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Introduced Version Senate Bill 298 History

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sb298 intr
Senate Bill No. 298

(By Senators Prezioso, Bailey, Edgell, Foster, Hunter, Kessler, Minard, Unger, Deem, Guills, Yoder, Green, Stollings, Jenkins and Plymale)

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[Introduced January 22, 2008; referred to the Committee on Health and Human Resources; and then to the Committee on the Judiciary.]

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A BILL to amend and reenact §49-1-3 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to the expansion of the definition of "imminent danger to the physical well-being of the child" with regard to child abuse and neglect to include alcohol and substance abuse on the part of the parent or parents, custodian or custodians, or guardian or guardians.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §49-1-3 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 1. PURPOSES; DEFINITIONS.
§49-1-3. Definitions relating to abuse and neglect.
(a) "Abused child" means a child whose health or welfare is harmed or threatened by:
(1) A parent, guardian or custodian who knowingly or intentionally inflicts, attempts to inflict or knowingly allows another person to inflict physical injury or mental or emotional injury upon the child or another child in the home; or
(2) Sexual abuse or sexual exploitation; or
(3) The sale or attempted sale of a child by a parent, guardian or custodian in violation of section sixteen, article four, chapter forty-eight of this code; or
(4) Domestic violence as defined in section two hundred two, article twenty-seven, chapter forty-eight of this code.
In addition to its broader meaning, physical injury may include an injury to the child as a result of excessive corporal punishment.
(b) "Abusing parent" means a parent, guardian or other custodian, regardless of his or her age, whose conduct, as alleged in the petition charging child abuse or neglect, has been adjudged by the court to constitute child abuse or neglect.
(c) "Battered parent" means a parent, guardian or other custodian who has been judicially determined not to have condoned the abuse or neglect and has not been able to stop the abuse or neglect of the child or children due to being the victim of domestic violence as defined by section two hundred two, article twenty-seven, chapter forty-eight of this code, which domestic violence was perpetrated by the person or persons determined to have abused or neglected the child or children.
(d) "Child abuse and neglect" or "child abuse or neglect" means physical injury, mental or emotional injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, sale or attempted sale or negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child by a parent, guardian or custodian who is responsible for the child's welfare under circumstances which harm or threaten the health and welfare of the child.
(e) "Child abuse and neglect services" means social services which are directed toward:
(1) Protecting and promoting the welfare of children who are abused or neglected;
(2) Identifying, preventing and remedying conditions which cause child abuse and neglect;
(3) Preventing the unnecessary removal of children from their families by identifying family problems and assisting families in resolving problems which could lead to a removal of children and a breakup of the family;
(4) In cases where children have been removed from their families, providing services to the children and the families so as to reunify such children with their families or some portion thereof;
(5) Placing children in suitable adoptive homes when reunifying the children with their families, or some portion thereof, is not possible or appropriate; and
(6) Assuring the adequate care of children who have been placed in the custody of the department or third parties.
(f) "Child advocacy center" means a community-based organization that is a member in good standing with the West Virginia Child Abuse Network, Inc., and is working to implement the following program components:
(1) Child-appropriate/child-friendly facility. -- A child advocacy center provides a comfortable, private, child-friendly setting that is both physically and psychologically safe for clients.
(2) Multidisciplinary team (MDT). -- A multidisciplinary team for response to child abuse allegations includes representation from the following: Law enforcement; child protective services;
prosecution; mental health; medical; victim advocacy; child advocacy center.
(3) Organizational capacity. -- A designated legal entity responsible for program and fiscal operations has been established and implements basic sound administrative practices.
(4) Cultural competency and diversity. -- The child advocacy center promotes policies, practices and procedures that are culturally competent. Cultural competency is defined as the capacity to function in more than one culture, requiring the ability to appreciate, understand and interact with members of diverse populations within the local community.
(5) Forensic interviews. -- Forensic interviews are conducted in a manner which is of a neutral, fact-finding nature and coordinated to avoid duplicative interviewing.
(6) Medical evaluation. -- Specialized medical evaluation and treatment are to be made available to child advocacy center clients as part of the team response, either at the child advocacy center or through coordination and referral with other specialized medical providers.
(7) Therapeutic intervention. -- Specialized mental health services are to be made available as part of the team response, either at the child advocacy center or through coordination and referral with other appropriate treatment providers.
(8) Victim support/advocacy. -- Victim support and advocacy are to be made available as part of the team response, either at the child advocacy center or through coordination with other providers, throughout the investigation and subsequent legal proceedings.
(9) Case review. -- Team discussion and information sharing regarding the investigation, case status and services needed by the child and family are to occur on a routine basis.
(10) Case tracking. -- Child advocacy centers must develop and implement a system for monitoring case progress and tracking case outcomes for team components: Provided, That a child advocacy center may establish a safe exchange location for children and families who have a parenting agreement or an order providing for visitation or custody of the children that require a safe exchange location.
(g) "Imminent danger to the physical well-being of the child" means an emergency situation in which the welfare or the life of the child is threatened. Such emergency situation exists when there is reasonable cause to believe that any child in the home is or has been sexually abused or sexually exploited or reasonable cause to believe that the following conditions threaten the health or life of any child in the home, including, but not limited to:
(1) Nonaccidental trauma inflicted by a parent, guardian, custodian, sibling or a babysitter or other caretaker;
(2) A combination of physical and other signs indicating a pattern of abuse which may be medically diagnosed as battered child syndrome;
(3) Nutritional deprivation;
(4) Abandonment by the parent, guardian or custodian;
(5) Inadequate treatment of serious illness or disease;
(6) Substantial emotional injury inflicted by a parent, guardian or custodian;
(7) Sale or attempted sale of the child by the parent, guardian or custodian; or
(8) The abusing parent or parents, custodian or custodians, guardian or guardians have habitually abused or are addicted to alcoholic liquor as that term is defined in section five, article one, chapter sixty of this code or controlled substances or drugs as those terms are defined in section one hundred one, article one, chapter sixty-a of this code to the extent that proper parenting skills have been seriously impaired as a result of the abuse or addiction.
(h) "Legal guardianship" means the permanent relationship between a child and caretaker, established by order of the circuit court having jurisdiction over the child, pursuant to the provisions of this chapter and chapter forty-eight of this code.
(i) "Multidisciplinary team" means a group of professionals and paraprofessionals representing a variety of disciplines who interact and coordinate their efforts to identify, diagnose and treat specific cases of child abuse and neglect. Multidisciplinary teams may include, but are not limited to, medical, educational, child care and law-enforcement personnel, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists. Their goal is to pool their respective skills in order to formulate accurate diagnoses and to provide comprehensive coordinated treatment with continuity and follow-up for both parents and children. "Community team" means a multidisciplinary group which addresses the general problem of child abuse and neglect in a given community and may consist of several multidisciplinary teams with different functions.
(j) (1) "Neglected child" means a child:
(A) Whose physical or mental health is harmed or threatened by a present refusal, failure or inability of the child's parent, guardian or custodian to supply the child with necessary food, clothing, shelter, supervision, medical care or education when such refusal, failure or inability is not due primarily to a lack of financial means on the part of the parent, guardian or custodian; or
(B) Who is presently without necessary food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education or supervision because of the disappearance or absence of the child's parent or custodian.
(2) "Neglected child" does not mean a child whose education is
conducted within the provisions of section one, article eight, chapter eighteen of this code.
(k) "Parenting skills" means a parent's competencies in providing physical care, protection, supervision and psychological support appropriate to a child's age and state of development.
(l) "Sexual abuse" means:
(A) As to a child who is less than sixteen years of age, any of the following acts which a parent, guardian or custodian shall engage in, attempt to engage in or knowingly procure another person to engage in with such child, notwithstanding the fact that the child may have willingly participated in such conduct or the fact that the child may have suffered no apparent physical injury or mental or emotional injury as a result of such conduct:
(i) Sexual intercourse;
(ii) Sexual intrusion; or
(iii) Sexual contact;
(B) As to a child who is sixteen years of age or older, any of the following acts which a parent, guardian or custodian shall engage in, attempt to engage in or knowingly procure another person to engage in with such child, notwithstanding the fact that the child may have consented to such conduct or the fact that the child may have suffered no apparent physical injury or mental or emotional injury as a result of such conduct:
(i) Sexual intercourse;
(ii) Sexual intrusion; or
(iii) Sexual contact;
(C) Any conduct whereby a parent, guardian or custodian displays his or her sex organs to a child or procures another person to display his or her sex organs to a child for the purpose of gratifying the sexual desire of the parent, guardian or custodian, of the person making such display or of the child, or for the purpose of affronting or alarming the child.
(m) "Sexual contact" means sexual contact as that term is defined in section one, article eight-b, chapter sixty-one of this code.
(n) "Sexual exploitation" means an act whereby:
(1) A parent, custodian or guardian, whether for financial gain or not, persuades, induces, entices or coerces a child to engage in sexually explicit conduct as that term is defined in section one, article eight-c, chapter sixty-one of this code;
(2) A parent, guardian or custodian persuades, induces, entices or coerces a child to display his or her sex organs for the sexual gratification of the parent, guardian, custodian or a third person or to display his or her sex organs under circumstances in which the parent, guardian or custodian knows such display is likely to be observed by others who would be affronted or alarmed.
(o) "Sexual intercourse" means sexual intercourse as that term is defined in section one, article eight-b, chapter sixty-one of this code.
(p) "Sexual intrusion" means sexual intrusion as that term is defined in section one, article eight-b, chapter sixty-one of this code.
(q) "Parental rights" means any and all rights and duties regarding a parent to a minor child, including, but not limited to, custodial rights and visitational rights and rights to participate in the decisions affecting a minor child.
(r) "Placement" means any temporary or permanent placement of a child who is in the custody of the state in any foster home, group home or other facility or residence.
(s) "Serious physical abuse" means bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death, which causes serious or prolonged disfigurement, prolonged impairment of health or prolonged loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.
(t) "Siblings" means children who have at least one biological parent in common or who have been legally adopted by the same parents or parent.
(u) "Time-limited reunification services" means individual, group and family counseling, inpatient, residential or outpatient substance abuse treatment services, mental health services, assistance to address domestic violence, services designed to provide temporary child care and therapeutic services for families, including crisis nurseries and transportation to or from any such services, provided during fifteen of the most recent twenty-two months a child has been in foster care, as determined by the earlier date of the first judicial finding that the child is subjected to abuse or neglect or the date which is sixty days after the child is removed from home.
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(NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to expand the definition of "imminent danger to the physical well-being of the child" with regard to child abuse and neglect to include alcohol; and substance abuse on the part of the parents or guardians.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.

This bill was recommended for passage during the 2008 Regular Session of the Legislature by Select Committee A on Children, Juveniles, and Other Matters.)
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