an employee of
  a participating agency described by Section 264.403(a) or of
  another entity described by Subsection (b).
         SECTION 7.  Section 264.4061, Family Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         Sec. 264.4061.  MULTIDISCIPLINARY TEAM RESPONSE REQUIRED.
  (a)  The department shall refer a case to a center and the center
  shall initiate a response by a center's multidisciplinary team
  appointed under Section 264.406 when conducting an investigation
  of:
               (1)  a report of abuse or neglect that is made by a
  professional as defined by Section 261.101 and that:
                     (A)  alleges sexual abuse of a child; or
                     (B)  is a type of case handled by the center in
  accordance with the working protocol adopted for the center under
  Section 264.4031 [264.411(a)(9)]; or
               (2)  a child fatality in which there are surviving
  children in the deceased child's household or under the supervision
  of the caregiver involved in the child fatality.
         (b)  Any interview of a child conducted as part of the
  investigation under Subsection (a) must be a forensic interview
  conducted in accordance with the center's working protocol adopted
  under Section 264.4031 unless a forensic interview is not
  appropriate based on the child's age and development or the center's
  working protocol adopted under Section 264.4031.
         (c)  Subsection (a) applies only to an investigation of abuse
  or neglect in a county served by a center that has executed an
  interagency memorandum of understanding under Section 264.403. If
  a county is not served by a center that has executed an interagency
  memorandum of understanding, the department may, if appropriate,
  directly refer a case to a center in an adjacent county to initiate
  a response by that center's multidisciplinary team[, if
  appropriate].
         SECTION 8.  Section 264.408, Family Code, is amended to read
  as follows:
         Sec. 264.408.  USE OF INFORMATION AND RECORDS;
  CONFIDENTIALITY AND OWNERSHIP. (a)  The files, reports, records,
  communications, and working papers used or developed in providing
  services under this chapter are confidential and not subject to
  public release under Chapter 552, Government Code, and may only be
  disclosed for purposes consistent with this chapter. Disclosure
  may be made to:
               (1)  the department, department employees, law
  enforcement agencies, prosecuting attorneys, medical
  professionals, and other state or local agencies that provide
  services to children and families; and
               (2)  the attorney for the alleged victim [child] who is
  the subject of the records and a court-appointed volunteer advocate
  appointed for the alleged victim [child] under Section 107.031.
         (b)  Information related to the investigation of a report of
  abuse or neglect under Chapter 261 and to the services provided as a
  result of the investigation is confidential as provided by Section
  261.201.
         (c)  The department, a law enforcement agency, and a
  prosecuting attorney may share with a center information that is
  confidential under Section 261.201 as needed to provide services
  under this chapter. Confidential information shared with or
  provided to a center remains the property of the agency that shared
  or provided the information to the center.  A request for
  confidential information provided to the center under this section
  must be made to the agency that shared or provided the information.
         (d)  An electronic [A video] recording of an interview with
  [of] a child or person with a disability that is made by a center is
  the property of the prosecuting attorney involved in the criminal
  prosecution of the case involving the child or person. If no
  criminal prosecution occurs, the electronic [video] recording is
  the property of the attorney involved in representing the
  department in a civil action alleging [child] abuse, [or] neglect,
  or exploitation. If the matter involving the child or person is not
  prosecuted, the electronic [video] recording is the property of the
  department if the matter is an investigation by the department of
  abuse, [or] neglect, or exploitation. If the department is not
  investigating or has not investigated the matter, the electronic
  [video] recording is the property of the agency that referred the
  matter to the center.
         (d-1)  An electronic [A video] recording of an interview
  described by Subsection (d) is subject to production under Article
  39.14, Code of Criminal Procedure, and Rule 615, Texas Rules of
  Evidence. A court shall deny any request by a defendant to copy,
  photograph, duplicate, or otherwise reproduce an electronic [a
  video] recording of an interview described by Subsection (d),
  provided that the prosecuting attorney makes the electronic [video]
  recording reasonably available to the defendant in the same manner
  as property or material may be made available to defendants,
  attorneys, and expert witnesses under Article 39.15(d), Code of
  Criminal Procedure.
         (e)  The department shall be allowed access to electronic [a
  center's video] recordings of interviews of children or persons
  with a disability.
         SECTION 9.  Section 264.409, Family Code, is amended to read
  as follows:
         Sec. 264.409.  ADMINISTRATIVE CONTRACTS. (a)  The
  [department or the] commission shall contract with one [a]
  statewide organization that is exempt from federal income taxation
  under Section 501(a), Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as an
  organization described by Section 501(c)(3) of that code [and
  designated as a supporting organization under Section 509(a)(3) of
  that code] and that is composed of individuals [or groups of
  individuals] who have expertise in the establishment and operation
  of children's advocacy center programs. The statewide organization
  shall provide training, technical assistance, evaluation services,
  and funds administration to support contractual requirements under
  Section 264.411 for local children's advocacy center programs.
         (b)  The [If the commission enters into a] contract under
  this section[, the contract] must provide that the statewide
  organization may not spend annually in the performance of duties
  under Subsection (a) more than 12 percent of the annual amount
  appropriated to the commission for purposes of this section.
         (c)  The statewide organization with which the commission
  contracts shall develop and adopt standards for children's advocacy
  centers.
         SECTION 10.  Sections 264.410(a) and (b), Family Code, are
  amended to read as follows:
         (a)  The statewide organization with which [the department
  or] the commission contracts under Section 264.409 shall contract
  [for services] with eligible centers to establish, maintain, and
  enhance the [existing] services provided by the centers [of the
  programs].
         (b)  The contract under this section may not result in
  reducing the financial support a [local] center receives from
  another source.
         SECTION 11.  Section 264.411, Family Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         Sec. 264.411.  ELIGIBILITY FOR CONTRACTS. (a)  A public
  entity that operated as a center under this subchapter before
  November 1, 1995, or a nonprofit entity is eligible for a contract
  under Section 264.410 if the entity:
               (1)  has a signed memorandum of understanding as
  provided by Section 264.403;
               (2)  has a signed working protocol as provided by
  Section 264.4031;
               (3)  has [operates under the authority of] a governing
  board as provided by Section 264.404;
               (4) [(3)]  has a multidisciplinary team [of persons
  involved in the investigation or prosecution of child abuse cases
  or the delivery of services] as provided by Section 264.406;
               (5) [(4)  holds] regularly convenes the
  multidisciplinary team [scheduled case reviews] as provided by
  Section 264.406;
               [(5)     operates in a neutral and physically separate
  space from the day-to-day operations of any public agency partner;]
               (6)  [has developed a method of statistical information
  gathering on children receiving services through the center and
  shares such statistical information with the statewide
  organization, the department, and the commission when requested;
               [(7)  has an in-house volunteer program;
               [(8)] employs an executive director who is accountable
  [answerable] to the board of directors of the entity and who is not
  the exclusive salaried employee of any governmental [public] agency
  [partner];
               [(9)     operates under a working protocol that includes a
  statement of:
                     [(A)  the center's mission;
                     [(B)     each agency's role and commitment to the
  center;
                     [(C)     the type of cases to be handled by the
  center;
                     [(D)     the center's procedures for conducting case
  reviews and forensic interviews and for ensuring access to
  specialized medical and mental health services; and
                     [(E)     the center's policies regarding
  confidentiality and conflict resolution;] and
               (7)  fulfills the duties required by Section 264.405
  [(10)  implements at the center the following program components:
                     [(A)     a case tracking system that monitors
  statistical information on each child and nonoffending family
  member or other caregiver who receives services through the center
  and that includes progress and disposition information for each
  service the multidisciplinary team determines should be provided to
  the client;
                     [(B)     a child-focused setting that is
  comfortable, private, and physically and psychologically safe for
  diverse populations of children and nonoffending family members and
  other caregivers;
                     [(C)     family advocacy and victim support services
  that include comprehensive case management and victim support
  services available to each child and the child's nonoffending
  family members or other caregivers as part of the services the
  multidisciplinary team determines should be provided to a client;
                     [(D)     forensic interviews conducted in a neutral,
  fact-finding manner and coordinated to avoid duplicative
  interviewing;
                     [(E)     specialized medical evaluation and
  treatment services that are available to all children who receive
  services through the center and coordinated with the services the
  multidisciplinary team determines should be provided to a child;
                     [(F)     specialized trauma-focused mental health
  services that are designed to meet the unique needs of child abuse
  victims and the victims' nonoffending family members or other
  caregivers and that are available as part of the services the
  multidisciplinary team determines should be provided to a client;
  and
                     [(G)     a system to ensure that all services
  available to center clients are culturally competent and diverse
  and are coordinated with the services the multidisciplinary team
  determines should be provided to a client].
         (b)  The statewide organization described by Section 264.409
  may waive the requirements specified in Subsection (a) if it
  determines that the waiver will not adversely affect a [the]
  center's ability to carry out its duties under Section 264.405.
         SECTION 12.  Section 264.410(c), Family Code, is repealed.
         SECTION 13.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2019.
 
 
 
 
 
  ______________________________ ______________________________
     President of the Senate Speaker of the House     
 
         I hereby certify that S.B. No. 821 passed the Senate on
  April 11, 2019, by the following vote:  Yeas 31, Nays 0.
 
 
  ______________________________
  Secretary of the Senate    
 
         I hereby certify that S.B. No. 821 passed the House on
  May 16, 2019, by the following vote:  Yeas 134, Nays 6, two
  present not voting.
 
 
  ______________________________
  Chief Clerk of the House   
 
 
 
  Approved:
 
  ______________________________ 
              Date
 
 
  ______________________________ 
            Governor
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