1976 South Carolina Code of Laws
Unannotated
Updated through the end of the 2006 Regular Session


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Title 20 - Domestic Relations
CHAPTER 7.

CHILDREN'S CODE



ARTICLE 1.

GENERAL PROVISIONS

SECTION 20-7-10. Short title.

This chapter may be cited as The South Carolina Children's Code.

SECTION 20-7-20. Children's policy established.

(A) A children's policy is hereby established for this State.

(B) This policy shall be interpreted in conjunction with all relevant laws and regulations and shall apply to all children who have need of services including, but not limited to, those mentally, socially, emotionally, physically, developmentally, culturally, educationally or economically disadvantaged or handicapped, those dependent, neglected, abused or exploited and those who by their circumstance or action violate the laws of this State and are found to be in need of treatment or rehabilitation.

(C) It shall be the policy of this State to concentrate on the prevention of children's problems as the most important strategy which can be planned and implemented on behalf of children and their families. The State shall encourage community involvement in the provision of children's services including, as an integral part, local government, public and private voluntary groups, public and private nonprofit groups and private-for-profit groups in order to encourage and provide innovative strategies for children's services. To maximize resources in providing services to children in need, all agencies providing services to children shall develop methods to coordinate their services and resources. For children with multiple needs, the furtherance of this policy requires all children's services agencies to recognize that their jurisdiction in meeting these children's needs is not mutually exclusive.

(D) When children or their families request help, state and local government resources shall be utilized to compliment community efforts to help meet the needs of children by aiding in the prevention and resolution of their problems. The State shall direct its efforts first to strengthen and encourage family life as the most appropriate environment for the care and nurturing of children. To this end, the State shall assist and encourage families to utilize all available resources. For children in need of services, care and guidance the State shall secure those services as are needed to serve the emotional, mental and physical welfare of children and the best interests of the community, preferably in their homes or the least restrictive environment possible. When children must be placed in care away from their homes, the State shall insure that they are protected against any harmful effects resulting from the temporary or permanent inability of parents to provide care and protection for their children. It is the policy of this State to reunite the child with his family in a timely manner, whether or not the child has been placed in the care of the State voluntarily. When children must be permanently removed from their homes, they shall be placed in adoptive homes so that they may become members of a family by legal adoption or, absent that possibility, other permanent settings.

(E) The children's policy provided for in this article shall be implemented through the cooperative efforts of state, county and municipal legislative, judicial and executive branches, as well as other public and private resources. Where resources are limited, services shall be targeted to those children in greatest need.

(F) In order to carry out this policy each agency, department, institution, committee, and commission which is concerned or responsible for children shall submit as a part of its annual budget request a listing of programs and services for children, the priority order of these programs and services in relation to other services, if any, that are provided by the agency, department, institution, committee, or commission, and a summary of the expenses incurred for the administration of its children's services and programs. In addition, each agency, department, institution, committee, and commission which must submit pursuant to law an annual report to the General Assembly shall include as part of the report a comprehensive statement of how its children's services and programs contributed to the implementation of this policy. Copies of all these budget requests and annual reports must be provided to the Joint Legislative Committee on Children and the Governor's Office by the agency, department, institution, committee, or commission.

SECTION 20-7-30. Definitions.

When used in this chapter and unless otherwise defined or the specific context indicates otherwise:

(1) "Child" means a person under the age of eighteen.

(2) "Court" means the family court.

(3) "Guardian" means a person who legally has the care and management of a child.

(4) "Judge" means the judge of the family court.

(5) "Parent" means biological parent, adoptive parents, step-parent, or person with legal custody.

(6) "Status offense" means any offense which would not be a misdemeanor or felony if committed by an adult, such as, but not limited to, incorrigibility (beyond the control of parents), truancy, running away, playing or loitering in a billiard room, playing a pinball machine or gaining admission to a theater by false identification.

(7) "Child caring facility" means a campus with one or more staffed residences and with a total population of twenty or more children who are in care apart from their parents, relatives, or guardians on a continuing full-time basis for protection and guidance.

(8) "Foster home" means a household of one or more persons who are licensed or approved to provide full-time care for one to five children living apart from their parents or guardians.

(9) "Residential group care home" means a staffed residence with a population fewer than twenty children who are in care apart from their parents, relatives, or guardians on a full-time basis.

ARTICLE 3.

LEGAL STATUS OF CHILDREN

SUBARTICLE 1.

PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP

SECTION 20-7-40. Support of spouse and children.

A husband or wife declared to be chargeable with the support of his or her spouse and children, if possessed of sufficient means or able to earn such means, may be required to pay for their support a fair and reasonable sum according to his or her means, as may be determined by the court.

SECTION 20-7-50. Unlawful conduct towards child.

(A) It is unlawful for a person who has charge or custody of a child, or who is the parent or guardian of a child, or who is responsible for the welfare of a child as defined in Section 20-7-490(5) to:

(1) place the child at unreasonable risk of harm affecting the child's life, physical or mental health, or safety;

(2) do or cause to be done unlawfully or maliciously any bodily harm to the child so that the life or health of the child is endangered or likely to be endangered; or

(3) wilfully abandon the child.

(B) A person who violates subsection (A) is guilty of a felony and for each offense, upon conviction, must be fined in the discretion of the court or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

SECTION 20-7-60. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 450, Section 22, eff January 1, 1997.

SECTION 20-7-70. Cruelty to children.

Whoever cruelly ill-treats, deprives of necessary sustenance or shelter, or inflicts unnecessary pain or suffering upon a child or causes the same to be done, whether the person is the parent or guardian or has charge or custody of the child, for every offense, is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than thirty days or fined not more than two hundred dollars, at the discretion of the magistrate.

SECTION 20-7-80. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 450, Section 22, eff January 1, 1997.

SECTION 20-7-85. Infants left in safe haven; procedures, care, immunity and reporting requirements.

(A) A safe haven in this State must, without a court order, take temporary physical custody of an infant who is voluntarily left with the safe haven by a person who does not express an intent to return for the infant and the circumstances give rise to a reasonable belief that the person does not intend to return for the infant. If the safe haven is a hospital or hospital outpatient facility, the hospital or hospital facility shall perform any act necessary to protect the physical health or safety of the infant; any other safe haven shall, as soon as possible, but no later than six hours after receiving an infant, transport the infant to a hospital or hospital outpatient facility. The person leaving the infant is not required to disclose his or her identity; however, the person must leave the infant in the physical custody of a staff member or employee of the safe haven.

(B)(1) The safe haven must offer the person leaving the infant information concerning the legal effect of leaving the infant with the safe haven.

(2) The safe haven must ask the person leaving the infant to identify any parent of the infant other than the person leaving the infant with the safe haven. The safe haven also must attempt to obtain from the person information concerning the infant's background and medical history as specified on a form provided by the Department of Social Services. This information includes, but is not limited to, information concerning the use of a controlled substance by the infant's mother, provided that information regarding the use of a controlled substance by the infant's mother is not admissible as evidence of the unlawful use of a controlled substance in any court proceeding. The safe haven shall give the person a copy of the form and a prepaid envelope for mailing the form to the Department of Social Services if the person does not wish to provide the information to the safe haven. These materials must be provided to safe havens by the department.

(3) Any identifying information disclosed by the person leaving the infant must be kept confidential by the safe haven and disclosed to no one other than the department. However, if a court determines that the immunity provisions of subsection (H) do not apply, the safe haven may disclose the information as permitted by confidentiality protections applicable to records of the safe haven, if the safe haven has such confidentiality protections for records. The department shall maintain confidentiality of this information in accordance with Section 20-7-690.

(C) Not later than the close of the first business day after the date on which a hospital or hospital outpatient facility takes possession of an infant pursuant to subsection (A), the hospital or hospital outpatient facility shall notify the department that it has taken temporary physical custody of the infant. The department has legal custody of the infant immediately upon receipt of the notice. The department shall assume physical control of the infant as soon as practicable upon receipt of the notice, but no later than twenty-four hours after receiving notice that the infant is ready for discharge from the hospital or hospital outpatient facility. Assumption of custody by the department pursuant to this subsection does not constitute emergency protective custody, and the provisions of Section 20-7-610 do not apply. The department is not required to initiate a child protective services investigation solely because an infant comes into its custody under this subsection.

(D) Immediately after receiving notice from a hospital or hospital outpatient facility pursuant to subsection (C), the department shall contact the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division for assistance in assuring that the infant is not a missing infant. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division shall treat the request as ongoing for a period of thirty days and shall contact the department if a missing infant report is received that might relate to the infant.

(E)(1) Within forty-eight hours after taking legal custody of the infant, the department shall publish notice, in a newspaper of general circulation in the area where the safe haven that initially took the infant is located, and send a news release to broadcast and print media in the area. The notice and the news release must state the circumstances under which the infant was left at the safe haven, a description of the infant, and the date, time, and place of the permanency planning hearing provided for in subsection (E)(2). The notice and the news release must also state that any person wishing to assert parental rights in regard to the infant must do so at the hearing. If the person leaving the infant identified anyone as being a parent of the infant, the notice must be sent by certified mail to the last known address of the person identified as a parent at least two weeks prior to the hearing.

(2) Within forty-eight hours after obtaining legal custody of the infant, the department shall file a petition alleging that the infant has been abandoned, that the court should dispense with reasonable efforts to preserve or reunify the family, that continuation of keeping the infant in the home of the parent or parents would be contrary to the welfare of the infant, and that termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the infant. A hearing on the petition must be held no earlier than thirty and no later than sixty days after the department takes legal custody of the infant. This hearing is the permanency planning hearing for the infant. If the court approves the permanent plan of termination of parental rights, the order must also provide that a petition for termination of parental rights on the grounds of abandonment must be filed within ten days after receipt of the order by the department.

(F) The act of leaving an infant with a safe haven pursuant to this section is conclusive evidence that the infant has been abused or neglected for purposes of Department of Social Services' jurisdiction and for evidentiary purposes in any judicial proceeding in which abuse or neglect of an infant is an issue. It is also conclusive evidence that the requirements for termination of parental rights have been satisfied as to any parent who left the infant or acted in concert with the person leaving the infant.

(G) A person who leaves an infant at a safe haven or directs another person to do so must not be prosecuted for any criminal offense on account of such action if:

(1) the person is a parent of the infant or is acting at the direction of a parent;

(2) the person leaves the infant in the physical custody of a staff member or an employee of the safe haven; and

(3) the infant is not more than thirty days old or the infant is reasonably determined by the hospital or hospital outpatient facility to be not more than thirty days old.

This subsection does not apply to prosecution for the infliction of any harm upon the infant other than the harm inherent in abandonment.

(H) A safe haven and its agents, and any health care professionals practicing within a hospital or hospital outpatient facility, are immune from civil or criminal liability for any action authorized by this section, so long as the safe haven, or health care professional, complies with all provisions of this section.

(I) The department, either alone or in collaboration with any other public entity, shall take appropriate measures to achieve public awareness of the provisions of this section.

(J) For purposes of this section:

(1) "infant" means a person not more than thirty days old; and

(2) "safe haven" means a hospital or hospital outpatient facility, a law enforcement agency, a fire station, an emergency medical services station, or any staffed house of worship during hours when the facility is staffed.

(K) Annually the department shall submit a report to the General Assembly containing data on infants who come into the custody of the department pursuant to this section. The data must include, but are not limited to, the date, time, and place where the infant was left, the hospital to which the infant was taken, the health of the infant at the time of being admitted to the hospital, disposition and placement of the infant, and, if available, circumstances surrounding the infant being left at the safe haven. No data in the report may contain identifying information.

SECTION 20-7-90. Obligation to support spouse and children.

(A) Any able-bodied person capable of earning a livelihood who shall, without just cause or excuse, abandon or fail to provide reasonable support to his or her spouse or to his or her minor unmarried legitimate or illegitimate child dependent upon him or her shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be imprisoned for a term of not exceeding one year or be fined not less than three hundred dollars nor more than one thousand five hundred dollars, or both, in the discretion of the circuit court. A husband or wife abandoned by his or her spouse is not liable for the support of the abandoning spouse until such spouse offers to return unless the misconduct of the husband or wife justified the abandonment. If a fine be imposed the circuit court may, in its discretion, order that a portion of the fine be paid to a proper and suitable person or agency for the maintenance and support of the defendant's spouse or minor unmarried legitimate or illegitimate child. As used in this section "reasonable support" means an amount of financial assistance which, when combined with the support the member is reasonably capable of providing for himself or herself, will provide a living standard for the member substantially equal to that of the person owing the duty to support. It includes both usual and unusual necessities.

(B) Any person who fails to receive the support required by this section may petition to a circuit court of competent jurisdiction for a rule to show cause why the obligated person should not be required to provide such support and after proper service and hearing the circuit court shall in all appropriate cases order such support to be paid. Any such petition shall specify the amount of support required. Compliance with the circuit court order shall bar prosecution under the provisions of subsection (A) of this section.

SECTION 20-7-92. Temporary order for payment of child support pending determination of parentage.

The court shall issue, upon motion of either party, a temporary order requiring the payment of child support pending an administrative or judicial determination of parentage if:

(1) the defendant has signed a verified voluntary acknowledgment of paternity which complies with the requirements of Section 20-7-956(A)(4);

(2) the defendant has been determined pursuant to law to be the parent; or

(3) there is other clear and convincing evidence that the defendant is the child's parent.

SECTION 20-7-95. Parental immunity in cases of incorrigibility of seventeen-year-olds.

A parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the care and support of a child may not be charged with unlawful neglect of a child, cruelty to a child, failure to provide reasonable support of a child, or a similar offense based on the exclusion from the home of a seventeen-year-old child where there is a demonstrable record that the child is incorrigible (beyond the control of parents).

SECTION 20-7-97. Breastfeeding.

(A) A woman may breastfeed her child in any location where the mother and her child are authorized to be.

(B) Breastfeeding a child in a location where the mother is authorized to be is not considered indecent exposure.

SECTION 20-7-100. Rights and duties of parents in regard to their minor children.

The mother and father are the joint natural guardians of their minor children and are equally charged with the welfare and education of their minor children and the care and management of the estates of their minor children; and the mother and father have equal power, rights, and duties, and neither parent has any right paramount to the right of the other concerning the custody of the minor or the control of the services or the earnings of the minor or any other matter affecting the minor. Each parent, whether the custodial or noncustodial parent of the child, has equal access and the same right to obtain all educational records and medical records of their minor children and the right to participate in their children's school activities unless prohibited by order of the court. Neither parent shall forcibly take a child from the guardianship of the parent legally entitled to custody of the child.

SECTION 20-7-105. Exposing child to manufacture or sale of amphetamine or methamphetamine; penalty.

(A) It is unlawful for a person who is eighteen years of age or older to:

(1) either directly or by extraction from natural substances, or independently by means of chemical processes, or both, unlawfully manufacture amphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of isomers, or methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of its isomers in the presence of a minor child; or

(2) knowingly permit a child to be in an environment where a person is selling, offering for sale, or having in such person's possession with intent to sell, deliver, distribute, prescribe, administer, dispense, manufacture, or attempt to manufacture amphetamine or methamphetamine; or

(3) knowingly permit a child to be in an environment where drug paraphernalia or volatile, toxic, or flammable chemicals are stored for the purpose of manufacturing or attempting to manufacture amphetamine or methamphetamine.

(B) A person who violates subsection (A)(1), (2), or (3), upon conviction, for a first offense must be imprisoned not more than five years or fined not more than five thousand dollars, or both. Upon conviction for a second or subsequent offense, the person must be imprisoned not more than ten years or fined not more than ten thousand dollars, or both.

SUBARTICLE 3.

REPRESENTATION OF CHILD

SECTION 20-7-110. Legal representation.

In all child abuse and neglect proceedings:

(1) Children must be appointed legal counsel and a guardian ad litem by the family court. Counsel for the child in no case may be the same as counsel for the parent, guardian, or other person subject to the proceeding or any governmental or social agency involved in the proceeding.

(2) Parents, guardians, or other persons subject to any judicial proceeding are entitled to legal counsel. Those persons unable to afford legal representation must be appointed counsel by the family court.

(3) The interests of the State and the Department of Social Services must be represented by the legal representatives of the Department of Social Services in any judicial proceeding.

SECTION 20-7-112. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SUBARTICLE 4.

SOUTH CAROLINA GUARDIAN AD LITEM PROGRAM

SECTION 20-7-121. Creation, purpose and administration of program.

There is created the South Carolina Guardian ad Litem Program to serve as a statewide system to provide training and supervision to volunteers who serve as court-appointed special advocates for children in abuse and neglect proceedings within the family court, pursuant to Section 20-7-110. This program must be administered by the Office of the Governor.

SECTION 20-7-122. Responsibilities and duties of guardian ad litem.

The responsibilities and duties of a guardian ad litem are to:

(1) represent the best interests of the child;

(2) advocate for the welfare and rights of a child involved in an abuse or neglect proceeding;

(3) conduct an independent assessment of the facts, the needs of the child, and the available resources within the family and community to meet those needs;

(4) maintain accurate, written case records;

(5) provide the family court with a written report, consistent with the rules of evidence and the rules of the court, which includes without limitation evaluation and assessment of the issues brought before the court and recommendations for the case plan, the wishes of the child, if appropriate, and subsequent disposition of the case;

(6) monitor compliance with the orders of the family court and to make the motions necessary to enforce the orders of the court or seek judicial review;

(7) protect and promote the best interests of the child until formally relieved of the responsibility by the family court.

SECTION 20-7-123. Persons prohibited from appointment as guardian ad litem in abuse or neglect proceeding.

No person may be appointed as a guardian ad litem for a child in an abuse or neglect proceeding who has been convicted of any crime listed in Chapter 3 of Title 16, Offenses Against the Person, in Chapter 15 of Title 16, Offenses Against Morality and Decency, in Article 3 of Chapter 53 of Title 44, Narcotics and Controlled Substances, or for the crime of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, provided for in Section 16-17-490.

SECTION 20-7-124. Guardian to represent best interests of child; guardian to receive notice of all proceedings; obligation of guardian continuing one; authority of guardian.

(A) The guardian ad litem is charged in general with the duty of representation of the child's best interests. After appointment by the family court to a case involving an abused or neglected child, the guardian ad litem shall receive appropriate notice of all court hearings and proceedings regarding the child. The obligation of the guardian ad litem to the court is a continuing one and continues until formally relieved by the court.

(B) The guardian ad litem is authorized to:

(1) conduct an independent assessment of the facts;

(2) confer with and observe the child involved;

(3) interview persons involved in the case;

(4) participate on any multidisciplinary evaluation team for the case on which the guardian ad litem has been appointed;

(5) make recommendations to the court concerning the child's welfare;

(6) make motions necessary to enforce the orders of the court, seek judicial review, or petition the court for relief on behalf of the child.

(C) The guardian ad litem is authorized through counsel to introduce, examine, and cross-examine witnesses in any proceeding involving the child and participate in the proceedings to any degree necessary to represent the child adequately.

SECTION 20-7-125. Guardian's right to see all reports, information and records concerning child being represented.

All reports made and information collected as described in Section 20-7-690(A) must be made available to the guardian ad litem by the Department of Social Services. Upon proof of appointment as guardian ad litem and upon the guardian ad litem request, access to information must be made available to the guardian ad litem by the appropriate medical and dental authorities, psychologists, social workers, counselors, schools, and any agency providing services to the child.

SECTION 20-7-126. Confidentiality of records and information.

(A) All reports and information collected pursuant to this subarticle maintained by the Guardian ad Litem Program are confidential except as provided for in Section 20-7-690(C). A person who disseminates or permits the unauthorized dissemination of the information is guilty of contempt of court and, upon conviction, may be fined or imprisoned, or both, pursuant to Section 20-7-1350.

(B) The name, address, and other identifying characteristics of a person named in a report determined to be judicially unfounded must be destroyed one year from the date of the determination. The name, address, and other identifying characteristics of any person named in a report determined to be judicially indicated must be destroyed seven years from the date that the guardian ad litem formally is relieved of responsibility as guardian ad litem by the family court.

(C) The Director of the Guardian ad Litem Program or the director's designee may disclose to the media information contained in child protective services records if disclosure is limited to discussion of the program's activities in handling the case. The program may incorporate into its discussion of the handling of the case any information placed in the public domain by other public officials, a criminal prosecution, the alleged perpetrator or the attorney for the alleged perpetrator, or other public judicial proceedings. For purposes of this subsection, information is considered "placed in the public domain" when it has been reported in the news media, is contained in public records of a criminal justice agency, is contained in public records of a court of law, or has been the subject of testimony in a public judicial proceeding.

SECTION 20-7-127. Immunity from liability for guardian ad litem.

After participating in the training program of the Guardian ad Litem Program, a person who is appointed to serve as guardian ad litem and serves without compensation is not liable for any civil damages for any personal injury as a result of any act or omission by the person in the discharge of the responsibilities of a guardian ad litem if the person acts in good faith and is not guilty of gross negligence.

SECTION 20-7-128. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 450, Section 22, eff January 1, 1997.

SECTION 20-7-129. Funds.

The General Assembly shall provide the funds necessary to carry out the provisions of Sections 20-7-121 through 20-7-127 and 20-7-690(B)(5).

SUBARTICLE 5.

UNIFORM GIFTS TO MINORS ACT

SECTION 20-7-140. Short title.

This subarticle may be cited as the "South Carolina Uniform Gifts to Minors Act".

SECTION 20-7-150. Definitions.

In this subarticle, unless the context otherwise requires:

(1) "Adult" is a person who has attained the age of twenty-one years.

(2) "Bank" is any bank, trust company, national banking association or industrial bank.

(3) "Broker" is a person lawfully engaged in the business of effecting transactions in securities for the account of others. The term includes a bank which effects such transactions. The term also includes a person lawfully engaged in buying and selling securities for his own account through a broker or otherwise as a part of a regular business.

(4) "Court" means the court or branch having jurisdiction.

(5) "Custodial property" includes:

(a) All securities, life insurance policies, annuity contracts, real estate, tangible personal property and money and any other type of property under the supervision of the same custodian for the same minor as a consequence of a gift made to the minor in a manner prescribed in this subarticle.

(b) The income from the custodial property.

(c) The proceeds, immediate and remote, from the sale, exchange, conversion, investment, reinvestment, surrender or other disposition of such securities, money, life insurance policies, annuity contracts, real estate, tangible personal property and other property.

(6) "Custodian" is a person so designated in manner prescribed in this chapter and the term includes a successor custodian.

(7) "Guardian" of a minor means the general guardian, guardian, tutor or curator of his property or estate, appointed or qualified by a court of this State or another state.

(8) "Issuer" is a person who places or authorizes the placing of his name on a security, other than as a transfer agent, to evidence that it represents a share, participation or other interest in his property or in an enterprise, or to evidence his duty or undertaking to perform an obligation evidenced by the security or who becomes responsible for in place of any such person.

(9) "Legal representative" of a person in his executor or the administrator, general guardian, guardian, committee, conservator, tutor or curator of his property or estate.

(10) "Member of a minor's family" means any of the minor's parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts, whether of the whole blood or the half blood, or by or through legal adoption.

(11) "Minor" is a person who has not attained the age of twenty-one years, excluding a person under the age of twenty-one who is married or emancipated as decreed by the family court.

(12) "Savings and loan association" is a state-chartered savings and loan association or building and loan association or a federally-chartered savings and loan association.

(13) "Security" includes any note, stock, treasury stock, bond, debenture, evidence of indebtedness, certificate of interest or participation in an oil, gas or mining title or lease or in payments out of production under such a title or lease, collateral trust certificate, transferable share, voting -trust certificate or, in general, any interest or instrument commonly known as a security, any certificate of interest or participation in any temporary or interim certificate, receipt or certificate of deposit for or any warrant or right to subscribe to or purchase any of the foregoing. The term does not include a security of which the donor is the issuer. A security is in "registered form" when it specifies a person entitled to it or to the rights it evidences and its transfer may be registered upon books maintained for that purpose by or on behalf of the issuer.

(14) "Transfer agent" is a person who acts as authenticating trustee, transfer agent, registrar or other agent for an issuer in the registration of transfers of its securities or in the issue of new securities in the cancellation of surrendered securities.

(15) "Trust company" is a bank, corporation or other legal entity authorized to exercise trust powers in this State.

(16) "Financial institution" is a bank, a federal savings and loan association, a savings institution chartered and supervised as a savings and loan or similar institution under federal law or the laws of a state, a federal credit union or a credit union chartered and supervised under the laws of a state; a "domestic financial institution" is one chartered and supervised under the laws of this State or chartered and supervised under federal law and having its principal office in this State; an "insured financial institution" is one in which deposits (including a savings, share, certificate or deposit account) are, in whole or in part, insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, by the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation or by a deposit insurance fund approved by this State.

(17) "Life insurance policy or annuity contract" means a life insurance policy or annuity contract issued by an insurance company on the life of a minor to whom a gift of the policy or contract is made in the manner prescribed in this subarticle or on the life of a member of the minor's family.

SECTION 20-7-160. Manner of making gift of security, life insurance policy, annuity contract or money.

(1) An adult person may, during his lifetime, make a gift of security, a life insurance policy or annuity contract or money or real estate, tangible personal property or any other property to a person who is a minor on the date of the gift:

(a) If the subject of the gift is a security in registered form, by registering it in the name of the donor, another adult person or a trust company followed in substance by the words: "As custodian for __________ (name of minor) __________ under the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act".

(b) If the subject of the gift is a security not in registered form, by delivering it to an adult other than the donor, a guardian of the minor or a trust company, accompanied by a statement of gift in the following form, in substance, signed by the donor and the person designated as custodian:

"GIFT UNDER THE SOUTH CAROLINA UNIFORM GIFTS TO MINORS ACT

__________(name of donor) __________ hereby delivers to __________ (name of custodian) __________ as custodian for __________ (name of minor) __________ under the South Carolina Uniform Gifts to Minors Act the following security: (insert an appropriate description of the security delivered sufficient to identify it)



(signature of donor)

__________ (name of custodian) __________ hereby acknowledges receipt of the above-described security as custodian for the above minor under the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act.

Dated: __________



(Signature of custodian)"

(c) If the subject of the gift is money, by paying or delivering it to a broker or a domestic financial institution for credit to an account in the name of the donor, another adult or a trust company followed in substance by the words: "as custodian for __________ (name of minor) __________ under the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act".

(d) If the subject of the gift is a life insurance policy or annuity contract, by causing the ownership of the policy or contract to be registered with the issuing insurance company in the name of the donor, another adult or a trust company followed in substance by the words "as custodian for __________ (name of minor) __________ under the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act".

(e) If the subject of the gift is an interest in real estate, by executing and delivering in the appropriate manner a deed, assignment or similar instrument in the name of the donor, another adult or guardian of the minor or a trust company followed in substance by the words: "as custodian for __________ (name of minor) __________ under the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act".

(f) If the subject of the gift is an interest in any property not described in items (a) through (e) above, by causing the ownership of the property to be transferred by any written document in the name of the donor, another adult, a guardian or the minor or a trust company followed in substance by the words: "as custodian for __________ (name of minor) __________ under the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act".

(g) If the gift is by will, by stating in the will that the bequest or devise is made under the South Carolina Uniform Gifts to Minors Act. Unless the testator in his will designates the custodian, who shall be an adult, a guardian of the minor or a trust company, his personal representative shall, subject to any limitations contained within the will, have the power to name as the custodian an adult, a guardian of the minor or a trust company and shall distribute the subject of the gift by transferring it in the manner and form provided in the preceding items of this subsection.

(h) If the gift is preceded by a gift in trust to some other person, by stating in the will or inter vivos trust instrument that it is made under the South Carolina Uniform Gifts to Minors Act. Unless the custodian, who shall be an adult, a guardian of the minor or a trust company, is designated in the will or inter vivos trust instrument, the trustee shall, subject to any limitations contained within the will or inter vivos trust instrument, have the power to name as custodian an adult, a guardian of the minor or a trust company, and shall distribute the subject of the gift by transferring it in the manner and form provided in the preceding items of this subsection.

(2) Any gift made in a manner prescribed in subsection (1) may be made to only one minor and only one person may be the custodian.

(3) A donor who makes a gift to a minor in the manner prescribed in subsection (1) shall promptly do all things within his power to put the subject of the gift in the possession and control of the custodian but the donor's failure to comply with this subsection, his designation of an ineligible person as custodian, or renunciation by the person designated as custodian shall not affect the consummation of the gift.

(4) Whether or not a gift of the ownership of a life insurance policy or annuity contract has been made, the owner of such a policy or contract may designate a custodian (or a successor custodian) as the beneficiary of any such policy or contract. When the custodian receives any proceeds of such policy or contract, the proceeds shall at that time become custodian property.

SECTION 20-7-170. Effect of gift.

(1) A gift made in a manner prescribed in this subarticle is irrevocable and conveys to the minor indefeasibly vested legal title to the security, life insurance policy, annuity contract, money, real estate or any other property given, but no guardian of the minor has any right, power, duty or authority with respect to the custodial property except as provided in this subarticle.

(2) By making a gift in a manner prescribed in this subarticle, the donor incorporates in his gift, inter vivos trust instrument or will all provisions of this subarticle and grants to the custodian and to any issuer, transfer agent, bank, life insurance company, broker or third person, dealing with a person designated as custodian the respective powers, rights and immunities provided in this subarticle.

SECTION 20-7-180. Rights, powers and duties of custodian.

(1) The custodian shall collect, hold, manage, invest and reinvest the custodial property.

(2) The custodian shall pay over to the minor for expenditure by him, or expend for the minor's benefit, so much of or all the custodial property as the custodian deems advisable for the support, maintenance, education and benefit of the minor in the manner, at the same time or times, and to the extent that the custodian in his discretion deems suitable and proper, with or without court order, with or without regard to the duty of himself or of any other person to support the minor or his ability to do so, and with or without regard to any other income or property of the minor which may be applicable or available for any such purpose.

(3) The court, on the petition of a parent or guardian of the minor or of the minor, if he has attained the age of fourteen years, may order the custodian to pay over to the minor for expenditure by him or to expend so much of or all of the custodial property as is necessary for the minor's support, maintenance or education.

(4) To the extent that the custodial property is not so expended, the custodian must deliver or pay over the custodial property to the minor on his attaining the age of twenty-one years or, if the minor dies before attaining the age of twenty-one years, the custodian must then deliver or pay over the custodial property to the estate of the minor. Notwithstanding the requirements of this section, the custodian, in his discretion, may deliver or pay over the custodial property to the payee when the payee attains the age of eighteen.

(5) The custodian, notwithstanding statutes restricting investments by fiduciaries, shall invest and reinvest the custodial property as would a prudent man of discretion and intelligence who is seeking a reasonable income and the preservation of his capital, except that he may, in his discretion and without liability to the minor or his estate, retain custodial property given to the minor in a manner prescribed in this subarticle or hold money so given in an account in the financial institution to which it was paid or delivered by the donor.

(6) The custodian may sell, exchange, convert, surrender or otherwise dispose of custodial property in the manner, at the time or times, for the price or prices and upon the terms he deems advisable. He may vote in person or by general or limited proxy a security which is custodial property. He may consent, directly or through a committee or other agent, to the reorganization, consolidation, merger, dissolution or liquidation of an issuer, a security of which is custodial property, and to the sale, lease, pledge or mortgage of any property by or to such an issuer, and to any other action by such an issuer. He may execute and deliver any and all instruments in writing which he deems advisable to carry out any of his powers as custodian. With respect to any interest in real estate, he may perform the same acts that any unmarried adult could perform, including, but not limited to, the power to buy, sell, assign, transfer, convey, dedicate, partition, exchange, mortgage, create or redeem ground rents, deeds, grant or exercise options, effect and keep in force fire, rent, liability, casualty, and other insurance; make, execute, acknowledge, and deliver deeds, conveyances, mortgages, releases, leases, including leases for ninety-nine years renewable forever, and leases extending beyond the minority of the minor; collect rents; improve, subdivide, or develop property; construct, alter, demolish or repair property; settle boundary lines and easements; pay taxes; and protect assessments.

(7) The custodian shall register each security which is custodial property and in registered form in the name of the custodian followed in substance by the words: "as custodian for __________ (name of minor) __________ under the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act". The custodian shall hold all money which is custodial property in an account with a broker or in an insured financial institution in the name of the custodian followed in substance by the words: "as custodian for __________ (name of minor) __________ under the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act". The custodian shall keep all other custodial property separate and distinct from his own property in a manner to identify it clearly as custodial property.

(8) The custodian shall keep records of all transactions with respect to the custodial property and make them available for inspection at reasonable intervals by a parent or legal representative of the minor or by the minor, if he has attained the age of fourteen years.

(9) A custodian has, with respect to the custodial property, in addition to the rights and powers provided in this subarticle, all the rights and powers which a guardian has with respect to property not held as custodial property.

(10) If the subject of the gift is a life insurance policy or annuity contract, the custodian:

(a) In his capacity as custodian, has all the incidents of ownership in the policy or contract to the same extent as if he were the owner, except that the designated beneficiary of any policy or contract on the life of the minor shall be the minor's estate and the designated beneficiary of any policy or contract on the life of a person other than the minor shall be the custodian as custodian for the minor for whom he is acting;

(b) May pay premiums on the policy or contract out of the custodial property.

SECTION 20-7-190. Custodian's expenses, bonds and liability.

(1) A custodian is entitled to reimbursement from the custodial property for his reasonable expenses incurred in the performance of his duties.

(2) A custodian may act without compensation for his services.

(3) Unless he is a donor, a custodian may receive from the custodial property reasonable compensation for his services determined by one of the following standards in the order stated:

(a) A direction by the donor when the gift is made;

(b) A statute of this State applicable to custodians;

(c) The statute of this State applicable to guardians and conservators;

(d) An order of the court.

(4) Except as otherwise provided in this subarticle, a custodian shall not be required to give a bond for the performance of his duties.

(5) A custodian not compensated for his services is not liable for losses to the custodial property unless they result from his bad faith, intentional wrongdoing or gross negligence or from his failure to maintain the standard of prudence in investing the custodial property provided in this subarticle.

SECTION 20-7-200. Exemption from liability of person dealing with donor, custodian or successor custodian.

No issuer, transfer agent, bank, life insurance company, broker or other person or financial institution acting on the instructions of or otherwise dealing with any person purporting to act as a donor or in the capacity of a custodian is responsible for determining whether the person designated as custodian by the purported donor or by the custodian or purporting to act as a custodian has been duly designated or whether any purchase, sale or transfer to or by or any other act of any person purporting to act in the capacity of custodian is in accordance with or authorized by this subarticle, or is obliged to inquire into the validity or propriety under this subarticle of any instrument or instructions executed or given by a person purporting to act as a donor or in the capacity of a custodian, or is bound to see to the application by any person purporting to act in the capacity of a custodian of any money or other property paid or delivered to him. No issuer, transfer agent, bank, life insurance company, broker or other person or financial institution acting on any instrument of designation of a successor custodian, executed as provided in subsection (1) of Section 20-7-210 by a minor to whom a gift has been made in a manner prescribed in this subarticle and who has attained the age of fourteen years, is responsible for determining whether the person designated by the minor as successor custodian has been duly designated, or is obliged to inquire into the validity or propriety under this subarticle of the instrument of designation.

SECTION 20-7-210. Designation of successor custodian; transfer of custodial property; removal of custodian.

(1) Only an adult member of the minor's family, a guardian of the minor or a trust company is eligible to become successor custodian. A custodian may designate his successor by executing and dating an instrument of designation before a subscribing witness other than the successor, the instrument of designation may, but need not, contain the resignation of the custodian. If the custodian does not so designate his successor before he dies or becomes legally incapacitated, and the minor has attained the age of fourteen years, the minor may designate a successor custodian by executing an instrument of designation before a subscribing witness other than the successor. A successor custodian has all the rights, powers, duties and immunities of a custodian designated in a manner prescribed by this subarticle.

(2) The designation of a successor custodian as provided in subsection (1) takes effect as to each item of the custodial property when the custodian resigns, dies or becomes legally incapacitated, and the custodian or his legal representative:

(a) Causes the item, if it is a security in registered form, or a life insurance policy or annuity contract, to be registered with the issuing insurance company in the case of a life insurance policy or annuity contract, or an interest in real property in the name of the successor custodian followed in substance by the words: "as custodian for __________ (name of minor) __________ under the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act";

(b) Delivers or causes to be delivered to the successor custodian any other item of the custodial property, together with the instrument of designation of the successor custodian or a true copy thereof, and any additional instruments required for the transfer thereof to the successor custodian.

(3) A custodian who executes an instrument of designation of his successor containing the custodian's resignation as provided in subsection (1) shall promptly do all things within his power to put each item of the custodial property in the possession and control of the successor custodian named in the instrument. The legal representative of a custodian who dies or becomes legally incapacitated shall promptly do all things within his power to put each item of the custodial property in the possession and control of the successor custodian named in an instrument of designation executed as provided in subsection (1) by the custodian or, if none, by the minor if he has no guardian and has attained the age of fourteen years, or in the possession and control of the guardian of the minor if he has a guardian. If the custodian has executed as provided in subsection (1) more than one instrument of designation, his legal representative shall treat the instrument dated on an earlier date as having been revoked by the instrument dated on a later date.

(4) If a person designated as custodian or as a successor custodian by the custodian as provided in subsection (1) is not eligible, dies, or becomes legally incapacitated before the minor attains the age of eighteen years and if the minor has a guardian, the guardian of the minor is successor custodian. If the minor has no guardian and if no successor custodian who is eligible and has not died or became legally incapacitated has been designated as provided in subsection (1), a donor, his representative, the legal representative of the custodian, or an adult member of the minor's family may petition the court for the designation of a successor custodian. The provisions of this subsection do not affect the power of a personal representative or trustee to appoint a custodian pursuant to items (g) and (h) of subsection (1) of Section 20-7-160, or the power of an owner of a life insurance policy or annuity contract to appoint a successor custodian pursuant to subsection (4) of Section 20-7-160.

(5) A donor, the legal representative of a donor, a successor custodian, an adult member of the minor's family, a guardian of the minor or the minor, if he has attained the age of fourteen years, may petition the court that, for cause shown in the petition, the custodian be removed and a successor custodian be designated or, in the alternative, that the custodian be required to give bond for the performance of his duties.

(6) Upon the filing of a petition as provided in this section, the court shall grant an order, directed to the persons and returnable on such notice as the court may require, to show cause why the relief prayed for in the petition should not be granted and, in due course, grant such relief as the court finds to be in the best interests of the minor.

SECTION 20-7-220. Requiring custodian to account.

(1) The minor, if he has attained the age of fourteen years, or the legal representative of the minor, an adult member of the minor's family or a donor or his legal representative may petition the court for an accounting by the custodian or his legal representative.

(2) The court, in a proceeding under this subarticle or otherwise, may require or permit the custodian or his legal representative to account and, if the custodian is removed, shall so require and order delivery of all custodial property to the successor custodian and the execution of all instruments required for the transfer thereof.

SECTION 20-7-230. Construction of subarticle.

(1) This subarticle shall be so construed as to effectuate its general purpose to make uniform the law of those states which enact it.

(2) This subarticle shall not be construed as providing an exclusive method for making gifts to minors.

SECTION 20-7-240. Amendment of subarticle shall not affect prior gifts.

No amendment to this subarticle shall be construed to adversely affect any gift legally made under its provisions in effect prior to the amendment.

SUBARTICLE 7.

LEGAL CAPACITY OF MINORS

SECTION 20-7-250. Ratification after reaching majority of contracts made by minor must be in writing.

No action shall be maintained whereby to charge any person upon any promise made after full age to pay any debt contracted during infancy or upon any ratification after full age of any promise (except upon contracts for necessaries) made during infancy unless such promise or ratification shall be made by some writing signed by the party to be charged therewith.

SECTION 20-7-260. Minors have full legal capacity to borrow money for higher education.

Notwithstanding any other provisions of law to the contrary, any person who, not having attained his majority, contracts to borrow money to defray the expenses of attending any institution of higher learning, shall have full legal capacity to act in his own behalf and shall have all the rights, powers and privileges and be subject to the obligations of persons of full age with respect to any such contracts.

SECTION 20-7-270. Married minors and their spouses may consent to diagnostic, therapeutic and postmortem procedures.

The consent of a married minor or, if a married minor be unable to give consent by reason of physical disability, then the consent of the spouse of the married minor to the performance by any licensed medical, surgical or dental practitioners, or any hospital, or their agents or employees, of any lawful diagnostic, therapeutic surgical or postmortem procedure upon or in respect to such minor or any minor child of such minor, shall, notwithstanding the minority of such minor, be valid and legally effective for all purposes and shall be binding upon such minor, his parents, spouse, heirs, executors and administrators as effectively as if such minor or the spouse of such minor were eighteen years of age.

SECTION 20-7-280. Minor sixteen years old or over may consent to health services other than operations.

Any minor who has reached the age of sixteen years may consent to any health services from a person authorized by law to render the particular health service for himself and the consent of no other person shall be necessary unless such involves an operation which shall be performed only if such is essential to the health or life of such child in the opinion of the performing physician and a consultant physician if one is available.

SECTION 20-7-290. Certain health services may be rendered to minor of any age without consent of parent or guardian.

Health services of any kind may be rendered to minors of any age without the consent of a parent or legal guardian when, in the judgment of a person authorized by law to render a particular health service, such services are deemed necessary unless such involves an operation which shall be performed only if such is essential to the health or life of such child in the opinion of the performing physician and a consultant physician if one is available.

SECTION 20-7-300. Minor parent may consent to health services for child.

Any minor who has been married or has borne a child may consent to health services for the child.

SECTION 20-7-310. Consent shall not be subject to disaffirmance.

Any consent given pursuant to this subarticle shall not be subject to disaffirmance because of minority when such minor reaches majority.

SECTION 20-7-320. Use or possession of alcoholic beverages by minor in home of parents or guardian, or for religious purposes is not unlawful.

No provision of law prohibiting the use or possession of beer, wine, or alcoholic beverages by minors shall apply to any minor in the home of his parents or guardian or to any such beverage used for religious ceremonies or purposes so long as such beverage was legally purchased.

SUBARTICLE 9.

OFFENSES INVOLVING MINORS [REPEALED]

SECTION 20-7-330. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-340. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-350. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-360. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-370. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-380. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

ARTICLE 5.

JURISDICTION

SECTION 20-7-390. [1981 Act No. 71, Section 1; 1982 Act No. 398, Section 15] 1995 Act No. 7, Part I Section 23, effective upon approval (became law without the Governor's signature January 12, 1995)] Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-400. Exclusive original jurisdiction of family court.

(A) Except as otherwise provided herein, the court shall have exclusive original jurisdiction and shall be the sole court for initiating action:

(1) Concerning any child living or found within the geographical limits of its jurisdiction:

(a) Who is neglected as to proper or necessary support or education as required by law, or as to medical, psychiatric, psychological or other care necessary to his well-being, or who is abandoned by his parent or other custodian;

(b) Whose occupation, behavior, condition, environment or associations are such as to injure or endanger his welfare or that of others;

(c) Who is beyond the control of his parent or other custodian;

(d) Who is alleged to have violated or attempted to violate any state or local law or municipal ordinance, regardless of where the violation occurred except as provided in Section 20-7-410;

(e) Whose custody is the subject of controversy, except in those cases where the law now gives other courts concurrent jurisdiction. In the consideration of these cases, the court shall have concurrent jurisdiction to hear and determine the issue of custody and support.

(2) For the treatment or commitment to any mental institution of a mentally defective or mentally disordered or emotionally disturbed child. Provided, that nothing herein is intended to conflict with the authority of probate courts in dealing with mental cases.

(3) Concerning any child seventeen years of age or over, living or found within the geographical limits of the court's jurisdiction, alleged to have violated or attempted to violate any State or local law or municipal ordinance prior to having become seventeen years of age and such person shall be dealt with under the provisions of this chapter relating to children.

(4) For the detention of a juvenile in a juvenile detention facility who is charged with committing a criminal offense when detention in a secure facility is found to be necessary pursuant to the standards set forth in Section 20-7-7210 and when the facility exists in, or is otherwise available to, the county in which the crime occurred.

(B) Whenever the court has acquired the jurisdiction of any child under seventeen years of age, jurisdiction continues so long as, in the judgment of the court, it may be necessary to retain jurisdiction for the correction or education of the child, but jurisdiction shall terminate when the child attains the age of twenty-one years. Any child who has been adjudicated delinquent and placed on probation by the court remains under the authority of the court only until the expiration of the specified term of his probation. This specified term of probation may expire before but not after the eighteenth birthday of the child.

SECTION 20-7-410. Jurisdiction of traffic violations or violations of Title 50 (Fish, Game and Watercraft statutes) by juveniles; reports of convictions.

The magistrate courts and municipal courts of this State have concurrent jurisdiction with the family courts for the trial of persons under seventeen years of age charged with traffic violations or violations of the provisions of Title 50 relating to fish, game, and watercraft when these courts would have jurisdiction of the offense charged if committed by an adult.

The family court shall report to the Department of Motor Vehicles all adjudications of a juvenile for moving traffic violations and other violations that affect the juvenile's privilege to operate a motor vehicle including, but not limited to, controlled substance and alcohol violations as required by other courts of this State pursuant to Section 56-1-330 and shall report to the Department of Natural Resources adjudications of the provisions of Title 50.

SECTION 20-7-420. Jurisdiction of family court in domestic matters.

(A) The family court has exclusive jurisdiction:

(1) To hear and determine matters which come within the provisions of the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act.

(2) To hear and determine actions:

For divorce a vinculo matrimonii, separate support and maintenance, legal separation, and in other marital litigation between the parties, and for settlement of all legal and equitable rights of the parties in the actions in and to the real and personal property of the marriage and attorney's fees, if requested by either party in the pleadings.

(3) To hear and determine actions for and related to the adoption of children and adults.

(4) To hear and determine actions for termination of parental rights, whether such action is in connection with an action for adoption or apart therefrom.

(5) (Reserved)

(6) To hear and determine actions for the annulment of marriage.

(7) (Reserved)

(8) To hear and determine actions for changing names, whether in connection with a divorce or a separate support and maintenance action or apart therefrom.

(9) To hear and determine actions for the correction of birth records.

(10) To consent to the enlistment of a minor in the military service or the employment of a minor, if a minor has no one standing in loco parentis to do so.

(11) To hear and determine proceedings within the county to compel the support of a spouse or child, whether legitimate or illegitimate.

(12) For the protection, guardianship and disposition of neglected or dependent minors in proceedings properly brought before it for the support of a spouse or child.

(13) In all cases or proceedings within the county against persons charged with failure to obey an order of the court made pursuant to authority conferred by law.

(14) To order support of a spouse or child, or both, irrespective of whether they are likely to become a public charge.

(15) To include in the requirements of an order for support the providing of necessary shelter, food, clothing, care, medical attention, expenses of confinement, both before and after the birth, the expense of educating his or her child and other proper and reasonable expenses.

(16) To require of persons legally chargeable with the support of a spouse or child, who are possessed of sufficient means or who are able to earn such means, the payment weekly, or at other fixed periods, of a fair and reasonable sum for such support, or as a contribution toward such support, according to the means of the persons so chargeable.

(17) To make all orders for support run until further order of the court, except that orders for child support run until the child is eighteen years of age or until the child is married or becomes self-supporting, as determined by the court, whichever occurs first or to provide for child support past the age of eighteen years if the child is in high school and is making satisfactory progress toward completion of high school, not to exceed the nineteenth birthday unless exceptional circumstances are found to exist or unless there is a preexisting agreement or order to provide for child support past the age of eighteen years; and in the discretion of the court, to provide for child support past age eighteen where there are physical or mental disabilities of the child or other exceptional circumstances that warrant the continuation of child support beyond age eighteen for as long as the physical or mental disabilities or exceptional circumstances continue.

(18) To make an order for support of a husband or wife and children by his or her spouse, even though he or she may have left the home, in cases where the spouse's conduct or condition or his or her cruel or inhuman behavior made it unsafe or improper for the deserting spouse to continue to live with him or her.

Such orders may require either spouse or any other party to the proceeding:

A. To stay away from the home or from the other or either spouse or children;

B. To permit either spouse to visit the children at stated periods;.

C. To abstain from offensive conduct against the other spouse or either of them, or against the children;

D. To give proper attention to the care of the home;

E. To refrain from acts of commission or omission that tend to make the home not a proper place for the other, or either spouse, or the children.

(19) In furtherance of the complete disposition of cases in the jurisdiction of the court, to bring in and make parties to any proceedings pending in the court any person or persons charged with or alleged to be interfering with the marital relationship between a husband and wife, in violation of the law or of the rights of either party to the marriage, or whose presence to the proceedings may be found necessary to a complete determination of the issues therein, or the relief to which the parties thereto, or any of them, may be entitled; and shall have the power to enjoin and restrain such interference and to punish for contempt of court violations of such injunctions or restraining orders.

(20) To award the custody of the children, during the term of any order of protection, to either spouse, or to any other proper person or institution.

(21) to determine the manner in which sums ordered paid for support shall be paid and applied, either to a person through the court, through the clerk of court, or through a centralized wage withholding system if required by federal statute or regulation.

(22) To require a person ordered to support another to give security by a written undertaking that he will pay the sums ordered by the court for such support and, upon the failure of any person to give such security by a written undertaking when required by order of the court, to punish such person for contempt and, when appropriate, to discharge such undertaking.

(23) In lieu of requiring an undertaking, to suspend sentence and place on probation a person who has failed to support another as required by law, and to determine the conditions of such probation and require them to be observed; to revoke such suspension of sentence and probation, where circumstances warrant it; and to discharge a respondent from probation.

(24) To release on probation prior to the expiration of the full term a person committed to jail for failure to obey an order of the court, where the court is satisfied that the best interest of the family and the community will be served thereby.

(25) To modify or vacate any order issued by the court.

(26) To order either before, during or after a hearing a mental, physical and psychiatric examination as circumstances warrant.

(27) To exclude the public from the courtroom in a proper case.

(28) To send processes or any other mandates in any matter in which it has jurisdiction into any county of the State for service or execution in like manner and with the same force and effect as similar processes or mandates of the circuit courts, as provided by law.

(29) To compel the attendance of witnesses.

(30) To make any order necessary to carry out and enforce the provisions of this chapter, and to hear and determine any questions of support, custody, separation, or any other matter over which the court has jurisdiction, without the intervention of a jury; however, the court may not issue an order which prohibits a custodial parent from moving his residence to a location within the State unless the court finds a compelling reason or unless the parties have agreed to such a prohibition.

(31) To require spouse to furnish support or to be liable for nonsupport, as provided above, if, at the time of the filing of the petition for supports:

(A) He is residing or domiciled in the county or when such area is the matrimonial domicile of the parties; or

(B) He is not residing or domiciled in the area referred to in subsection (A), but is found therein at such time, provided the petitioner is so residing or domiciled at such time; or

(C) He is neither residing or domiciled nor found in such area but, prior to such time and while so residing or domiciled, he shall have failed to furnish such support, or shall have abandoned his spouse or child and thereafter shall have failed to furnish such support, provided that the petitioner is so residing or domiciled at that time.

(32) The petitioner need not continue to reside or be domiciled in such area where the cause of action arose, as provided in subitems (A) and (B) of item (31) of this section, if the conduct of the respondent has been such as to make it unsafe or improper for her to so reside or be domiciled, and the petitioner may bring action in the court of the jurisdiction wherein she is residing or has become domiciled.

(33) To order periods of visitation for the grandparents of a minor child where either or both parents of the minor child is or are deceased, or are divorced, or are living separate and apart in different habitats regardless of the existence of a court order or agreement, and upon a written finding that the visitation rights would be in the best interests of the child and would not interfere with the parent/child relationship. In determining whether to order visitation for the grandparents, the court shall consider the nature of the relationship between the child and his grandparents prior to the filing of the petition or complaint.

(34) To order custody with all rights of guardianship as described in 21-21-50.

(35) To hear and determine actions for protection from domestic abuse.

(36) To issue orders compelling public officials and officers to perform official acts under Chapter 7, Title 20, the Children's Code, Chapter 4, Title 20, Protection from Domestic Abuse Act, and Chapter 29, Title 43, Protective Services for Developmentally Disabled and Senile Persons.

(37) To appoint guardians ad litem in actions pertaining to custody or visitation pursuant to Section 20-7-1545.

(38) To hear and determine an action where either party in his or her complaint, answer, counterclaim, or motion for pendente lite relief prays for the allowance of suit money pendente lite and permanently. In this action the court shall allow a reasonable sum for the claim if it appears well-founded. Suit money, including attorney's fees, may be assessed for or against a party to an action brought in or subject to the jurisdiction of the family court. An award of temporary attorney's fees or suit costs must not be stayed by an appeal of the award.

(39) To require the parties to engage in court-mandated mediation pursuant to Family Court Mediation Rules or to issue consent orders authorizing parties to engage in any form of alternate dispute resolution which does not violate the rules of the court or the laws of South Carolina; provided however, the parties in consensual mediation must designate any arbiter or mediator by unanimous consent subject to the approval of the court.

(40) To require the parent of a child brought before the court for adjudication of a delinquency matter and agencies providing services to the family to cooperate and participate in a plan adopted by the court to meet the needs and best interests of the child and to hold a parent or agency in contempt for failing to cooperate and participate in the plan adopted by the court. In imposing its contempt powers the Family Court must take into consideration mitigating circumstances including the parent's or legal custodian's participation in the treatment plan, the level of services being offered by the lead and participating agencies, and the level of cooperation by the lead and participating agencies as the court may deem appropriate.

(41) To order a person required to pay support under a court order being enforced under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act who is unemployed or underemployed and who is the parent of a child receiving AFDC benefits to participate in an employment training program or public service employment pursuant to regulations promulgated by the department. The Division of Child Support Enforcement of the State Department of Social Services also has jurisdiction under this item in cases under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act brought pursuant to Article 32, Chapter 7, Title 20 of the 1976 Code.

(42) To order joint or divided custody where the court finds it is in the best interests of the child.

(43) To enforce an administrative subpoena or subpoena duces tecum issued by the Department of Social Services pursuant to Section 20-7-9575 and to enforce fines assessed by the department pursuant to Sections 20-7-9575, 43-5-595(C), and 43-5-598(G).

(44) To order sibling visitation where the court finds it is in the best interest of the children.

(45) To hear and determine actions concerning control of the person of a minor, including guardianship of the minor.

(46) To order custody of a minor child to the de facto custodian under the circumstances specified in Section 20-7-1540.

(B) Notwithstanding another provision of law, the family court and the probate court have concurrent jurisdiction to hear and determine matters relating to paternity, common-law marriage, and interpretation of marital agreements; except that the concurrent jurisdiction of the probate court extends only to matters dealing with the estate, trust, and guardianship and conservatorship actions before the probate court.

SECTION 20-7-430. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-435. Persons who may institute proceeding respecting neglected or delinquent child.

The parent or custodian of any child, an official of a child welfare board, any public official charged by law with the care of the poor, the recognized agents of any duly authorized agency, association, society or institution, any person having knowledge or information of a nature which convinces such person that a child is neglected or delinquent or that a child, by reason of its condition, environment or its own acts, is, in accordance with the provisions of this article, subject to the jurisdiction of the court or any person who has suffered injury through the delinquency of any such child or is concerned in its guardianship or adoption or an officer having an arrested child in charge may institute a proceeding respecting such child.

SECTION 20-7-440. Venue.

Venue of actions in the family courts shall be in such county as may be provided by law. Trial of such actions shall be in such county unless a change of venue is granted as provided by law.

SECTION 20-7-450. Post conviction proceedings.

Post conviction proceedings, including habeas corpus actions, shall be instituted in the court in which the original action was concluded; provided, however, that the family courts shall also have original jurisdiction of habeas corpus actions if the person who is the subject of the action would otherwise be within the jurisdiction of the family court.

SECTION 20-7-460. Power to issue writ of habeas corpus.

Any judge shall have the power to issue a writ of habeas corpus to produce any person under the age of seventeen in court where necessary.

SECTION 20-7-470. Construction of article.

This article shall be liberally construed to the end that families whose unity or well-being is threatened shall be assisted and protected, and restored if possible as secure units of law-abiding members; and that each child coming within the jurisdiction of the court shall receive, preferably in his own home, the care, guidance and control that will conduce to his welfare and the best interests of the State, and that when he is removed from the control of his parents the court shall secure for him care as nearly as possible equivalent to that which they should have given him.

ARTICLE 6.

EQUITABLE APPORTIONMENT OF MARITAL PROPERTY

SECTION 20-7-471. Acquisition during marriage of special equity and ownership right in marital property.

During the marriage a spouse shall acquire, based upon the factors set out in Section 20-7-472, a vested special equity and ownership right in the marital property as defined in Section 20-7-473, which equity and ownership right are subject to apportionment between the spouses by the family courts of this State at the time marital litigation is filed or commenced as provided in Section 20-7-472.

SECTION 20-7-472. Equitable apportionment of marital property; criteria; finality of order.

In a proceeding for divorce a vinculo matrimonii or separate support and maintenance, or in a proceeding for disposition of property following a prior decree of dissolution of a marriage by a court which lacked personal jurisdiction over an absent spouse or which lacked jurisdiction to dispose of the property, and in other marital litigation between the parties, the court shall make a final equitable apportionment between the parties of the parties' marital property upon request by either party in the pleadings.

In making apportionment, the court must give weight in such proportion as it finds appropriate to all of the following factors:

(1) the duration of the marriage together with the ages of the parties at the time of the marriage and at the time of the divorce or separate maintenance or other marital action between the parties;

(2) marital misconduct or fault of either or both parties, whether or not used as a basis for a divorce as such, if the misconduct affects or has affected the economic circumstances of the parties, or contributed to the breakup of the marriage; provided, that no evidence of personal conduct which would otherwise be relevant and material for purposes of this subsection shall be considered with regard to this subsection if such conduct shall have taken place subsequent to the happening of the earliest of (a) entry of a pendente lite order in a divorce or separate maintenance action; (b) formal signing of a written property or marital settlement agreement; or (c) entry of a permanent order of separate maintenance and support or of a permanent order approving a property or marital settlement agreement between the parties;

(3) the value of the marital property, whether the property be within or without the State. The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, preservation, depreciation, or appreciation in value of the marital property, including the contribution of the spouse as homemaker; provided, that the court shall consider the quality of the contribution as well as its factual existence;

(4) the income of each spouse, the earning potential of each spouse, and the opportunity for future acquisition of capital assets;

(5) the health, both physical and emotional, of each spouse;

(6) the need of each spouse or either spouse for additional training or education in order to achieve that spouses's income potential;

(7) the nonmarital property of each spouse;

(8) the existence or nonexistence of vested retirement benefits for each or either spouse;

(9) whether separate maintenance or alimony has been awarded;

(10) the desirability of awarding the family home as part of equitable distribution or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to the spouse having custody of any children;

(11) the tax consequences to each or either party as a result of any particular form of equitable apportionment;

(12) the existence and extent of any support obligations, from a prior marriage or for any other reason or reasons, of either party;

(13) liens and any other encumbrances upon the marital property, which themselves must be equitably divided, or upon the separate property of either of the parties, and any other existing debts incurred by the parties or either of them during the course of the marriage;

(14) child custody arrangements and obligations at the time of the entry of the order; and

(15) such other relevant factors as the trial court shall expressly enumerate in its order.

The court's order as it affects distribution of marital property shall be a final order not subject to modification except by appeal or remand following proper appeal.

SECTION 20-7-473. Marital and nonmarital property; nonmarital property as not subject to judicial apportionment.

The term "marital property" as used in this article means all real and personal property which has been acquired by the parties during the marriage and which is owned as of the date of filing or commencement of marital litigation as provided in Section 20-7-472 regardless of how legal title is held, except the following, which constitute nonmarital property:

(1) property acquired by either party by inheritance, devise, bequest, or gift from a party other than the spouse;

(2) property acquired by either party before the marriage and property acquired after the happening of the earliest of (a) entry of a pendente lite order in a divorce or separate maintenance action; (b) formal signing of a written property or marital settlement agreement; or (c) entry of a permanent order of separate maintenance and support or of a permanent order approving a property or marital settlement agreement between the parties;

(3) property acquired by either party in exchange for property described in items (1) and (2) of this section;

(4) property excluded by written contract of the parties. "Written contract" includes any antenuptial agreement of the parties which must be considered presumptively fair and equitable so long as it was voluntarily executed with both parties separately represented by counsel and pursuant to the full financial disclosure to each other that is mandated by the rules of the family court as to income, debts, and assets;

(5) any increase in value in nonmarital property, except to the extent that the increase resulted directly or indirectly from efforts of the other spouse during marriage.

Interspousal gifts of property, including gifts of property from one spouse to the other made indirectly by way of a third party, are marital property which is subject to division.

The court does not have jurisdiction or authority to apportion nonmarital property.

SECTION 20-7-474. Determination of value of contributions.

In determining the value of contributions prior to making an equitable apportionment, the court:

(1) shall make findings of fact from credible evidence of the values of property and services, if any;

(2) is empowered to take judicial notice of official reports of the federal and state governments, including official bulletins, publications, and reports of general public interest where these reports are made and published by authority of law or have been adopted by state statute;

(3) has the authority to appoint experts as necessary for the purpose of valuation of property and contributions and to assess the cost against any or all parties to the action.

SECTION 20-7-475. Sequestration of party's property; disposition of sequestered property.

(1) At any stage of a proceeding under this article where it appears to the court that personal jurisdiction may not be obtained over an absent party or where a party refuses to comply with an order of the court, the court may, upon appropriate petition, order the sequestration of that party's real and personal property which is within this State. The court may also appoint a sequestrator and, by injunction or otherwise, authorize the sequestrator to take the property into possession and control. In the case of an absent party, the court may appoint the party residing in this State as sequestator.

(2) The property sequestered and the income from it may be applied in whole or in part, at the direction of the court and as justice may require, so as to achieve an equitable apportionment of property as set forth in this article.

(3) Additionally, the court, in its discretion, if the property and income from it which may be sequestered is insufficient to pay what is required, may, upon terms and conditions as it considers in the interests of justice, direct the mortgaging of or the public or private sale of a sufficient amount of the sequestered property to pay what is required.

(4) The family court in which the action is filed has jurisdiction and venue to sequester property located within this State.

(5) The remedies in this section are cumulative to all other remedies which may be available to the parties.

SECTION 20-7-476. Orders to sell property or to execute and deliver deed, bill of sale, etc.; utilization of monetary awards and other means to achieve equity.

The court may direct a party to execute and deliver any deed, bill of sale, note, mortgage, or other document necessary to carry out its order of equitable apportionment. If a party so directed fails to comply, the court may direct the clerk of court in the county in which the property involved is situate to execute and deliver the document, and this performance by the clerk is as effective as the performance of the party would have been. The court in making an equitable apportionment may order the public or private sale of all or any portion of the marital property upon terms it determines.

The court may utilize any other reasonable means to achieve equity between the parties, which means are subject to and may not be inconsistent with the other provisions of this article and may include making a monetary award to achieve an equitable apportionment. Any monetary award made does not constitute a payment which is treated as ordinary income to the recipient under either the provisions of Chapter 7 of Title 12 or, to the extent lawful, under the United States Internal Revenue Code.

SECTION 20-7-477. Notice of pendency of proceedings; effect on spousal and third-party property rights; issuance and recordation of transcript of judgment.

In a proceeding under this article, either party may record a notice of the pendency of proceedings in the manner provided in civil actions generally, which has the same effect as a notice in civil actions. The rights and interests of each spouse in the other's property created by this article are not effective against third parties (1) with regard to any parcel of real property in which an interest under this article is claimed until a Notice of Pendency of Action is filed as provided in Section 15-11-10 with the clerk of court of the county in which such parcel of real property is situated and (2) with regard to personal property, until the third party has received written notice from either spouse in a proceeding under this article that marital litigation has been filed. Prior rights and interests of third parties (1) in real property are not affected by filing a Notice of Pendency of Action and (2) in personal property are not affected by receipt of written notice of such a filing.

Upon entry of judgment against a party requiring payment of money or transfer of property, whether by interlocutory order or final decree, a party may apply to the court for issuance of a transcript of judgment in the form prescribed in Section 20-7-478. This transcript may be recorded in the office of the clerk of court of common pleas and indexed in the books of abstracts of judgments of any county of this State as provided by law.

After the order or decree has been duly recorded and indexed in the office of the clerk of court of common pleas, the order or decree has all force and effect of judgments of the courts of common pleas as provided by law, the recording and indexing constituting record notice to all persons of the order or decree recorded and indexed.

The recordation and filing of a transcript of judgment does not prevent the court from exercising any equitable or other presently existing power of enforcement of the order or decree which is within its jurisdiction.

The statutory lien created by Section 20-3-145 is not effective as against third parties unless this section has been complied with.

SECTION 20-7-478. Form of transcript of judgment.

A transcript of judgment may be substantially in the following form:

STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA

COUNTY OF IN THE FAMILY COURT

_________________________________,

Petitioner,

vs.

_________________________________, TRANSCRIPT OF JUDGMENT

Respondent.

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that in the above-captioned proceeding, (family court docket # of proceeding or domestic judgment #), filed in the family court of the State and county aforesaid, judgment was entered against __________, the __________ in the action, on the ___ day of __________, 19_, [in the amount of __________, as and by reason of (an award of attorney's fees, equitable division of property, etc.)] OR (requiring conveyance to __________ of the real property described as following:) Attorneys of record are __________, representing the petitioner and __________, representing the respondent.

FURTHER NOTICE IS GIVEN that interest will accrue at the statutory rate from the ___ day of __________ 19_, together with costs in the amount of __________.

__________________________

Judge of the Family Court

place __________

date __________

SECTION 20-7-479. Subject matter jurisdiction of family courts with respect to contracts relating to property.

The family courts of this State have subject matter jurisdiction over all contracts relating to property which is involved in a proceeding under this article and over the construction and enforcement of those contracts.

ARTICLE 7.

INTAKE

SUBARTICLE 1.

GENERAL PROVISIONS

SECTION 20-7-480. Purpose.

(A) Any intervention by the State into family life on behalf of children must be guided by law, by strong philosophical underpinnings, and by sound professional standards for practice. Child Welfare Services must be based on these principles:

(1) Parents have the primary responsibility for and are the primary resource for their children.

(2) Children should have the opportunity to grow up in a family unit if at all possible.

(3) State and community agencies have a responsibility to implement prevention programs aimed at identifying high risk families and to provide supportive intervention to reduce occurrence of maltreatment.

(4) Services for families should be accessible and designed to encourage and enable families to adequately deal with their problems within their own family system.

(5) All child welfare intervention by the State has as its primary goal the welfare and safety of the child.

(6) Child welfare intervention into a family's life should be structured so as to avoid a child's entry into the protective service and foster care systems if at all possible.

(7) The state's child welfare system must be designed to be child-centered, family-focused, community-based, and culturally competent in its prevention and protection efforts.

(8) Neighborhoods and communities are the primary source of opportunities and supports for families and have a primary responsibility in assuring the safety and vitality of their members.

(9) The Department of Social Services shall collaborate with the community to identify, support, and treat families in a nonthreatening manner, in both investigative and family assessment situations.

(10) A family assessment approach, stressing the safety of the child, building on the strengths of the family, and identifying and treating the family's needs is the appropriate approach for cases not requiring law enforcement involvement or the removal of the child.

(11) Only a comparatively small percentage of current child abuse and neglect reports are criminal in nature or will result in the removal of the child or alleged perpetrator.

(12) Should removal of a child become necessary, the state's foster care system must be prepared to provide timely and appropriate placements for children with relatives or in licensed foster care settings and to establish a plan which reflects a commitment by the State to achieving permanency for the child within reasonable timelines.

(13) The Department of Social Services staff who investigates serious child abuse and neglect reports with law enforcement must be competent in law enforcement procedures, fact finding, evidence gathering, and effective social intervention and assessment.

(14) Services should be identified quickly and should build on the strengths and resources of families and communities.

(B) It is the purpose of this article to:

(1) acknowledge the different intervention needs of families;

(2) establish an effective system of services throughout the State to safeguard the well-being and development of endangered children and to preserve and stabilize family life, whenever appropriate;

(3) ensure permanency on a timely basis for children when removal from their homes is necessary;

(4) establish fair and equitable procedures, compatible with due process of law to intervene in family life with due regard to the safety and welfare of all family members; and

(5) establish an effective system of protection of children from injury and harm while living in public and private residential agencies and institutions meant to serve them.

SECTION 20-7-490. Definitions.

When used in this article, or in Article 9, Article 11, or subarticle 7 of Article 13, and unless the specific context indicates otherwise:

(1) "Child" means a person under the age of eighteen.

(2) "Child abuse or neglect", or "harm" occurs when the parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child's welfare:

(a) inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the child physical or mental injury or engages in acts or omissions which present a substantial risk of physical or mental injury to the child, including injuries sustained as a result of excessive corporal punishment, but excluding corporal punishment or physical discipline which:

(i) is administered by a parent or person in loco parentis;

(ii) is perpetrated for the sole purpose of restraining or correcting the child;

(iii) is reasonable in manner and moderate in degree;

(iv) has not brought about permanent or lasting damage to the child; and

(v) is not reckless or grossly negligent behavior by the parents.

(b) commits or allows to be committed against the child a sexual offense as defined by the laws of this State or engages in acts or omissions that present a substantial risk that a sexual offense as defined in the laws of this State would be committed against the child;

(c) fails to supply the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or education as required under Article 1 of Chapter 65 of Title 59, supervision appropriate to the child's age and development, or health care though financially able to do so or offered financial or other reasonable means to do so and the failure to do so has caused or presents a substantial risk of causing physical or mental injury. However, a child's absences from school may not be considered abuse or neglect unless the school has made efforts to bring about the child's attendance, and those efforts were unsuccessful because of the parents' refusal to cooperate. For the purpose of this chapter "adequate health care" includes any medical or nonmedical remedial health care permitted or authorized under state law;

(d) abandons the child;

(e) encourages, condones, or approves the commission of delinquent acts by the child and the commission of the acts are shown to be the result of the encouragement, condonation, or approval; or

(f) has committed abuse or neglect as described in subsections (a) through (e) such that a child who subsequently becomes part of the person's household is at substantial risk of one of those forms of abuse or neglect.

(3) "A person responsible for a child's welfare" includes the child's parent, guardian, foster parent, an operator, employee, or caregiver, as defined by Section 20-7-2700, of a public or private residential home, institution, agency, or childcare facility or an adult who has assumed the role or responsibility of a parent or guardian for the child, but who does not necessarily have legal custody of the child. A person whose only role is as a caregiver and whose contact is only incidental with a child, such as a babysitter or a person who has only incidental contact but may not be a caretaker, has not assumed the role or responsibility of a parent or guardian. An investigation pursuant to Section 20-7-650 must be initiated when the information contained in a report otherwise sufficient under this section does not establish whether the person has assumed the role or responsibility of a parent or guardian for the child.

(4) "Physical injury" means death or permanent or temporary disfigurement or impairment of any bodily organ or function.

(5) "Mental injury" means an injury to the intellectual, emotional, or psychological capacity or functioning of a child as evidenced by a discernible and substantial impairment of the child's ability to function when the existence of that impairment is supported by the opinion of a mental health professional or medical professional.

(6) "Institutional child abuse and neglect" means situations of known or suspected child abuse or neglect where the person responsible for the child's welfare is the employee of a public or private residential home, institution, or agency.

(7) "Protective services unit" means the unit established within the Department of Social Services which has prime responsibility for state efforts to strengthen and improve the prevention, identification, and treatment of child abuse and neglect.

(8) "Subject of the report" means a person who is alleged or determined to have abused or neglected the child, who is mentioned by name in a report or finding.

(9) "Suspected report" means all initial reports of child abuse or neglect received pursuant to this article.

(10) "Unfounded report" means a report made pursuant to this article for which there is not a preponderance of evidence to believe that the child is abused or neglected. For the purposes of this article, it is presumed that all reports are unfounded unless the department determines otherwise.

(11) "Indicated report" means a report of child abuse or neglect supported by facts which warrant a finding by a preponderance of evidence that abuse or neglect is more likely than not to have occurred.

(12) "Probable cause" means facts and circumstances based upon accurate and reliable information, including hearsay, that would justify a reasonable person to believe that a child subject to a report under this article is abused or neglected.

(13) "Preponderance of evidence" means evidence which, when fairly considered, is more convincing as to its truth than the evidence in opposition.

(14) "Department" means the Department of Social Services.

(15) "Child protective investigation" means an inquiry conducted by the department in response to a report of child abuse or neglect made pursuant to this article.

(16) "Child protective services" means assistance provided by the department as a result of indicated reports or affirmative determinations of child abuse or neglect, including assistance ordered by the family court or consented to by the family. The objectives of child protective services are to:

(a) protect the child's safety and welfare; and

(b) maintain the child within the family unless the safety of the child requires placement outside the home.

(17) "Affirmative determination" means a finding by a preponderance of evidence that the child was abused or neglected by the person who is alleged or determined to have abused or neglected the child and who is mentioned by name in a report or finding. This finding may be made only by:

(a) the court;

(b) the Department of Social Services upon a final agency decision in its appeals process; or

(c) waiver by the subject of the report of his right to appeal. If an affirmative determination is made by the court after an affirmative determination is made by the Department of Social Services, the court's finding must be the affirmative determination.

(18) "Court" means the family court.

(19) "Abandonment of a child" means a parent or guardian wilfully deserts a child or wilfully surrenders physical possession of a child without making adequate arrangements for the child's needs or the continuing care of the child.

(20) "Guardianship of a child" means the duty and authority vested in a person by the family court to make certain decisions regarding a child, including:

(a) consenting to a marriage, enlistment in the armed forces, and medical and surgical treatment;

(b) representing a child in legal actions and to make other decisions of substantial legal significance affecting a child; and

(c) rights and responsibilities of legal custody when legal custody has not been vested by the court in another person, agency, or institution.

(21) "Legal custody" means the right to the physical custody, care, and control of a child; the right to determine where the child shall live; the right and duty to provide protection, food, clothing, shelter, ordinary medical care, education, supervision, and discipline for a child and in an emergency to authorize surgery or other extraordinary care. The court may in its order place other rights and duties with the legal custodian. Unless otherwise provided by court order, the parent or guardian retains the right to make decisions of substantial legal significance affecting the child, including consent to a marriage, enlistment in the armed forces, and major nonemergency medical and surgical treatment, the obligation to provide financial support or other funds for the care of the child, and other residual rights or obligations as may be provided by order of the court.

(22) "Party in interest" includes the child, the child's attorney and guardian ad litem, the natural parent, an individual with physical or legal custody of the child, the foster parent, and the local foster care review board.

(23) "Physical custody" means the lawful, actual possession and control of a child.

(24) "Emergency protective custody" means the right to physical custody of a child for a temporary period of no more than twenty-four hours to protect the child from imminent danger.

Emergency protective custody may be taken only by a law enforcement officer pursuant to this article.

SECTION 20-7-495. Children's Advocacy Centers; services provided; standards of care; release of records.

(A) "Children's Advocacy Centers" mean centers which must coordinate a multi-agency response to child maltreatment and assist in the investigation and assessment of child abuse. These centers must provide:

(1) a neutral, child-friendly facility for forensic interviews;

(2) the coordination of services for children reported to have been abused;

(3) services including, but not limited to, forensic interviews, forensic medical examinations, and case reviews by multidisciplinary teams to best determine whether maltreatment has occurred; and

(4) therapeutic counseling services, support services for the child and nonoffending family members, court advocacy, consultation, and training for professionals who work in the area of child abuse and neglect, to reduce negative impact to the child and break the cycle of abuse.

(B)(1) Children's Advocacy Centers must establish memoranda of agreement with governmental entities charged with the investigation and prosecution of child abuse. Fully operational centers must function in a manner consistent with standards of the National Children's Alliance, and all centers must strive to achieve full membership in the National Children's Alliance.

(2) Children's Advocacy Centers must establish written policies and procedures for standards of care including, but not limited to, the timely intervention of services between initial contact with the child and the event which led to the child's being referred to the center. Children's Advocacy Centers must make available these written policies and procedures to all professionals who provide services relating to the investigation, treatment, and prosecution of child abuse and neglect within the geographical vicinity of the center.

(3) Children's Advocacy Center records must be released to the Department of Social Services for purposes of investigation, assessment of allegations of child abuse or neglect, and provision of treatment services to the children or their families. The records must be released to law enforcement agencies and circuit solicitors or their agents who are:

(a) investigating or prosecuting known or suspected abuse or neglect of a child;

(b) investigating or prosecuting the death of a child;

(c) investigating or prosecuting any crime against a child; or

(d) attempting to locate a missing child.

This provision does not preclude or override the release of information based upon a subpoena or court order, unless otherwise prohibited by law.

(C) The South Carolina Network of Children's Advocacy Centers and the South Carolina Chapter of the National Children's Alliance must coordinate and facilitate the exchange of information among statewide centers and provide technical assistance to communities in the establishment, growth, and certification of local centers. The network must also educate the public and legislature regarding the needs of abused children and provide or coordinate multidisciplinary training opportunities which support the comprehensive response to suspected child maltreatment.

(D) Nothing in this section requires the exclusive use of a Children's Advocacy Center.

SUBARTICLE 3.

IDENTIFICATION

SECTION 20-7-500. Persons or families needing assistance encouraged to seek it.

A person seeking assistance in meeting child care responsibilities may use the services and facilities established by this article, including the single statewide telephone number and local child protective services where available. These persons must be referred to appropriate community resources or agencies, notwithstanding whether the problem presented involves child abuse or neglect.

SECTION 20-7-505. Reporting of domestic violence by law enforcement officer.

The law enforcement officer upon receipt of a report of domestic violence may report this information to the Department of Social Services. The department may treat the case as suspected report of abuse and may investigate the case as in other allegations of abuse in order to determine if the child has been harmed.

SECTION 20-7-510. Persons required or permitted to report; method; confidentiality.

(A) A physician, nurse, dentist, optometrist, medical examiner, or coroner, or an employee of a county medical examiner's or coroner's office, or any other medical, emergency medical services, mental health, or allied health professional, member of the clergy including a Christian Science Practitioner or religious healer, school teacher, counselor, principal, assistant principal, social or public assistance worker, substance abuse treatment staff, or childcare worker in a childcare center or foster care facility, police or law enforcement officer, undertaker, funeral home director or employee of a funeral home, persons responsible for processing films, computer technician, or a judge must report in accordance with this section when in the person's professional capacity the person has received information which gives the person reason to believe that a child has been or may be abused or neglected as defined in Section 20-7-490.

(B) If a person required to report pursuant to subsection (A) has received information in the person's professional capacity which gives the person reason to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected by acts or omissions that would be child abuse or neglect if committed by a parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child's welfare, but the reporter believes that the act or omission was committed by a person other than the parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child's welfare, the reporter must make a report to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

(C) Except as provided in subsection (A), any person who has reason to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected by abuse and neglect may report in accordance with this section.

(D) Reports of child abuse or neglect may be made orally by telephone or otherwise to the county department of social services or to a law enforcement agency in the county where the child resides or is found.

Where reports are made pursuant to this section to a law enforcement agency, the law enforcement agency shall notify the county department of social services of the law enforcement's response to the report at the earliest possible time.

Where a county or contiguous counties have established multicounty child protective services, pursuant to Section 20-7-650, the county department of social services immediately shall transfer reports pursuant to this section to the service.

(E) The identity of the person making a report pursuant to this section must be kept confidential by the agency or department receiving the report and must not be disclosed except as provided for in this chapter.

When the department refers a report to a law enforcement agency for a criminal investigation, the department must inform the law enforcement agency of the identity of the person who reported the child abuse or neglect. The identity of the reporter must only be used by the law enforcement agency to further the criminal investigation arising from the report, and the agency must not disclose the reporter's identity to any person other than an employee of the agency who is involved in the criminal investigation arising from the report. If the reporter testifies in a criminal proceeding arising from the report, it must not be disclosed that the reporter made the report.

When a law enforcement agency refers a report to the department for an investigation or other response, the law enforcement agency must inform the department of the identity of the person who reported the child abuse or neglect. The department must not disclose the identity of the reporter to any person except as authorized by Section 20-7-690.

(F) When a report is referred to the department for an investigation or other response, the department must determine whether previous reports have been made regarding the same child or the same subject of the report. In determining whether previous reports have been made, the department must determine whether there are any suspected, indicated, or unfounded reports maintained pursuant to Section 20-7-650 regarding the same child or the same subject of the report.

(G) If the department does not conduct an investigation as a result of information received pursuant to this section, the department must make a record of the information and must classify the record as a Category IV unfounded report in accordance with Section 20-7-650. The department and law enforcement are authorized to use information recorded pursuant to this subsection for purposes of assessing risk and safety if additional contacts are made concerning the child, the family, or the subject of the report.

SECTION 20-7-520. Mandatory reporting to medical examiner or coroner; postmortem examinations.

A person required under Section 20-7-510(A) to report cases of suspected child abuse or neglect, including workers of the department, who has reason to believe a child has died as the result of child abuse or neglect, shall report this information to the appropriate medical examiner or coroner. Any other person who has reason to believe that a child has died as a result of child abuse or neglect may report this information to the appropriate medical examiner or coroner. The medical examiner or coroner shall accept the report for investigation and shall report his findings to the appropriate law enforcement agency, circuit solicitor's office, the county department of social services and, if the institution making a report is a hospital, to the hospital.

SECTION 20-7-530. Photographs and x-rays; other medical examinations.

A person required to report under Section 20-7-510 may take, or cause to be taken, color photographs of the areas of trauma visible on a child who is the subject of a report and, if medically indicated, a physician may cause to be performed a radiological examination or other medical examinations or tests of the child without the consent of the child's parents or guardians. Copies of all photographs, negatives, radiological, and other medical reports must be sent to the department at the time a report pursuant to Section 20-7-510 is made, or as soon as reasonably possible after the report is made.

SECTION 20-7-540. Immunity from liability.

A person required or permitted to report pursuant to this article or who participates in an investigation or judicial proceedings resulting from the report, acting in good faith, is immune from civil and criminal liability which might otherwise result by reason of these actions. In all such civil or criminal proceedings, good faith is rebuttably presumed. Immunity under this section extends to full disclosure by the person of facts which gave the person reason to believe that the child's physical or mental health or welfare had been or might be adversely affected by abuse or neglect.

SECTION 20-7-545. Immunity of department personnel and persons convening family group conferences.

An employee, volunteer, or official of the Department of Social Services required or authorized to perform child protective or child welfare-related functions or an individual with whom the department has contracted to convene family group conferences or a law enforcement officer required or authorized to perform child protective or child welfare related functions is immune from civil or criminal liability which might otherwise result by reason of acts or omissions within the scope of the official duties of the employee, volunteer, convener, officer, or official, as long as the employee, volunteer, convener, officer, or official acted in good faith and was not reckless, wilful, wanton, or grossly negligent. In all such civil or criminal proceedings good faith is rebuttably presumed. This grant of immunity is cumulative to and does not replace any other immunity provided under the South Carolina Tort Claims Act.

SECTION 20-7-550. Abrogation of privileged communication; clergy and penitent privilege exception.

The privileged quality of communication between husband and wife and any professional person and his patient or client, except that between attorney and client or clergy member, including Christian Science Practitioner or religious healer, and penitent, is abrogated and does not constitute grounds for failure to report or the exclusion of evidence in a civil protective proceeding resulting from a report pursuant to this article. However, a clergy member, including Christian Science Practitioner or religious healer, must report in accordance with this subarticle except when information is received from the alleged perpetrator of the abuse and neglect during a communication that is protected by the clergy and penitent privilege as defined in Section 19-11-90.

SECTION 20-7-560. Penalties.

A person required to report a case of child abuse or neglect or a person required to perform any other function under this article who knowingly fails to do so, or a person who threatens or attempts to intimidate a witness is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

SECTION 20-7-567. Knowingly making false report of abuse or neglect; penalties.

(A) It is unlawful to knowingly make a false report of abuse or neglect.

(B) A person who violates subsection (A) is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than ninety days, or both.

SECTION 20-7-570. Bad faith or false reporting; civil action; fees.

(A) If the family court determines pursuant to Section 20-7-695 that a person has made a report of suspected child abuse or neglect maliciously or in bad faith or if a person has been found guilty of making a false report pursuant to Section 20-7-567, the department may bring a civil action to recover the costs of the department's investigation and proceedings associated with the investigation, including attorney's fees. The department also is entitled to recover costs and attorney's fees incurred in the civil action authorized by this section. The decision of whether to bring a civil action pursuant to this section is in the sole discretion of the department.

(B) If the family court determines pursuant to Section 20-7-695 that a person has made a false report of suspected child abuse or neglect maliciously or in bad faith or if a person has been found guilty of making a false report pursuant to Section 20-7-567, a person who was subject of the false report has a civil cause of action against the person who made the false report and is entitled to recover from the person who made the false report such relief as may be appropriate, including:

(1) actual damages;

(2) punitive damages; and

(3) a reasonable attorney's fee and other litigation costs reasonably incurred.

SUBARTICLE 5.

INTERVENTION BY LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES

SECTION 20-7-600. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-605. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-610. Emergency protective custody.

(A) A law enforcement officer may take emergency protective custody of a child without the consent of the child's parents, guardians, or others exercising temporary or permanent control over the child if:

(1) the officer has probable cause to believe that by reason of abuse or neglect the child's life, health, or physical safety is in substantial and imminent danger if the child is not taken into emergency protective custody, and there is not time to apply for a court order pursuant to Section 20-7-736. When a child is taken into emergency protective custody following an incident of excessive corporal punishment, and the only injury to the child is external lesions or minor bruises, other children in the home shall not be taken into emergency protective custody solely on account of the injury of one child through excessive corporal punishment. However, the officer may take emergency protective custody of other children in the home if a threat of harm to them is further indicated by factors including, but not limited to, a prior history of domestic violence or other abuse in the home, alcohol or drug abuse if known or evident at the time of the initial contact, or other circumstances indicative of danger to the children;

(2) the child's parent, parents, or guardian has been arrested or the child has become lost accidentally and as a result the child's welfare is threatened due to loss of adult protection and supervision; and

(a) in the circumstances of arrest, the parent, parents, or guardian does not consent in writing to another person assuming physical custody of the child;

(b) in the circumstances of a lost child, a search by law enforcement has not located the parent, parents, or guardian.

(B) If the child is in need of emergency medical care at the time the child is taken into emergency protective custody, the officer shall transport the child to an appropriate health care facility. Emergency medical care may be provided to the child without consent, as provided in Section 20-7-290. The parent or guardian is responsible for the cost of emergency medical care that is provided to the child. However, the parent or guardian is not responsible for the cost of medical examinations performed at the request of law enforcement or the department solely for the purpose of assessing whether the child has been abused or neglected unless it is determined that the child has been harmed as defined in this article.

If the child is not in need of emergency medical care, the officer or the department shall transport the child to a place agreed upon by the department and law enforcement, and the department within two hours shall assume physical control of the child and shall place the child in a licensed foster home or shelter within a reasonable period of time. In no case may the child be placed in a jail or other secure facility or a facility for the detention of criminal or juvenile offenders. While the child is in its custody, the department shall provide for the needs of the child and assure that a child of school age who is physically able to do so continues attending school.

(C) When an officer takes a child into emergency protective custody under this section, the officer immediately shall notify the department. The department shall notify the parent, guardian, or other person exercising temporary or permanent control over the child as early as reasonably possible of the location of the child unless there are compelling reasons for believing that disclosure of this information would be contrary to the best interests of the child.

(D) The department shall conduct within twenty-four hours after the child is taken into emergency protective custody by law enforcement or pursuant to ex parte order a preliminary investigation to determine whether grounds for assuming legal custody of the child exist and whether reasonable means exist for avoiding removal of the child from the home of the parent or guardian or for placement of the child with a relative and means for minimizing the emotional impact on the child of separation from the child's home and family. During this time the department, if possible, shall convene, a meeting with the child's parents or guardian, extended family, and other relevant persons to discuss the family's problems that led to intervention and possible corrective actions, including placement of the child.

(E) Before agreeing to or acquiescing in a corrective action that involves placement of the child with a relative or other person or making an interim placement with a relative while retaining custody of the child or as soon as possible after agreeing to or acquiescing in a corrective action, the department shall secure from the relative or other person and other adults in the home an affidavit attesting to information necessary to determine whether a criminal history or history of child abuse or neglect exists and whether this history indicates there is a significant risk that the child would be threatened with abuse or neglect in the home of the relative or other person. As soon as possible, the department shall confirm the information supplied in the affidavit by checking the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect, other relevant department records, county sex offender registries, and records for the preceding five years of law enforcement agencies in the jurisdiction in which the relative or other person resides and, to the extent reasonably possible, jurisdictions in which the relative or other person has resided during that period. The department must not agree to or acquiesce in a placement if the affidavit or these records reveal information indicating there is a significant risk that the child would be threatened with abuse or neglect in the home of the relative or other person. The relative or other person must consent to a check of the above records by the department.

(F) If the department determines after the preliminary investigation that there is probable cause to believe that by reason of abuse or neglect the child's life, health, or physical safety is in imminent and substantial danger, the department may assume legal custody of the child without the consent of the child's parent, guardian, or custodian. The department shall make every reasonable effort to notify the child's parent, guardian, or custodian of the location of the child and shall make arrangements for temporary visitation unless there are compelling reasons why visitation or notice of the location of the child would be contrary to the best interests of the child. The notification must be in writing and shall include notice of the right to a hearing and right to counsel pursuant to this article. Nothing in this subsection authorizes the department to physically remove a child from the care of the child's parent or guardian without an order of the court. The department may exercise the authority to assume legal custody only after a law enforcement officer has taken emergency protective custody of the child or the family court has granted emergency protective custody by ex parte order, and the department has conducted a preliminary investigation pursuant to this section.

(G) If emergency protective custody of the child was taken by a law enforcement officer pursuant to subsection (A), and the department concludes after the preliminary investigation that the child should be returned to the child's parent, guardian, or custodian, the department shall consult with the law enforcement officer who took emergency protective custody unless the department and the law enforcement agency have agreed to an alternative procedure. If the officer objects to the return of the child, the department must assume legal custody of the child until a probable cause hearing can be held. The alternative procedure agreed to by the department and the law enforcement agency may provide that the child must be retained in custody if the officer cannot be contacted, conditions under which the child may be returned home if the officer cannot be contacted, other persons within the law enforcement agency who are to be consulted instead of the officer, or other procedures. If no alternative procedure has been agreed to and the department is unable to contact the law enforcement officer after reasonable efforts to do so, the department shall consult with the officer's designee or the officer's agency.

(H) The period of emergency protective custody may be extended for up to twenty-four additional hours if:

(1) the department concludes that the child is to be placed with a relative or other person instead of taking legal custody of the child;

(2) the department requests the appropriate law enforcement agency to check for records concerning the relative or other person, or any adults in that person's home; and

(3) the law enforcement agency notifies the department that the extension is needed to enable the law enforcement agency to complete its record check before the department's decision on whether to take legal custody of the child.

(I) If within the twenty-four hours following removal of the child:

(1) the department has identified a specified relative or other person with whom it has determined that the child is to be placed instead of the department's taking legal custody of the child; and

(2) both the relative or other person with whom the child is to be placed and the child's parent or guardian have agreed to the placement, the department may retain physical custody of the child for no more than five additional days if necessary to enable the relative or other person to make travel or other arrangements incident to the placement. A probable cause hearing pursuant to subsection (M) shall not be held unless the placement fails to occur as planned within the five-day period or the child's parent or guardian makes a written request for a hearing to the department. The department must give the child's parent or guardian written notice of the right to request a probable cause hearing to obtain a judicial determination of whether removal of the child from the home was and remains necessary. Upon receipt of a written request for a hearing from the child's parent or guardian, the department shall schedule a hearing for the next date on which the family court is scheduled to hear probable cause hearings. If the placement does not occur as planned within the five-day period, the department immediately must determine whether to assume legal custody of the child and file a petition as provided in subsection (K). The department shall assure that the child is given age-appropriate information about the plans for placement and any subsequent changes in those plans at the earliest feasible time.

(J) If a law enforcement officer clearly states to the department at the time the officer delivers physical control of the child to the department that the child is not to be returned to the home or placed with a relative before a probable cause hearing regardless of the outcome of a preliminary investigation, the department immediately must take legal custody of the child. In this case, at a minimum, the department shall conduct a preliminary investigation as provided in this section within seventy-two hours after the child was taken into emergency protective custody and shall make recommendations concerning return of the child to the home or placement with a relative or other person to the family court at the probable cause hearing or take other appropriate action as provided in this chapter.

(K) The department, upon assuming legal custody of the child, shall begin a child protective investigation, including immediate attention to the protection of other children in the home, or other setting where the child was found. The department shall initiate a removal proceeding in the appropriate family court pursuant to Section 20-7-736 on or before the next working day after initiating the investigation. If a noncustodial parent is not named as a party, the department shall exercise every reasonable effort to promptly notify the noncustodial parent that a removal proceeding has been initiated and of the date and time of any hearings scheduled pursuant to this section. Upon a determination by the department before the probable cause hearing that there is not a preponderance of evidence that child abuse or neglect occurred, the department may place physical custody of the child with the parent, parents, guardian, immediate family member, or relative, with the department retaining legal custody pending the probable cause hearing. When the facts and circumstances of the report clearly indicate that no abuse or neglect occurred, the report promptly must be determined to be unfounded, and the department shall exercise reasonable efforts to expedite the placement of the child with the parent, parents, guardian, immediate family member, or relative.

(L) If the child is returned to the child's parent, guardian, or custodian following the preliminary investigation, a probable cause hearing must be held if requested by the child's parent, guardian, or custodian or the department or the law enforcement agency that took emergency protective custody of the child. The request must be made in writing to the court within ten days after the child is returned. A probable cause hearing pursuant to subsection (K) must be scheduled within seven days of the request to determine whether there was probable cause to take emergency physical custody of the child.

(M) The family court shall schedule a probable cause hearing to be held within seventy-two hours of the time the child was taken into emergency protective custody. If the third day falls upon a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, the probable cause hearing must be held no later than the next working day. If there is no term of court in the county when the probable cause hearing must be held, the hearing must be held in another county in the circuit. If there is no term of family court in another county in the circuit, the probable cause hearing may be heard in another court in an adjoining circuit. The probable cause hearing may be conducted by video conference at the discretion of the judge. At the probable cause hearing, the family court shall undertake to fulfill the requirements of Section 20-7-110 and shall determine whether there was probable cause for taking emergency protective custody and for the department to assume legal custody of the child and shall determine whether probable cause to retain legal custody of the child remains at the time of the hearing. At the probable cause hearing, the respondents may submit affidavits as to facts which are alleged to form the basis of the removal and to cross-examine the department's witnesses as to whether there existed probable cause to effect emergency removal. The hearing on the merits to determine whether removal of custody is needed, pursuant to Section 20-7-736, must be held within thirty-five days of the date of receipt of the removal petition. At the probable cause hearing, the court shall set the time and date for the hearing on the merits. A party may request a continuance that would result in the hearing being held more than thirty-five days after the petition was filed, and the court may grant the request for continuance only if exceptional circumstances exist. If a continuance is granted, the hearing on the merits must be completed within sixty-five days following receipt of the removal petition. The court may continue the hearing on the merits beyond sixty-five days without returning the child to the home only if the court issues a written order with findings of fact supporting a determination that the following conditions are satisfied, regardless of whether the parties have agreed to a continuance:

(1) the court finds that the child should remain in the custody of the department because there is probable cause to believe that returning the child to the home would seriously endanger the child's physical safety or emotional well-being;

(2) the court schedules the case for trial on a date and time certain which is not more than thirty days after the date the hearing was scheduled to be held; and

(3) the court finds that exceptional circumstances support the continuance or the parties and the guardian ad litem agree to a continuance.

The court may continue the case past the date and time certain set forth in subsection (M) only if the court issues a new order as required in subsection (M).

The court may continue the case because a witness is unavailable only if the court enters a finding of fact that the court cannot decide the case without the testimony of the witness. The court shall consider and rule on whether the hearing can begin and then recess to have the witness' testimony taken at a later date or by deposition. The court shall rule on whether the party offering the witness has exercised due diligence to secure the presence of the witness or to preserve the witness' testimony.

This subsection does not prevent the court from conducting a pendente lite hearing on motion of any party and issuing an order granting other appropriate relief pending a hearing on the merits.

If the child is returned to the home pending the merits hearing, the court may impose such terms and conditions as it determines appropriate to protect the child from harm, including measures to protect the child as a witness.

When a continuance is granted pursuant to this subsection, the family court shall ensure that the hearing is rescheduled within the time limits provided herein and give the hearing priority over other matters pending before the court except a probable cause hearing held pursuant to this subsection, a detention hearing held pursuant to Section 20-7-7215, or a hearing held pursuant to Section 20-7-7415 or 20-7-7605 concerning a child who is in state custody pursuant to Article 30. An exception also may be made for child custody hearings if the court, in its discretion, makes a written finding stating compelling reasons, relating to the welfare of the child, for giving priority to the custody hearing.

(N) An order issued as a result of the probable cause hearing held pursuant to subsection (K) concerning a child of whom the department has assumed legal custody shall contain a finding by the court of whether reasonable efforts were made by the department to prevent removal of the child and a finding of whether continuation of the child in the home would be contrary to the welfare of the child. The order shall state:

(1) the services made available to the family before the department assumed legal custody of the child and how they related to the needs of the family;

(2) the efforts of the department to provide services to the family before assuming legal custody of the child;

(3) why the efforts to provide services did not eliminate the need for the department to assume legal custody;

(4) whether a meeting was convened as provided in subsection (D), the persons present, and the outcome of the meeting or, if no meeting was held, the reason for not holding a meeting;

(5) what efforts were made to place the child with a relative known to the child or in another familiar environment;

(6) whether the efforts to eliminate the need for the department to assume legal custody were reasonable including, but not limited to, whether services were reasonably available and timely, reasonably adequate to address the needs of the family, reasonably adequate to protect the child and realistic under the circumstances, and whether efforts to place the child in a familiar environment were reasonable.

If the court finds that reasonable services would not have allowed the child to remain safely in the home, the court shall find that removal of the child without services or without further services was reasonable.

(O) If the court orders the child to remain in the legal custody of the department at the probable cause hearing, the family court may order expedited placement of the child with a relative of the first or second degree. The court shall require the department to check the names of all adults in the home against the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect, other relevant records of the department, county sex abuse registers, and records for the preceding five years of law enforcement agencies in the jurisdiction in which the person resides and, to the extent reasonably possible, jurisdictions in which the person has resided during that period. The court may hold open the record of the probable cause hearing for twenty-four hours to receive the reports and based on these reports and other information introduced at the probable cause hearing, the court may order expedited placement of the child in the home of the relative. Nothing in this subsection precludes the department from requesting or the court from ordering pursuant to the department's request either a full study of the relative's home before placement or the licensing or approval of the relative's home before placement.

(P) The family court may order ex parte that a child be taken into emergency protective custody without the consent of parents, guardians, or others exercising temporary or permanent control over the child if:

(1) the family court judge determines there is probable cause to believe that by reason of abuse or neglect there exists an imminent and substantial danger to the child's life, health, or physical safety; and

(2) parents, guardians, or others exercising temporary or permanent control over the child are unavailable or do not consent to the child's removal from their custody.

(Q) If the court issues such an order, the department shall conduct a preliminary investigation and otherwise proceed as provided in this section.

(R) The department and local law enforcement agencies shall develop written protocols to address issues related to emergency protective custody. The protocols shall cover at a minimum information exchange between the department and local law enforcement agencies, consultation on decisions to assume legal custody, and the transfer of responsibility over the child, including mechanisms and assurances for the department to arrange expeditious placement of the child.

SECTION 20-7-612. Authority of officers in all counties and municipalities.

A law enforcement officer investigating a case of suspected child abuse or neglect or responding to a request for assistance by the department as it investigates a case of suspected child abuse or neglect has authority to take emergency protective custody of the child pursuant to Section 20-7-610 in all counties and municipalities.

Immediately upon taking emergency protective custody, the law enforcement officer shall notify the local office of the department responsible to the county in which the activity under investigation occurred.

The department shall designate by policy and procedure the local department office responsible for procedures required by Section 20-7-610 when a child resides in a county other than the one in which the activity under investigation occurred. The probable cause hearing required by Section 20-7-610 may be held in the county of the child's residence or the county of the law enforcement officer's jurisdiction.

SECTION 20-7-616. Access to sex offender registry.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, upon request of the department, a criminal justice agency having custody of or access to state or local law enforcement records or county sex offender registries shall provide the department with information pertaining to the criminal history of an adult residing in the home of a child who is named in a report of suspected child abuse or neglect or in a home in which it is proposed that the child be placed. This information shall include conviction data, nonconviction data, arrests, and incident reports accessible to the agency. The department shall not be charged a fee for this service.

SECTION 20-7-618. Detainment of child by medical professional.

(A) A physician or hospital to which a child has been brought for treatment may detain the child for up to twenty-four hours without the consent of the person responsible for the child's welfare if the physician or hospital:

(1) has reason to believe that the child has been abused or neglected;

(2) has made a report to a law enforcement agency and the department pursuant to Section 20-7-510, stating the time the physician notified the agency or department that the child was being detained until a law enforcement officer could arrive to determine whether the officer should take emergency physical custody of the child pursuant to Section 20-7-610; and

(3) has reason to believe that release of the child to the child's parent, guardian, custodian, or caretaker presents an imminent danger to the child's life, health, or physical safety. A hospital must designate a qualified person or persons within the hospital who shall have sole authority to detain a child on behalf of the hospital.

(B) A physician or hospital that detains a child in good faith as provided in this section is immune from civil or criminal liability for detaining the child.

SECTION 20-7-620. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-630. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SUBARTICLE 7.

INTERVENTION BY CHILD WELFARE AGENCIES

SECTION 20-7-635. Temporary crisis placements.

(A) The department is authorized to develop a network of homes and facilities to use for temporary crisis placements for children.

(B) Temporary crisis placements may be made with licensed child welfare agencies including foster homes and residential group facilities. The department also may use volunteers who are screened by the department for the sole purpose of these placements. The screening of volunteer crisis homes shall include Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect and criminal history records checks in accordance with Section 20-7-1642. The department shall develop criteria for screening volunteer crisis homes through promulgation of regulations in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act.

(C) Children in temporary crisis placements are not in the custody of the department and must not be considered to be in foster care. No placement of a child in a temporary crisis home or facility may occur unless it is agreed to by the child's parent, guardian, or custodian and the department. Temporary crisis placements may last no longer than seventy-two hours.

SECTION 20-7-640. Duties of State Department of Social Services.

(A) The Department of Social Services may maintain a toll-free number available to persons throughout the State for the referral of family-related problems, including:

(1) The reporting of known or suspected cases of child abuse or neglect.

(2) Other problems of a nature which may affect the stability of family life.

This telephone service shall operate continuously. Upon receipt of a call involving suspected abuse or neglect, the Department of Social Services shall transmit the full contents of the report to the appropriate county department office. Immediately upon transmitting the report the department shall destroy the contents of the suspected report. Upon receipt of a call involving other problems of a nature which may affect the stability of family life, the department shall refer the call to the appropriate county department office or other service agency where appropriate.

(B) The department shall have within it a separate organizational unit administered within the department with qualified staff and resources sufficient to fulfill the purposes and functions assigned to it by this article.

(C) The department's responsibilities shall include, but are not limited to:

(1) assigning and monitoring initial child protection responsibility through periodic review of services offered throughout the State;

(2) assisting in the diagnosis of child abuse and neglect;

(3) coordinating referrals of known or suspected child abuse and neglect;

(4) measuring the effectiveness of existing child protection programs and facilitating research, planning, and program development; and

(5) establishing and monitoring a statewide Central Registry for Child Abuse and Neglect.

(D) The county in which the child resides is the legal place of venue.

(E) The department may promulgate regulations and formulate policies and methods of administration to carry out effectively child protective services, activities, and responsibilities.

(F) The department may contract for the delivery of protective services, family preservation services, foster care services, family reunification services, adoptions services, and other related services or programs. The department shall remain responsible for the quality of the services or programs and shall ensure that each contract contains provisions requiring the provider to deliver services in accordance with departmental policies and state and federal law.

SECTION 20-7-645. Notice of hearing.

The department shall provide notice of a hearing held in connection with an action filed or pursued under Section 20-7-610, 20-7-736, 20-7-738, 20-7-762, 20-7-764, 20-7-766, or 20-7-1568 to the foster parent, the preadoptive parent, or the relative who is providing care for a child. The notice must be in writing and may be delivered in person or by regular mail. The notice shall inform the foster parent, preadoptive parent, or relative of the date, place, and time of the hearing and of the right to attend the hearing and to address the court concerning the child. Notice provided pursuant to this section does not confer on the foster parent, preadoptive parent, or relative the status of a party to the action.

SECTION 20-7-650. Duties of local child protective agency; investigations; founded and unfounded reports.

(A) It is the purpose of this section to encourage the voluntary acceptance of any service offered by the department in connection with child abuse and neglect or another problem of a nature affecting the stability of family life.

(B) The department must be staffed adequately with persons trained in the investigation of suspected child abuse and neglect and in the provision of services to abused and neglected children and their families.

(C) Within twenty-four hours of the receipt of a report of suspected child abuse or neglect or within twenty-four hours after the department has assumed legal custody of a child pursuant to Section 20-7-610(F) or (G) or within twenty-four hours after being notified that a child has been taken into emergency protective custody, the department must begin an appropriate and thorough investigation to determine whether a report of suspected child abuse or neglect is "indicated" or "unfounded". The finding must be made no later than forty-five days from the receipt of the report. A single extension of no more than fifteen days may be granted by the director of the department, or the director's designee, for good cause shown, pursuant to guidelines adopted by the department. If the investigation cannot be completed because the department is unable to locate the child or family or for other compelling reasons, the report may be classified as unfounded Category III and the investigation may be reopened at a later date if the child or family is located or the compelling reason for failure to complete the investigation is removed. The department must make a finding within forty-five days after the investigation is reopened.

This section does not require the department to investigate reports of child abuse or neglect which resulted in the death of the child unless there are other children residing in the home, or a resident of the home is pregnant, or the subject of the report is the parent, guardian, or person responsible for the welfare of another child regardless of whether that child resides in the home.

(D) The department may file with the family court an affidavit and a petition to support issuance of a warrant at any time after receipt of a report. The family court must issue the warrant if the affidavit and petition establish probable cause to believe the child is an abused or neglected child and that the investigation cannot be completed without issuance of the warrant. The warrant may authorize the department to interview the child, to inspect the condition of the child, to inspect the premises where the child may be located or may reside, and to obtain copies of medical, school, or other records concerning the child.

(E) The department or law enforcement, or both, may interview the child alleged to have been abused or neglected and any other child in the household during the investigation. The interviews may be conducted on school premises, at childcare facilities, at the child's home or at other suitable locations and in the discretion of the department or law enforcement, or both, may be conducted outside the presence of the parents. To the extent reasonably possible, the needs and interests of the child must be accommodated in making arrangements for interviews, including time, place, method of obtaining the child's presence, and conduct of the interview. The department or law enforcement, or both, shall provide notification of the interview to the parents as soon as reasonably possible during the investigation if notice will not jeopardize the safety of the child or the course of the investigation. All state, law enforcement, and community agencies providing child welfare intervention into a child's life should coordinate their services to minimize the number of interviews of the child to reduce potential emotional trauma to the child.

(F) Reports of child abuse and neglect must be classified in the department's data system and records in one of three categories: Suspected, Unfounded, or Indicated. If the report is categorized as unfounded, the entry must further state the classification of unfounded reports as set forth in subsection (H). All initial reports must be considered suspected. Reports must be maintained in the category of suspected for no more than sixty days after the report was received by the department. By the end of the sixty-day time period, suspected reports must be classified as either unfounded or indicated pursuant to the agency's investigation.

(G)(1) Indicated findings must be based upon a finding of the facts available to the department that there is a preponderance of evidence that the child is an abused or neglected child. Indicated findings must include a description of the services being provided the child and those responsible for the child's welfare and all relevant dispositional information.

(2) If the family court makes a determination or the process described in Section 20-7-655 results in a determination that the indicated finding is not supported by a preponderance of evidence that there was any act of child abuse or neglect, the case classification must be converted to unfounded and subsection (J) applies.

(3) If the family court makes a specific determination, or the process described in Section 20-7-655 results in a determination that there is not a preponderance of evidence that the person who was the subject of the report committed an act of child abuse or neglect, but that the child was abused or neglected by an unknown person, the department must maintain the case as an indicated case and access to records of the case may be granted as provided in Section 20-7-690. The department shall not delete from its data system or records information indicating that the person was the subject of the report. The department's data system and records must clearly record the results of the court or administrative proceeding. If the case record and data system included a designation with the name of the subject of the report indicating that the person committed the abuse or neglect, that designation must be removed following the determination that there is not a preponderance of evidence that the subject of the report committed an act of child abuse or neglect.

(H) All reports that are not indicated at the conclusion of the investigation and all records of information for which an investigation was not conducted pursuant to Section 20-7-510 must be classified as unfounded. Unfounded reports must be further classified as Category I, Category II, Category III, or Category IV.

(1) Category I unfounded reports are those in which abuse and neglect were ruled out following the investigation. A report falls in this category if evidence of abuse or neglect as defined in this article was not found regardless of whether the family had other problems or was in need of services.

(2) Category II unfounded reports are those in which the investigation did not produce a preponderance of evidence that the child is an abused or neglected child.

(3) Category III unfounded reports are those in which an investigation could not be completed because the department was unable to locate the child or family or for some other compelling reason.

(4) Category IV unfounded reports are records of information received pursuant to Section 20-7-510, but which were not investigated by the department.

(I) The Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect must not contain information from reports classified as unfounded.

(J) Information concerning reports classified as unfounded contained in the statewide data system and records must be maintained for not less than five years after the finding. Information contained in unfounded cases is not subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act as provided for in Chapter 4, Title 30. Access to and use of information contained in unfounded cases must be strictly limited to the following purposes and entities:

(1) a prosecutor or law enforcement officer or agency, for purposes of investigation of a suspected false report pursuant to Section 20-7-567;

(2) the department or a law enforcement officer or agency, for the purpose investigating allegations of abuse or neglect;

(3) the department or a law enforcement officer or agency, when information is received that allows the reopening of a Category III unfounded report pursuant to subsection (C);

(4) as evidence in a court proceeding, if admissible under the rules of evidence as determined by a judge of competent jurisdiction;

(5) a person who is the subject of a report in an action brought by a prosecutor or by the department, if otherwise subject to discovery under the applicable rules of procedure;

(6) the department, for program improvement, auditing, and statistical purposes;

(7) as authorized in Section 20-7-695; and

(8) the Department of Child Fatalities pursuant to Section 20-7-5930.

(K) Except as authorized in this section, no person may disseminate or permit dissemination of information maintained pursuant to subsection (J). A person who disseminates or permits dissemination in violation of this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than one thousand five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both. A person aggrieved by an unlawful dissemination in violation of this subsection may bring a civil action to recover damages incurred as a result of the unlawful act and to enjoin its dissemination or use.

(L) At a hearing pursuant to Section 20-7-736 or 20-7-738, at which the court orders that a child be taken or retained in custody or finds that the child was abused or neglected, the court:

(1) must order that a person's name be entered in the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect if the court finds that there is a preponderance of evidence that the person physically or sexually abused or wilfully or recklessly neglected the child. Placement on the Central Registry cannot be waived by any party or by the court. However, if the only form of physical abuse that is found by the court is excessive corporal punishment, the court only may order that the person's name be entered in the Central Registry if item (2) applies;

(2) may, except as provided for in item (1), order that the person's name be entered in the Central Registry if the court finds by a preponderance of evidence (a) that the person abused or neglected the child in any manner, including the use of excessive corporal punishment, and (b) that the nature and circumstances of the abuse indicate that the person would present a significant risk of committing physical or sexual abuse or wilful or reckless neglect if the person were in a position or setting outside of the person's home that involves care of or substantial contact with children.

(M) At the probable cause hearing, the court may order that the person be entered in the Central Registry if there is sufficient evidence to support the findings required by subsection (K).

(N) At any time following receipt of a report, the department may petition the family court for an order directing that the person named as perpetrator be entered in the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect. The petition must have attached a written case summary stating facts sufficient to establish by a preponderance of evidence that the person named as perpetrator abused or neglected the child and that the nature and circumstances of the abuse indicate that the person named as perpetrator would present a significant risk of committing physical or sexual abuse or wilful or reckless neglect if placed in a position or setting outside of the person's home that involves care of or substantial contact with children. The department must serve a copy of the petition and summary on the person named as perpetrator. The petition must include a statement that the judge must rule based on the facts stated in the petition unless the clerk of court or the clerk's designee receives a written request for a hearing from the person named as perpetrator within five days after service of the petition. The name, address, and telephone number of the clerk of court or the clerk's designee must be stated in the petition. If the person named as perpetrator requests a hearing, the court must schedule a hearing on the merits of the allegations in the petition and summary to be held no later than five working days following the request.

(O) The department must seek an order placing a person in the Central Registry pursuant to subsection (K), (L), or (M) in all cases in which the department concludes that there is a preponderance of evidence that the person committed sexual abuse.

(P) The department is charged with providing, directing, or coordinating the appropriate and timely delivery of services to children found to be abused or neglected and those responsible for their welfare or others exercising temporary or permanent control over these children. Services must not be construed to include emergency protective custody provided for in Section 20-7-736.

(Q) In cases where a person has been placed in the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect, the outcome of any further proceedings must be entered immediately by the department into the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect. If it is determined that a report is unfounded, the department must immediately purge information identifying that person as a perpetrator from the registry and from department records as provided in Section 20-7-680(D) and (E).

(R) The department must furnish to parents or guardians on a standardized form the following information as soon as reasonably possible after commencing the investigation:

(1) the names of the investigators;

(2) the allegations being investigated;

(3) whether the person's name has been recorded by the department as a suspected perpetrator of abuse or neglect;

(4) the right to inspect department records concerning the investigation;

(5) statutory and family court remedies available to complete the investigation and to protect the child if the parent or guardian or subject of the report indicates a refusal to cooperate;

(6) how information provided by the parent or guardian may be used;

(7) the possible outcomes of the investigation; and

(8) the telephone number and name of a department employee available to answer questions.

(S) The department must cooperate with law enforcement agencies within the area it serves and establish procedures necessary to facilitate the referral of child protection cases to the department. Where the facts indicating abuse or neglect also appear to indicate a violation of criminal law, the department must notify the appropriate law enforcement agency of those facts within twenty-four hours of the department's finding for the purposes of police investigation. The law enforcement agency must file a formal incident report at the time it is notified by the department of the finding. When the intake report is of alleged sexual abuse, the department must notify the appropriate law enforcement agency within twenty-four hours of receipt of the report to determine if a joint investigation is necessary. The law enforcement agency must file a formal incident report at the time it is notified of the alleged sexual abuse. The law enforcement agency must provide to the department copies of incident reports generated in any case reported to law enforcement by the department and in any case in which the officer responsible for the case knows the department is involved with the family or the child. The law enforcement officer must make reasonable efforts to advise the department of significant developments in the case, such as disposition in summary court, referral of a juvenile to the Department of Juvenile Justice, arrest or detention, trial date, and disposition of charges. The department must include in its records copies of incident reports provided under this section and must record the disposition of charges.

(T) The department actively must seek the cooperation and involvement of local public and private institutions, groups, and programs concerned with matters of child protection and welfare within the area it serves.

(U) The local office of the department responsible for the county of the mother's legal residence must provide, direct, or coordinate the appropriate and timely delivery of services to children born of incarcerated mothers where no provision has been made for placement of the child outside the prison setting. Referral of these cases to the appropriate local office is the responsibility of the agency or institution having custody of the mother.

(V) In all instances, the agency must act in accordance with the policies, procedures, and regulations promulgated and distributed by the State Department of Social Services pursuant to this chapter.

SECTION 20-7-652. Withholding of health care for religious or other reasons; proceedings.

(A) Upon receipt of a report that a parent or other person responsible for the welfare of a child will not consent to health care needed by the child, the department shall investigate pursuant to Section 20-7-650. Upon a determination by a preponderance of evidence that adequate health care was withheld for religious reasons or other reasons reflecting an exercise of judgment by the parent or guardian as to the best interest of the child, the department may enter a finding that the child is in need of medical care and that the parent or other person responsible does not consent to medical care for religious reasons or other reasons reflecting an exercise of judgment as to the best interests of the child. The department may not enter a finding by a preponderance of evidence that the parent or other person responsible for the child has abused or neglected the child because of the withholding of medical treatment for religious reasons or for other reasons reflecting an exercise of judgment as to the best interests of the child. However, the department may petition the family court for an order finding that medical care is necessary to prevent death or permanent harm to the child. Upon a determination that a preponderance of evidence shows that the child might die or suffer permanent harm, the court may issue its order authorizing medical treatment without the consent of the parent or other person responsible for the welfare of the child. The department may move for emergency relief pursuant to family court rules when necessary for the health of the child.

(B) Proceedings brought under this section must be considered child abuse and neglect proceedings only for purposes of appointment of representation pursuant to Section 20-7-110.

(C) This section does not authorize intervention if the child is under the care of a physician licensed under Chapter 47, Title 40, who supports the decision of the parent or guardian as a matter of reasonable medical judgment.

SECTION 20-7-655. Child protective services appeals process.

(A) The purpose of this section is to provide a child protective services appeals process for reports that have been indicated pursuant to Section 20-7-650 and are not being brought before the family court for disposition and for reports indicated and entered in the Central Registry pursuant to Section 20-7-670 and not being brought before the family court for disposition. The appeals hearing must be scheduled and conducted in accordance with the department's fair hearing regulations. This process is available only to the person determined to have abused or neglected the child.

(B) The state director shall appoint a hearing officer to conduct a contested case hearing for each case decision appealed. The hearing officer shall prepare recommended findings of fact and conclusions of law for review by the state director or the state director's designee who shall render the final decision. The designee under this subsection must not be a person who was involved in making the original case decision or who conducted the interim review of the original case decision. The purpose of the hearing is to determine whether there is a preponderance of evidence that the appellant was responsible for abuse or neglect of the child.

(C) If a person requests an appeal under this section and the family court has determined that the person is responsible for abuse or neglect of the child, an appeal pursuant to this section is not available. If the family court reaches such a determination after the initiation of the appeal provided for in this section, the department shall terminate the appeal upon receipt of an order that disposes of the issue. If a proceeding is pending in the family court that may result in a finding that will dispose of an appeal under this section, the department shall stay the appeal pending the court's decision.

(D) If the department determines that a report of suspected child abuse or neglect is indicated and the department is not taking the case to the family court for disposition, or if the case was entered in the Central Registry pursuant to Section 20-7-670 and the department is not taking the case to family court for disposition, the department shall provide notice of the case decision by certified mail to the person determined to have abused or neglected the child. The notice must inform the person of the right to appeal the case decision and that, if he intends to appeal the decision, he must notify the department of his intent in writing within thirty days of receipt of the notice. The notice also must advise the person that the appeal process is for the purpose of determining whether a preponderance of evidence supports the case decision that the person abused or neglected the child. If the person does not notify the department of his intent to appeal in writing within thirty days of receipt of the notice, the right to appeal is waived by the person and the case decision becomes final.

(E) Within fourteen days after receipt of a notice of intent to appeal, an appropriate official of the department designated by the director must conduct an interim review of case documentation and the case determination. The interim review may not delay the scheduling of the contested case hearing. If the official conducting the interim review decides that the determination against the appellant is not supported by a preponderance of evidence, this decision must be reflected in the department's case record and database as provided in Section 20-7-650(G)(2) or (3). If the person's name was in the Central Registry as a result of a determination pursuant to Section 20-7-670 and the interim review results in a reversal of the decision that supports that entry, the person's name must be removed from the Central Registry.

(F) After a contested case hearing, if the state director or the director's designee decides that the determination against the appellant is not supported by a preponderance of evidence, this decision must be reflected in the department's case record and database as provided in Section 20-7-650(G)(2) or (3). If the person's name was in the Central Registry as a result of a determination pursuant to Section 20-7-670 and the state director or the director's designee reverses the decision that supports that entry, the person's name must be removed from the Central Registry. If the state director or the director's designee affirms the determination against the appellant, the appellant has the right to seek judicial review in the family court of the jurisdiction in which the case originated.

(G) An appellant seeking judicial review shall file a petition in the family court within thirty days after the final decision of the department. The appellant shall serve a copy of the petition upon the department. The family court shall conduct a judicial review in accordance with the standards of review provided for in Section 1-23-380. The court may enter judgment upon the pleadings and a certified transcript of the record which must include the evidence upon which the findings and decisions appealed are based. The judgment must include a determination of whether the decision of the department that a preponderance of evidence shows that the appellant abused or neglected the child should be affirmed or reversed. The appellant is not entitled to a trial de novo in the family court.

SECTION 20-7-660. Information, training and publicity.

(A) The Department of Social Services Protective Services shall inform all persons required to report under this article of the nature, problem, and extent of child abuse and neglect and of their duties and responsibilities in accordance with this article. The department also, on a continuing basis, shall conduct training programs for department staff and appropriate training for persons required to report under this article.

(B) The department, on a continuing basis, shall inform the public of the nature, problem, and extent of the child abuse and neglect and of the remedial and therapeutic services available to children and their families. The department shall encourage families to seek help consistent with Section 20-7-500.

(C) The department, on a continuing basis, shall actively publicize the appropriate telephone numbers to receive reports of suspected child abuse and neglect, including the twenty-four hour, statewide, toll-free telephone service and respective numbers of the county department offices.

SECTION 20-7-670. Institutional abuse and neglect.

(A) The Department of Social Services is authorized to receive and investigate reports of abuse and neglect of children who reside in or receive care or supervision in residential institutions, foster homes, and childcare facilities. Responsibility for investigating these entities must be assigned to a unit or units not responsible for selecting or licensing these entities. In no case does the Department of Social Services have responsibility for investigating allegations of abuse and neglect in institutions operated by the Department of Social Services.

(B) Foster homes subject to this section are those which are supervised by or recommended for licensing by the department or by child placing agencies. Indicated reports must be based upon a finding that abuse or neglect is supported by a preponderance of the evidence available to the department.

(C) The department shall promulgate regulations consistent with this authority. The regulations shall cover at a minimum investigation of reports, notice to the institutions and sponsoring agencies, and remedial action.

(D) The State Law Enforcement Division is authorized to receive and investigate reports of institutional abuse and neglect alleged to have occurred in any institution or foster home operated by the Department of Juvenile Justice and any institution or childcare facility operated by the Department of Social Services. The State Law Enforcement Division may promulgate regulations consistent with this authority to investigate these reports and take remedial action, if necessary.

(E) The Department of Social Services may initiate proceedings in the circuit court to enjoin the operations of a foster home, an institution, or a child placing agency or to require other corrective action if necessary for the safety of the children. The department shall take whatever steps it considers necessary to inform potential reporters of abuse and neglect of its responsibilities under this section.

(F) The Department of Social Services must investigate an allegation of abuse or neglect of a child where the child is in the custody of or a resident of a residential treatment facility or intermediate care facility for the mentally retarded licensed by the Department of Health and Environmental Control or operated by the Department of Mental Health.

(G) The Department of Social Services has access to facilities for the purpose of conducting investigations and has authority to request and receive written statements, documents, exhibits, and other information pertinent to an investigation including, but not limited to, hospital records. The appropriate officials, agencies, departments, and political subdivisions of the State must assist and cooperate with the court and the Department of Social Services in furtherance of the purposes of this section.

(H) The Department of Social Services may file with the family court an affidavit and a petition to support issuance of a warrant at any time during an investigation. The family court must issue the warrant if the affidavit and petition establish probable cause to believe the child is an abused or neglected child and that the investigation cannot be completed without issuance of the warrant. The warrant may authorize the department to interview the child, to inspect the premises of the child, to inspect the premise where the child may be located or may reside, and to obtain copies of medical, school, or other records necessary for investigation of the allegations of abuse or neglect.

(I) When the investigation performed pursuant to this section results in a determination that an individual has harmed a child or threatened a child with harm, as defined in Section 20-7-490, the name of that individual must be entered immediately in the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect. The department must notify the individual in writing by certified mail that his name has been entered in the registry, of his right to request an appeal of the decision to enter his name in the registry, and of the possible ramifications regarding future employment and licensing if he allows his name to remain in the registry. The procedures set forth in Section 20-7-655 apply when an individual challenges the entry of his name in the registry and challenges of the entry in the registry pursuant to this subsection must be given expedited review in the appellate process.

SECTION 20-7-680. Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect.

(A) The purpose of this section is to establish a system for the identification of abused and neglected children and those who are responsible for their welfare, to provide a system for the coordination of reports concerning abused and neglected children, and to provide data for determining the incidence and prevalence of child abuse and neglect in this State. To further these purposes, the department must maintain one or more statewide data systems concerning cases reported to it pursuant to this article.

(B) The Department of Social Services must maintain a Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect within the department's child protective services unit in accordance with Sections 20-7-650, 20-7-670, and 17-25-135. Perpetrators of child abuse and neglect must be entered in the registry only by order of a court as provided for in Sections 20-7-650 and 17-25-135, or as provided for in Section 20-7-670. Each entry in the registry must be accompanied by information further identifying the person including, but not limited to, the person's date of birth, address, and any other identifying characteristics, and describing the abuse or neglect committed by the person.

(C) The Department of Social Services must furnish annually to the Governor and the General Assembly a report on the incidence and prevalence of child abuse and neglect in South Carolina, the effectiveness of services provided throughout the State to protect children from this harm, and any other data considered instructive.

(D) The Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect must not contain information from reports classified as unfounded. Other department records and databases must treat unfounded cases as provided for in Section 20-7-650.

(E) The names, addresses, birth dates, identifying characteristics, and other information unnecessary for auditing and statistical purposes of persons named in department records of indicated cases other than the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect must be destroyed seven years from the date services are terminated. This section does not prohibit the department from maintaining an "indicated case" which contains identifying information on the child who is the subject of the indicated report and those responsible for the child's welfare without identifying a person as perpetrator, and it does not prohibit the department from providing child protective services to the child who is the subject of an indicated report and those responsible for the child's welfare.

(F) Information in the central registry and other department records may be released only as authorized in Section 20-7-690 or as otherwise specifically authorized by statute. Information in records of the department other than the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect must not be used for screening potential employees or volunteers of any public or private entity, except as specifically provided by Section 20-7-690 or as otherwise provided by statute. However, nothing in this section prevents the department from using other information in its records when making decisions associated with administration or delivery of the department's programs and services.

(G) When a statute or regulation makes determination of a person's history of child abuse or neglect a condition for employment or volunteer service in a facility or other entity regulated by the department, the person must be screened against the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect before employment or service in the volunteer role. The person must be screened each time the license, registration, or other operating approval of the facility or other entity is renewed.

(H) When a statute or regulation makes determination of an applicant's history of child abuse or neglect, a condition for issuance of a license, registration, or other operating approval by the department, the applicant must be screened against the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect before issuance of the initial license, registration, or other approval and each time the license, registration, or other operating approval is renewed.

SECTION 20-7-690. Confidentiality of reports and records; penalties.

(A) All reports made and information collected pursuant to this article maintained by the Department of Social Services and the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect are confidential. A person who disseminates or permits the dissemination of these records and the information contained in these records except as authorized in this section, is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than one thousand five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

(B) The department is authorized to grant access to the records of indicated cases to the following persons, agencies, or entities:

(1) the ombudsman of the office of the Governor or the Governor's designee;

(2) a person appointed as the child's guardian ad litem, the attorney for the child's guardian ad litem, or the child's attorney;

(3) appropriate staff of the department;

(4) a law enforcement agency investigating or prosecuting known or suspected abuse or neglect of a child or any other crime against a child, attempting to locate a missing child, investigating or prosecuting the death of a child, or investigating or prosecuting any other crime established in or associated with activities authorized under this article;

(5) a person who is named in a report or investigation pursuant to this article as having abused or neglected a child, that person's attorney, and that person's guardian ad litem;

(6) a child fourteen years of age or older who is named in a report as a victim of child abuse or neglect, except in regard to information that the department may determine to be detrimental to the emotional well-being of the child;

(7) the parents or guardians of a child who is named in a report as a victim of child abuse or neglect;

(8) county medical examiners or coroners who are investigating the death of a child;

(9) the State Child Fatality Advisory Committee and the Department of Child Fatalities in accordance with the exercise of their purposes or duties pursuant to Article 26, Chapter 7, Title 20;

(10) family courts conducting proceedings pursuant to this article;

(11) the parties to a court proceeding in which information in the records is legally relevant and necessary for the determination of an issue before the court, if before the disclosure the judge has reviewed the records in camera, has determined the relevancy and necessity of the disclosure, and has limited disclosure to legally relevant information under a protective order;

(12) a grand jury by subpoena upon its determination that access to the record is necessary in the conduct of its official business;

(13) authorities in other states conducting child abuse and neglect investigations or providing child welfare services;

(14) courts in other states conducting child abuse and neglect proceedings or child custody proceedings;

(15) the director or chief executive officer of a childcare facility, child placing agency, or child caring facility when the records concern the investigation of an incident of child abuse or neglect that allegedly was perpetrated by an employee or volunteer of the facility or agency against a child served by the facility or agency;

(16) a person or agency with authorization to care for, diagnose, supervise, or treat the child, the child's family, or the person alleged to have abused or neglected the child;

(17) any person engaged in bona fide research with the written permission of the state director or the director's designee, subject to limitations the state director may impose;

(18) multidisciplinary teams impaneled by the department or impaneled pursuant to statute;

(19) circuit solicitors and their agents investigating or prosecuting known or suspected abuse or neglect of a child or any other crime against a child, attempting to locate a missing child, investigating or prosecuting the death of a child, or investigating or prosecuting any other crime established in or associated with activities authorized under this article;

(20) prospective adoptive or foster parents before placement;

(21) the Division for the Review of the Foster Care of Children, Office of the Governor, for purposes of certifying in accordance with Section 20-7-2386 that no potential employee or no nominee to and no member of the state or a local foster care review board is a subject of an indicated report or affirmative determination.

(22) employees of the Division for the Review of the Foster Care of Children, Office of the Governor and members of local boards when carrying out their duties pursuant to Subarticle 4, Article 13; the department and the division shall limit by written agreement or regulation, or both, the documents and information to be furnished to the local boards.

(23) The Division of Guardian ad Litem, Office of the Governor, for purposes of certifying that no potential employee or volunteer is the subject of an indicated report or an affirmative determination.

(C) The department may limit the information disclosed to individuals and entities named in subsection (B) (13), (14), (15), (16), (17), (18), and (20) to that information necessary to accomplish the purposes for which it is requested or for which it is being disclosed. Nothing in this subsection gives to these entities or persons the right to review or copy the complete case record.

(D) When a request for access to the record comes from an individual identified in subsection (B)(5), (6), or (7) or that person's attorney, the department shall review any reports from medical care providers and mental health care providers to determine whether the report contains information that does not pertain to the case decision, to the treatment needs of the family as a whole, or to the care of the child. If the department determines that these conditions exist, before releasing the document, the department shall provide a written notice identifying the report to the requesting party and to the person whose treatment or assessment was the subject of the report. The notice may be mailed to the parties involved or to their attorneys or it may be delivered in person. The notice shall state that the department will release the report after ten days from the date notice was mailed to all parties and that any party objecting to release may apply to the court of competent jurisdiction for relief. When a medical or mental health provider or agency furnishes copies of reports or records to the department and designates in writing that those reports or records are not to be further disclosed, the department must not disclose those documents to persons identified in subsection (B)(5), (6), or (7) or that person's attorney. The department shall identify to the requesting party the records or reports withheld pursuant to this subsection and shall advise the requesting party that he may contact the medical or mental health provider or agency about release of the records or reports.

(E) A disclosure pursuant to this section shall protect the identity of the person who reported the suspected child abuse or neglect. The department also may protect the identity of any other person identified in the record if the department finds that disclosure of the information would be likely to endanger the life or safety of the person. Nothing in this subsection prohibits the department from subpoenaing the reporter or other persons to court for the purpose of testimony if the department determines the individual's testimony is necessary to protect the child; the fact that the reporter made the report must not be disclosed.

(F) The department is authorized to summarize the outcome of an investigation to the person who reported the suspected child abuse or neglect if the person requests the information at the time the report is made. The department has the discretion to limit the information disclosed to the reporter based on whether the reporter has an ongoing professional or other relationship with the child or the family.

(G) The state director of the department or the director's designee may disclose to the media information contained in child protective services records if the disclosure is limited to discussion of the department's activities in handling the case including information placed in the public domain by other public officials, a criminal prosecution, the alleged perpetrator or the attorney for the alleged perpetrator, or other public judicial proceedings. For purposes of this subsection, information is considered "placed in the public domain" when it has been reported in the news media, is contained in public records of a criminal justice agency, is contained in public records of a court of law, or has been the subject of testimony in a public judicial proceeding.

(H) The state director or the director's designee is authorized to prepare and release reports of the results of the department's investigations into the deaths of children in its custody or receiving child welfare services at the time of death.

(I) Nothing in this section may be construed to waive the confidential nature of the case record, to waive any statutory or common law privileges attaching to the department's internal reports or to information in case records, to create a right to access under the Freedom of Information Act, or to require the department to search records or generate reports for purposes of the Freedom of Information Act.

(J) The department is authorized to disclose information concerning an individual named in the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect as a perpetrator when screening of an individual's background is required by statute or regulation for employment, licensing, or any other purposes, or a request is made in writing by the person being screened. Nothing in this section prevents the department from using other information in department records when making decisions concerning licensing, employment, or placement, or performing other duties required by this act. The department also is authorized to consult any department records in providing information to persons conducting preplacement investigations of prospective adoptive parents in accordance with Section 20-7-1740.

(K) The department is authorized to maintain in its childcare regulatory records information about investigations of suspected child abuse or neglect occurring in childcare facilities.

(1) The department must enter child abuse or neglect investigation information in its regulatory record from the beginning of the investigation and must add updated information as it becomes available. Information in the regulatory records must include at least the date of the report, the nature of the alleged abuse or neglect, the outcome of the investigation, any corrective action required, and the outcome of the corrective action plan.

(2) The department's regulatory records must not contain the identity of the reporter or of the victim child.

(3) The identity of the perpetrator must not appear in the record unless the family court has confirmed the department's determination or a criminal prosecution has resulted in conviction of the perpetrator.

(4) Nothing in this subsection may be construed to limit the department's authority to use information from investigations of suspected child abuse or neglect occurring in childcare facilities to pursue an action to enjoin operation of a facility as provided in Article 13, Subarticle 11.

(5) Record retention provisions applicable to the department's child protective services case records are not applicable to information contained in regulatory records concerning investigations of suspected child abuse or neglect occurring in childcare facilities.

(L) All reports made available to persons pursuant to this section must indicate whether or not an appeal is pending on the report pursuant to Section 20-7-655.

(M) The department may disclose to participants in a family group conference relevant information concerning the child or family or other relevant information to the extent that the department determines that the disclosure is necessary to accomplish the purpose of the family group conference. Participants in the family group conference must be instructed to maintain the confidentiality of information disclosed by the agency.

SECTION 20-7-695. Retention and disclosure of unfounded reports.

(A) Notwithstanding other provisions of the law affecting confidentiality of child protective services records and use and disclosure of records of unfounded cases, records concerning unfounded reports must be retained and disclosed as provided in this section.

(B) The alleged perpetrator in an unfounded report who has reason to believe that the report was made maliciously or in bad faith has the right to request in writing that records of the report be retained by the department for up to two years from the date of the case decision. The written request must be received by the department within thirty days of the person's receiving notice of the case decision. A person exercising this right may request a copy of the record of the unfounded case and the department shall provide a copy of the record, subject to subsection (C).

(C) The department shall disclose to persons exercising the rights afforded them under this section whether the report was made anonymously. However, the identity of a reporter must not be made available to the person except by order of the family court.

(D) An alleged perpetrator in an unfounded case who believes the report was made maliciously or in bad faith may petition the family court to determine whether there is probable cause to believe that the reporter acted maliciously or in bad faith. The court shall determine probable cause based on an in camera review of the case record and oral or written argument, or both. If the court finds probable cause, the identity of the reporter must be disclosed to the moving party.

(E) Notwithstanding other provisions of the law affecting confidentiality of child protective services records and use and disclosure of records of unfounded cases, a court conducting civil or criminal proceedings resulting from disclosures authorized by this section may order the department to release the record to any party to the case or the law enforcement.

ARTICLE 9.

PROCEDURES FOR FAMILY COURTS

SUBARTICLE 1.

ABUSED, NEGLECTED AND DELINQUENT CHILDREN

SECTION 20-7-736. Jurisdiction of family court under article; removal proceedings; procedures.

(A) The family court has exclusive jurisdiction over all proceedings held pursuant to this article.

(B) Upon investigation of a report received under Section 20-7-650 or at any time during the delivery of services by the department, the department may petition the family court to remove the child from custody of the parent, guardian, or other person legally responsible for the child's welfare if the department determines by a preponderance of evidence that the child is an abused or neglected child and that the child cannot be safely maintained in the home in that he cannot be protected from unreasonable risk of harm affecting the child's life, physical health, safety, or mental well-being without removal. If a noncustodial parent is not named as a party in the removal petition, the agency shall exercise every reasonable effort to promptly notify the noncustodial parent that a removal proceeding has been initiated and of the date and time of any hearings scheduled pursuant to this section.

(C) The petition shall contain a full description of the reasons why the child cannot be protected adequately in the custody of the parent or guardian, including facts supporting the department's allegation that the child is an abused or neglected child as defined in Section 20-7-490 and that retention of the child in or return of the child to the home would place the child at unreasonable risk of harm affecting the child's life, physical health or safety, or mental well-being and the child cannot reasonably be protected from this harm without being removed, a description of the condition of the child, any previous efforts to work with the parent or guardian, in-home treatment programs which have been offered and proven inadequate, and the attitude of the parent or guardian towards placement of the child in an alternative setting. The petition also shall contain a statement of the harms the child is likely to suffer as a result of removal and a description of the steps that will be taken to minimize the harm to the child that may result upon removal.

(D) Whether or not the petition for removal includes a petition for termination of parental rights, the petition shall contain a notice informing the parents of the potential effect of the hearing on their parental rights and a notice to all interested parties that objections to the sufficiency of a placement plan, if ordered, or of any recommendations for provisions in the plan or court order must be raised at the hearing. The notice must be printed in boldface print or in all upper case letters and set off in a box.

If the petition includes a petition for termination of parental rights, the notice shall state: "As a result of this hearing, you could lose your rights as a parent".

If the petition does not include a petition for termination of parental rights, the notice shall state: "At this hearing the court may order a treatment plan. If you fail to comply with the plan, you could lose your rights as a parent".

(E) Upon receipt of a removal petition under this section, the family court shall schedule a hearing to be held within thirty-five days of the date of receipt to determine whether removal is necessary. The parties to the petition must be served with a summons and notices of right to counsel and the hearing date and time along with the petition. Personal jurisdiction over the parties is effected if they are served at least seventy-two hours before the hearing. No responsive pleading to the petition is required. The court may authorize service by publication in appropriate cases and may waive the thirty-five days requirement when necessary to achieve service. A party may waive service or appear voluntarily.

(F) The court shall not order that a child be removed from the custody of the parent or guardian unless the court finds that the allegations of the petition are supported by a preponderance of evidence including a finding that the child is an abused or neglected child as defined in Section 20-7-490 and that retention of the child in or return of the child to the home would place the child at unreasonable risk of harm affecting the child's life, physical health or safety, or mental well-being and the child cannot reasonably be protected from this harm without being removed.

(G) It is presumed that a newborn child is an abused or neglected child as defined in Section 20-7-490 and that the child cannot be protected from further harm without being removed from the custody of the mother upon proof that:

(1) a blood or urine test of the child at birth or a blood or urine test of the mother at birth shows the presence of any amount of a controlled substance or a metabolite of a controlled substance unless the presence of the substance or the metabolite is the result of medical treatment administered to the mother of the infant or the infant, or

(2) the child has a medical diagnosis of fetal alcohol syndrome; and

(3) a blood or urine test of another child of the mother or a blood or urine test of the mother at the birth of another child showed the presence of any amount of a controlled substance or a metabolite of a controlled substance unless the presence of the substance or the metabolite was the result of medical treatment administered to the mother of the infant or the infant, or

(4) another child of the mother has the medical diagnosis of fetal alcohol syndrome.

This presumption may be rebutted by proof that the father or another adult who will assume the role of parent is available and suitable to provide care for the child in the home of the mother. The father or the other adult must be made a party to the action and subject to the court's order establishing the conditions for maintaining the child in the mother's home. This statutory presumption does not preclude the court from ordering removal of a child upon other proof of alcohol or drug abuse or addiction by the parent or person responsible for the child who has harmed the child or threatened the child with harm.

(H) The petition for removal may include a petition for termination of parental rights.

(I) If the court removes custody of the child, the court's order shall contain a finding by the court of whether reasonable efforts were made by the department to prevent removal of the child and a finding of whether continuation of the child in the home would be contrary to the welfare of the child. The order shall state:

(1) the services made available to the family before the removal of the child and how they related to the needs of the family;

(2) the efforts of the agency to provide these services to the family before removal;

(3) why the efforts to provide services did not eliminate the need for removal; and

(4) whether the efforts to eliminate the need for removal were reasonable including, but not limited to, whether they were reasonably available and timely, reasonably adequate to address the needs of the family, reasonably adequate to protect the child and realistic under the circumstances. If the department's first contact with the child occurred under such circumstances that reasonable services would not have allowed the child to remain safely in the home, the court shall find that removal of the child without services or without further services was reasonable.

SECTION 20-7-738. Intervention and provision of services without removal of custody; petition; hearing and notice; criteria for granting.

(A) Upon investigation of a report under Section 20-7-650 or at any time during the delivery of services by the department, the department may petition the family court for authority to intervene and provide protective services without removal of custody if the department determines by a preponderance of evidence that the child is an abused or neglected child and that the child cannot be protected from harm without intervention.

(B) The petition shall contain a full description of the basis for the department's belief that the child cannot be protected adequately without department intervention, including a description of the condition of the child, any previous efforts by the department to work with the parent or guardian, treatment programs which have been offered and proven inadequate, and the attitude of the parent or guardian towards intervention and protective services.

(C) Upon receipt of a petition under this section, the family court shall schedule a hearing to be held within thirty-five days of the filing date of receipt to determine whether intervention is necessary.

The parties to the petition must be served with a summons and notices of right to counsel and of the hearing date and time along with the petition. Personal jurisdiction over the parties is effected if they are served at least seventy-two hours before the hearing. No responsive pleading to the petition is required. The court may authorize service by publication in appropriate cases and may waive the thirty-five days requirement when necessary to achieve service. A party may waive service or appear voluntarily.

(D) Intervention and protective services must not be ordered unless the court finds that the allegations of the petition are supported by a preponderance of the evidence including a finding that the child is an abused or neglected child as defined in Section 20-7-490 and the child cannot be protected from further harm without intervention.

SECTION 20-7-740. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-745. Service of summons, process or notice.

Service of summons and any process of the court shall be made as provided by law for service in the court of common pleas. Provided, that if the judge is satisfied that it is impracticable to serve personally the summons or the process, he may order service by registered or certified mail, addressed to the last known address, or by publication thereof, or both. It shall be sufficient to confer jurisdiction if service is effected at least forty-eight hours before the time fixed in the summons or process for the return thereof.

Service of summons, process or notice required by this chapter may be made by any suitable person under the direction of the court, and upon request of the court shall be made by any peace officer.

SECTION 20-7-750. Failure to obey summons or process; issuance of warrant.

If any person summoned as herein provided shall, without reasonable cause, fail to appear, he may be proceeded against for contempt of court. In case the summons or process cannot be served, or the parties served fail to obey the same, or in any case when it shall be made to appear to the judge that the service will be ineffectual, or that the welfare of the child requires that he be brought forthwith into custody of the court, a warrant may be issued for the child, parent or guardian of the child, or any person who may have control or possession of the child, to immediately bring the child before the court.

SECTION 20-7-753. Designation of state agency as lead agency in juvenile delinquency proceedings; family assessment and service plan; monitoring compliance with plan; reporting to court.

(A) In a juvenile delinquency proceeding before the family court, the court may designate a state agency as the lead agency to provide a family assessment to the court. The assessment shall include, but is not limited to, the strengths and weaknesses of the family, problems interfering with the functioning of the family and with the best interests of the child, and recommendations for a comprehensive service plan to strengthen the family and assist in resolving these issues.

(B) The lead agency shall provide the family assessment to the court in a timely manner and the court shall conduct a hearing to review the proposed plan and adopt a plan as part of its order that will best meet the needs and best interest of the child. In arriving at a comprehensive plan, the court shall consider:

(1) additional testing or evaluation that may be needed;

(2) economic services including, but not limited to, employment services, job training, food stamps, and aid to families with dependent children;

(3) counseling services including, but not limited to, marital counseling, parenting skills, and alcohol and drug abuse counseling;

(4) and any other programs or services appropriate to the child's and family's needs.

(C) The lead agency is responsible for monitoring compliance with the court ordered plan and shall report to the court at such times as the court requires.

SECTION 20-7-755. Conduct of hearings.

All cases of children must be dealt with as separate hearings by the court and without a jury. The hearings must be conducted in a formal manner and may be adjourned from time to time. The general public must be excluded and only persons the judge finds to have a direct interest in the case or in the work of the court may be admitted. The presence of the child in court may be waived by the court at any stage of the proceedings. Hearings may be held at any time or place within the county designated by the judge. In any case where the delinquency proceedings may result in commitment to an institution in which the child's freedom is curtailed, the privilege against self-incrimination and the right of cross-examination must be preserved. In all cases where required by law, the child must be accorded all rights enjoyed by adults, and where not required by law the child must be accorded adult rights consistent with the best interests of the child.

SECTION 20-7-760. Rules for conduct of hearings; evidence; adjournment; temporary order for support.

Hearings shall be conducted in accordance with the rules of court, and the court may consider and receive as evidence the result of any investigation had or made by the probation counselor; provided, that either party shall be entitled to examine the probation counselor under oath thereon. The court may adjourn the hearing from time to time for proper cause. Where a petitioner's needs are so urgent as to require it, the court may make a temporary order for support pending a final determination.

SECTION 20-7-762. Family Court to review and approve treatment plan; review hearings and termination of protective services.

(A) At the close of a hearing pursuant to Section 20-7-738 or 20-7-736 and upon a finding that the child shall remain in the home and that protective services shall continue, the family court shall review and approve a treatment plan designed to alleviate any danger to the child and to aid the parents so that the child will not be endangered in the future.

(B) The plan must be prepared by the department and shall detail any changes in parental behavior or home conditions that must be made and any services which will be provided to the family to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that the child will not be endangered. Whenever possible, the plan must be prepared with the participation of the parents, the child, and any other agency or individual that will be required to provide services. The plan must be submitted to the court at the hearing. If any changes in the plan are ordered, the department shall submit a revised plan to the court within two weeks of the hearing, with copies to the parties and legal counsel. Any dispute regarding the plan must be resolved by the court. The terms of the plan must be included as part of the court order. The court order shall specify a date when treatment goals must be achieved and court jurisdiction ends, unless the court specifically finds that the matter must be brought back before the court for further review before the case may be closed. If the order requires further court review before case closure, the order shall specify a time limit for holding the next hearing.

(C) Unless services are to terminate earlier, the department shall schedule a review hearing before the court at least once every twelve months to establish whether the conditions which required the initial intervention exist. If the conditions no longer exist, the court shall order termination of protective services, and the court's jurisdiction shall end. If the court finds that the conditions which required the initial intervention are still present, it shall establish:

(1) what services have been offered to or provided to the parents;

(2) whether the parents are satisfied with the delivery of services;

(3) whether the department is satisfied with the cooperation given to the department by the parents;

(4) whether additional services should be ordered and additional treatment goals established; and

(5) the date when treatment goals must be achieved and court jurisdiction ends.

The court order shall specify a date upon which jurisdiction will terminate automatically, which must be no later than eighteen months after the initial intervention. Jurisdiction may be extended pursuant to a hearing on motion by any party, if the court finds that there is clear and convincing evidence that the child is threatened with harm absent a continuation of services.

SECTION 20-7-763. Reasonable effort to preserve or reunify family; when required; termination.

(A) When this chapter requires the department to make reasonable efforts to preserve or reunify a family and requires the family court to determine whether these reasonable efforts have been made, the child's health and safety must be the paramount concern.

(B) The family court may rule on whether reasonable efforts to preserve or reunify a family should be required in hearings regarding removal of custody, review of amendments to a placement plan, review of the status of a child in foster care, or permanency planning.

(C) The family court may authorize the department to terminate or forego reasonable efforts to preserve or reunify a family when the records of a court of competent jurisdiction show or when the family court determines that one or more of the following conditions exist:

(1) the parent has subjected the child to one or more of the following aggravated circumstances:

(a) severe or repeated abuse;

(b) severe or repeated neglect;

(c) sexual abuse;

(d) acts that the judge may find constitute torture; or

(e) abandonment;

(2) the parent has been convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to murder of another child of the parent, or an equivalent offense, in this jurisdiction or another;

(3) the parent has been convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent, or an equivalent offense, in this jurisdiction or another;

(4) the parent has been convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to aiding, abetting, attempting, soliciting, or conspiring to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter pursuant to item (1), (2), or (3), or an equivalent offense, in this jurisdiction or another;

(5) physical abuse of a child of the parent resulted in the death or admission to the hospital for in-patient care of that child and the abuse is the act for which the parent has been convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to committing, aiding, abetting, conspiring to commit, or soliciting (a) an offense against the person as provided for in Title 16, Chapter 3, (b) criminal domestic violence as defined in Section 16-25-20, (c) criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature as defined in Section 16-25-65, or (d) the common law offense of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, or an equivalent offense in another jurisdiction;

(6) the parental rights of the parent to a sibling of the child have been terminated involuntarily;

(7) other circumstances exist that the court finds make continuation or implementation of reasonable efforts to preserve or reunify the family inconsistent with the permanent plan for the child.

(D) The department may proceed with efforts to place a child for adoption or with a legal guardian concurrently with making efforts to prevent removal or to make it possible for the child to return safely to the home.

(E) If the family court's decision that reasonable efforts to preserve or reunify a family are not required results from a hearing other than a permanency planning hearing, the court's order shall require that a permanency planning hearing be held within thirty days of the date of the order.

(F) In determining whether to authorize the department to terminate or forego reasonable efforts to preserve or reunify a family, the court must consider whether initiation or continuation of reasonable efforts to preserve or reunify the family is in the best interests of the child.

SECTION 20-7-764. Approval or amendment of plan for placement of child after removal; order to show cause.

(A) If the court orders that a child be removed from the custody of the parent or guardian, the court must approve a placement plan. A plan must be presented to the court for its approval at the removal hearing or within ten days after the removal hearing. If the plan is presented subsequent to the removal hearing, the court shall hold a hearing on the plan if requested by a party. The plan must be a written document prepared by the department. To the extent possible, the plan must be prepared with the participation of the parents or guardian of the child, the child, and any other agency or individual that will be required to provide services in order to implement the plan.

(B) The placement plan shall include, but is not limited to:

(1) the specific reasons for removal of the child from the custody of the parent or guardian and the changes that must be made before the child may be returned, including:

(a) the nature of the harm or threatened harm that necessitated removal, a description of the problems or conditions in the home that caused the harm or threatened harm, and the reason why the child could not be protected without removal;

(b) the nature of the changes in the home and family situation that must be made in order to correct the problems and conditions that necessitated removal, time frames for accomplishing these objectives, and means for measuring whether the objectives have been accomplished. The objectives stated in this part of the plan must relate to problems and circumstances serious enough to justify removal. The plan must be oriented to correcting these problems and circumstances in the shortest possible time in order to expedite the child's return to the home;

(c) specific actions to be taken by the parents or guardian of the child to accomplish the objectives identified in subitem (b) and time frames for taking these actions;

(2) other conditions in the home that warrant state intervention, but would not alone have been sufficient to warrant removal, and the changes that must be made in order to terminate intervention, including:

(a) the nature of the harm or threatened harm that justifies state intervention and a description of the problems or conditions of the home that caused the harm or threatened harm;

(b) the nature of the changes in the home and family situation that must be made in order to correct the problems and conditions that caused the harm or threatened harm, time frames for accomplishing these objectives, and means for measuring whether the objectives have been accomplished;

(c) specific actions to be taken by the parents or guardian of the child to accomplish the objectives identified in subitem (b) and time frames for taking these actions;

(3) the social and other services to be provided or made available to the parents, guardian, or other relevant adult to assist the parents or guardian in accomplishing the objectives, including a specific finding as to the minimum number and frequency of contacts a caseworker with the department must have with the child while in foster care. For a child placed in foster care within this State, the caseworker must meet with the child, at a minimum, once a month, but based upon the particular needs and circumstances of the individual child, more frequent contacts may be ordered by the court;

(4) the financial responsibilities and obligations, if any, of the parents or guardian for the support of the child during the placement;

(5) the visitation rights and obligations of the parents, guardian, siblings, or other relatives of the child during the placement. The plan shall provide for as much contact as is reasonably possible and consistent with the best interests of the child between the child and the child's parents, guardian, siblings, and other appropriate relatives with whom the child has a close relationship including visitation and participation of the parents or guardian in the care of the child while the child is in placement;

(6) the nature and location of the placement of the child unless it is determined that disclosure of the location of the placement to the parents, guardian, or any other person would be contrary to the best interest of the child. In making its determination of whether disclosure of the location of the placement is in the best interest of the child, the department must consider evidence of sexual abuse, physical abuse, or substance abuse by an adult living in the child's home or evidence of criminal domestic violence in the child's home. When disclosure of the location of the placement is determined to be contrary to the best interest of the child, disclosure must not be made to the abusing party or to any member of the abusing party's household. The placement must be as close to the child's home as is reasonably possible, unless placement at a greater distance is necessary to promote the child's well-being. In the absence of good cause to the contrary, preference must be given to placement with a relative or other person who is known to the child and has a constructive and caring relationship with the child;

(7) the social and other supportive services to be provided to the child and the foster parents including counseling or other services to assist the child in dealing with the effects of separation from the child's home and family;

(8) if the parents or guardian were not involved in the development of the plan, the nature of the agency's efforts to secure parental participation;

(9) notice to the parents or guardians that failure to substantially accomplish the objectives stated in the plan within the time frames provided may result in termination of parental rights, subject to notice and a hearing as provided in subarticle 3, Article 11.

(C) The placement plan clearly shall state the conditions necessary to bring about return of the child and the reasonable efforts that will be made by the department to reunite the child with the child's family. "Reasonable efforts" include location of the placement and visitation arrangements as well as services to the parents or guardian and the child.

(D) The court shall approve the plan only if it finds that:

(1) the plan is consistent with the court's order placing the child in the custody of the department;

(2) the plan is consistent with the requirements for the content of a placement plan set forth in subsection (B);

(3) if the parents or guardian of the child did not participate in the development of the plan, that the department made reasonable efforts to secure their participation; and

(4) the plan is meaningful and designed to address facts and circumstances upon which the court based the order of removal.

If the court determines that any of these criteria are not satisfied, the court shall require that necessary amendments to the plan be submitted to the court within a specified time but no later than seven days. A hearing on the amended plan must be held if requested by a party.

(E) The court shall include in its order and shall advise defendants on the record that failure to substantially accomplish the objectives stated in the plan within the time frames provided may result in termination of parental rights, subject to notice and a hearing as provided in Subarticle 3, Article 11.

(F) The department immediately shall give a copy of the plan to the parents or guardian of the child, and any other parties identified by the court including the child if the court considers it appropriate. If a copy of the plan is not given to the child, the department shall provide the child with age-appropriate information concerning the substance of the plan unless the court finds that disclosure of any part of the plan to the child would be inconsistent with the child's best interests. A copy of any part of the plan that directly pertains to the foster family or the foster child must be provided to the foster parents.

(G) The plan may be amended at any time if all parties agree regarding the revisions, and the revisions are approved by the court. The amended plan must be submitted to the court with a written explanation for the proposed change. The plan also may be amended by the court upon motion of a party after a hearing based on evidence demonstrating the need for the amendment. A copy of the amended plan immediately must be given to the parties specified in subsection (F). Any additions to the elements set forth in subsections (B)(1)(b) and (c) must relate to problems or conditions that are serious enough to justify removal of the child from the home based on the criteria in Section 20-7-736(F).

(H) Any objections to the sufficiency of a plan or the process by which a plan was developed must be made at the hearing on the plan. Failure to request a hearing or to enter an objection at the hearing constitutes a waiver of the objection. The sufficiency of the plan or of the process for developing the plan may not be raised as an issue in a proceeding for termination of parental rights under Subarticle 3, Article 11.

(I) Upon petition of a party in interest, the court may order the state or county director or other authorized representative of the department to show cause why the agency should not be required to provide services in accordance with the plan. The provisions of the plan must be incorporated as part of a court order issued pursuant to this section. A person who fails to comply with an order may be held in contempt and subject to appropriate sanctions imposed by the court.

SECTION 20-7-765. Placement plan requirements regarding substance abuse.

(A) When the conditions justifying removal pursuant to Section 20-7-736 include the addiction of the parent or abuse by the parent of controlled substances, the court may require as part of the placement plan ordered pursuant to Section 20-7-764:

(1) The parent successfully must complete a treatment program operated by the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services or another treatment program approved by the department before return of the child to the home;

(2) Any other adult person living in the home who has been determined by the court to be addicted to or abusing controlled substances or alcohol and whose conduct has contributed to the parent's addiction or abuse of controlled substances or alcohol successfully must complete a treatment program approved by the department before return of the child to the home; and

(3) The parent or other adult, or both, identified in item (2) must submit to random testing for substance abuse and must be alcohol or drug free for a period of time to be determined by the court before return of the child. The parent or other adult identified in item (2) must continue random testing for substance abuse and must be alcohol or drug free for a period of time to be determined by the court after return of the child before the case will be authorized closed.

(B) Results of tests ordered pursuant to this section must be submitted to the department and are admissible only in family court proceedings brought by the department.

SECTION 20-7-766. Permanency planning hearings.

(A) The family court shall review the status of a child placed in foster care upon motion filed by the department to determine a permanent plan for the child. The permanency planning hearing must be held no later than one year after the date the child was first placed in foster care. At the initial permanency planning hearing, the court shall review the status of the child and the progress being made toward the child's return home or toward any other permanent plan approved at the removal hearing. The court's order shall make specific findings in accordance with this section. An action for permanency planning must be brought for a child who enters the custody of the department by any mechanism, including Section 20-7-610, 20-7-736, or 20-7-1700. If the child enters the custody of the department pursuant to Section 20-7-1700 and no action is pending in the family court concerning the child, the department may initiate the permanency planning hearing with a summons and petition for review. All parties must be served with the motion or the summons and petition at least ten days before the hearing, and no responsive pleading is required.

(B) The department shall attach a supplemental report to the motion or other pleadings which must contain at least:

(1) that information necessary to support findings required in subsection (H);

(2) the recommended permanent plan and suggested timetable for attaining permanence; and

(3) any reports of the local foster care review board which pertain to the child. The department may use the same form for the supplemental report, reports from the department to the local foster care review board, and reports compiled for internal department reviews.

(C) At the permanency planning hearing, the court shall review the department's plan for achieving permanence for the child. If the department's plan is not reunification with the parents, custody or guardianship with a fit and willing relative, or termination of parental rights, the department must show compelling reasons for the selection of another permanent plan. If the court approves a plan that is not reunification with the parents, custody or guardianship with a fit and willing relative, or termination of parental rights, the court must find compelling reasons for approval of the plan and that the plan is in the child's best interests.

(D) If the court determines at the permanency planning hearing that the child may be safely maintained in the home in that the return of the child to the child's parent would not cause an unreasonable risk of harm to the child's life, physical health, safety, or mental well-being, the court shall order the child returned to the child's parent. The court may order a specified period of supervision and services not to exceed twelve months. When determining whether the child should be returned, the court shall consider all evidence and the supplemental report including whether the parent has substantially complied with the terms and conditions of the plan approved pursuant to Section 20-7-764.

(E) Unless subsection (C), (F), or (G) applies, if the court determines at the permanency planning hearing that the child should not be returned to the child's parent at that time, the court's order shall require the department to file a petition to terminate parental rights to the child not later than sixty days after receipt of the order. If a petition to terminate parental rights is to be filed, the department shall exercise and document every reasonable effort to promote and expedite the adoptive placement and adoption of the child, including a thorough adoption assessment and child-specific recruitment. Adoptive placements must be diligently sought for the child and failure to do so solely because a child is classified as "special needs" is expressly prohibited. An adoption may not be delayed or denied solely on these special needs. For purposes of this subsection:

(1) "thorough adoption assessment" means conducting and documenting face-to-face interviews with the child, foster care providers, and other significant parties; and

(2) "child specific recruitment" means recruiting an adoptive placement targeted to meet the individual needs of the specific child including, but not be limited to, use of the media, use of photo listings, and any other in-state or out-of-state resources which may be utilized to meet the specific needs of the child, unless there are extenuating circumstances that indicate that these efforts are not in the best interest of the child.

(F) If the court determines that the criteria in subsection (D) are not met but that the child may be returned to the parent within a specified reasonable time not to exceed eighteen months after the child was placed in foster care, the court may order an extension of the plan approved pursuant to Section 20-7-764 or may order compliance with a modified plan. Before continuing foster care for this purpose, the court must find that, at the time of the hearing, initiation of termination of parental rights is not in the best interests of the child and that the best interests of the child will be served by the extended or modified plan.

(G) If after assessing the viability of adoption, the department demonstrates that termination of parental rights is not in the child's best interests, and if the court finds that the best interests of the child would be served, the court may award custody or legal guardianship, or both, to a suitable, fit, and willing relative or nonrelative; however, a home study on the individual whom the department is recommending for custody of the child must be submitted to the court for consideration before custody of legal guardianship, or both, are awarded. The court may order a specified period of supervision and services not to exceed twelve months, and the court may authorize a period of visitation or trial placement prior to receiving a home study;

(H) If at the initial permanency planning hearing the court does not order return of the child pursuant to subsection (D), in addition to those findings supporting the selection of a different plan, the court shall specify in its order:

(1) what services have been provided to or offered to the parents to facilitate reunification;

(2) the compliance or lack of compliance by all parties to the plan approved pursuant to Section 20-7-764 ;

(3) the extent to which the parents have visited or supported the child and any reasons why visitation or support has not occurred or has been infrequent;

(4) whether previous services should continue and whether additional services are needed to facilitate reunification, identifying the services, and specifying the expected date for completion, which must be no longer than eighteen months from the date the child was placed in foster care;

(5) whether return of the child can be expected and identification of the changes the parent must make in circumstances, conditions, or behavior to remedy the causes of the child's placement or retention in foster care;

(6) whether the child's foster care is to continue for a specified time and, if so, how long;

(7) if the child has attained the age of sixteen, the services needed to assist the child to make the transition to independent living;

(8) whether the child's current placement is safe and appropriate;

(9) whether the department has made reasonable efforts to assist the parents in remedying the causes of the child's placement or retention in foster care; and

(10) the steps the department is taking to promote and expedite the adoptive placement and to finalize the adoption of the child, including documentation of child specific recruitment efforts.

(I) If after the permanency planning hearing, the child is retained in foster care, future permanency planning hearings must be held as follows:

(1) If the child is retained in foster care and the agency is required to initiate termination of parental rights proceedings, the termination of parental rights hearing may serve as the next permanency planning hearing, but only if it is held no later than one year from the date of the previous permanency planning hearing.

(2) If the court ordered extended foster care for the purpose of reunification with the parent, the court must select a permanent plan for the child other than another extension for reunification purposes at the next permanency planning hearing. The hearing must be held on or before the date specified in the plan for expected completion of the plan; in no case may the hearing be held any later than six months from the date of the last court order.

(3) After the termination of parental rights hearing, the requirements of Section 20-7-1574 must be met. Permanency planning hearings must be held annually, starting with the date of the termination of parental rights hearing. No further permanency planning hearings may be required after filing a decree of adoption of the child.

(4) If the court places custody or guardianship with the parent, extended family member, or suitable nonrelative and a period of services and supervision is authorized, services and supervision automatically terminate on the date specified in the court order. Before the termination date, the department or the guardian ad litem may file a petition with the court for a review hearing on the status of the placement. Filing of the petition stays termination of the case until further order from the court. If the court finds clear and convincing evidence that the child will be threatened with harm if services and supervision do not continue, the court may extend the period of services and supervision for a specified time. The court's order must specify the services and supervision necessary to reduce or eliminate the risk of harm to the child.

(5) If the child is retained in foster care pursuant to a plan other than one described in items (1) through (4), future permanency planning hearings must be held at least annually.

(J) A supplemental report must be attached to a motion filed pursuant to subsection (A). The supplemental report and notice of the hearing must be served upon all named parties at least ten days before the hearing.

(K) A named party, the child's guardian ad litem, or the local foster care review board may file a motion for review of the case at any time. Any other party in interest may move to intervene in the case pursuant to the rules of civil procedure and if the motion is granted, may move for review. Parties in interest include, but are not limited to, the individual or agency with legal custody or placement of the child and the foster parent. The notice of motion and motion for review must be served on the named parties at least ten days before the hearing date. The motion shall state the reason for review of the case and the relief requested.

(L) The pendency of an appeal concerning a child in foster care does not deprive the court of jurisdiction to hear a case pursuant to this section. The court shall retain jurisdiction to review the status of the child and may act on matters not affected by the appeal.

SECTION 20-7-767. Assistance to children in foster care; duties of Department of Social Services.

(A) To protect and nurture children in foster care, the Department of Social Services and its employees shall:

(1) adhere strictly to the prescribed number of personal contacts, pursuant to Section 20-7-764(B)(3). These contacts must be personal, face-to-face visits between the caseworker or member of the casework team and the foster child. These visits may be conducted in the foster home and in the presence of other persons who reside in the foster home; however, if the caseworker suspects that the child has been abused or neglected during the placement with the foster parent, the caseworker must observe and interview the child outside the presence of other persons who reside in the foster home;

(2) ensure that a caseworker interviews the foster parent, either in person or by telephone, at least once each month. No less frequently than once every two months, ensure that a caseworker or member of the casework team interviews the foster parent face-to-face during a visit in the foster home;

(3) ensure that a caseworker interviews other adults residing in the foster home, as defined in Section 20-7-30(8), face-to-face at least once each quarter. A foster parent must notify the department if another adult moves into the home, and the caseworker must interview the adult face-to-face within one month after receiving notice. Interviews of foster parents pursuant to item (2) and of other adults residing in the home pursuant to this item may be conducted together or separately at the discretion of the department;

(4) ensure that its staff visit in the foster home and interview the foster parent or other adults in the home more frequently when conditions in the home, circumstances of the foster children, or other reasons defined in policy and procedure suggest that increased oversight or casework support is appropriate. When more than one caseworker is responsible for a child in the foster home, the department may assign one caseworker to conduct the required face-to-face interview with the other adults residing in the foster home;

(5) provide to the foster child, if age appropriate, a printed card containing a telephone number the child may use to contact a designated unit or individual within the Department of Social Services and further provide an explanation to the child that the number is to be used if problems occur which the child believes his or her caseworker cannot or will not resolve;

(6) strongly encourage by letter of invitation, provided at least three weeks in advance, the attendance of foster parents to all Foster Care Review Board proceedings held for children in their care. If the foster parents are unable to attend the proceedings, they must submit a progress report to the Office of the Governor, Division of Foster Care Review, at least three days prior to the proceeding. Failure of a foster parent to attend the Foster Care Review Board proceeding or failure to submit a progress report to the Division of Foster Care Review does not require the board to delay the proceeding. The letter of invitation and the progress report form must be supplied by the agency;

(7) be placed under the full authority of sanctions and enforcement by the family court pursuant to Section 20-7-420(30) and Section 20-7-420(36) for failure to adhere to the requirements of this subsection.

(B) If the department places a child in foster care in a county which does not have jurisdiction of the case, the department may designate a caseworker in the county of placement to make the visits required by subsection (A).

(C) In fulfilling the requirements of subsection (A), the Department of Social Services shall reasonably perform its tasks in a manner which is least intrusive and disruptive to the lives of the foster children and their foster families.

(D) The Department of Social Services, in executing its duties under subsection (A)(4), must provide a toll free telephone number which must operate twenty-four hours a day.

(E) Any public employee in this State who has actual knowledge that a person has violated any of the provisions of subsection (A) must report those violations to the state office of the Department of Social Services; however, the Governor's Division of Foster Care Review must report violations of subsection (A)(4) in their regular submissions of advisory decisions and recommendations which are submitted to the family court and the department. Any employee who knowingly fails to report a violation of subsection (A) is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both.

(F) Foster parents have a duty to make themselves reasonably available for the interviews required by subsection (A)(2) and to take reasonable steps to facilitate caseworkers' interviews with other adults who reside in the home as required by subsection (A)(3). Failure to comply with either the duties in this subsection or those in subsection (A)(3) constitutes grounds for revocation of a foster parent's license or other form of approval to provide care to children in the custody of the department. Revocation would depend on the number of instances of noncompliance, the foster parents' wilfulness in noncompliance, or other circumstances indicating that noncompliance by the foster parents significantly and unreasonably interferes with the department's ability to carry out its protective functions under this section.

(G) To further this state's long-term goals and objectives on behalf of children in foster care, the Department of Social Services shall give to the General Assembly by January 15, 2000, a report of the status of the foster care system which includes improvements the department has made to ensure the safety and quality of life of South Carolina's foster children. This report must include:

(1) specific standards for the training of foster parents, including the type of training which is provided;

(2) standards which address emergency situations affecting the maximum number of children placed in each foster home;

(3) standards which provide for the periodic determination of the medical condition of a child during his stay in foster care; and

(4) methods the department has developed to encourage the receipt of information on the needs of children in foster care from persons who have been recently emancipated from the foster care system.

SECTION 20-7-768. Standards for termination of parental rights; exceptions.

(A) When a child is in the custody of the department, the department shall file a petition to terminate parental rights or shall join as party in a termination petition filed by another party if:

(1) a child has been in foster care under the responsibility of the State for fifteen of the most recent twenty-two months;

(2) a court of competent jurisdiction has determined the child to be an abandoned infant;

(3) a court of competent jurisdiction has determined that the parent has committed murder of another child of the parent or has committed voluntary manslaughter or another child of the parent;

(4) a court of competent jurisdiction has determined that the parent has aided, abetted, conspired, or solicited to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent; or

(5) a court of competent jurisdiction has determined that the parent has committed a felony assault that has resulted in serious bodily injury to the child or to another child of the parent.

(B) Concurrently with filing of the petition, the department shall seek to identify, recruit, process, and approve a qualified family for adoption of the child if an adoptive family has not yet been selected and approved.

(C) This section does not apply:

(1) to a child for whom the family court has found that initiation of termination of parental rights is not in the best interests of the child, after applying the criteria of Section 20-7-766(C), (D), (F), or (G) and entering the findings required to select a permanent plan for the child from Section 20-7-766(C), (D), (F), or (G). For this exemption to apply, the court must find that there are compelling reasons for selection of a permanent plan other than termination of parental rights;

(2) if the family court finds that the department has not afforded services to the parents provided for in the treatment plan approved pursuant to Section 20-7-764 in a manner that was consistent with the time periods in the plan or that court hearings have been delayed in such a way as to interfere with the initiation, delivery, or completion of services, but only if:

(a) the parent did not delay the court proceedings without cause or delay or refuse the services;

(b) successful completion of the services in question may allow the child to be returned as provided for in Section 20-7-766(F) within the extension period; and

(c) the case is not one for which the court has made a determination that reasonable efforts to preserve or reunify the family are not necessary pursuant to Section 20-7-763.

SECTION 20-7-770. County clerk and Court Administration reports regarding case progress.

(A) Beginning on January 1, 2000, or on the date of compliance with subsection (D), whichever is later, and on the first day of each month thereafter, each county clerk of court must make a report to Court Administration concerning each child protection case pending in family court in which a permanency planning order has not been filed. The report must include the case caption, the filing date, and, if applicable, the date of the permanency planning hearing and the permanency planning order. The clerk is not required to make a report concerning a case after a permanency planning order has been filed in the case.

(B) Court Administration must provide the administrative judge of the family court of each circuit with the information reported concerning cases pending in the circuit.

(C) On August fifteenth of each year, the Director of Court Administration must file with the Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court, with copies to the Department of Social Services and the Governor, a written report summarizing the information reported by the clerks of court pursuant to this section. The report shall contain, at a minimum, the following information summarized by county, by circuit, and by state:

(1) the number of new cases brought by the department during the preceding twelve months; and

(2) the number of cases filed more than twelve months in which a permanency planning order has not been filed.

The annual report must contain an analysis of the progress of these cases through the family court, identify impediments to complying with statutory mandates, and make recommendations for improving compliance.

(D) No later than January 1, 2000, Court Administration must institute the use of a separate code to identify child protection cases in its data systems. However, if the Chief Justice, upon recommendation of Court Administration, determines that there is a compelling reason why it is not feasible to institute the use of a separate code by January 1, 2000, compliance with this subsection may be deferred for up to twelve months, as necessary, for making adjustments in the data systems. The date of compliance and the compelling reason for any delay beyond January 1, 2000, shall be included in the report required by subsection (E).

(E) Court Administration shall conduct a study of the feasibility of collecting additional data necessary to monitor and ensure compliance with statutory time frames for conducting hearings in department cases, and no later than July 1, 2000, shall submit a report to the Chief Justice, with copies to the Department of Social Services and the Governor, containing recommendations for instituting the necessary data collection system.

SECTION 20-7-775. Disclosure of information to foster parent.

The department shall disclose to the foster parent at the time the department places the child in the home all information known by the person making the placement or reasonably accessible to the person making the placement which could affect either the ability of the foster parent to care for the child or the health and safety of the child or the foster family. This information includes, but is not limited to, medical and mental health conditions and history of the child, the nature of abuse or neglect to which the child has been subjected, behavioral problems, and matters related to educational needs. If a person lacking this necessary information made the placement, a member of the child's casework team or the child's caseworker shall contact the foster parent and provide the information during the first working day following the placement. The child's caseworker shall research the child's record and shall supplement the information provided to the foster parent no later than the end of the first week of placement if additional information is found. When the child's caseworker acquires new information which could affect either the ability of the foster parent to care for the child or the health and safety of the child or the foster family, the department shall disclose that information to the foster parent. The obligation to provide this information continues until the placement ends.

SECTION 20-7-780. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SUBARTICLE 2.

UNIFORM CHILD CUSTODY JURISDICTION ACT

SECTION 20-7-782. Short title.

This subarticle may be cited as the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act.

SECTION 20-7-784. Purposes; construction of provisions.

(a) The general purposes of this subarticle are to:

(1) avoid jurisdictional competition and conflict with courts of other states in matters of child custody which have in the past resulted in the shifting of children from state to state with harmful effects on their well-being;

(2) promote cooperation with the courts of other states to the end that a custody decree is rendered in that state which can best decide the case in the interest of the child;

(3) assure that litigation concerning the custody of a child take place ordinarily in the state with which the child and his family have the closest connection and where significant evidence concerning his care, protection, training and personal relationships is most readily available, and that courts of this State decline the exercise of jurisdiction when the child and his family have a closer connection with another state;

(4) discourage continuing controversies over child custody in the interest of greater stability of home environment and of secure family relationships for the child;

(5) deter abductions and other unilateral removals of children undertaken to obtain custody awards;

(6) avoid relitigation of custody decisions of other states in this State insofar as feasible;

(7) facilitate the enforcement of custody decrees of other states;

(8) promote and expand the exchange of information and other forms of mutual assistance between the courts of this State and those of other states concerned with the same child;

(9) make uniform the law of those states which enact it.

(b) This subarticle shall be construed to promote the general purposes stated in this section.

SECTION 20-7-786. Definitions.

As used in this subarticle, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

(1) "contestant" means a person, including a parent, who claims a right to custody or visitation rights with respect to a child;

(2) "custody determination" means a court decision and court orders and instructions providing for the custody of a child, including visitation rights; it does not include a decision relating to child support or any other monetary obligation of any person;

(3) "custody proceeding" includes proceedings in which a custody determination is one of several issues, such as an action for divorce or separation, and includes child neglect and dependency proceedings;

(4) "decree" or "custody decree" means a custody determination contained in a judicial decree or order made in a custody proceeding, and includes an initial decree and a modification decree;

(5) "home state" means the state in which the child immediately preceding the time involved lived with his parents, a parent, or a person acting as parent, for at least six consecutive months, and in the case of a child less than six months old the state in which the child lived from birth with any of the persons mentioned. Periods of temporary absence of any of the named persons are counted as part of the six-month or other period;

(6) "initial decree" means the first custody decree concerning a particular child;

(7) "modification decree" means a custody decree which modifies or replaces a prior decree, whether made by the court which rendered the prior decree or by another court;

(8) "physical custody" means actual possession and control of a child;

(9) "person acting as parent" means a person, other than a parent, who has physical custody of a child and who has either been awarded custody by a court or claims a right to custody;

(10) "state" means any state, territory or possession of the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia;

(11) "court" or "court of this State" means the statewide system of family courts established pursuant to Sections 14-21-410 et seq.

(12) "clerk of the court" or "clerk of the family court" means the clerk of a respective family court or the person in charge of administration of a family court if not designated as clerk of that court.

SECTION 20-7-788. Jurisdiction.

(a) A court of this State which is competent to decide child custody matters has jurisdiction to make a child custody determination by initial or modification decree if:

(1) this State (i) is the home state of the child at the time of commencement of the proceeding, or (ii) had been the child's home state within six months before commencement of the proceeding and the child is absent from this State because of his removal or retention by a person claiming his custody or for other reasons, and a parent or person acting as parent continues to live in this State; or

(2) it is in the best interest of the child that a court of this State assume jurisdiction because (i) the child and his parents, or the child and at least one contestant, have a significant connection with this State and (ii) there is available in this State substantial evidence concerning the child's present or future care, protection, training and personal relationships; or

(3) the child is physically present in this State and (i) the child has been abandoned or (ii) it is necessary in an emergency to protect the child because he has been subjected to or threatened with mistreatment or abuse or is otherwise neglected or dependent; or

(4) (i) it appears that no other state would have jurisdiction under prerequisites substantially in accordance with paragraphs (1), (2) or (3) of subsection (a), or another state has declined to exercise jurisdiction on the ground that this State is the more appropriate forum to determine the custody of the child and (ii) it is in the best interest of the child that this court assume jurisdiction.

(b) Except under paragraphs (3) and (4) of subsection (a), physical presence in this State of the child, or of the child and one of the contestants, is not alone sufficient to confer jurisdiction on a court of this State to make a child custody determination.

(c) Physical presence of the child, while desirable, is not a prerequisite for jurisdiction to determine his custody.

SECTION 20-7-790. Notice and opportunity to be heard.

Before making a decree under this subarticle, reasonable notice and opportunity to be heard shall be given to the contestants, any parent whose parental rights have not been previously terminated, and any person who has physical custody of the child. If any of these persons is outside this State, notice and opportunity to be heard shall be given pursuant to Section 20-7-792.

SECTION 20-7-792. Notice to persons outside this state; submission to jurisdiction.

(a) Notice required for the exercise of jurisdiction over a person outside this State shall be given in a manner reasonably calculated to give actual notice, and may be:

(1) by personal delivery outside this State in the manner prescribed for service of process within this State;

(2) in the manner prescribed by the law of the place in which the service is made for service of process in that place in an action in any of its courts of general jurisdiction;

(3) by any form of mail addressed to the person to be served and requesting a receipt;

(4) as directed by the court, including publication, if other means of notification are ineffective.

(b) Notice under this section shall be served, mailed or delivered, or last published, at least twenty days before any hearing in this State. Provided, however, that in proceedings pursuant to Section 20-7-788 (a) (3) above, upon a showing by the moving party that an emergency or abandonment situation exists within the meaning of Section 20-7-788 (a) (3) so as to place the child in jeopardy, the court may shorten the notice period to such period as it may deem to be in the best interests of the child.

(c) Proof of service outside this State may be made by affidavit of the individual who made the service, or in the manner prescribed by the law of this State, the order pursuant to which the service is made, or the law of the place in which the service is made. If service is made by mail, proof may be a receipt signed by the addressee or other evidence of delivery to the addressee.

(d) Notice is not required if a person submits to the jurisdiction of the court.

SECTION 20-7-794. Simultaneous proceedings in other states.

(a) A court of this State shall not exercise its jurisdiction under this subarticle if at the time of filing the petition a proceeding concerning the custody of the child was pending in a court of another state exercising jurisdiction substantially in conformity with this subarticle, unless the proceeding is stayed by the court of the other state because this State is a more appropriate forum or for other reasons.

(b) Before hearing the petition in a custody proceeding the court shall examine the pleadings and other information supplied by the parties under Section 20-7-800 and shall consult the child custody registry established under Section 20-7-814 concerning the pendency of proceedings with respect to the child in other states. If the court has reason to believe that proceedings may be pending in another state it shall direct an inquiry to the state court administrator or other appropriate official of the other state.

(c) If the court is informed during the course of the proceeding that a proceeding concerning the custody of the child was pending in another state before the court assumed jurisdiction it shall stay the proceeding and communicate with the court in which the other proceeding is pending to the end that the issue may be litigated in the more appropriate forum and that information be exchanged in accordance with Sections 20-7-820 through 20-7-826. If a court of this State has made a custody decree before being informed of a pending proceeding in a court of another state it shall immediately inform that court of the fact. If the court is informed that a proceeding was commenced in another state after it assumed jurisdiction it shall likewise inform the other court to the end that the issues may be litigated in the more appropriate forum.

SECTION 20-7-796. Inconvenient forum.

(a) A court which has jurisdiction under this subarticle to make an initial or modification decree may decline to exercise its jurisdiction anytime before making a decree if it finds that it is an inconvenient forum to make a custody determination under the circumstances of the case and that a court of another state is a more appropriate forum.

(b) A finding of inconvenient forum may be made upon the court's own motion or upon motion of a party or a guardian ad litem or other representative of the child.

(c) In determining if it is an inconvenient forum, the court shall consider if it is in the interest of the child that another state assume jurisdiction. For this purpose it may take into account the following factors, among others:

(1) if another state is or recently was the child's home state;

(2) if another state has a closer connection with the child and his family or with the child and one or more of the contestants;

(3) if substantial evidence concerning the child's present or future care, protection, training and personal relationships are more readily available in another state;

(4) if the parties have agreed on another forum which is no less appropriate;

(5) if the exercise of jurisdiction by a court of this State would contravene any of the purposes stated in Section 20-7-784.

(d) Before determining whether to decline or retain jurisdiction the court may communicate with a court of another state and exchange information pertinent to the assumption of jurisdiction by either court with a view to assuring that jurisdiction will be exercised by the more appropriate court and that a forum will be available to the parties.

(e) If the court finds that it is an inconvenient forum and that a court of another state is a more appropriate forum, it may dismiss the proceedings, or it may stay the proceedings upon condition that a custody proceeding be promptly commenced in another named state or upon any other conditions which may be just and proper, including the condition that a moving party stipulate his consent and submission to the jurisdiction of the other forum.

(f) The court may decline to exercise its jurisdiction under this subarticle if a custody determination is incidental to an action for divorce or another proceeding while retaining jurisdiction over the divorce or other proceeding.

(g) If it appears to the court that it is clearly an inappropriate forum it may require the party who commenced the proceedings to pay necessary travel and other expenses, including attorneys' fees, incurred by other parties or their witnesses. Payment is to be made to the clerk of the court for remittance to the proper party.

(h) Upon dismissal or stay of proceedings under this section the court shall inform the court found to be the more appropriate forum of this fact, or if the court which would have jurisdiction in the other state is not certainly known, shall transmit the information to the court administrator or other appropriate official for forwarding to the appropriate court.

(i) Any communication received from another state informing this State of a finding of inconvenient forum because a court of this State is the more appropriate forum shall be filed in the custody registry of the appropriate court. Upon assuming jurisdiction the court of this State shall inform the original court of this fact.

SECTION 20-7-798. Jurisdiction declined by reason of conduct.

(a) If the petitioner for an initial decree has wrongfully taken the child from another state or has engaged in similar reprehensible conduct the court may decline to exercise jurisdiction if this is just and proper under the circumstances.

(b) Unless required in the interest of the child, the court shall not exercise its jurisdiction to modify a custody decree of another state if the petitioner, without consent of the person entitled to custody, has improperly removed the child from the physical custody of the person entitled to custody or has improperly retained the child after a visit or other temporary relinquishment of physical custody. If the petitioner has violated any other provision of a custody decree of another state the court may decline to exercise its jurisdiction if this is just and proper under the circumstances.

(c) In appropriate cases a court dismissing a petition under this section may charge the petitioner with necessary travel and other expenses, including attorneys' fees, incurred by other parties or their witnesses.

SECTION 20-7-800. Information under oath to be submitted to the court.

(a) Every party in a custody proceeding in his first pleading or in an affidavit attached to that pleading shall give information under oath as to the child's present address, the places where the child has lived within the last five years and the names and present addresses of the persons with whom the child has lived during that period. In this pleading or affidavit every party shall further declare under oath whether:

(1) he has participated (as a party, witness or in any other capacity) in any other litigation concerning the custody of the same child in this or any other state;

(2) he has information of any custody proceeding concerning the child pending in a court of this or any other state;

(3) he knows of any person not a party to the proceedings who has physical custody of the child or claims to have custody or visitation rights with respect to the child.

(b) If the declaration as to any of the above items is in the affirmative the declarant shall give additional information under oath as required by the court. The court may examine the parties under oath as to details of the information furnished and as to other matters pertinent to the court's jurisdiction and the disposition of the case.

(c) Each party shall have a continuing duty to inform the court of any custody proceeding concerning the child in this or any other state of which he obtained information during this proceeding.

SECTION 20-7-802. Additional parties.

If the court learns from information furnished by the parties pursuant to Section 20-7-800 or from other sources that a person not a party to the custody proceeding has physical custody of the child or claims to have custody or visitation rights with respect to the child, it shall order that person to be joined as a party and to be duly notified of the pendency of the proceeding and of his joinder as a party. If the person joined as a party is outside this State he shall be served with process or otherwise notified in accordance with Section 20-7-792.

SECTION 20-7-804. Appearance of parties and the child.

(a) The court may order any party to the proceeding who is in this State to appear personally before the court. If that party has physical custody of the child the court may order that he appear personally with the child.

(b) If a party to the proceeding whose presence is desired by the court is outside this State with or without the child the court may order that the notice given under Section 20-7-792 include a statement directing that party to appear personally with or without the child and declaring that failure to appear may result in a decision adverse to that party.

(c) If a party to the proceeding who is outside this State is directed to appear under subsection (b) or desires to appear personally before the court with or without the child, the court may require another party to pay to the clerk of the court travel and other necessary expenses of the party so appearing and of the child if this is just and proper under the circumstances.

SECTION 20-7-806. Binding force and res judicata effect of custody decree.

A custody decree rendered by a court of this State which had jurisdiction under Section 20-7-788 binds all parties who have been served in this State or notified in accordance with Section 20-7-792 or who have submitted to the jurisdiction of the court, and who have been given an opportunity to be heard. As to these parties the custody decree is conclusive as to all issues of law and fact decided and as to the custody determination made unless and until that determination is modified pursuant to law, including the provisions of this subarticle.

SECTION 20-7-808. Recognition of out-of-state custody decrees.

The courts of this State shall recognize and enforce an initial or modification decree of a court of another state which had assumed jurisdiction under statutory provisions substantially in accordance with this subarticle or which was made under factual circumstances meeting the jurisdictional standards of the subarticle, so long as this decree has not been modified in accordance with jurisdictional standards substantially similar to those of this subarticle.

SECTION 20-7-810. Modification of custody decree of another state.

(a) If a court of another state has made a custody decree, a court of this State shall not modify that decree unless (1) it appears to the court of this State that the court which rendered the decree does not now have jurisdiction under jurisdictional prerequisites substantially in accordance with this subarticle or has declined to assume jurisdiction to modify the decree and (2) the court of this State has jurisdiction.

(b) If a court of this State is authorized under subsection (a) and Section 20-7-798 to modify a custody decree of another state it shall give due consideration to the transcript of the record and other documents of all previous proceedings submitted to it in accordance with Section 20-7-826.

SECTION 20-7-812. Filing and enforcement of custody decree of another state.

(a) A certified copy of a custody decree of another state may be filed in the office of the clerk of any family court of this State. The clerk shall treat the decree in the same manner as a custody decree of the family court of this State. A custody decree so filed has the same effect and shall be enforced in like manner as a custody decree rendered by a court of this State.

(b) A person violating a custody decree of another state which makes it necessary to enforce the decree in this State may be required to pay necessary travel and other expenses, including attorneys' fees, incurred by the party entitled to the custody or his witnesses.

SECTION 20-7-814. Registry of out-of-state custody decrees and proceedings.

The clerk of each family court of this State shall maintain a registry in which he shall enter the following:

(1) certified copies of custody decrees of other states received for filing;

(2) communications as to the pendency of custody proceedings in other states;

(3) communications concerning a finding of inconvenient forum by a court of another state;

(4) other communications or documents concerning custody proceedings in another state which may affect the jurisdiction of a court of this State or the disposition to be made by it in a custody proceeding.

SECTION 20-7-816. Certified copies of custody decree.

The clerk of a family court of this State, at the request of the court of another state or at the request of any person who is affected by or has a legitimate interest in a custody decree, shall certify and forward a copy of the decree to that court or person.

SECTION 20-7-818. Taking testimony in another state.

In addition to other procedural devices available to a party, any party to the proceeding or a guardian ad litem or other representative of the child may adduce testimony of witnesses, including parties and the child, by deposition or otherwise, in another state. The court on its own motion may direct that the testimony of a person be taken in another state and may prescribe the manner in which and the terms upon which the testimony shall be taken.

SECTION 20-7-820. Hearings and studies in another state; orders to appear.

(a) A court of this State may request the appropriate court of another state to hold a hearing to adduce evidence, to order a party to produce or give evidence under other procedures of that state, or to have social studies made with respect to the custody of a child involved in proceedings pending in the court of this State; and to forward to the court of this State certified copies of the transcript of the record of the hearing, the evidence otherwise adduced, or any social studies prepared in compliance with the request. The court in its discretion may order that the cost of these services be assessed against particular parties to the action.

(b) A court of this State may request the appropriate court of another state to order a party to custody proceedings pending in the court of this State to appear in the proceedings, and if that party has physical custody of the child, to appear with the child. The request may state that travel and other necessary expenses of the party and of the child whose appearance is desired will be assessed against another party to the action.

SECTION 20-7-822. Assistance to courts of other states.

(a) Upon request of the court of another state the courts of this State which are competent to hear custody matters may order a person in this State to appear at a hearing to adduce evidence or to produce or give evidence under other procedures available in this State or may order social studies to be made for use in a custody proceeding in another state. A certified copy of the transcript of the record of the hearing or the evidence otherwise adduced and any social studies prepared shall be forwarded by the clerk of the court to the requesting court.

(b) A person within this State may voluntarily give his testimony or statement in this State for use in a custody proceeding outside this State.

(c) Upon request of the court of another state a competent court of this State may order a person in this State to appear alone or with the child in a custody proceeding in another state. The court may condition compliance with the request upon assurance by the other state that travel and other necessary expenses will be advanced or reimbursed.

SECTION 20-7-824. Preservation of documents for use in other state.

In any custody proceeding in this State the court shall preserve the pleadings, orders and decrees, any record that has been made of its hearings, social studies and other pertinent documents until the child reaches eighteen years of age. Upon appropriate request of the court of another state the court shall forward to the other court certified copies of any or all of such documents.

SECTION 20-7-826. Request for court records of another state.

If a custody decree has been rendered in another state concerning a child involved in a custody proceeding pending in a court of this State, the court of this State upon taking jurisdiction of the case shall request of the court of the other state a certified copy of the transcript of any court record and other documents mentioned in Section 20-7-824.

SECTION 20-7-828. Jurisdiction in family courts.

The statewide system of family courts established pursuant to Sections 14-21-410 et seq. is hereby declared to be the courts of this State where the provisions of this subarticle shall be enforced or litigated; provided, however, that where the provisions of this subarticle require any action which is not within the jurisdiction of the family courts, the circuit courts of this State shall have jurisdiction to perform or order such action.

SECTION 20-7-830. International application.

The general policies of this subarticle extend to the international area. The provisions of this subarticle relating to the recognition and enforcement of custody decrees of other states apply to custody decrees and decrees involving legal institutions similar in nature to custody, rendered by appropriate authorities of other nations if reasonable notice and opportunity to be heard were given to all affected persons.

SUBARTICLE 3.

CHILD SUPPORT

SECTION 20-7-840. Persons who may file petition for support.

Any interested persons may file a petition to the court requesting the court to order persons legally chargeable to provide support as required by law.

SECTION 20-7-850. Judge shall make reconciliation efforts; support order.

Except where the circumstances indicate it to be undesirable, in all cases where an application for support has been made, an effort should be made by the judge to restore harmonious relations between the husband and wife and to adjust the issues raised by the application through conciliation and agreement. Where an agreement for the support of the petitioner is brought about, it must be reduced to writing and submitted to the court for approval. Where possible, the court shall see both parties and shall inquire of each whether the agreement, which he must state to them, is what they have agreed to. If it is, and the court shall approve it, the court without further hearing may thereupon enter an order for the support of the petitioner by the respondent in accordance with such agreement, which shall be binding upon the respondent and shall in all respects be a valid order as though it had been made after process has been issued out of the court. The court record shall show that such order was made upon agreement.

SECTION 20-7-852. Child support proceedings; amount of award.

(A) In any proceeding for the award of child support, there is a rebuttable presumption that the amount of the award which would result from the application of the guidelines required under Section 43-5-580(b) is the correct amount of child support to be awarded. A different amount may be awarded upon a showing that application of the guidelines in a particular case would be unjust or inappropriate. When the court orders a child support award that varies significantly from the amount resulting from the application of the guidelines, the court shall make specific, written findings of those facts upon which it bases its conclusion supporting that award. Findings that rebut the guidelines must state the amount of support that would have been required under the guidelines and include a justification of why the order varies from the guidelines.

(B) Application of these guidelines to an existing child support order, in and of itself, is not considered a change in circumstances for the modification of that existing order, except in a Title IV-D case.

(C) The court shall consider the following factors which may be possible reasons for deviation from the guidelines or may be used in determining whether a change in circumstances has occurred which would require a modification of an existing order:

(1) educational expenses for the child or children or the spouse, to include those incurred for private, parochial, or trade schools, other secondary schools, or post-secondary education where there is tuition or related costs;

(2) equitable distribution of property;

(3) consumer debts;

(4) families with more than six children;

(5) unreimbursed extraordinary medical or dental expenses for the noncustodial or custodial parent;

(6) mandatory deduction of retirement pensions and union fees;

(7) support obligations for other dependents living with the noncustodial parent or noncourt ordered child support from another relationship;

(8) child-related unreimbursed extraordinary medical expenses;

(9) monthly fixed payments imposed by a court or operation of law;

(10) significant available income of the child or children;

(11) substantial disparity of income in which the noncustodial parent's income is significantly less than the custodial parent's income, thus making it financially impracticable to pay what the guidelines indicate the noncustodial parent should pay;

(12) alimony. Because of their unique nature, lump sum, rehabilitative, reimbursement, or any other alimony that the court may award, may be considered by the court as a possible reason for deviation from these guidelines;

(13) agreements reached between parties. The court may deviate from the guidelines based on an agreement between the parties if both parties are represented by counsel or if, upon a thorough examination of any party not represented by counsel, the court determines the party fully understands the agreement as to child support. The court still has the discretion and the independent duty to determine if the amount is reasonable and in the best interest of the child or children.

(D) Pursuant to Section 43-5-580(b), the department shall promulgate regulations which establish child support guidelines as a rebuttable presumption. The department shall review these regulations at least once every four years to ensure that their application results in appropriate child support award amounts.

SECTION 20-7-853. Paternity determinations or child support provisions to set forth social security numbers or alien identification numbers of both parents.

An administrative or judicial order which includes a determination of paternity or a provision for child support shall set forth the social security numbers, or the alien identification numbers assigned to resident aliens who do not have social security numbers, of both parents.

SECTION 20-7-854. Information required in child support and paternity actions; notification of changes.

(A) An obligor and an obligee in a child support or paternity action, whether judicial or administrative, shall provide the following information to the tribunal:

(1) residence address;

(2) mailing address;

(3) telephone number;

(4) social security number or the alien identification number assigned to a resident alien who does not have a social security number;

(5) driver's license number; and

(6) name, address, and telephone number of employer.

The parties shall notify the tribunal of any changes to the above-referenced information within ten days of the effective date of the change. In subsequent support actions between the obligor and the obligee or their assignees, upon sufficient showing that diligent effort has been made to ascertain the location of the party, delivery by first-class mail of written notice to the obligor and the obligee at the residential or employer address most recently filed with the tribunal constitutes service of process.

(B) "Tribunal" is defined for purposes of this section as the family court or the Department of Social Services, Child Support Enforcement Division or its designee.

SECTION 20-7-855. Medical bills as prima facie evidence of costs incurred.

If copies of bills are furnished to the adverse party at least ten days before the date of an administrative or judicial hearing, the bills for testing for parentage and for prenatal and postnatal health care of the mother and child must be admitted as evidence without third party foundation testimony and are prima facie evidence of the amounts incurred for the services or for testing and that the amounts were reasonable, necessary, and customary.

Any individual or entity who prepares or submits falsified billing information shall be subject to the contempt powers of the court.

SECTION 20-7-856. Distribution of fines.

Fines collected pursuant to Sections 20-7-9575, 43-5-595(C), and 43-5-598(G) must be distributed as follows:

(1) The Department of Social Services shall pay to the federal government the federal share of the amount collected;

(2) The Department of Social Services shall use the state share of the amount collected pursuant to subsection (1) in the administration of the child support enforcement program.

SECTION 20-7-860. Summons or rule to show cause concerning support; hearing.

The court shall in a proper case issue a summons or rule to show cause, requiring the respondent to appear at the court at a time and place named, to show cause why the order for support prayed for by the petition shall not be granted. A summons or rule to show cause shall not be refused without giving the petitioner an opportunity to present witnesses and be heard by the court.

SECTION 20-7-862. Notice of hearing in child support and alimony arrearage cases.

(A) If pursuant to family court rule, the clerk of court issues a rule to show cause in a case of child support or periodic alimony arrearage, the clerk also shall provide written notice to the party owed the support or alimony. The notice to the party owed support or alimony must:

(1) be provided by the court at least five days prior to the hearing;

(2) be sent by first class delivery through the United States Postal Service and addressed to the party's last address on file with the court; and

(3) include the date, time, and place the party in arrears has been ordered to appear.

(B) The mailing provided for in subsection (A) is considered sufficient notice of the hearing to the party owed the support or alimony.

(C) The clerk of court shall place in the case file a copy of the notice sent to the party owed support or alimony with the time and date stamped on the copy.

(D) This section does not apply to a rule to show cause in a case of child support or periodic alimony arrearage issued by a clerk of court pursuant to family court rule if the party owed the support or alimony is represented by the Department of Social Services.

SECTION 20-7-870. Authority to issue warrant upon refusal to obey court order for support.

Where a respondent shall neglect or refuse to obey an order for support or upon agreement signed by the respondent and approved by the court, and the court is satisfied thereof by competent proof, it may, with or without notice, issue a warrant to commit the respondent to jail until the order is obeyed or until the respondent is discharged by law.

SECTION 20-7-873. Noncustodial unemployed parent may be ordered to participate in departmental employment program.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a court or administrative order for child support or order for contempt for nonpayment of child support being enforced under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act may direct a noncustodial parent who is unemployed or underemployed and who is the parent of a child receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children benefits to participate in an employment training program or public service employment. Upon failure of the noncustodial parent to comply with an order of contempt which directed the noncustodial parent to participate in the employment training program or public service employment, the Family Court, upon receiving an affidavit of noncompliance from the department, immediately may issue a bench warrant for the arrest of the noncustodial parent. The Department of Social Services shall promulgate regulations governing the eligibility criteria and implementation of these training programs and public service employment.

SECTION 20-7-880. Issuance and service of warrants of arrest; temporary ex parte orders.

When a petition is presented to the court and it shall appear:

(1) That the summons or rule to show cause cannot be served; or

(2) That the respondent has failed to obey the summons or rule to show cause; or

(3) That the respondent is likely to leave the jurisdiction; or

(4) That a summons or rule to show cause would be ineffectual; or

(5) That the safety of the petitioner is endangered; or

(6) That a respondent on bond or on probation has failed to appear, the court may issue a warrant, in the form prescribed in Section 20-7-890, directing that the respondent be arrested and brought before the court. Warrants and other processes may be served by any peace officer, or by the probation counselor. The court shall make rules relative to the service of warrants. Warrants issued by the court shall be valid throughout the State. The judge may issue ex parte orders for temporary child support, temporary custody and restraining orders where conditions warrant.

SECTION 20-7-890. Form of arrest warrant.

A warrant of arrest may be substantially in the following form:

"STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA ) IN THE FAMILY COURT

COUNTY OF ________________ ) ORDER

A petition for nonsupport having been filed against the above named respondent, __________, and a showing having been made to the Court that there exists one or more of the grounds for issuance of a warrant for the arrest of the respondent contained in

The Family Court Act. Now, therefore, it is

ORDERED that the Sheriff of __________ County or any lawful deputy arrest the above named __________ and commit (her/him) to the __________ County Jail or any other jail in the county to be held until (she/he) can be brought before the Court or otherwise released in accordance with the law.

AND IT IS SO ORDERED

__________

Judge

__________,

South Carolina"

SECTION 20-7-900. Proceedings where an arrest is made when court is not in session.

If a respondent is arrested under a warrant of the court at a time when the court is not in session, he shall be taken to the most accessible magistrate and arraigned before him. The production of the warrant shall be evidence of the filing of proper information, and the magistrate shall thereupon hold the respondent, admit him to bond, or parole him for trial before the court. All subsequent proceedings shall be had in the court.

SECTION 20-7-910. Bond for support in lieu of punishment.

If the defendant in any proceeding brought under the provisions of Section 20-7-90, either before or after conviction, shall give bond, with one or more sureties approved by the clerk of the court, in the sum of not less than one hundred dollars nor more than three thousand dollars under such terms and conditions as the court in its discretion may deem wise and proper for the maintenance and support of the defendant's wife or minor unmarried child or children, he shall not be imprisoned or the fine imposed unless the condition of such bond is broken.

SECTION 20-7-920. Bond of respondent; conditions; failure to appear.

If the respondent be admitted to bond, the condition of the undertaking shall be for his future appearance according to the terms thereof, or in default of such appearance, that the surety will pay the clerk of court a specified sum as therein set forth. Instead of entering into such an undertaking a respondent may deposit money in an amount to be fixed by the court. If the respondent fails to appear in accordance with the terms of the undertaking, the court shall enter the fact of such nonappearance upon the record, and the undertaking for his appearance, or the money deposited in lieu thereof, shall be forfeited and upon order of the court the sum recovered shall be applied by the clerk of the court for the benefit of the petitioner. However, the court may, in its discretion, remit such forfeiture.

SECTION 20-7-930. Authority to place respondent on probation after refusing to obey court order for support.

In the case of a respondent who shall have neglected or refused to obey an order for support, the court may suspend sentence or the execution of the warrant, as the case may be, and place him or her on probation under such conditions as the court may determine. No person, however, shall be placed on probation unless an order to that effect is made by the court.

SECTION 20-7-932. Authority to revoke probation.

The court may at any time where circumstances warrant it, after a hearing, revoke the probation of a respondent.

SECTION 20-7-933. Authority of Family Court to enforce decrees, judgments, or orders regarding child support; authority to hold arrearages in abeyance.

The family court has the authority to enforce the provisions of any decree, judgment, or order regarding child support of a court of this State, including cases with jurisdiction based on the revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act, provided that personal jurisdiction has been properly established. This authority includes the right to modify any such decree, judgment, or order for child support as the court considers necessary upon a showing of changed circumstances. No such modification is effective as to any installment accruing prior to filing and service of the action for modification. Additionally, the family court has the right to hold any arrearage in child support in abeyance.

SECTION 20-7-934. Enforcement or modification of orders of other courts; transfer of cases.

Any family court has jurisdiction and authority to enforce or modify an order or decree of any other court respecting support of wife or children subject to the limitations contained in Section 20-7-933, custody of children and visitation upon an order from the court of original jurisdiction, transferring jurisdiction to the family court. Petition may be made by either party to the original action to transfer the cause to the family court of the county where the other party resides, or petition may be made by the family court of the county to which transfer is sought, if it appears that the transfer will serve the ends of justice. The court of original jurisdiction may transfer the cause in its discretion.

SECTION 20-7-936. Grandparent responsibility for child support for minor's child.

When a child is born to parents, either or both of whom are unmarried and under eighteen years of age, the Child Support Enforcement Division of the State Department of Social Services may pursue support and maintenance of that child from one or both of the child's maternal and paternal grandparents as long as the parent of the child is under eighteen years of age.

SECTION 20-7-940. Support enforcement through license revocation; applicability to individual under order for child support.

In addition to other qualifications necessary for holding a license, an individual who is under an order for child support also is subject to the provisions of this part.

SECTION 20-7-941. Support enforcement through license revocation; definitions.

(A) As used in this part:

(1) "Arrearage" means the total amount overdue under an order of support.

(2) "Compliance with an order for support" means that pursuant to an order for support the person required to pay under the order is in arrears no more than five-hundred dollars and has paid the full child support obligation for the last two consecutive months.

(3) "Director" means the Director of the Child Support Enforcement Division of the State Department of Social Services or his designee.

(4) "Division" means the Child Support Enforcement Division of the State Department of Social Services.

(5) "License" means:

(a) a certificate, license, credential, permit, registration, or any other authorization issued by a licensing entity that allows an individual or is required of an individual to engage in a business, occupation, or profession and includes, but is not limited to, a medical license, teaching certificate, commission and certificate of training from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy for a sworn law enforcement officer, and a hunting, fishing, or trapping license for commercial use and the privilege to hunt, fish, or trap or hold a hunting, fishing, or trapping license for commercial use;

(b) a driver's license and includes, but is not limited to, a beginner's or instruction permit, a restricted driver's license, a motorcycle driver's license, or a commercial driver's license;

(c) a hunting, fishing, or trapping license for recreational purposes and the privilege to hunt, fish, or trap or hold a hunting, fishing, or trapping license for recreational purposes;

(d) a watercraft registration.

"License" does not include the authority to practice law; however, the Supreme Court may consider as an additional ground for the discipline of members of the bar the wilful violation of a court order including an order for child support. The department has grounds to file a grievance with the Supreme Court if a licensed attorney is in wilful violation of a court order for child support.

(6) "Licensee" means an individual holding a license issued by a licensing entity.

(7) "Licensing entity" or "entity" means, for the purposes of issuing or revoking a license, a state, county, or municipal agency, board, department, office, or commission that issues a license.

(8) "Order for support" means an order being enforced by the division under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act and which provides for periodic payments of funds for the support of a child or maintenance of a spouse or former spouse and support of a child, whether temporary or final and includes, but is not limited to, an order for reimbursement for public assistance or an order for making periodic payments on a support arrearage.

SECTION 20-7-942. Revocation of license where licensee out of compliance with support order; exceptions.

If a licensee is out of compliance with an order for support, the licensee's license must be revoked unless within forty-five days of receiving notice that the licensee is out of compliance with the order, the licensee has paid the arrearage owing under the order or has signed a consent agreement with the division establishing a schedule for payment of the arrearage.

SECTION 20-7-943. Obtaining information on licensees to establish, enforce, and collect support obligations.

The division shall obtain information on licensees pursuant to Section 20-7-944 for the purposes of establishing, enforcing, and collecting support obligations.

SECTION 20-7-944. Licensing entities to provide information on licensees for use in establishment, enforcement, and collection of child support obligations.

In the manner and form prescribed by the division, all licensing entities monthly shall provide the division information on licensees for use in the establishment, enforcement, and collection of child support obligations including, but not limited to:

(1) name;

(2) address of record;

(3) social security number;

(4) employer's name and address;

(5) type of license;

(6) effective date of license or renewal;

(7) expiration date of license;

(8) active or inactive license status.

SECTION 20-7-945. Out of compliance determination; review and negotiation of payment schedule having force of judgment; notice and revocation of license.

(A) The division shall review the information received pursuant to Section 20-7-944 and determine if a licensee is out of compliance with an order for support. If a licensee is out of compliance with the order for support, the division shall notify the licensee that forty-five days after the licensee receives the notice of being out of compliance with the order, the licensing entity will be notified to revoke the licensee's license unless the licensee pays the arrearage owing under the order or signs a consent agreement establishing a schedule for the payment of the arrearage.

(B) Upon receiving the notice provided for in subsection (A), the licensee may:

(1) request a review with the division; however, issues the licensee may raise at the review are limited to whether the licensee is the individual required to pay under the order for support and whether the licensee is out of compliance with the order of support; or

(2) request to participate in negotiations with the division for the purpose of establishing a payment schedule for the arrearage.

(C) The division director or the division director's designees are authorized to and upon request of a licensee shall negotiate with a licensee to establish a payment schedule for the arrearage. Payments made under the payment schedule are in addition to the licensee's ongoing obligation under the order for support.

(D) Upon the division and the licensee reaching an agreement on a schedule for payment of the arrearage, the director shall file an agreement and order pursuant to Section 20-7-9525(A) and (B) with the family court in the county in which the order for support was issued. The clerk shall stamp the date of receipt of the agreement and order and shall file it under the docket number of the order of support. The agreement and order shall have all the force, effect, and remedies of an order of the court including, but not limited to, wage assignment and contempt of court.

(E) If the licensee and the division do not reach an agreement establishing a schedule for payment of the arrearage, the licensee may petition the court to establish a payment schedule. However, this action does not stay the license revocation procedures.

(F) The notification given a licensee that the licensee's license will be revoked in forty-five days clearly must state the remedies and procedures available to a licensee under this section.

(G) If at the end of the forty-five days the licensee still has an arrearage owing under the order for support or the licensee has not signed a consent agreement establishing a payment schedule for the arrearage, the division shall notify the licensing entity to revoke the licensee's license. A license only may be reinstated if the division notifies the licensing entity that the licensee no longer has an arrearage or that the licensee has signed a consent agreement.

(H) Review with the division under this section is the licensee's sole remedy to prevent revocation of his or her license. The licensee has no right to appeal the revocation with the licensing entity.

(I) If a licensee under a consent order entered into pursuant to this section, for the payment of an arrearage subsequently is out of compliance with an order for support, the division immediately may notify the licensing entity to revoke the license and the procedures provided for under subsection (B) do not apply; however the appeal provisions of subsection (H) apply. If upon revocation of the license the licensee subsequently enters into a consent agreement or the licensee otherwise informs the department of compliance, the department shall notify the licensing entity within fourteen days of the determination of compliance and the license must be reissued.

(J) Notice required to the licensee under this section must be deposited in the United States mail with postage prepaid and addressed to the licensee at the last known address. The giving of the notice is considered complete ten days after the deposit of the notice. A certificate that the notice was sent in accordance with this part creates a presumption that the notice requirements have been met even if the notice has not been received by the licensee.

(K) Nothing in this section prohibits a licensee from filing a petition for a modification of a support order or for any other applicable relief. However, no such petition stays the license revocation procedure.

(L) If a license is revoked under this section, the licensing entity is not required to refund any fees paid by a licensee in connection with obtaining or renewing a license, and any fee required to be paid to the licensing entity for reinstatement after a license revocation applies. The division will indemnify the applicable licensing entity from any consequences that may result from the revocation of the licensee's license.

SECTION 20-7-946. Support enforcement through license revocation; disclosure of information provided to licensing entity.

(A) Information provided to a licensing entity pursuant to this section is subject to disclosure in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act.

(B) A person who releases information received by a licensing entity pursuant to this section, except as authorized by this section or another provision of law, is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

SECTION 20-7-947. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 459, Section 246A, eff June 5, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-948. Authorization to promulgate regulations to carry out support enforcement through license revocation.

The State Department of Social Services shall promulgate regulations necessary to carry out this part and shall consult with licensing entities in developing these regulations.

SECTION 20-7-949. Submission of social security number or alien identification number.

An applicant for a license or for renewal of a license shall submit the applicant's social security number, or the alien identification number assigned to a resident alien who does not have a social security number, to the licensing entity which must be recorded on the application.

SUBARTICLE 4.

DETERMINATION OF PATERNITY

SECTION 20-7-952. Declaration of purpose; definitions; person entitled to initiate paternity action.

A. The purpose of this subarticle is to establish a procedure to aid in the determination of the paternity of an individual.

B. As used in this subarticle, "child" includes, but is not limited to, a person under the age of eighteen years.

C. An action to establish the paternity of an individual may be brought by:

(1) A child;

(2) The natural mother of a child;

(3) Any person in whose care a child has been placed;

(4) An authorized agency, including, but not limited to, the Department of Social Services, pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 5 of Title 43, and any other person or agency pursuant to the provisions of Sections 20-7-435 and 20-7-840; or

(5) A person who claims to be the father of a child.

D. If an action is brought under this subarticle prior to the birth of a child, all proceedings must be stayed until after the birth of the child except the service of a summons and the taking of depositions or other discovery procedures.

E. Whenever an action threatens to make a child illegitimate, the presumed legal father and the putative natural father must be made parties respondents to the action. A child under the age of eighteen years must be represented by a guardian ad litem appointed by the court. Neither the mother nor the presumed or putative father of the child may represent him as guardian ad litem.

SECTION 20-7-953. Jurisdiction; custody of child; exclusion of public; nature of proceedings; competency to testify; compelling attendance.

A. Any person who has sexual intercourse in this State thereby submits to the jurisdiction of the courts of this State as to an action brought under this subarticle with respect to a child who may have been conceived by that act of intercourse. In addition to any other method provided by law, personal jurisdiction may be acquired by service of process outside this State in the manner authorized by the provisions of Section 36-2-806.

B. Unless the court orders otherwise, the custody of an illegitimate child is solely in the natural mother unless the mother has relinquished her rights to the child. If paternity has been acknowledged or adjudicated, the father may petition the court for rights of visitation or custody in a proceeding before the court apart from an action to establish paternity.

C. All actions commenced under this subarticle must be dealt with as separate proceedings before the court without a jury. The general public is to be excluded from these proceedings and only those persons whom the judge finds to have a direct interest in the proceeding or in assisting the court in its work are to be permitted to attend.

D. Any proceeding commenced under this subarticle is a civil action. The natural mother of the child and the alleged father are competent to testify and may be compelled by the court to appear and give testimony.

SECTION 20-7-954. Genetic tests; costs.

(A) As soon as practicable after an action has been commenced, the court, upon its motion or that of an interested party, may order the natural mother, the putative father, and the child to submit to genetic tests such as red blood cell antigen testing, human leukocyte antigen (HLA) testing, electrophoresis, or other tests which have been developed for the purpose of proving or disproving parentage and which are reasonably accessible. If the court orders any of these tests, and if the action is commenced prior to the birth of the child, the court shall also order that the tests be made as soon as medically feasible after the birth of the child. The tests must be performed under the supervision of a qualified expert. In all cases the court shall determine the number and the qualifications of experts, except that the parties may submit for the court's approval a written stipulation regarding experts and facilities to be used for testing. The costs of any tests not disposed of by written stipulation must be paid by the parties as ordered by the court. However, in any action initiated pursuant to Section 43-5-220 where the court determines that the respondent is indigent, the court may order that these costs be borne by the petitioner. When the State of South Carolina is the petitioner and the respondent is indigent and the court orders the petitioner to pay these costs, they must be paid from amounts collected under the Child Support Enforcement Program (Title IV-D).

(B) For all child support cases administered under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, the child and all other parties in a contested paternity case, upon the request of any party to the action, must be ordered by the court to submit to the genetic testing, as provided for in subsection (A), to determine paternity. This testing is not required where the individual involved has good cause for failing to cooperate pursuant to the provisions of Section 402(a)(26)(B) of the Social Security Act or where the court determines that paternity has been previously established by operation of law or judicial finding of fact.

(C) For all child support cases not administered under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, the child and all parties in a contested paternity case, upon the request of any party to the action, must be ordered by the court to submit to the genetic testing, as provided for in subsection (A), to determine paternity. This testing is not required where the court determines that good cause, including the presumption of legitimacy, not to order the test exists or where the court determines that paternity has been established previously by operation of law or judicial finding of fact.

(D) Any order issued under this section is enforceable by contempt.

SECTION 20-7-955. Settlements and voluntary agreements.

(A) The court must encourage settlements and voluntary agreements and must examine and approve them whenever they are warranted. Upon a finding of fairness the court shall approve, without a hearing, settlements and voluntary agreements which are reduced to writing, signed by the parties, and properly verified. The agreement must be accompanied by financial declarations and affidavits from the custodial and noncustodial parents stating that they have read, or have had read to them, and understand the agreement and that they have voluntarily executed the agreement or consent order. The parties may submit themselves to the jurisdiction of the court by a settlement or voluntary agreement which must be filed with the summons and complaint. A defendant's affidavit must state that the defendant is capable of fulfilling any financial requirements of the agreement or consent order applicable to the defendant. Upon the court's approval, the settlement or voluntary agreement becomes an order of the court.

(B) In actions commenced by the Department of Social Services or any other authorized agency, an employee of the department or the agency who is familiar with the action may make, on behalf of the custodial parent, the required affidavit accompanying a settlement, voluntary agreement, or consent order. In cases where the child is the recipient of public assistance, the affidavit must state that the employee has reviewed the case and that the child involved is receiving public assistance due in part to inadequate support from the noncustodial parent.

SECTION 20-7-956. Admissibility of evidence at hearing.

(A) The following evidence is admissible at a hearing to determine paternity:

(1) Results of genetic tests as described in Section 20-7-954 from physicians, agencies, hospitals, laboratories, or other qualified testing facilities, properly verified to show the chain of custody of blood samples. This evidence, must be introduced and admitted without the foundation testimony or other proof of authenticity or accuracy unless a challenge has been asserted by motion at least twenty days before the date of trial. Any party to the action, absent stipulations to the contrary, may demand the right to have additional testing conducted at the expense of the party who demands the additional testing.

(2) The refusal of a party to submit to a genetic or other ordered test as to the credibility of a party.

(3) Test results which show a statistical probability of paternity. A statistical probability of paternity of ninety-five percent or higher creates a rebuttable presumption of the putative father's paternity.

(4) A verified voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. This acknowledgment creates a rebuttable presumption of the putative father's paternity except that a verified voluntary acknowledgment of paternity executed after January 1, 1998, creates a conclusive presumption of the putative father's paternity subject to the provisions of Section 20-7-958. The person acknowledging paternity must be given the opportunity to seek legal advice prior to signing a verified voluntary acknowledgment. A verified voluntary acknowledgment must be made by a sworn document, signed by the person acknowledging paternity and witnessed by (1) that person's attorney, parent, or guardian or (2) a person eighteen years of age or older who is not related to the child and not employed or acting under the authority of the Department of Social Services. The witness must attach to the acknowledgment a written certification which specifies that prior to signing the acknowledgment, the provisions of the acknowledgment were discussed with the person acknowledging paternity and that, based upon this discussion, it is the witness' opinion that the acknowledgment is being given voluntarily and that it is not being obtained under duress or through coercion.

(5) A foreign paternity determination whether established through administrative or judicial process. This determination creates a conclusive presumption of paternity.

(6) A birth certificate containing the signature of the mother and the putative father. This evidence creates a rebuttable presumption of paternity.

(7) An expert's opinion concerning the time of conception. This evidence is admissible in the same manner as other expert testimony. The court may take judicial notice of the normal period of gestation.

(8) The testimony of a husband and wife as to any relevant matter, including marriage and parentage.

(9) Any other relevant and competent evidence deemed admissible in the discretion of the court.

(B) Upon the motion of any party to the action or upon its own motion, the court may view a child for the purpose of examining the presence or the absence of physical characteristics and similarities between the child and the putative father.

(C) If a male witness offers testimony indicating that his act of intercourse with the natural mother may have resulted in the conception of the child, the court may require the witness to submit to genetic or other tests to determine whether he is the child's father. If the results of the tests exclude or tend to exclude the witness as the father of the child, the witness's testimony must be stricken from the record and disregarded.

SECTION 20-7-957. Court order concerning paternity.

Upon a finding that the putative father is the natural father of the child, the court must issue an order designating the putative father as the natural father. The order also shall set forth the social security numbers, or the alien identification numbers assigned to resident aliens who do not have social security numbers, of both parents. The order shall establish a duty of support and provide for child support payments in amounts and at a frequency to be determined by the court. The order also shall provide for other relief which has been properly prayed for in the pleadings and which is considered reasonable and just by the court. Upon a finding that the putative father is not the father of the child, the court shall issue an order which sets forth this finding.

SECTION 20-7-958. Verified voluntary acknowledgment of paternity to create finding of paternity; challenges.

(A) A verified voluntary acknowledgment of paternity creates a legal finding of paternity, subject to the right of any signatory to rescind the acknowledgment within the earlier of:

(1) sixty days; or

(2) the date of an administrative or judicial proceeding relating to the child including a proceeding to establish a support order in which the signatory is a party.

(B) Upon the expiration of the sixty-day period provided for in subsection (A), a verified voluntary acknowledgment of paternity may be challenged in court only on the basis of fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact, with the burden of proof upon the challenger.

(C) In the event of a challenge, legal responsibilities including child support obligations of any signatory arising from the acknowledgment may not be suspended during the challenge except for good cause shown.

(D) Judicial or administrative proceedings are not required or permitted to ratify an unchallenged acknowledgment of paternity.

SUBARTICLE 5.

UNIFORM INTERSTATE FAMILY SUPPORT ACT

PART I. GENERAL PROVISIONS

SECTION 20-7-960. Short title.

This subarticle may be cited as the "Uniform Interstate Family Support Act".

SECTION 20-7-965. Definitions.

As used in this subarticle:

(1) "Child" means an individual, whether over or under the age of majority, who is or may be owed a duty of support by the child's parent or who is or may be the beneficiary of a support order directed to that parent.

(2) "Child support order" means a support order for a child which may include support for a child over the age of majority under the law of the issuing state.

(3) "Duty of support" means an obligation imposable by law to provide support for a child, spouse, or former spouse including an unsatisfied obligation to provide support.

(4) "Home state" means the state in which a child lived with a parent or a person acting as parent for at least six consecutive months immediately preceding the time of filing of a proceeding for support, and if a child is less than six months old, the state in which the child lived from birth with any of them. A period of temporary absence of any of them is counted as part of the six-month or other period.

(5) "Income" includes earnings or other periodic entitlements to money from any source and any other funds or assets subject to withholding for support under the law of this State.

(6) "Income withholding order" means an order or other legal process directed to withhold support from the obligor's income.

(7) "Initiating state" means a state from which a proceeding is forwarded or in which a proceeding is filed for forwarding to a responding state under this subarticle or a law or procedure substantially similar to this subarticle, or under a law or procedure substantially similar to the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act or the Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act.

(8) "Initiating tribunal" means the appropriate tribunal in an initiating state.

(9) "Issuing state" means the state in which a tribunal issues a support order or renders a judgment determining parentage.

(10) "Issuing tribunal" means the tribunal that issues a support order or renders a judgment determining parentage.

(11) "Law" includes decisional and statutory law and rules and regulations having the force of law.

(12) "Obligee" means:

(a) an individual to whom a duty of support is or may be owed or in whose favor a support order has been issued or judgment determining parentage has been rendered;

(b) a state or political subdivision to which the rights under a duty of support or support order have been assigned or which has independent claims based on financial assistance provided to an individual obligee; or

(c) an individual seeking a judgment determining parentage of that individual's child.

(13) "Obligor" means an individual or the estate of a decedent:

(a) who owes or may owe a duty of support including an individual who is alleged but has not been adjudicated to be a parent of a child; or

(b) who is liable under a support order.

(14) "Register" means to record a support order or judgment determining parentage in the Registry of Foreign Support.

(15) "Registering tribunal" means a tribunal in which a support order is registered.

(16) "Responding state" means a state in which a proceeding is filed or to which a proceeding is forwarded for filing from an initiating state under this subarticle or a law substantially similar to this subarticle, or under a law or procedure substantially similar to the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act or the Revised Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act.

(17) "Responding tribunal" means the appropriate tribunal in a responding state.

(18) "Spousal support order" means a support order for a spouse or former spouse of the obligor.

(19) "State" means a state of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. The term "state" includes an Indian tribe and includes a foreign jurisdiction that has enacted a law or established procedures for issuance and enforcement of support orders which are substantially similar to the procedures under this subarticle or the procedures under the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act or the Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act.

(20) "Substantially similar law" means a law similar to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act, or the Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act.

(21) "Support enforcement agency" means a public official or the public official's designees or the agency or the agency's designees authorized to enforce laws relating to the duty of support or an existing support order, to determine parentage, to establish, modify, and enforce child support, or to locate obligors and their assets.

(22) "Support order" means a judgment, decree, or order for the benefit of a child, a spouse, or a former spouse, whether temporary, final, or subject to modification, for monetary support, health care, any arrearage, reimbursement, and may include related costs and fees, interest, income withholding, attorney's fees, or other appropriate relief.

(23) "Tribunal" means a court, administrative agency, or quasi-judicial entity authorized to establish, enforce, and modify support orders or to determine parentage.

SECTION 20-7-970. Tribunals.

The tribunals of this State are the family court and the support enforcement agency. For purposes of continuing exclusive jurisdiction under this subarticle, the tribunals of this State have concurrent jurisdiction to establish, modify, and enforce child support in cases being administered pursuant to Title IV-D of the Social Security Act.

SECTION 20-7-974. Repealed by 1994 Act No. 494, Section 1, eff July 1, 1994.

SECTION 20-7-975. Remedies cumulative.

Remedies provided by this subarticle are cumulative and do not affect the availability of any remedies under any other law.

SECTION 20-7-980. Personal jurisdiction of family court over nonresident in support or parentage proceeding.

In a proceeding to establish, enforce, or modify a support order or to determine parentage, the tribunals may exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident individual or that individual's guardian or conservator if:

(1) the individual is personally served with a summons and complaint within this State;

(2) the individual submits to the jurisdiction of this State by consent, by entering a general appearance, or by filing a responsive document having the effect of waiving any contest to personal jurisdiction;

(3) the individual resided with the child in this State;

(4) the individual resided in this State and provided prenatal expenses or support for the child;

(5) the child resides in this State as a result of the acts or directives of the individual;

(6) the individual engaged in sexual intercourse in this State and the child may have been conceived by that act of intercourse; or

(7) there is any other basis consistent with the constitutions of this State and the United States for the exercise of personal jurisdiction.

PART II. CRIMINAL ENFORCEMENT

SECTION 20-7-985. Applicable provisions of law in proceedings under this subarticle against nonresident.

The tribunal exercising personal jurisdiction over a nonresident under Section 20-7-980 may apply Section 20-7-1100 to receive evidence from another state and Section 20-7-1110 to obtain discovery through a tribunal of another state. In all other respects, Sections 20-7-1025 through 20-7-1158 do not apply, and the tribunal shall apply the procedural and substantive law of this State, including the rules on choice of law other than those established by this subarticle.

SECTION 20-7-990. Tribunal may serve as initiating or responding tribunal.

Under this subarticle a tribunal of this State may serve as an initiating tribunal to forward proceedings to another state and as a responding tribunal for proceedings initiated in another state.

PART III. CIVIL ENFORCEMENT

SECTION 20-7-995. Exercise of jurisdiction in proceeding to establish support order filed after similar filing in another state; exercise of jurisdiction in proceeding to establish support order filed before similar filing in another state.

(A) A tribunal of this State may exercise jurisdiction in a proceeding to establish a support order filed after a similar proceeding is filed in another state only if:

(1) the proceeding in this State is filed before the expiration of the time allowed in the other state for filing a responsive pleading challenging the exercise of jurisdiction by the other state;

(2) the contesting party timely challenges the exercise of jurisdiction in the other state; and,

(3) if applicable, this State is the home state of the child.

(B) A tribunal of this State may not exercise jurisdiction in a proceeding to establish a support order filed before a similar proceeding is filed in another state if:

(1) the proceeding in the other state is filed before the expiration of the time allowed in this State for filing a responsive pleading challenging the exercise of jurisdiction by this State;

(2) the contesting party timely challenges the exercise of jurisdiction in this State; and,

(3) if applicable, the other state is the home state of the child.

SECTION 20-7-1000. Continuing jurisdiction to modify child support order; when exclusive; relinquishment of jurisdiction.

(A) A tribunal of this State issuing a support order consistent with the law of this State has continuing, exclusive jurisdiction as long as this State remains the residence of the obligor, the individual obligee, or the child for whose benefit the support order is issued.

(B) A tribunal of this State issuing a child support order consistent with the law of this State may not exercise its continuing jurisdiction to modify the order if:

(1) the order has been modified by a tribunal of another state pursuant to a law substantially similar to this subarticle; or

(2) each individual party has filed written consent with the family court for a tribunal of another state to modify the order and assume continuing, exclusive jurisdiction.

(C) If a child support order of this State is modified by a tribunal of another state pursuant to a law substantially similar to this subarticle, a tribunal of this State loses its continuing, exclusive jurisdiction, and the order issued in this State may be enforced only as to amounts accruing before the modification and nonmodifiable aspects of the original order and appropriate relief may be granted only for violations of the order occurring before the effective date of modification.

(D) A tribunal of this State shall recognize the continuing, exclusive jurisdiction of a tribunal of another state which has issued a child support order pursuant to a law substantially similar to this subarticle.

(E) A temporary support order issued ex parte or pending resolution of a jurisdictional conflict does not create continuing, exclusive jurisdiction in the issuing tribunal.

SECTION 20-7-1005. Tribunal as initiating or responding tribunal to enforce or modify support order.

(A) A tribunal of this State may serve as an initiating tribunal under this subarticle to request a tribunal of another state to enforce or modify a support order of that state.

(B) A tribunal of this State having continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over a support order may act as a responding tribunal under this subarticle to enforce or modify that order. In exercising its continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over its support order, the tribunal may apply Section 20-7-1100 to receive evidence from another state and Section 20-7-1110 to obtain discovery through a tribunal of another state.

(C) If a tribunal of this State lacks continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over a spousal support order, it may not serve as a responding tribunal to modify a spousal support order of another state.

SECTION 20-7-1010. Determination of jurisdiction where multiple tribunals have issued child support orders.

(A) If a proceeding is brought under this subarticle and only one tribunal has issued a child support order, the order of that tribunal is controlling and must be recognized.

(B) If a proceeding is brought under this subarticle and two or more child support orders have been issued by tribunals of this State or another state with regard to the same obligor and child, a tribunal of this State shall apply the following rules in determining which order to recognize for purposes of continuing, exclusive jurisdiction:

(1) if only one of the tribunals would have continuing, exclusive jurisdiction under the provisions of this subarticle, the order of that tribunal is controlling and must be recognized;

(2) if more than one of the tribunals would have continuing, exclusive jurisdiction under the provisions of this subarticle, an order issued by a tribunal in the current home state of the child must be recognized, however, if an order has not been issued in the current home state of the child, the order most recently issued is controlling and must be recognized;

(3) if none of the tribunals would have continuing, exclusive jurisdiction under the provisions of this subarticle, a tribunal of this State having jurisdiction over the parties must issue a child support order which is controlling and must be recognized.

(C) If two or more child support orders have been issued for the same obligor and child and if the obligor or the individual obligee resides in this State, a party may request a tribunal of this State to determine which order controls and must be recognized under subsection (B). The request must be accompanied by a certified copy of every support order in effect. Every party whose rights may be affected by a determination of the controlling order must be given notice of the request for that determination.

(D) The tribunal that issued the order that must be recognized as controlling under subsection (A), (B), or (C) is the tribunal that has continuing, exclusive jurisdiction in accordance with Section 20-7-1000.

(E) A tribunal of this State which determines by order the identity of the controlling child support order under subsections (B)(1) or (B)(2) or which issues a new controlling child support order under subsection (B)(3) shall include in that order the basis upon which the tribunal made its determination.

(F) Within thirty days after issuance of the order determining the identity of the controlling order, the party obtaining that order shall file a certified copy of it with each tribunal that had issued or registered an earlier order of child support. Failure of the party obtaining the order to file a certified copy as required subjects that party to appropriate sanctions by a tribunal in which the issue of failure to file arises, however, that failure has no effect on the validity or enforceability of the controlling order.

SECTION 20-7-1015. Enforcement of multiple registrations of child support orders.

In responding to multiple registrations or complaints for enforcement of two or more child support orders in effect at the same time with regard to the same obligor and different obligees who are natural persons, at least one of which was issued by a tribunal of another state, a tribunal of this State shall enforce those orders in the same manner as if the multiple orders had been issued by a tribunal of this State.

SECTION 20-7-1020. Credit in this State for amounts collected and credited pursuant to foreign support order.

Amounts collected and credited for a particular period pursuant to a support order issued by a tribunal of another state must be credited against the amounts accruing or accrued for the same period under a support order issued by a tribunal of this State.

SECTION 20-7-1025. Applicability of Sections 20-7-1025 through 20-7-1115; jurisdiction of tribunal; institution of proceeding under this subarticle.

(A) Except as otherwise expressly stated, Sections 20-7-1025 through 20-7-1115 apply to all proceedings under this subarticle.

(B) A tribunal of this State has jurisdiction, to the extent otherwise authorized by law, to do one or more of the following:

(1) modify an order of child support or spousal support issued by a tribunal of this State;

(2) establish an original order for spousal or child support;

(3) enforce a support order and income withholding order of another state without registration;

(4) register a spousal support order or child support order of another state for enforcement;

(5) register a child support order of another state for modification; and

(6) determine parentage.

(C) An individual plaintiff or a support enforcement agency may bring a proceeding authorized under this subarticle by filing a complaint in an initiating tribunal for forwarding to a responding tribunal or by filing a complaint directly in an appropriate tribunal of another state which has or can obtain jurisdiction.

SECTION 20-7-1030. Parties permitted to maintain proceeding on behalf of minor's child.

A minor or a guardian ad litem or other legal representative appointed for the minor may maintain a proceeding on behalf of the minor's child.

SECTION 20-7-1035. Duties of responding tribunal to determine applicable law, duty of support, and amount.

Unless otherwise provided by this subarticle, a responding tribunal shall:

(1) apply the procedural and substantive law, including the rules on choice of law, generally applicable to similar proceedings originating in this State and may exercise all powers and provide all remedies available in those proceedings; and

(2) determine the duty of support and the amount payable in accordance with the law and support guidelines of this State.

SECTION 20-7-1040. Duties of initiating tribunal to forward complaint and other documents.

(A) Upon the filing of a proceeding authorized by this subarticle, a tribunal of this State as an initiating tribunal shall forward three copies of the complaint and its accompanying documents:

(1) to the responding tribunal or appropriate support enforcement agency in the responding state; or

(2) if the identity of the responding tribunal is unknown, to the state information agency of the responding state with a request that they be forwarded to the appropriate tribunal and that receipt be acknowledged.

(B) If a responding state has not enacted this subarticle or a law or procedure substantially similar to this subarticle, a tribunal of this State may issue a certificate or other documents and make findings required by the law of the responding state. If the responding state is a foreign jurisdiction, the tribunal may specify the amount of support sought and provide other documents necessary to satisfy the requirements of the responding state.

SECTION 20-7-1045. Powers and duties of responding tribunal.

(A) If a responding tribunal receives a complaint, it shall cause the complaint to be filed and notify the plaintiff by first-class mail where and when it was filed.

(B) A tribunal of this State as a responding tribunal, to the extent otherwise authorized by law, may do one or more of the following:

(1) issue or enforce a support order, modify a child support order, or render a judgment to determine parentage;

(2) order an obligor to comply with a support order, specifying the amount and the manner of compliance;

(3) order income withholding;

(4) determine the amount of any arrearage, and specify a method of payment;

(5) enforce orders by civil or criminal contempt, or both;

(6) set aside property for satisfaction of the support order;

(7) place liens and order execution on the obligor's property;

(8) order an obligor to keep the tribunal informed of the obligor's current residential address, telephone number, employer, address of employment, and telephone number at the place of employment;

(9) issue a bench warrant for an obligor who has failed after proper notice to appear at a hearing ordered by the family court and enter the bench warrant in any local and state computer systems for criminal warrants;

(10) order the obligor to seek appropriate employment by specified methods;

(11) award reasonable attorney's fees and other fees and costs; and

(12) grant any other available remedy.

(C) A responding tribunal shall state in a support order, or in the documents accompanying the order, the calculations on which the support order issued under this subarticle is based.

(D) A responding tribunal may not condition the payment of a support order issued under this subarticle upon compliance by a party with provisions for visitation.

(E) If a responding tribunal issues a support order under this subarticle, the tribunal shall send by first-class mail a copy of the order to the plaintiff and the defendant and to the initiating tribunal, if any.

SECTION 20-7-1050. Forwarding of complaint to appropriate tribunal; notice to plaintiff.

If a proceeding is brought in an inappropriate tribunal of this State, the tribunal shall forward the complaint and accompanying documents to the appropriate tribunal in this State or in another state and notify the plaintiff by first-class mail where and when the complaint was sent.

SECTION 20-7-1055. Duties of support enforcement agency.

(A) A support enforcement agency of this State shall provide services upon request to a plaintiff in a proceeding under this subarticle.

(B) A support enforcement agency that is providing services to the plaintiff shall as appropriate:

(1) take all steps necessary to enable the appropriate tribunal to obtain jurisdiction over the defendant;

(2) request the appropriate tribunal to set a time and place for a hearing;

(3) make a reasonable effort to obtain all relevant information, including the assets and income of the parties;

(4) within two business days after receipt of a written notice from an initiating, responding, or registering tribunal send a copy of the notice by first-class mail to the plaintiff;

(5) within two business days after receipt of a written communication from the defendant or the defendant's attorney send a copy of the communication by first-class mail to the plaintiff; and

(6) notify the plaintiff if jurisdiction over the defendant cannot be obtained.

(C) This subarticle does not create or negate a relationship of attorney and client or other fiduciary relationship between a support enforcement agency or the attorney for the agency and the individual being assisted by the agency.

SECTION 20-7-1060. Order by Attorney General to support enforcement agency to perform its duties.

If the Attorney General determines that the support enforcement agency is neglecting or refusing to provide services to an individual, the Attorney General may order the agency to perform its duties under this subarticle or may provide those services directly to the individual.

SECTION 20-7-1065. Representation by private counsel.

An individual may employ private counsel to represent the individual in proceedings authorized by this subarticle.

SECTION 20-7-1070. Department of Social Services as state information agency; duties.

(A) The Department of Social Services is the state information agency under this subarticle.

(B) The state information agency shall:

(1) compile and maintain a current list, including addresses, of the tribunals in this State which have jurisdiction under this subarticle and any support enforcement agencies in this State and transmit a copy to the state information agency of every other state;

(2) maintain a register of lists of tribunals and support enforcement agencies received from other states;

(3) forward to the appropriate tribunal for the county in which the obligee or obligor resides, or in which the obligor's property is believed to be located, all documents concerning a proceeding under this subarticle received from the initiating tribunal or the state information agency of the initiating state; and

(4) obtain information concerning the location of the obligor and the obligor's property not exempt from execution, including use of postal verification and federal or state locator services, examination of telephone directories, requests for the obligor's address from employers, and examination of governmental records including, if not prohibited by other law, those relating to real property, vital statistics, law enforcement, taxation, motor vehicles, driver's licenses, and social security.

SECTION 20-7-1075. Verification of complaint, content of documents, specification of relief sought, and other requirements.

(A) A plaintiff seeking to establish or modify a support order or to determine parentage in proceeding under this subarticle must verify the complaint. Unless otherwise ordered under Section 20-7-1080, the complaint or accompanying documents must provide, so far as known, the name, residential address, and social security number of the obligor and the obligee and the name, sex, residential address, social security number, and date of birth of each child for whom support is sought. The complaint must be accompanied by a certified copy of any support order in effect and may include any other information that may assist in locating or identifying the defendant.

(B) The complaint and accompanying documents must specify the relief sought and conform substantially with the requirements imposed by the forms mandated by federal law for use in cases filed by a support enforcement agency.

SECTION 20-7-1080. Non-disclosure of identifying information as to party or child at risk.

Upon a finding that the health, safety, or liberty of a party or child would be unreasonably put at risk by the disclosure of identifying information or if an existing order so provides, a tribunal shall order that the address of a child or party or other identifying information not be disclosed in a pleading or other document filed in a proceeding under this subarticle.

SECTION 20-7-1085. Fees, costs, and attorney's fees.

(A) A tribunal may not require the plaintiff to pay a filing fee or other costs.

(B) A responding tribunal may assess against an obligor reasonable attorney's fees, filing fees, other costs, and necessary travel and other reasonable expenses incurred by the obligee and the obligee's witnesses. The tribunal may not assess fees, costs, or expenses against the obligee or the support enforcement agency of either the initiating or the responding state, except as provided by other law. Attorney's fees may be taxed as costs, and may be ordered paid directly to the attorney who may enforce the order in the attorney's own name. Payment of those costs and fees does not have priority over amounts of support owed to the obligee.

(C) A tribunal of this State shall order, to the extent otherwise authorized by law, the payment of costs and reasonable attorney's fees if it determines that a hearing was requested primarily for delay. In a proceeding under Sections 20-7-1132 through 20-7-1154, the tribunal shall presume that a hearing was requested primarily for delay if a registered support order is confirmed or enforced without change.

SECTION 20-7-1090. Immunity of plaintiff from service for another proceeding while in State for proceeding under this subarticle.

(A) Participation by a plaintiff in a responding tribunal in a proceeding under this subarticle, whether in person, by private attorney, or through services provided by the support enforcement agency, does not permit the exercise of personal jurisdiction over the plaintiff in another proceeding.

(B) A plaintiff is not amenable to service of civil process while physically present in this State to participate in proceedings under this subarticle.

(C) The immunity granted by this section does not extend to civil litigation based on acts unrelated to the proceedings under this subarticle committed by a party while present in this State.

SECTION 20-7-1095. Nonparentage not a defense where parentage previously determined by law.

A party whose parentage of a child has previously been determined by law may not plead nonparentage as a defense to a proceeding under this subarticle.

SECTION 20-7-1100. Physical presence of plaintiff in responding tribunal not required in certain proceedings; admissibility and evidentiary value of certain documents; testimony of witness by telephone conference; refusal to testify; spousal privilege; immunity defense.

(A) The physical presence of the plaintiff in a responding tribunal of this State is not required for the establishment, enforcement, or modification of a support order or the rendition of a judgment determining parentage.

(B) A verified complaint, affidavit, document substantially complying with federally mandated forms, and any document incorporated by reference in any of them, not excluded under the hearsay rule if given in person, is admissible if given in writing and under oath by a party or witness residing in another state.

(C) A copy of the record of child support payments certified as a true copy of the original by the custodian of the record may be forwarded to a responding tribunal. The copy is prima facie evidence of facts asserted in it and is admissible to show whether payments were made.

(D) If copies of bills are furnished to the adverse party at least ten days before the date of an administrative or judicial hearing, the bills for testing for parentage and for prenatal and postnatal health care of the mother and child must be admitted as evidence without third party foundation testimony and are prima facie evidence of the amounts incurred for these testing services and that these amounts that the charges billed were reasonable, necessary, and customary.

(E) Documentary evidence transmitted from another state to a tribunal of this State by telephone, telecopier, or other means that do not provide an original writing may not be excluded from evidence on an objection based on the means of transmission.

(F) In a proceeding under this subarticle, a tribunal of this State may permit a party or witness residing in another state to testify by telephone conference at a designated tribunal or other location in that state. A tribunal of this State shall cooperate with tribunals of other states in designating an appropriate location for a telephone conference.

(G) If a party called to testify at a civil hearing declines to answer on the ground that the testimony may tend to be incriminating, the trier of fact may draw an adverse inference from the refusal to testify.

(H) A privilege against disclosure of spousal communications between the parties does not apply in a proceeding under this subarticle.

(I) A defense of immunity because of the relationship of husband and wife or parent and child does not apply in a proceeding under this subarticle.

SECTION 20-7-1105. Communication with other tribunals.

A tribunal of this State may communicate with a tribunal of another state in writing or by telephone or other means to obtain information concerning the laws of that state, the legal effect of any judgment, decree, or order of that tribunal, and the status of any proceeding in the other state.

SECTION 20-7-1110. Powers of tribunal as to discovery.

A tribunal of this State, to the extent otherwise authorized by law, may:

(1) request a tribunal of another state to assist in obtaining discovery; and

(2) upon request compel a person over whom it has jurisdiction to respond to discovery orders issued by a tribunal of another state.

SECTION 20-7-1115. Disbursement by agency or tribunal of amounts received pursuant to support order.

A support enforcement agency or a tribunal of this State shall disburse promptly any amounts received pursuant to a support order as directed by the order. The agency or tribunal shall furnish a requesting party or tribunal of another state with a certified statement by the custodian of the record of the amounts and dates of all payments received.

SECTION 20-7-1120. Issuance of support order by responding tribunal; temporary order.

(A) If a support order entitled to recognition under this subarticle has not been issued, a responding tribunal of this State may issue a support order if:

(1) the individual seeking the order resides in another state; or

(2) the support enforcement agency seeking the order is located in another state.

(B) A tribunal of this State, to the extent otherwise authorized by law, may issue a temporary order if:

(1) the defendant has signed a verified statement acknowledging paternity;

(2) the defendant has been determined pursuant to law to be the parent; or

(3) there is other clear and convincing evidence that the defendant is the child's parent.

(C) After notice and hearing, upon finding that an obligor owes a duty of support, a tribunal of this State shall issue a support order directed to the obligor and may issue other orders pursuant to Section 20-7-1045.

SECTION 20-7-1124. Mailing of income withholding order issued in another state to employer prior to filing or registering such order in state tribunal.

An income withholding order issued in another state may be sent by first-class mail to the person or entity defined as the obligor's employer under Section 20-7-1315 et seq., without first filing a petition or comparable pleading or registering the order with a tribunal in this State.

SECTION 20-7-1125. Duties of employer receiving income withholding order issued in another state.

(A) Upon receipt of an income withholding order of another state, the obligor's employer immediately shall provide a copy of the order to the obligor.

(B) The employer shall treat an income withholding order issued in another state which appears regular on its face as if it had been issued by a tribunal of this State.

(C) Except as provided in subsection (D) and Section 20-7-1126, the employer shall withhold and distribute the funds as directed in the withholding order by complying with the terms of the order, as applicable, that specify:

(1) the duration and the amount of periodic payments of current child support, stated as a sum certain;

(2) the person or agency designated to receive payments and the address to which payments are to be forwarded;

(3) medical support, whether in the form of periodic cash payment stated as a sum certain or ordering the obligor to provide health insurance coverage for the child under a policy available through the obligor's employment;

(4) the amount of periodic payments of fees and costs for a support enforcement agency, the issuing tribunal, and the obligee's attorney, stated as sums certain; and

(5) the amount of periodic payments of arrears and interest on arrears, stated as sums certain.

(D) The employer shall comply with the law of the state of the obligor's principal place of employment for withholding from income with respect to:

(1) the employer's fee for processing an income withholding order;

(2) the maximum amount permitted to be withheld from the obligor's income; and

(3) the time periods within which the employer must implement the withholding order and forward the child support payment.

SECTION 20-7-1126. Multiple income withholding orders.

If the obligor's employer receives multiple orders to withhold support from the earnings of the same obligor, and if the employer complies with the law of the state of the obligor's principal place of employment for the establishment of priorities for withholding and allocating income withheld for multiple child support obligees, the employer is deemed to have satisfied the terms of the multiple orders.

SECTION 20-7-1127. Employer complying with income withholding order issued in another state not subject to civil liability.

An employer who complies with an income withholding order issued in another state in accordance with this subarticle is not subject to civil liability to any individual or agency with regard to the employer's withholding child support from the obligor's income.

SECTION 20-7-1128. Employer's wilful failure to comply with order; penalties.

An employer who wilfully fails to comply with an income withholding order issued by another state and received for enforcement is subject to the same penalties that may be imposed for noncompliance with an order issued by a tribunal of this State.

SECTION 20-7-1129. Contesting validity of income withholding order; notice.

(A) An obligor may contest the validity or enforcement of an income withholding order issued in another state and received directly by an employer in this State in the same manner as if the order had been issued by a tribunal of this State.

(B) The obligor shall give notice of the contest to:

(1) a support enforcement agency providing services to the obligee;

(2) each employer which has directly received an income withholding order; and

(3) the person or agency designated to receive payments in the income withholding order; or if no person or agency is designated, to the obligee.

PART IV. REGISTRATION OF FOREIGN SUPPORT ORDERS

SECTION 20-7-1130. Enforcement of support and income withholding orders.

(A) A party seeking to enforce a support order, an income withholding order, or both, issued by a tribunal of another state may send the documents required for registering the order to a support enforcement agency of this State.

(B) On receipt of the documents the support enforcement agency, without initially seeking to register the order, shall consider and, if appropriate, use any administrative procedure available to enforce a support order, an income withholding order, or both. If the obligor does not contest administrative enforcement, the support order need not be registered. If the obligor contests the validity or administrative enforcement of the order by asserting a ground for contesting the order recognized by the law of this State, the support enforcement agency shall register the order pursuant to this subarticle.

SECTION 20-7-1132. Registration of order issued in another state for enforcement purposes.

A support order or an income withholding order issued by a tribunal of another state may be registered in this State for purposes of enforcement.

SECTION 20-7-1134. Procedures for registering order of another state; filing complaint.

(A) A support order or income withholding order of another state may be registered in this State by sending the following documents and information to the Department of Social Services:

(1) a letter of transmittal to the department requesting registration and enforcement;

(2) two copies, including one certified copy, of all orders to be registered, including any modification of an order;

(3) a sworn statement by the party seeking registration or a certified statement by the custodian of the records showing the amount of any arrearage;

(4) the name of the obligor and, if known:

(a) the obligor's address and social security number;

(b) the name and address of the obligor's employer and any source of income of the obligor; and

(c) a description and the location of property of the obligor in this State not exempt from execution; and

(5) the name and address of the obligee and, if applicable, the agency or person to whom support payments are to be remitted.

(B) On receipt of a request for registration the department shall cause the order to be filed as a foreign judgment together with one copy of the documents and information regardless of their form.

(C) A complaint seeking an enforcement remedy that must be specifically pled under the law of this State may be filed at the same time as the request for registration or at a later date. The complaint shall set forth the express grounds that provide the basis for the remedy sought.

SECTION 20-7-1135. Renumbered as Section 20-7-1132 at direction of Code Commissioner.

SECTION 20-7-1136. Filing of order in Registry of Foreign Support; effect; enforcement.

(A) A support order or income withholding order issued in another state is registered as of the filing of the order in the Registry of Foreign Support.

(B) A registered order of another state has the same effect and is subject to the same procedures and defenses as an order of this State and may be enforced and satisfied in the same manner.

(C) Except as provided in Sections 20-7-1132 through 20-7-1154, a tribunal of this State shall recognize and enforce and may not modify a registered order if the issuing tribunal had jurisdiction.

SECTION 20-7-1138. Law of state issuing order governs; statute of limitations on arrearages.

(A) The law of the issuing state governs the nature, extent, amount, and duration of current payments and other obligations of support and the payment of any arrearage of a registered support order.

(B) In a proceeding for any arrearage the statute of limitations under the laws of this State or of the issuing state, whichever is longer, applies.

SECTION 20-7-1140. Notice of registration of order to nonregistering party and employer; contents of notice.

(A) The registering tribunal shall notify the nonregistering party of the registration of a support order or income withholding order issued in another state. Notice must be given by first-class, certified, or registered mail or by any means of personal service authorized by the law of this State. The notice must be accompanied by a copy of the registered order and the documents and relevant information accompanying the order.

(B) The notice must inform the nonregistering party:

(1) that a motion to contest the validity or enforcement of the registered order must be filed within twenty days after the date of mailing or personal service of the notice;

(2) of the amount of alleged arrearage, if any;

(3) that failure to contest the validity or enforcement of the registered order in a timely manner will result in confirmation of the order and enforcement of the order and any alleged arrearage and precludes further contest of that order with respect to any matter that could have been asserted; and

(4) that a registered order is enforceable as of the date of registration in the same manner as a support order issued by a tribunal of this State.

(C) Upon registration of an income withholding order for purposes of enforcement, the registering tribunal shall notify the obligor's employer pursuant to the income withholding law of this State.

SECTION 20-7-1142. Contest of registered order by nonregistering party; hearing and notice.

(A) A nonregistering party seeking to contest the validity or enforcement of a registered order must request a hearing within twenty days after the date of mailing or personal service of notice of the registration. The nonregistering party may seek to vacate the registration or to contest any aspect of the registered order, the remedies being sought, or the amount of any alleged arrearage pursuant to Section 20-7-1144.

(B) If the nonregistering party fails to contest the validity or enforcement of the registered order in a timely manner, the order is confirmed by operation of law.

(C) If a nonregistering party requests a hearing to contest the validity or enforcement of the registered order, the registering tribunal shall schedule the matter for hearing and give notice to the parties by first-class mail of the date, time, and place of the hearing.

SECTION 20-7-1144. Burden of proof of party contesting registered order; stay of enforcement; confirming order.

(A) A party contesting the validity or enforcement of a registered order bears the burden of proving one or more of the following defenses:

(1) the issuing tribunal lacked personal jurisdiction over the contesting party;

(2) the order was obtained by fraud;

(3) the order has been vacated, suspended, or modified by a later order;

(4) the issuing tribunal has stayed the order pending appeal;

(5) there is a defense under the law of this State to the enforcement remedy sought;

(6) full or partial payment has been made; or

(7) the statute of limitations under Section 20-7-1138 precludes enforcement of any arrearage.

(B) If an obligor presents evidence establishing a full or partial defense under subsection (A), a tribunal may stay enforcement of the registered order, continue the proceeding to permit production of additional relevant evidence, or issue other appropriate orders. Any uncontested portion of the registered order may be enforced by all remedies available under the law of this State.

(C) If the contesting party does not establish a defense under subsection (A) to the registration of the order, the registering tribunal shall issue an order confirming the order.

SECTION 20-7-1145. Renumbered as Section 20-7-1136 at direction of Code Commissioner.

SECTION 20-7-1146. Effect of confirmation of registered order.

Confirmation of a registered order, whether by operation of law or after notice and hearing, precludes further contest of the order with respect to any matter that could have been asserted at the time of registration.

SECTION 20-7-1148. Registration of order is prerequisite to seeking modification and enforcement of child support order issued in another state; filing complaint.

A party or support enforcement agency seeking to modify or to modify and enforce a child support order issued in another state shall register that order in this State in the same manner as provided in Sections 20-7-1132 through 20-7-1138. A complaint setting forth the grounds for modification with specificity may be filed at the same time as a request for registration and enforcement or at a later time.

SECTION 20-7-1150. Order registered for purposes of modification may be enforced; requirements for modification.

After a child support order of another state is registered for purposes of modification, it may be enforced by a tribunal of this State in the same manner as a support order issued by the tribunal, but the registered order may be modified only if the requirements of Section 20-7-1152 are met.

SECTION 20-7-1152. Conditions warranting modification of support order of another state; nonmodifiable aspects of order; jurisdiction.

(A) After a child support order of another state has been registered in this State, unless Section 20-7-1154 applies, the responding tribunal of this State may modify that order only if, after notice and hearing, it finds that:

(1) these requirements are met:

(a) the child, the individual obligee, and the obligor do not reside in the issuing state;

(b) a plaintiff who is a nonresident of this State seeks modification; and

(c) the defendant is subject to the personal jurisdiction of a tribunal of this State; or

(2) an individual party or the child is subject to the personal jurisdiction of a tribunal of this State and all the parties have filed a written consent in the issuing tribunal providing that a tribunal of this State may modify the support order and assume continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over the order. However, if the issuing state is a foreign jurisdiction which has not enacted this subarticle, the written consent of the individual party residing in this State is not required for the tribunal to assume jurisdiction to modify the child support order.

(B) Modification of a registered child support order is subject to the same requirements, procedures, and defenses that apply to the modification of an order issued by a tribunal of this State and may be enforced and satisfied in the same manner.

(C) A tribunal of this State may not modify any aspect of a child support order that may not be modified under the law of the issuing state. If two or more tribunals have issued child support orders for the same obligor and child, the order that is controlling and must be recognized under Section 20-7-1010 establishes the nonmodifiable aspects of the support order.

(D) On issuance of an order modifying a child support order issued in another state, a tribunal of this State becomes the tribunal of continuing, exclusive jurisdiction.

SECTION 20-7-1153. State tribunals to recognize modified child support orders from other states; duties to enforce.

A tribunal of this State shall recognize a modification of its earlier child support order by a tribunal of another state which assumed jurisdiction pursuant to a law substantially similar to this subarticle and upon request, except as otherwise provided in this subarticle, shall:

(1) enforce any arrearage and provide other appropriate relief for violations of the modified order which occurred before the effective date of the modification;

(2) enforce the modified order to the extent it was not superseded by the modification; and

(3) recognize the modifying order of the other state, upon registration, for the purpose of enforcement.

SECTION 20-7-1154. Enforcement or modification of another state's order where all parties live in state.

(A) If all of the individual parties reside in this State and the child does not reside in the issuing state, a tribunal of this State has jurisdiction to enforce and to modify the issuing state's child support order in a proceeding to register that order.

(B) A tribunal of this State exercising jurisdiction as provided in this section shall apply Sections 20-7-965 through 20-7-1020 and Sections 20-7-1132 through 20-7-1154 to the enforcement or modification proceeding. Sections 20-7-1025 through 20-7-1130 and Sections 20-7-1156 through 20-7-1162 do not apply and the tribunal shall apply the procedural and substantive law of this State.

SECTION 20-7-1155. Filing of certified copy of modified order.

Within thirty days after issuance of a modified child support order, the party obtaining the modification shall file a certified copy of the order with the issuing tribunal which had continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over the earlier order and in those tribunals in which that party knows the earlier order has been registered. Failure of the party obtaining the order to file a certified copy as required subjects that party to appropriate sanctions by a tribunal in which the issue of failure to file arises; however, that failure has no effect on the validity or enforceability of the modified order of the new tribunal of continuing, exclusive jurisdiction.

SECTION 20-7-1156. Proceedings to determine parentage; tribunal as initiating or responding tribunal; joinder of child unnecessary; choice of law.

(A) A tribunal of this State may serve as an initiating or responding tribunal in a proceeding brought under this subarticle or substantially similar law to determine that the plaintiff is a parent of a particular child or to determine that a defendant is a parent of that child. The proceeding may be brought without joining the child as a party.

(B) Except as otherwise provided in Section 20-7-1158, a responding tribunal of this State shall apply the procedural and substantive law of this State, including the rules on choice of law, generally applicable in a proceeding to determine parentage.

SECTION 20-7-1158. Proceedings to determine parentage; evidentiary standard; court-ordered testing; effect of refusal; effect of test results.

(A) A proceeding to determine parentage under this subarticle is a civil matter to be decided by a preponderance of the evidence.

(B) The family court may, and to the extent otherwise required by law upon request of a party shall, order the child and the alleged mother or alleged father to submit to scientifically accepted testing for parentage.

(C) If a defendant refuses to comply with an order for testing for parentage, a tribunal of this State may resolve the question of parentage against the defendant. If a plaintiff refuses to comply with an order for testing for parentage, the tribunal shall dismiss the proceeding without prejudice.

(D) A verified written report by an expert on parentage testing is prima facie evidence of the truth of the facts asserted in it. If the verified report shows the chain of custody of samples tested, it is competent evidence to establish the chain.

(E) If the results of testing for parentage create a presumption of parentage under the law of this State, upon motion a tribunal of this State, to the extent otherwise authorized by law, shall order the presumed parent to pay temporary child support. A tribunal of this State, to the extent otherwise authorized by law, also may order temporary support if the defendant has signed a verified statement acknowledging parentage or there is other clear and convincing evidence that the defendant is the particular child's parent.

SECTION 20-7-1160. "Governor" defined; powers of Governor as to extradition of individual charged with criminal failure to provide support.

(A) For purposes of this section and Section 20-7-1162, "governor" includes an individual performing the functions of governor or the executive authority of a state covered by this subarticle.

(B) The Governor of this State may:

(1) demand that the governor of another state surrender an individual found in the other state who is charged criminally in this State with having failed to provide for the support of an obligee; or

(2) on the demand by the governor of another state, surrender an individual found in this State who is charged criminally in the other state with having failed to provide for the support of an obligee.

(C) A provision for extradition of criminals not inconsistent with this subarticle applies to the demand even if the individual whose surrender is demanded was not in the demanding state when the crime was committed and has not fled from there.

SECTION 20-7-1162. Prerequisites to compliance with extradition request.

(A) Before making demand that the governor of another state surrender an individual charged criminally in this State with having failed to provide for the support of an obligee, the Governor of this State may require a prosecutor of this State to demonstrate that at least sixty days previously the obligee had initiated proceedings for support under this subarticle or that the proceeding would be of no avail.

(B) If, under this subarticle or a substantially similar law, the governor of another state makes a demand that the Governor of this State surrender an individual charged criminally in that state with having failed to provide for the support of an individual or child to whom a duty of support is owed, the Governor may require a prosecutor to investigate the demand and report whether a proceeding for support has been initiated or would be effective. If it appears that a proceeding would be effective but has not been initiated, the Governor may delay honoring the demand for a reasonable time to permit the initiation of a proceeding.

(C) If a proceeding for support has been initiated and the individual demanded prevails, the Governor may decline to honor the demand. If the plaintiff prevails and the individual whose extradition is demanded is subject to a support order, the Governor may decline to honor the demand if the individual demanded is complying with the support order.

SECTION 20-7-1164. Construction of subarticle.

This subarticle must be applied and construed to effectuate its general purpose to make uniform the law with respect to the subject of this subarticle among states enacting it.

SECTION 20-7-1165. Renumbered as Section 20-7-1144 at direction of Code Commissioner.

SECTION 20-7-1166. Severability of provisions of this subarticle.

If a provision of this subarticle or its application to an individual or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of this subarticle which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this subarticle are severable.

SECTION 20-7-1170. Renumbered as Section 20-7-1146 at direction of Code Commissioner.

SUBARTICLE 6.

INCOME WITHHOLDING



PART I. MEDICAL CHILD SUPPORT AND INCOME WITHHOLDING

SECTION 20-7-1200. Required contents of court order requiring parent to provide health coverage.

To be enforced pursuant to this part of Subarticle 6, a court order which requires a parent to provide health coverage for a child must:

(1) clearly specify:

(a) the name, social security number, and last known mailing address, if any, of the parent and the name, social security number, date of birth, and mailing address of each child covered by the order;

(b) a reasonable description of the type of coverage to be provided by the plan to each child or the manner in which the type of coverage is to be determined;

(c) the period to which the order applies;

(d) each plan to which the order applies; and

(2) not require a plan to provide a type or form of benefit or an option, not otherwise provided under the plan, except to the extent necessary to meet the requirements of this part of Subarticle 6.

SECTION 20-7-1210. Duties of employer or health insurer upon receipt of court order.

If a court order requiring a parent to provide health coverage to a child is received by an employer or a health insurer, including a group health plan as defined in Section 607(1) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 or health maintenance organization as defined in Section 38-33-20:

(1) the employer or health insurer promptly shall notify the parent and each child of the receipt of the order and the employer's or insurer's procedures for determining whether the order is covered by this part of Subarticle 6;

(2) within a reasonable period after receipt of the order, the employer or insurer shall determine whether the order is covered by this part of Subarticle 6 and notify the parent and each child of the determination;

(3) shall establish reasonable procedures to determine whether the order is covered by this part of Subarticle 6 and to administer the provision of benefits under qualified orders. The procedures must:

(a) be in writing;

(b) provide for the notification of each person specified in the order as eligible to receive benefits, at the address included in the order, of these procedures promptly upon receipt by the employer or insurer of the order; and

(c) permit the court or the child's legal guardian to designate a representative for receipt of copies of notices that are sent with respect to a medical child support order.

SECTION 20-7-1220. Notice of court order to employer providing family health coverage; duties of employer upon receipt of notice and order.

(A) If a parent is required by a court order to provide health coverage for a child and the parent is eligible for family health coverage through an employer in this State, notice and a copy of the order must be sent to the employer. The notice and copy of the order may be sent by first class mail. The notice must explain all of the employer's legal obligations under this part of Subarticle 6. In cases enforced by the Child Support Enforcement Division of the Department of Social Services, the division shall use the National Medical Support Notice promulgated by the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement. Upon receipt of notice and the order, the employer shall:

(1) permit the parent to enroll, under the family coverage, a child who is otherwise eligible for the coverage without regard to any enrollment season restrictions;

(2) if the parent is enrolled but fails to make application to obtain coverage for the child, enroll the child under family coverage upon application of:

(a) the child's other parent;

(b) the state agency administering the Medicaid program; or

(c) the state agency administering 42 U.S.C. Sections 651 to 669, the child support enforcement program; and

(3) continue coverage of the child unless the employer:

(a) is provided satisfactory written evidence that the court order is no longer in effect or that the child is or will be enrolled in comparable health coverage through another insurer which will take effect not later than the effective date of disenrollment; or

(b) has eliminated family health coverage for all of its employees.

(B) An employer who has received a copy of a court order pursuant to this section is bound by the order until further notice by the court. The employer shall notify the court within twenty days after the parent named in the order is no longer employed and shall provide the parent's last known address and the name and address of the parent's new employer, if known.

SECTION 20-7-1230. Withholding by employer for health coverage premiums.

If a court order requires a parent to provide and maintain health coverage for a child and the parent is eligible for family health coverage through an employer, the order shall include a provision directing the employer to withhold from money, income, or periodic earnings due the parent an amount which is sufficient to provide for premiums for the health coverage offered through the employer unless:

(1) the court finds that under regulations promulgated by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, circumstances exist warranting withholding less than the employee's share of the premiums; or

(2) the amount withheld exceeds the maximum amount permitted to be withheld under the federal Consumer Credit Protection Act.

Income withholding takes effect immediately upon completion of enrollment requirements.

SECTION 20-7-1240. Withholding of income or tax refunds to reimburse Medicaid expenditures on behalf of child; priority.

To the extent necessary to reimburse the state agency administering the Medicaid program for expenditures on behalf of a child, the agency may petition the court seeking withholding of employment income or state tax refunds from a person who:

(1) is required by a court order to provide and maintain health coverage for a child who is eligible for medical assistance under a State Plan for Medical Assistance pursuant to Title XIX of the Social Security Act;

(2) has received payment from a third party for the costs of health care items or services; and

(3) has not used the payment to reimburse, as appropriate, either the other parent or guardian of the child or the provider of the items or services.

Claims for current or past due child support take priority over claims filed pursuant to this section.

SECTION 20-7-1250. Priority of orders of income withholding; mistake of fact only ground for contesting order to provide health coverage.

(A) A court order which requires income withholding pursuant to this part of Subarticle 6 has priority over all other legal processes under state law against money, income, or periodic earnings of the noncustodial parent except an order of income withholding for child support.

(B) A person under a court order to provide and maintain health care coverage as of July 1, 1994, is subject to the income withholding for health coverage provisions of this part of Subarticle 6. The only ground to contest an order of income withholding for health coverage is a mistake of fact. If the person contests the withholding because of a mistake of fact, the court shall provide the person an opportunity to present his or her case. The court shall determine whether to order withholding and shall notify the person of the determination and, if appropriate, the time period in which withholding will commence.

SECTION 20-7-1260. Proof of compliance with order to provide health care coverage.

Within thirty days after receipt of an order requiring the obligated parent to provide health care coverage for a child, the parent or employer must provide the child's other parent written proof that the insurance has been obtained or that an application for insurance has been made. Proof of insurance coverage consists of, at a minimum:

(1) the name of the insurer;

(2) the policy number;

(3) an insurance card;

(4) the address to which claims must be mailed;

(5) a description of any restriction on usage including, but not limited to, prior approval for hospital admission and the manner in which to obtain prior approval;

(6) description of all deductibles;

(7) five copies of claim forms.

SECTION 20-7-1270. Action against employee because of withholding order for health care coverage prohibited.

An employer is prohibited from discharging, refusing to employ, or taking other disciplinary action against a person because of an income withholding order for health coverage. The person has the burden of proving that income withholding for health coverage was the sole reason for the employer's action.

SECTION 20-7-1280. Penalty for violation of provisions.

An employer or insurer who violates any provision of this part of Subarticle 6 is subject to the contempt power of the court issuing the order and may be fined up to fifty dollars per day.

PART IA. CHILD SUPPORT ARREARAGE LIENS

SECTION 20-7-1295. Unpaid child support obligations; lien in favor of obligee; recordation and registration; filing notice of lien; expiration of lien; neglect or refusal to pay amount due; levy.

(A) A child support obligation which is unpaid in an amount equal to or greater than one thousand dollars, as of the date on which it was due, is a lien in favor of the obligee in an amount sufficient to satisfy unpaid child support, whether the amount due is a fixed sum or is accruing periodically. An amount of restitution established by the Department of Social Services, Child Support Enforcement Division, or its designee (division) or the family court is due and payable as of the date the amount is established. The lien shall incorporate any unpaid child support which may accrue in the future and does not terminate except as provided in subsection (D). Upon recordation or registration in accordance with subsection (C), the lien shall encumber all tangible and intangible property, whether real or personal, and an interest in property, whether legal or equitable, belonging to the obligor. An interest in property acquired by the obligor after the child support lien arises is subject to the lien, subject to the limitations provided in subsections (C) and (D).

(B) When the division determines that child support is unpaid in an amount equal to or greater than one thousand dollars, it shall send written notice to the obligor by first-class mail to the obligor's last known address, as filed with the tribunal pursuant to Section 20-7-854. The notice shall specify the amount unpaid as of the date of the notice or other date certain and the right of the obligor to request an administrative review by filing a written request with the division within thirty days of the date of the notice. If the obligor files a timely written request for an administrative review, the division shall conduct the review within thirty days of receiving the request.

(C) The division shall file notice of a lien with respect to real property with the register of deeds for any county in the State where the obligor owns property. The social security number, or the alien identification number assigned to a resident alien who does not have a social security number, of the obligor must be noted on the notice of the lien. The filing operates to perfect a lien when recorded, as to any interest in real property owned by the obligor that is located in the county where the lien is recorded. Liens created under this section must be maintained by the register of deeds of each county of the State, in accordance with established local procedures for recordation. If the obligor subsequently acquires an interest in real property, the lien is perfected upon the recording of the instrument by which the interest is obtained in the register of deeds where the notice of the lien was filed within six years prior thereto. A child support lien is perfected as to real property when both the notice thereof and a deed or other instrument in the name of the obligor are on file in the register of deeds for the county where the obligor owns property without respect to whether the lien or the deed or other instrument was recorded first.

The division also shall file notice of a child support lien, with the social security number, or the alien identification number assigned to a resident alien who does not have a social security number, of the obligor on the notice, with respect to personal property with the Department of Natural Resources, a county, or other office or agency responsible for the filing or recording of liens. The filing of a notice of a lien or of a waiver or release of a lien must be received and registered or recorded without payment of a fee. The division may file notice of a lien or waiver or release of a lien or may transmit information to or receive information from any registry of deeds or other office or agency responsible for the filing or recording of liens by any means, including electronic means. Any lien placed against a vehicle with a title issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles is not perfected until notation of the lien is recorded on the vehicle's title by the Department of Motor Vehicles. No fee is required to reissue this title. The perfected lien is not subordinate to a recorded lien except a lien that has been perfected before the date on which the child support lien was perfected. The division, upon request of the obligor, may subordinate the child support lien to a subsequently perfected mortgage. To assist in the collection of a debt by the division, the division may disclose the name of an obligor against whom a lien has arisen and other identifying information including the existence of the lien and the amount of the outstanding obligation.

(D) The lien expires upon termination of a current child support obligation and payment in full of unpaid child support or upon release of the lien by the division. In any event, a lien under this section expires six years from the date on which the lien was first perfected. The lien may be extended for additional periods of six years each by recording, during the fifth year of the lien, a further notice of the lien, as provided in subsection (C), without affecting the priority of the lien. Expiration of the lien does not terminate the underlying order or judgment of child support. The division may issue a full or partial waiver of a lien imposed under this section. The waiver or release is conclusive evidence that the lien upon the property covered by the waiver or release is extinguished.

(E) If an obligor against whom a lien has arisen and has been perfected under subsection (C) neglects or refuses to pay the sum due after the expiration of the thirty-day notice period specified in subsection (B), the division may collect the unpaid child support and levy upon all property as provided in this section. For the purposes of this section, 'levy' includes the power of distraint and seizure by any means. A person in possession of property upon which a lien having priority under subsection (C) has been perfected, upon demand, shall surrender the property to the division as pursuant to this section. Financial institutions which hold assets of an obligor, after proper identification and notification by the division, shall encumber or surrender deposits, credits, or other personal property held by the institution on behalf of an obligor who is subject to a child support lien, pursuant to Section 43-5-596. Financial institutions are allowed to either submit account information directly to the State where it is matched against the parent data base, or financial institutions may request a file and complete the comparison and submit it directly to the State. The social security number must be used for the matching process and not the full name of the person who maintains an account with that entity. A levy on property held by an organization with respect to a life insurance or endowment contract, without necessity for the surrender of the contract document, constitutes a demand by the division for payment of the amount of the lien and the exercise of the right of the obligor to the advance of the amount. The organization shall pay the amount ninety days after service of the notice of levy. The levy is considered satisfied if the organization pays over to the division the full amount which the obligor could have had advanced to him, if the amount does not exceed the amount of the lien. Whenever any property upon which levy has been made is not sufficient to satisfy the claim of the state for which levy is made, the division thereafter, as often as may be necessary, proceed to levy, without further notice, upon any other property of the obligor subject to levy upon first perfecting its lien as provided in subsection (C), until the amount due from the obligor and the expenses are fully paid. With respect to a seizure or levy of real property or tangible personal property, the sheriff shall proceed in the manner prescribed by Sections 15-39-610, et seq., insofar as these sections are not inconsistent with this section. The division has rights to property remaining after satisfying superior perfected liens, as provided in subsection (C).

(F) Upon demand by the division, a person who fails or refuses to surrender property subject to levy pursuant to this section is liable in his own person and estate to the State in a sum equal to the value of the property not so surrendered but not exceeding the amount of the lien, and the costs at the rate established by Section 23-19-10.

(G) A person in possession of, or obligated with respect to, property who, upon demand by the division, surrenders the property or discharges the obligations to the division or who pays a liability under this section, must be discharged from any obligation or liability to the obligor arising from the surrender or payment. A levy on an organization with respect to a life insurance or endowment contract which is satisfied pursuant to this section, discharges the organization from any obligation or liability to any beneficiary arising from the surrender or payment.

(H) The division shall send timely written notice to the obligor by first-class mail of any action taken to perfect a lien, execute a levy, or seize any property. The notice shall specify the amount due, the steps to be followed to release the property so placed under lien, levied, or seized, and the time period within which to respond to the notice and shall include the name of the court or administrative agency of competent jurisdiction which entered the child support order.

(I) A person aggrieved by a determination of the division pursuant to subsection (B), upon exhaustion of the procedures for administrative review, may seek judicial review in the court where the order or judgment was issued or registered. Commencement of the review shall not stay enforcement of child support. The court may review the proceedings taken by the division pursuant to this section and may correct any mistakes of fact; however, the court may not reduce or retroactively modify child support arrears.

(J) A child support enforcement agency in a jurisdiction outside this State may request the division to enforce a child support order issued by a court or administrative agency in another jurisdiction or a lien arising under the law of another jurisdiction. The order or lien must be accorded full faith and credit and the order or lien must be enforced as if the order was issued or the lien arose in South Carolina, without the necessity of registering the order with the court.

(K) The division is authorized to promulgate rules and regulations, if necessary, to implement the provision of this section.

PART II. INCOME WITHHOLDING TO ENFORCE SUPPORT OBLIGATIONS



SECTION 20-7-1315. Withholding of income to secure payment of support obligations; definitions; procedures; fines.

(A) As used in this section:

(1) "Order for support" means any order of a court or an administrative agency of competent jurisdiction which provides for periodic payments of funds for the support of a child or maintenance of a spouse or former spouse and support of a child, whether temporary or final, whether incidental to a proceeding for divorce, separation, separate maintenance, paternity, guardianship, or otherwise and includes any order providing for a modification of support payment of an arrearage or reimbursement of support.

(2) "Delinquency" means when a support payment owed by an obligor pursuant to an order of support is overdue in an amount equal to at least one month's support obligation.

(3) "Arrearage" means the total amount of unpaid support obligations.

(4) "Court" as used in this section means Family Court.

(5) "Income" means any periodic form of payment to an individual regardless of source including, but not limited to, wages, salary, commission, bonuses, compensation as an independent contractor, workers' compensation, disability, annuity and retirement benefits, payments made pursuant to a retirement program, interest, and any other payments made by a person or an agency or department of the federal, state, or local government provided the income excludes:

(a) amounts required to by law to be withheld, other than creditor claims, including, but not limited to, federal, state, and local taxes, social security and other retirement deductions, and disability contributions;

(b) amounts exempted by federal law;

(c) public assistance payments.

Any other state or local laws which limit or exempt income or the amount or percentage of income that can be withheld do not apply.

(6) "Obligor" means an individual who is required to make payments pursuant to order for support.

(7) "Obligee" means an individual or the individual's assignee who is entitled to receive payments pursuant to an order of support.

(8) "Payor" means any payor of income to an obligor. For purposes of this section, the South Carolina Employment Security Commission is not considered to be a payor.

(B)(1) For all Title IV-D cases in which support orders are issued or modified after October 31, 1990, and for all nontitle IV-D cases in which support orders are issued or modified after January 3, 1994, the income of an obligor is subject to immediate withholding as of the effective date of the order without the requirement that an arrearage accumulate. However, income is not subject to withholding if:

(a) one of the parties demonstrates and the court finds that there is good cause not to require immediate income withholding; or

(b) a written agreement is reached between both parties which provides for an alternative arrangement.

(2) All orders for support entered or modified in the State before October 1, 1996, if not otherwise subject to wage withholding, are subject to withholding if a delinquency occurs without the need for a judicial or administrative hearing. These orders must be construed to contain this withholding provision even if the provision has been omitted from the written order; however, the court may order withholding to begin immediately for good cause shown. The court is required to make specified written findings to support immediate withholding.

(3) Income withholding must be initiated in all Title IV-D cases upon the request of the obligee without the necessity of a delinquency, if the State approves the request in accordance with the procedures and standards as it may establish. If the obligee requests income withholding pursuant to this subsection, notice of the request must be provided to the obligor by the clerk of court, and if the obligor objects to the income withholding within ten days after the postmarked date of the notice, a hearing must be held, and the family court shall subject the obligor's income to withholding unless the court finds that there is good cause not to require immediate income withholding. Where there is no objection by the obligor after proper notice, the clerk of court shall implement immediate income withholding.

(C)(1) An obligor may petition the court at any time prior to the occurrence of a delinquency seeking an order for income withholding procedures to begin immediately.

(2) Where the obligor makes payments directly to the obligee pursuant to an order for support and where income withholding procedures take effect, the provisions to pay directly are superseded by the withholding process and the obligor and the payor on behalf of the obligor during the period of withholding must pay this support through the court.

(D)(1) If a delinquency occurs, the clerk of court shall prepare, file, and serve on the obligor a verified notice of delinquency within fifteen calendar days of the delinquency if the obligor's address is known or if the address is not known, within fifteen calendar days of locating the obligor. If the obligor makes payments pursuant to an order for support directly to the obligee and the obligee seeks income withholding, the notice of delinquency must be verified by the obligee and then served on the obligor by the clerk of court as with any other notice of delinquency.

(2) The verified notice of delinquency must be served on the obligor by regular mail addressed to the obligor's last known address or place of employment. Upon mailing the notice, the clerk of court shall file a certificate of mailing stating the name and address to which the notice was mailed and the date on which it was mailed. If service cannot be effected as set forth in this subsection, the obligor may be served as prescribed for service in civil actions.

(3) The notice of delinquency shall inform the obligor that a delinquency has occurred and shall recite the monthly support obligations of the obligor pursuant to the order of support, the total amount of the arrearage as of the date of the notice, and the amount of income to be withheld. The notice must clearly state that a notice to withhold will be sent to the obligor's current or subsequent payor, income withholding will begin, and that a judgment lien may be imposed against the obligor's personal or real property in the amount of the arrearage pursuant to Section 20-7-1316, unless the obligor files a petition to stay service in accordance with subsection (E).

(E)(1) The obligor may prevent a notice to withhold from being served on the obligor's payor and prevent the recording of the arrearage pursuant to Section 20-7-1316 by filing a petition to stay service with the clerk of court with jurisdiction of the matter within ten days of the date that the notice of delinquency is postmarked; however, the grounds for granting the petition to stay service are limited to a dispute concerning the identity of the obligor or the existence or amount of the arrearage.

(2) Filing of a petition to stay service within the ten days required under this subsection prohibits the clerk of court from serving the notice to withhold on any payor of the obligor and prohibits the recordation of the arrearage.

(3) If a petition to stay service is filed, a hearing on the petition must be held within thirty days of its filing. The obligor, obligee, and Department of Social Services, where appropriate, must be notified by the clerk of court of the date, time, and place of the hearing and the court must decide the matter, notify the obligor, and enter an order granting or denying relief or amending the notice of delinquency within forty-five days of the date the notice of delinquency was mailed to the obligor. If the court finds that a delinquency existed when the notice of delinquency was mailed, the court shall order immediate service of the notice to withhold and the arrearage may be recorded immediately pursuant to Section 20-7-1316. The court shall inform the obligor of the time frame within which withholding is to begin and shall provide the obligor in writing with the information contained in the notice to withhold to be served on the payor with respect to the withholding.

(4) Upon filing an affidavit with the court stating that a petition to stay service was not timely filed because the notice of delinquency was not received and that grounds exist for a petition to stay service as stated in subsection (E)(1), the obligor is permitted to file a petition to withdraw the notice to withhold, terminate the withholding procedures, and remove the judgment created by the recording of the arrearage. Income withholding, however, may not be interrupted unless the court enters an order granting the relief sought by the obligor based on the limited grounds for a petition to stay service.

(F)(1) Fifteen days following the mailing of the notice of the delinquency to the obligor and if no petition to stay service has been filed, the clerk of court shall serve a notice to withhold on the payor or its agent by regular mail and may record the arrearage pursuant to Section 20-7-1316.

(2) The notice to withhold shall:

(a) direct any payor to withhold at the obligor's regularly scheduled pay periods an amount which over the period of one month would constitute one month's support obligation plus applicable fees pursuant to this section and costs as provided by Section 20-7-1440;

(b) direct any payor to withhold an additional amount toward any arrearage until the arrearage is paid in full; however, amounts to be withheld under this item and item (2)(a) may not exceed the limits set forth by the Federal Consumer Credit Protection Act (15 U.S.C. Section 1673(b));

(c) direct any payor to notify the clerk if health insurance is available to the obligor for the benefit of children for whom child support is being withheld;

(d) state the rights, responsibilities, and liabilities of the payor under this section.

(3) The payor shall then deduct the designated amount pursuant to the notice to withhold beginning no later than the next regularly scheduled pay period following the pay period during which the payor was served. Payors need not change their regular payroll pattern and may combine all withheld amounts into one check for a particular clerk of court with an itemized statement showing accounts attributable to each obligor for each obligee. For each instance of withholding of income, the payor is entitled to receive a fee of up to three dollars to be deducted from the income of the obligor in addition to the amounts withheld pursuant to the notice to withhold unless the fee is waived by the payor.

(4) If there is more than one notice to withhold on a single obligor, the payor must comply with the notices by withholding the amounts designated in the notices to the extent possible pursuant to the Federal Consumer Credit Protection Act (15 U.S.C. Section 1673(b)). If the payor cannot fully comply with the notices because the amounts to be withheld would exceed the limits under the Federal Consumer Credit Protection Act, the payor shall notify the court in writing as to its reasons for failing to fully comply. Priority must be given to current support obligations. In no case may the allocation result in a withholding for one of the support obligations not being implemented.

(5) The employer shall promptly pay the amount withheld to the centralized wage withholding system within seven working days of the date income is withheld, in accordance with the notice to withhold and in accordance with any subsequent notification received from the clerk of court concerning withholding. The payor shall provide the date on which the income is withheld.

(6) Upon the records of the clerk of court reflecting the satisfaction of an arrearage, the clerk of court shall serve upon the payor by regular mail a notice of reduction of withholding. This notice shall inform the payor that the arrearage has been satisfied and to discontinue withholding the additional amount as prescribed in item 2(b) of this subsection.

(7) Within twenty days after the obligor is no longer employed by the payor, the payor shall return a copy of the notice to withhold to the clerk of court and shall notify the clerk of court in writing of the date the obligor's employment terminated, the date of the obligor's final paycheck, the obligor's home address, and obligor's new employer and address, if known.

(8) Withholding of income from an obligor under this section has priority over any other legal process under state law against the same wages. Payment pursuant to a notice to withhold is a complete defense by the payor against any claims of the obligor or the obligor's creditors as to the sum paid.

(9) No payor may discharge, refuse to hire, or otherwise penalize any obligor because of the duty to withhold income.

(10) The responsibility of a payor who employs an obligor to withhold support from the pay of the obligor ends when the obligor leaves the employ of the payor. If this termination of employment occurs during the middle of a pay period, the final amount required to be withheld must be proportionately reduced in the same percentage that the time worked has to the time of the full pay period.

(11) If the Division of Child Support of the Department of Social Services is notified by the South Carolina Employment Security Commission in accordance with Section 41-35-140 that an obligor is receiving unemployment insurance benefits, the division must notify the court for the intercept of unemployment insurance benefits if a delinquency occurs and the obligor's case is a Title IV-D case. The intercept of unemployment insurance benefits must be in accordance with Section 41-35-140.

(G)(1) The clerk of court may suspend income withholding because of inability to deliver the income withheld to the obligee due to the obligee's failure to provide a mailing address or other means of delivery. Upon relocating the obligee and upon meeting the requirements of notice and service pursuant to this section, income withholding must be reinstated.

(2) An obligor may petition the court at any time to terminate income withholding pursuant to a notice to withhold:

(a) if there is no longer a current order for support and all arrearages are paid; or

(b) if the obligor requests termination and withholding has not been terminated previously and subsequently reinstated and the obligor meets the conditions for an alternative arrangement.

However, if termination is granted and subsequently a delinquency occurs, the clerk of court shall reinstate withholding procedures by complying with all requirements for notice and service pursuant to this section.

(3) The clerk of court shall serve on the payor by regular mail a copy of any order entered pursuant to this subsection or subsection (E)(4) that affects the duties of the payor. If service cannot be effected as set forth in this subsection, the payor may be served as prescribed for service in civil actions.

(4) The notice to withhold continues to be binding upon the payor until service of any order of the court entered under this subsection or subsection (E)(4) or until notice is served on the payor by the clerk of court that the underlying order is, for other reasons such as expiration of the support obligation, no longer in effect.

(H)(1) An obligee who is receiving income withholding payments under this section shall notify the clerk of court of any change of address within seven days of the change.

(2) An obligee who is a recipient of public aid must send a copy of any notice of delinquency filed pursuant to subsection (D) to the Division of Child Support of the South Carolina Department of Social Services.

(3) An obligor whose income is being withheld or who has been served with a notice of delinquency pursuant to this section shall notify the clerk of court of any new payor and of the availability of health insurance for any children for whom support is ordered within seven days after employment commences.

(4) Upon receiving any other support payment including, but not limited to, a tax offset under federal or state law or any payment toward an arrearage, the Department of Social Services, within the time permitted by Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, shall provide notice of the payment to the clerk of court.

(5) Any clerk of court who collects, receives, or disburses payment pursuant to an order for support or a notice to withhold shall maintain complete, accurate, and clear records of all payments and their disbursements. Certified copies of payment records maintained by the clerk of court must without further proof be admitted into evidence in any legal proceedings in which child support is an issue.

(6) The Department of Social Services and the Office of Court Administration shall design suggested legal forms for proceeding under this section and Section 20-7-1316 and shall make available to the courts for distribution to parties in support actions these forms and informational materials which describe the procedures and remedies set forth in this section and Section 20-7-1316.

(I)(1) If a payor wilfully fails to withhold or pay over income pursuant to a notice to withhold, the court upon notice and hearing may enter judgment and direct the issuance of an execution against the payor for the total amount that the payor wilfully failed to withhold. A payor who wilfully refuses to hire or who discharges or otherwise penalizes an obligor as prohibited by subsection (F)(9) or who fails to notify the clerk of the availability of health insurance is subject to a civil fine not to exceed five hundred dollars which may be imposed by the court in its discretion.

(2) If an obligor, obligee, or the Department of Social Services wilfully initiates a false proceeding under this section or wilfully fails to comply with the requirements of this section, punishment for contempt may be imposed.

(J) The rights, remedies, duties, and penalties created by this section are in addition to any other rights, remedies, duties, and penalties otherwise provided by law.

(K) The Office of Court Administration after consultation with the Department of Social Services is authorized to promulgate those regulations necessary to implement this section.

(L) By January 1, 1996, the Child Support Enforcement Division of the Department of Social Services shall create and develop an Employer New Hire Reporting program. The Employer New Hire Reporting program shall provide a means for employers to voluntarily assist in the state's efforts to locate absent parents who owe child support and collect child support from those parents by reporting information concerning newly hired and rehired employees directly to the division. The following provisions apply to the Employer New Hire Reporting program:

(1) An employer doing business in this State may participate in the Employer New Hire Reporting program by reporting to the Child Support Enforcement Division:

(a) the hiring of a person who resides or works in this State to whom the employer anticipates paying earnings; or

(b) the rehiring or return to work of an employee who was laid off, furloughed, separated, granted leave without pay, or terminated from employment.

(2) The Employer New Hire Reporting program applies to a person who is expected to:

(a) be employed for more than one month's duration;

(b) be paid for more than three hundred fifty hours during a continuous six-month period; or

(c) have gross earnings of more than three hundred dollars in each month of employment.

(3) An employer who voluntarily reports under item (1) shall submit monthly reports regarding each hiring, rehiring, or return to work of an employee during the preceding month. The report must contain:

(a) the employee's name, address, social security number, date of birth, and salary information; and

(b) the employer's name, address, and employer identification number.

(4) Employers reporting to the Employer New Hire Reporting program shall provide information to the Child Support Enforcement Division by:

(a) sending a copy of the new employee's W-4 form;

(b) completing a form supplied by the Child Support Enforcement Division; or

(c) any other means authorized by the Child Support Enforcement Division for conveying the required information, including electronic transmission or magnetic tapes in compatible formats.

(5) An employer is authorized by this section to disclose the information described in item (3) and is not liable to the employee for the disclosure or subsequent use by the Child Support Enforcement Division of the information.

(6) Information received by the South Carolina Employment Security Commission from employers which includes information contained in the reports provided for in this section shall transmit this information to the Department of Social Services within fifteen working days after the end of each quarter.

Information received by the South Carolina Employment Security Commission received from employers which includes information contained in the reports provided for in this section shall transmit this information to the Department of Social Services within fifteen working days after the end of each quarter.

(M) The department shall establish and operate a centralized system for the collection and disbursement of funds received from wage withholding under the Child Support Enforcement program. Wage withholding subject to this provision shall include:

(1) all wage withholding cases being enforced by the Child Support Enforcement Division;

(2) all cases not being enforced by the Child Support Enforcement Division in which the support order was initially issued in the State on or after January 1, 1994, and in which the income of the noncustodial parent is subject to withholding.

Amounts collected through the centralized wage withholding system are subject to the five percent court cost pursuant to Section 20-7-1440(C), with disposition of all these fees made in accordance with Section 14-1-203. Employers shall make payment of the amount withheld to the centralized system within seven working days of the date income is withheld. The department shall, in compliance with federal requirements, disburse child support funds received from employers to the appropriate county clerk of court for disbursement to the custodial parent.

SECTION 20-7-1316. Recording of arrearages as judgment; effect of lien.

When a delinquency occurs as defined in Section 20-7-1315, the obligor must be given notice pursuant to Section 20-7-1315(C) of the proposed lien. Where no petition to stay service is timely filed or where no relief is granted to the obligor pursuant to Section 20-7-1315(D), the arrearage may be recorded or provided for in Section 20-7-1315(E) in the appropriate index in the office of the Clerk of Court or Register of Deeds. Upon recordation the arrearage has the same force and effect as a judgment and it is cumulative to the extent of any and all past due support, until the arrearage is paid in full. The judgment may be recorded in any county in which the obligor resides or in which he owns real property by the filing of a transcript of judgment in that county. A lien imposed pursuant to this section is not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

SECTION 20-7-1317. Repealed by 1994 Act No. 497, Part II, Section 27C, eff July 1, 1994.

SECTION 20-7-1318. Definitions.

As used in this subarticle:

(1) "Support order" means an order of a court which provides for periodic payments of funds for the support of a child or maintenance of a spouse or former spouse and support of a child, whether temporary or final, whether incidental to a proceeding for divorce, separation, separate maintenance, paternity, guardianship, or otherwise and includes an order providing modification of support payment of an arrearage or reimbursement of support.

(2) "Jurisdiction" means any state or political subdivision, territory, or possession of the United States, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

(3) "Court" means the family court of this State and, when the context requires, means either the court or agency of any other jurisdiction with functions similar to those defined in this chapter, including the issuance and enforcement of support orders.

(4) "Agency" means the clerk of court of this State and, when the context requires, means either the court or agency of any other jurisdiction with functions similar to those defined in this chapter, including the issuance and enforcement of support orders.

(5) "Child" means any child, whether above or below the age of majority, with respect to whom a support order exists.

(6) "Obligor" means any person required to make payments under the term of a support order for a child, spouse, or former spouse.

(7) "Obligee" means any person or entity which is entitled to receive support under an order of support and includes an agency of another jurisdiction to which a person has assigned his right to support.

(8) "Income" means any form of payment to an individual as defined in Section 20-7-1315(A)(5).

(9) "Payor" means any payor of income.

(10) "Income derived in this jurisdiction" means any income, the payor of which is subject to the jurisdiction of this State for the purpose of imposing and enforcing income withholding under Section 20-7-1315.

SECTION 20-7-1319. Supplemental nature of remedy.

The remedy provided in this subarticle is in addition to, and not in substitution for, any other remedy otherwise available to enforce a support order of another jurisdiction. Relief under this subarticle may not be denied, delayed, or otherwise affected because of the availability of other remedies, nor may relief under any other statute be delayed or denied because of the availability of this remedy.

SECTION 20-7-1320. Order to withhold income earned in another jurisdiction.

On behalf of any obligee for whom the clerk of court is already providing services, or on application of a resident of this State, an obligee or obligor of a support order issued by this State, or an agency to whom the obligee has assigned support rights, the clerk of court shall promptly request the agency of another jurisdiction in which the obligor of a support order derives income to enter the order for the purpose of obtaining income withholding against the income. The clerk of court shall compile and transmit promptly to the agency of the other jurisdiction all documentation required to enter a support order for this purpose. The clerk of court also shall transmit immediately to the agency of the other jurisdiction a certified copy of any subsequent modifications of the support order. If the clerk of court receives notice that the obligor is contesting income withholding in another jurisdiction, it shall immediately notify the individual obligee of the date, time, and place of the hearings and of the obligee's right to attend.

SECTION 20-7-1321. Order to withhold income earned in South Carolina; required documentation; cure of defects; effect of order.

(a) Upon receiving a support order of another jurisdiction with the documentation specified in subsection (b) of this section from an agency of another jurisdiction an obligee, an obligor, or an attorney for either, the clerk of court shall enter this order.

(b) The following documentation is required for the entry of a support order of another jurisdiction:

(1) a certified copy of the support order with all modifications;

(2) a certified copy of an income withholding order, if any, still in effect;

(3) a copy of the portion of the income withholding statute of the jurisdiction which issued the support order which states the requirements for obtaining income withholding under the law of that jurisdiction;

(4) a sworn statement of the obligee or certified statement of the agency of the arrearages and the assignment of support rights, if any;

(5) a statement of:

(a) the name, address, and social security number of the obligor, if known;

(b) the name and address of the obligor's employer or of any other source of income of the obligor derived in this State against which income withholding is sought;

(c) the name and address of the agency or person to whom support payments collected by income withholding must be transmitted.

(c) If the documentation received by the clerk of court under subsection (a) of this section does not conform to the requirements of subsection (b) of this section, the clerk of court shall remedy any defect which it can without the assistance of the requesting agency or person. If the clerk of court is unable to make such corrections, the requesting agency, or person, shall immediately be notified of the necessary additions or corrections. The clerk of court shall accept the documentation required by subsections (a) and (b) of this section even if it is not in the usual form required by state or local rules, so long as the substantive requirements of these subsections are met.

(d) A support order entered under subsection (a) of this section is enforceable by income withholding against income derived in this State in the manner and with the effect as set forth in Sections 20-7-1322 through 20-7-1329 and Section 20-7-1315. Entry of the order does not confer jurisdiction on the courts of this State for any purpose other than income withholding.

SECTION 20-7-1322. Service of notice of delinquency; obligor's right to hearing.

(a) On the date a support order is entered pursuant to Section 20-7-1321, the clerk of court shall serve upon the obligor, in accordance with subsection (C), Section 20-7-1315, a verified notice of delinquency. The notice shall also advise the obligor that the income withholding was requested on the basis of a support order of another jurisdiction.

(b) If the obligor seeks a hearing to contest the proposed income withholding the clerk of court shall immediately notify the requesting agency and the Department of Social Services when the request for withholding was from an agency, the obligee, obligor, or an attorney for either of the date, time, and place of the hearing and of the obligee's right to attend the hearing.

SECTION 20-7-1323. Hearing; presumptions; obligor's defenses; evidence of witnesses in other state.

(a) At any hearing contesting proposed income withholding based on a support order entered under Section 20-7-1321, the entered order, accompanying sworn or certified statement, and a certified copy of an order for withholding, if any, still in effect constitutes prima facie proof, without further proof or foundation, that the support order is valid, that the amount of current support payments and arrearages is as stated, and that the obligee is entitled to income withholding under the law of the jurisdiction which issued the support order.

(b) Once a prima facie case is established, the grounds that may be raised by an obligor to contest the withholding are limited to dispute concerning the identity of the obligor or the existence or amount of the arrearage.The burden is on the obligor to establish these defenses. The burden is on the obligor to establish these defenses.

(c) If the obligor presents evidence which constitutes a full or partial defense, the court shall, on the request of the obligee, continue the case to permit further evidence relative to the defense to be adduced by either party but if the obligor acknowledges liability sufficient to entitle the obligee to income withholding, the court shall require income withholding for the payment of current support payments under the support order and of so much of any arrearage as is not in dispute, while continuing the case with respect to those matters still in dispute. The court shall determine those matters still in dispute as soon as possible, and if appropriate shall modify the withholding order to conform to that resolution but may not modify the underlying support order.

(d) In addition to other procedural devices available to a party, any party to the proceeding or a guardian ad litem or other representative of the child may adduce testimony of witnesses in another state, including the parties and any of the children, by deposition, by written discovery, by photographic discovery such as videotaped depositions, or by personal appearance before the court by telephone or photographic means. The court on its own motion may direct that the testimony of a person be taken in another state and may prescribe the manner in which and the terms upon which the testimony must be taken.

(e) A court of this State may request the appropriate court or agency of another state to hold a hearing to adduce evidence, to permit a deposition to be taken before the court or agency, to order a party to produce or give evidence under other procedures of that state, and to forward to the court of this State certified copies of the evidence adduced in compliance with the request.

(f) Upon request of a court or agency of another state the family courts of this State may order a person in this State to appear at a hearing or deposition before the court to adduce evidence or to produce or give evidence under other procedures available in this State. A certified copy of the evidence adduced, such as a transcript or videotape, must be forwarded by the clerk of the court to the requesting court or agency.

(g) A person within this State may voluntarily testify by statement or affidavit in this State for use in a proceeding to obtain income withholding outside this State.

SECTION 20-7-1324. Issuance of order to withhold income; notice to obligee.

If the obligor does not request a hearing in the time provided, or if a hearing is held and it is determined that the obligee has or is entitled to income withholding under the local law of the jurisdiction which issued the support order, the clerk of court shall issue a notice to withhold under subsection (E) of Section 20-7-1315. The clerk of court shall notify the requesting agency or person of the date upon which withholding must begin.

SECTION 20-7-1325. Applicability of Section 20-7-1315 to income withholding based on support order of another jurisdiction.

The provisions of subsections (C), (D), (E), (F) and subsubsections (1), (3), (4), and (5) of subsection (G) of Section 20-7-1315 apply to income withholding based on a support order of another jurisdiction entered under this subarticle.

SECTION 20-7-1326. Receipt of payments by clerk of court; effect of support order entered under Section 20-7-1321.

(a) The notice to withhold shall direct payment to be made to the clerk of court. The clerk of court shall promptly transmit payments received pursuant to an order to withhold based on a support order of another jurisdiction entered under this subarticle to the agency or person designated in subitem (c) of item (5) of subsection (b) of Section 20-7-1321.

(b) A support order entered pursuant to Section 20-7-1321 does not nullify and is not nullified by a support order made by a court of this State pursuant to any other law or by a support order made by a court of any other state. Amounts collected by any withholding of income must be credited against the amounts accruing or accrued for any period under any support orders issued either by this State or by a sister state.

SECTION 20-7-1327. Amendment of withholding order; notice of changes to agency which requested income withholding.

(a) The clerk of court, upon receiving a certified copy of any amendment or modification to a support order entered pursuant to Section 20-7-1321, shall initiate, as though it were a support order of this State, necessary procedures to amend or modify the order to withhold of this State which was based upon the entered support order. The court shall amend or modify the order to withhold to conform to the modified support order.

(b) If the clerk of court determines that the obligor has obtained employment in another state or has a new or additional source of income in another state, he shall notify the agency which requested the income withholding of the changes and shall forward to that agency all information it has or can obtain with respect to the obligor's new address and the name and address of the obligor's new employer or other source of income. The clerk of court shall include with the notice a certified copy of the order to withhold in effect in this State.

SECTION 20-7-1328. Voluntary income withholding.

Any person who is the obligor on a support order of another jurisdiction may obtain voluntary income withholding by filing with the clerk of court a request for withholding and a certified copy of the support order of a sister state. The clerk of court shall issue a notice to withhold under subsection (2) of subsection (E) of Section 20-7-1315. Payment must be made to the clerk of court.

SECTION 20-7-1329. Applicability of law of South Carolina to certain issues; applicability of foreign law.

(a) The law of this State shall apply in all actions and proceedings concerning the issuance, enforcement, and duration of orders to withhold issued by a court of this State, which is based upon a support order of another jurisdiction entered pursuant to Section 20-7-1320, except as provided in subsections (b) and (c) of this section.

(b) The law of the jurisdiction which issued the support order shall govern the following:

(1) the interpretation of the support order entered under Section 20-7-1321, including amount, form of payment, and the duration of support;

(2) the amount of support arrearages necessary to require the issuance of an order to withhold;

(3) the definition of what costs, in addition to the periodic support obligation, are included as arrearages which are enforceable by income withholding, including but not limited to interest, attorney's fees, court costs, and costs of paternity testing.

(c) The court in this State may impose its costs as allowed by law.

SUBARTICLE 7.

DISPOSITIONAL POWERS OF FAMILY COURT

SECTION 20-7-1330. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.



SECTION 20-7-1331. Youth mentor program; participation and availability.

(A) This section may be cited as the "Youth Mentor Act".

(B) The Attorney General's Office shall establish a Youth Mentor Program to serve juvenile offenders under the jurisdiction of the family court. The program shall consist of a church mentor program and a community mentor program. Participation in the program may be required as a pretrial diversion option by a solicitor or as an optional, alternative disposition by a family court judge. The circuit solicitor may charge a juvenile offender who participates in the Youth Mentor Program a fee to offset the actual cost of administering the program; however, no juvenile offender is barred from the program because of indigence. This program must be available for juveniles who commit nonviolent offenses. For purposes of this subsection, nonviolent offenses mean all offenses not listed in Section 16-1-60.

(C) When a child is charged with a nonviolent offense which places him under the jurisdiction of the family court and the solicitor is of the opinion that justice would be better served if the child completed a church mentor program, the solicitor may divert the child to such a program. Upon completion of the program, the proceedings in family court must be dismissed.

Participation in the church mentor program is voluntary, and the child or his parents or guardians may refuse to participate based upon their religious beliefs or for any other reason.

The Attorney General must establish guidelines for the program, the mentors, and the churches, mosques, masjids, synagogues, and other religious organizations that participate in the church mentor program.

(D) When a child is adjudicated delinquent for a nonviolent offense in family court, the family court judge may order the child to participate in the community mentor program. When a child is ordered to participate in the community mentor program, he must be assigned to a community organization which shall assign a mentor to the child. The mentor shall monitor the academic and personal development of the child for a minimum period of six months and a maximum period not exceeding one year as ordered by the court. Failure to complete the program shall result in the child being brought before the family court for appropriate sanctions or revocation of suspended commitment.

The Attorney General must establish guidelines for the program, the mentors, and the community organizations that participate in the community mentor program.

SECTION 20-7-1333. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-1335. Repealed by 2004 Act No. 276, Section 4, eff July 16, 2004.

SECTION 20-7-1340. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-1350. Penalties for violations by adults.

An adult who wilfully violates, neglects, or refuses to obey or perform a lawful order of the court, or who violates any provision of this chapter, may be proceeded against for contempt of court. An adult found in contempt of court may be punished by a fine, a public work sentence, or by imprisonment in a local correctional facility, or any combination of them, in the discretion of the court, but not to exceed imprisonment in a local correctional facility for one year, a fine of fifteen hundred dollars, or public work sentence of more than three hundred hours, or any combination of them. An adult sentenced to a term of imprisonment under this section may earn good time credits pursuant to Section 24-13-210 and work credits pursuant to Section 24-13-230 and may participate in a work/punishment program pursuant to Section 24-13-910 unless his participation in any of these programs is prohibited by order of the sentencing judge.

SUBARTICLE 9.

ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS OF THE FAMILY COURT

SECTION 20-7-1360. Judges; chief family court judges; employment of court reporter and secretary.

A. Each family court shall have one or more family court judges who shall devote full time to their duties as judges, shall be prohibited from engaging directly or indirectly in the practice of law except in the performance of their judicial duties and shall be bound by the Code of Judicial Conduct.

B. One family court judge in each circuit shall be designated chief family court judge which designation shall be made by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Such chief family court judge, in addition to his other judicial duties, shall perform such administrative duties as may be prescribed by the Chief Justice.

C. The family courts shall be courts of record, and each family court judge shall appoint a court reporter and a secretary who shall hold office at the pleasure of the judge. The court reporter shall take down and record the testimony and judge's rulings and charges, and transcribe such portion of the proceedings as may be required. The court reporter and the secretary shall perform such other duties as the judge may prescribe.

D. Records in the family court concerning juveniles shall be kept confidential as prescribed in Sections 20-7-690 and 20-7-8510.

SECTION 20-7-1370. Qualifications and terms of judges; elections; vacancies.

A. No person shall be eligible to the office of family court judge who is not at the time of his assuming the duties of such office a citizen of the United States and of this State, and has not attained the age of thirty-two years, has not been a licensed attorney at law for at least eight years, and has not been a resident of this State for five years next preceding his election, and is not a resident of the circuit wherein the family court of which he is a judge is located. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any former member of the General Assembly may be elected to the office of family court judge.

Any family court judge serving in office on the effective date of the provisions of this section requiring a family court judge to be at least thirty-two years of age and to have at least eight years of service as a licensed attorney at law who is not of that age or who has not been licensed for this required period of time may continue to serve for the remainder of his current term and is considered to have the requisite age and years of service as a licensed attorney at law for purposes of future re-elections to the office of family court judge.

B. Family court judges must be elected by the General Assembly for terms of six years and until their successors are elected and qualify.

C. The terms of all family court judges expire on the thirtieth day of June of the year in which their terms are scheduled to expire.

D. For the purpose of electing family court judges, if more than one judge is to be elected from a circuit, each judgeship in that circuit shall be serially numbered beginning with the number (1) and the General Assembly shall elect a judge for each such judgeship. Any candidate for the office of family court judge in a circuit shall specifically file and run for a serially-numbered judgeship in that circuit.

E. When a vacancy occurs for an unexpired term in an office of family court judge, the Governor, upon recommendation of the Chief Justice, shall commission a temporary family court judge to fill such vacancy until such time as the General Assembly shall elect a successor who shall serve for the remainder of the unexpired term. Such temporary family court judge shall receive as compensation for his services the salary paid to a regular family court judge and in addition thereto shall also receive the subsistence and mileage as authorized by law for family court judges.

SECTION 20-7-1380. Compensation of family court judges.

Family court judges shall receive such compensation as shall be provided by the General Assembly. The compensation of a family court judge shall not be reduced during his term of office. All family court judges shall also receive such subsistence and mileage as may be authorized by law for circuit court judges while holding court without the county in which the judge resides.

SECTION 20-7-1390. Rotation of judges.

All family court judges in a circuit, including the chief family court judge, shall rotate among all counties in the circuit as directed by the chief family court judge under the direction and supervision of the Chief Justice.

SECTION 20-7-1400. Assignment of cases to judges.

If two or more family court judges are presiding in the same county at the same time, the chief family court judge shall make assignments of the cases in such county to those judges.

SECTION 20-7-1410. Initial election of judges; additional judgeships.

The General Assembly shall elect a number of family court judges from each judicial circuit as follows:

First Circuit Three Judges

Second Circuit Two Judges

Third Circuit Three Judges

Fourth Circuit Three Judges

Fifth Circuit Four Judges

Sixth Circuit Two Judges

Seventh Circuit Three Judges

Eighth Circuit Three Judges

Ninth Circuit Six Judges

Tenth Circuit Three Judges

Eleventh Circuit Three Judges

Twelfth Circuit Three Judges

Thirteenth Circuit Six Judges

Fourteenth Circuit Three Judges

Fifteenth Circuit Three Judges

Sixteenth Circuit Two Judges

In the following judicial circuits at least one family court judge must be a resident of each county in the circuit: fifth, seventh, tenth, twelfth, thirteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth. In those judicial circuits made up of three or more counties at least one family court judge must be a resident of one of the counties which does not have the largest population in the circuit. In the ninth circuit, both counties in the circuit must have at least two resident family court judges.

No county in the sixth circuit shall have more than one resident family court judge.

SECTION 20-7-1420. Temporary assignment of judges.

The Chief Justice, in his discretion and based upon caseload requirements and need, may temporarily assign a family court judge to preside in another circuit other than the one in which he is a resident.

SECTION 20-7-1430. Retirement benefits of abolished officers.

A judge or master whose judicial office is eliminated by the provisions of this act shall be given credit for state retirement purposes for the time in which he served as judge or master under a formula to be determined by rule and regulation of the State Budget and Control Board.

SECTION 20-7-1440. Fees, costs and allowances.

(A) In delinquency and neglect actions no court fee may be charged against and no witness fee is allowed to a party to a petition. No officer of this State or of a political subdivision of this State may receive a fee for the service of process or for attendance in court in the proceeding, except that in divorce proceedings the officer is allowed the fee provided by law and except when the sheriff or clerk of court has entered into a cooperative agreement with the South Carolina Department of Social Services pursuant to Title IV-D of the Social Security Act for the reimbursement of federal matching funds. All other persons acting under orders of the court may be paid for services or service of process fees provided by law for like services in cases before the circuit court, to be paid from the appropriation provided when the allowances are certified to by the judge.

(B) The sheriff, municipal police, constable, or any peace officer shall serve all papers in delinquency, dependency, and neglect cases without costs, except as provided for in subsection (A).

(C) In actions for support for the spouse or dependent children, when paid through the court or through a centralized wage withholding system operated by the Department of Social Services and not directly, the court shall assess costs against the party required to pay the support in the amount of five percent of the support paid, which costs must be in addition to the support money paid. The revenue from the costs must be remitted as provided in Section 14-1-203.

By making the additional five percent payment on child support required by this subsection to the court or through the centralized wage withholding system operated by the Department of Social Services, the payor agrees:

(1) that this payment is in satisfaction of court costs assessed;

(2) that this payment is not child support under 45 CFR 302.51 but is in addition to all child support paid;

(3) to the distribution of this payment to the State for court costs.

(D) In actions initiated by the department pursuant to Section 20-7-736 or 20-7-738, the court, only after a hearing on the merits, may impose a fee of one hundred dollars against the defendant. If the court does not order removal of custody or intervention and protective services with the child remaining in the home, the fee must be waived. The court may assess the fee against any one defendant or apportion the fee among multiple defendants. The fee may be paid in installments as the court may order; however, the court may not assess a defendant a fee if the defendant's legal assistance is paid for with public funds or if the defendant is qualified for court appointment in accordance with Section 20-7-110. The clerk of court shall collect the fee and remit it to the department. The department shall retain the fees remitted to be used to offset the expenses associated with its legal representation in child abuse and neglect cases.

SECTION 20-7-1450. Cooperation of societies and agencies; duty of counties and towns to assist.

The court is authorized to seek the cooperation of all societies or organizations, public or private, having for their object the protection or aid of delinquent or neglected children, to the end that the court may be assisted in every reasonable way to give to the children the care, protection, and assistance which will conserve their welfare. Every state, county, town, or municipal official or department shall assist and cooperate within his or its jurisdictional power to further the objects of this chapter. All institutions, associations, or other custodial agencies in which a child may be, coming within the provisions of this chapter, are required to give information to the court, or an officer appointed by it, the court or officer requires for the purposes of this chapter.

SECTION 20-7-1460. Judicial circuit family courts created.

There hereby are created courts of limited jurisdiction to be known and designated in this title as "family courts." The number and boundaries of such family courts shall be the same as the judicial circuits. Each court shall bear the name of "The Family Court of __________ Judicial Circuit."

SECTION 20-7-1470. Prosecutorial functions and duties vested in solicitors.

All prosecutorial functions and duties in the family courts shall be a responsibility of and be vested in the solicitor of the circuit wherein the court is located.

SECTION 20-7-1480. Administration of family court system.

The Supreme Court by rule shall provide for the administration of the family court system.

SECTION 20-7-1490. Counties to provide facilities for Family Court system, including intake and probation services by Department of Juvenile Justice.

Each county shall provide sufficient physical facilities for the operation of the statewide Family Court system in that county, including facilities necessary for the provision of intake and probation services by the Department of Juvenile Justice.

SECTION 20-7-1500. Expenses of family courts.

The General Assembly shall in the annual general appropriations act provide for the salaries, equipment and supplies of family court judges and the court reporters and secretaries authorized by the provisions of subsection (C) ofSection 20-7-1360. All other costs necessary for the operation of the family court system in a county including the salaries of necessary support personnel shall be provided for by the governing body of that county.

SECTION 20-7-1510. Repealed by 1994 Act No. 497, Part II, Section 36U, eff January 1, 1995.



ARTICLE 11.

DISPOSITION OF CASES BEFORE THE FAMILY COURT



SUBARTICLE 1.

SPECIAL CUSTODY AND VISITATION PROVISIONS



SECTION 20-7-1515. Child's preference for custody to be considered.

In determining the best interests of the child, the court must consider the child's reasonable preference for custody. The court shall place weight upon the preference based upon the child's age, experience, maturity, judgment, and ability to express a preference.

SECTION 20-7-1520. Religious faith shall be considered in determining custody.

In placing the child in the custody of an individual or a private agency or institution, the court shall, whenever practicable, select a person or an agency or institution governed by persons of the same religious faith as that of the parents of such child, or, in case of a difference in the religious faith of the parents, then of the religious faith of the child, or, if the religious faith of the child is not ascertainable, then of the faith of either of the parents.

SECTION 20-7-1525. Abolition of "Tender Years Doctrine".

The "Tender Years Doctrine" in which there is a preference for awarding a mother custody of a child of tender years is abolished.

SECTION 20-7-1530. Evidence of domestic violence to be considered in determining custody.

(A) In making a decision regarding custody of a minor child, in addition to other existing factors specified by law, the court must give weight to evidence of domestic violence as defined in Section 16-25-20 or Section 16-25-65 including, but not limited to:

(1) physical or sexual abuse; and

(2) if appropriate, evidence of which party was the primary aggressor, as defined in Section 16-25-70.

(B) The absence or relocation from the home by a person, against whom an act of domestic violence has been perpetrated, if that person is not the primary aggressor, must not be considered by the court to be sufficient cause, absent other factors, to deny custody of the minor child to that person.

SECTION 20-7-1535. Visitation granted to person found to have committed domestic violence; conditions; payment for treatment of child physically or psychologically injured by violence.

(A) A court may award visitation to a person who has been found by a general sessions, magistrates, municipal, or family court to have committed domestic violence, as defined in Section 16-25-20 or Section 16-25-65, or in cases in which complaints were made against both parties, to the person found by a general sessions, magistrates, municipal, or family court to be the primary aggressor under Section 16-25-70, only if the court finds that adequate provision for the safety of the child and the victim of domestic violence can be made.

(B) In a visitation order, a court may:

(1) order an exchange of a child to occur in a protected setting;

(2) order visitation supervised by another person or agency;

(3) order a person who has been found by a general sessions, magistrates, municipal, or family court to have committed domestic violence, or in cases in which complaints were made against both parties, the person found by the court to have been the primary aggressor, to attend and complete, to the satisfaction of the court, a program of intervention for offenders or other designated counseling as a condition of the visitation;

(4) order a person who has been found by a general sessions, magistrates, municipal, or family court to have committed domestic violence, or in cases in which complaints were made against both parties, the person found by the court to have been the primary aggressor, to abstain from possession or consumption of alcohol or controlled substances during the visitation and for twenty-four hours preceding the visitation;

(5) order a person who has been found by a general sessions, magistrates, municipal, or family court to have committed domestic violence, or in cases in which complaints were made against both parties, the person found by a general sessions, magistrates, municipal, or family court to be the primary aggressor, to pay a fee to defray the costs of supervised visitation;

(6) prohibit overnight visitation;

(7) require a bond from a person who has been found by a general sessions, magistrates, municipal, or family court to have committed domestic violence, or in cases in which complaints were made against both parties, from the person found by a general sessions, magistrates, municipal, or family court to be the primary aggressor, for the return and safety of the child if that person has made a threat to retain the child unlawfully;

(8) impose any other condition that is considered necessary to provide for the safety of the child, the victim of domestic violence, and any other household member.

(C) If a court allows a household member to supervise visitation, the court must establish conditions to be followed during the visitation.

(D) A judge may, upon his own motion or upon the motion of any party, prohibit or limit the visitation when necessary to ensure the safety of the child or the parent who is a victim of domestic violence.

(E) If visitation is not allowed or is allowed in a restricted manner to provide for the safety of a child or parent who is a victim of domestic violence, the court may order the address of the child and the victim to be kept confidential.

(F) The court must order a person who has been found by a general sessions, magistrates, municipal, or family court to have committed domestic violence, or in cases in which complaints were made against both parties, the person found by a general sessions, magistrates, municipal, or family court to be the primary aggressor, to pay the actual cost of any medical or psychological treatment for a child who is physically or psychologically injured as a result of one or more acts of domestic violence.

SECTION 20-7-1540. De facto custodian of minor child; visitation; custody.

(A) For purposes of this section, "de facto custodian" means, unless the context requires otherwise, a person who has been shown by clear and convincing evidence to have been the primary caregiver for and financial supporter of a child who:

(1) has resided with the person for a period of six months or more if the child is under three years of age; or

(2) has resided with the person for a period of one year or more if the child is three years of age or older.

Any period of time after a legal proceeding has been commenced by a parent seeking to regain custody of the child must not be included in determining whether the child has resided with the person for the required minimum period.

(B) A person is not a de facto custodian of a child until the court determines by clear and convincing evidence that the person meets the definition of de facto custodian with respect to that child. If the court determines a person is a de facto custodian of a child, that person has standing to seek visitation or custody of that child.

(C) The family court may grant visitation or custody of a child to the de facto custodian if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that the child's natural parents are unfit or that other compelling circumstances exist.

(D) No proceeding to establish whether a person is a de facto custodian may be brought concerning a child in the custody of the Department of Social Services.

(E) If the court has determined by clear and convincing evidence that a person is a de facto custodian, the court must join that person in the action as a party needed for just adjudication under the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure.

SUBARTICLE 2.

PRIVATE GUARDIANS AD LITEM



SECTION 20-7-1545. Private guardians ad litem; appointment.

(A) In a private action before the family court in which custody or visitation of a minor child is an issue, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem only when it determines that:

(1) without a guardian ad litem, the court will likely not be fully informed about the facts of the case and there is a substantial dispute which necessitates a guardian ad litem; or

(2) both parties consent to the appointment of a guardian ad litem who is approved by the court;

(B) The court has absolute discretion in determining who will be appointed as a guardian ad litem in each case. A guardian ad litem must be appointed to a case by a court order.

SECTION 20-7-1547. Qualifications; affidavit attesting to qualifications; appointment of attorney for lay guardian.

(A) A guardian ad litem may be either an attorney or a layperson. A person must not be appointed as a guardian ad litem pursuant to Section 20-7-1545 unless he possesses the following qualifications:

(1) a guardian ad litem must be twenty-five years of age or older;

(2) a guardian ad litem must possess a high school diploma or its equivalent;

(3) an attorney guardian ad litem must annually complete a minimum of six hours of family law continuing legal education credit in the areas of custody and visitation; however, this requirement may be waived by the court;

(4) for initial qualification, a lay guardian ad litem must have completed a minimum of nine hours of continuing education in the areas of custody and visitation and three hours of continuing education related to substantive law and procedure in family court. The courses must be approved by the Supreme Court Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization;

(5) a lay guardian ad litem must observe three contested custody merits hearings prior to serving as a guardian ad litem. The lay guardian must maintain a certificate showing that observation of these hearings has been completed. This certificate, which shall be on a form approved by Court Administration, shall state the names of the cases, the dates and the judges involved and shall be attested to by the respective judge; and

(6) lay guardians ad litem must complete annually six hours of continuing education courses in the areas of custody and visitation.

(B) A person shall not be appointed as a guardian ad litem pursuant to Section 20-7-1545 who has been convicted of any crime listed in Chapter 3 of Title 16, Offenses Against the Person; in Chapter 15 of Title 16, Offenses Against Morality and Decency; in Chapter 25 of Title 16, Criminal Domestic Violence; in Article 3 of Chapter 53 of Title 44, Narcotics and Controlled Substances; or convicted of the crime of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, provided for in Section 16-17-490.

(C) No person may be appointed as a guardian ad litem pursuant to Section 20-7-1545 if he is or has ever been on the Department of Social Services Central Registry of Abuse and Neglect.

(D) Upon appointment to a case, a guardian ad litem must provide an affidavit to the court and to the parties attesting to compliance with the statutory qualifications. The affidavit must include, but is not limited to, the following:

(1) a statement affirming that the guardian ad litem has completed the training requirements provided for in subsection (A);

(2) a statement affirming that the guardian ad litem has complied with the requirements of this section, including a statement that the person has not been convicted of a crime enumerated in subsection (B); and

(3) a statement affirming that the guardian ad litem is not nor has ever been on the Department of Social Services Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect pursuant to Section 20-7-650.

(E) The court may appoint an attorney for a lay guardian ad litem. A party or the guardian ad litem may petition the court by motion for the appointment of an attorney for the guardian ad litem. This appointment may be by consent order. The order appointing the attorney must set forth the reasons for the appointment and must establish a method for compensating the attorney.

SECTION 20-7-1549. Responsibilities and duties; submission of briefs.

(A) The responsibilities and duties of a guardian ad litem include, but are not limited to:

(1) representing the best interest of the child;

(2) conducting an independent, balanced, and impartial investigation to determine the facts relevant to the situation of the child and the family. An investigation must include, but is not limited to:

(i) obtaining and reviewing relevant documents, except that a guardian ad litem must not be compensated for reviewing documents related solely to financial matters not relevant to the suitability of the parents as to custody, visitation, or child support. The guardian ad litem shall have access to the child's school records and medical records. The guardian ad litem may petition the family court for the medical records of the parties;

(ii) meeting with and observing the child on at least one occasion;

(iii) visiting the home settings if deemed appropriate;

(iv) interviewing parents, caregivers, school officials, law enforcement, and others with knowledge relevant to the case;

(v) obtaining the criminal history of each party when determined necessary; and (vi) considering the wishes of the child, if appropriate;

(3) advocating for the child's best interest by making specific and clear suggestions, when necessary, for evaluation, services, and treatment for the child and the child's family. Evaluations or other services suggested by the guardian ad litem must not be ordered by the court, except upon proper approval by the court or by consent of the parties;

(4) attending all court hearings related to custody and visitation issues, except when attendance is excused by the court or the absence is stipulated by both parties. A guardian must not be compensated for attending a hearing related solely to a financial matter if the matter is not relevant to the suitability of the parents as to custody, visitation, or child support. The guardian must provide accurate, current information directly to the court, and that information must be relevant to matters pending before the court;

(5) maintaining a complete file, including notes. A guardian's notes are his work product and are not subject to subpoena; and

(6) presenting to the court and all parties clear and comprehensive written reports including, but not limited to, a final written report regarding the child's best interest. The final written report may contain conclusions based upon the facts contained in the report. The final written report must be submitted to the court and all parties no later than twenty days prior to the merits hearing, unless that time period is modified by the court, but in no event later than ten days prior to the merits hearing. The ten-day requirement for the submission of the final written report may only be waived by mutual consent of both parties. The final written report must not include a recommendation concerning which party should be awarded custody, nor may the guardian ad litem make a recommendation as to the issue of custody at the merits hearing unless requested by the court for reasons specifically set forth on the record. The guardian ad litem is subject to cross-examination on the facts and conclusions contained in the final written report. The final written report must include the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of those interviewed during the investigation.

(B) A guardian ad litem may submit briefs, memoranda, affidavits, or other documents on behalf of the child. A guardian ad litem may also submit affidavits at the temporary hearing. Any report or recommendation of a guardian ad litem must be submitted in a manner consistent with the South Carolina Rules of Evidence and other state law.

SECTION 20-7-1551. Guardian ad litem as mediator.

A guardian ad litem must not mediate, attempt to mediate, or act as a mediator in a case to which he has been appointed. However, nothing in this section shall prohibit a guardian ad litem from participating in a mediation or a settlement conference with the consent of the parties.

SECTION 20-7-1553. Compensation; factors considered in determining reasonableness; submission of itemized bill; review.

(A) At the time of appointment of a guardian ad litem, the family court judge must set forth the method and rate of compensation for the guardian ad litem, including an initial authorization of a fee based on the facts of the case. If the guardian ad litem determines that it is necessary to exceed the fee initially authorized by the judge, the guardian must provide notice to both parties and obtain the judge's written authorization or the consent of both parties to charge more than the initially authorized fee.

(B) A guardian appointed by the court is entitled to reasonable compensation, subject to the review and approval of the court. In determining the reasonableness of the fees and costs, the court must take into account:

(1) the complexity of the issues before the court;

(2) the contentiousness of the litigation;

(3) the time expended by the guardian;

(4) the expenses reasonably incurred by the guardian;

(5) the financial ability of each party to pay fees and costs; and

(6) any other factors the court considers necessary.

(C) The guardian ad litem must submit an itemized billing statement of hours, expenses, costs, and fees to the parties and their attorneys pursuant to a schedule as directed by the court.

(D) At any time during the action, a party may petition the court to review the reasonableness of the fees and costs submitted by the guardian ad litem or the attorney for the guardian ad litem.

SECTION 20-7-1555. Disclosure.

A guardian ad litem appointed by the family court in a custody or visitation action must, upon notice of the appointment, provide written disclosure to each party:

(1) of the nature, duration, and extent of any relationship the guardian ad litem or any member of the guardian's immediate family residing in the guardian's household has with any party;

(2) of any interest adverse to any party or attorney which might cause the impartiality of the guardian ad litem to be challenged;

(3) any membership or participation in any organization related to child abuse, domestic violence, or drug and alcohol abuse.

SECTION 20-7-1557. Removal.

A guardian ad litem may be removed from a case at the discretion of the court.

SUBARTICLE 3.

TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS

SECTION 20-7-1560. Declaration of purpose.

The purpose of this subarticle is to establish procedures for the reasonable and compassionate termination of parental rights where children are abused, neglected, or abandoned in order to protect the health and welfare of these children and make them eligible for adoption by persons who will provide a suitable home environment and the love and care necessary for a happy, healthful, and productive life.

SECTION 20-7-1562. Jurisdiction of Family Court.

The family court has exclusive jurisdiction over all proceedings held pursuant to this subarticle. For purposes of this subarticle jurisdiction may continue until the child becomes eighteen years of age, unless emancipated earlier.

SECTION 20-7-1564. Procedure for filing petition for termination of parental rights.

(A) A petition seeking termination of parental rights may be filed by the Department of Social Services or any interested party.

(B) The department may file an action for termination of parental rights without first seeking the court's approval of a change in the permanency plan pursuant to Section 20-7-766 and without first seeking an amendment of the placement plan pursuant to Section 20-7-764.

SECTION 20-7-1566. Content of petition for termination of parental rights.

A petition for the termination of parental rights must set forth the:

(1) basis of the court's jurisdiction;

(2) name, sex, date, and place of birth of the child, if known;

(3) name and address of the petitioner and the petitioner's relationship to the child;

(4) names, dates of birth, and addresses of the parents, if known;

(5) names and addresses of a:

(i) legal guardian of the child; or

(ii) person or agency having legal custody of the child; and

(6) grounds on which termination of parental rights are sought and the underlying factual circumstances.

SECTION 20-7-1568. Filing of summons and petition; service.

A summons and petition for termination of parental rights must be filed with the court and served on:

(1) the child;

(2) the parents of the child; and

(3) an agency with placement or custody of the child.

SECTION 20-7-1570. Representation by counsel; appointment of guardian ad litem.

(A) Parents, guardians, or other persons subject to a termination of parental rights action are entitled to legal counsel. Those persons unable to afford legal representation must be appointed counsel by the family court, unless the defendant is in default.

(B) A child subject to any judicial proceeding under this subarticle must be appointed a guardian ad litem by the family court. If a guardian ad litem who is not an attorney finds that appointment of counsel is necessary to protect the rights and interests of the child, an attorney must be appointed. If the guardian ad litem is an attorney, the judge must determine on a case-by-case basis whether counsel is required for the guardian ad litem. However, counsel must be appointed for a guardian ad litem who is not an attorney in any case that is contested.

SECTION 20-7-1572. Termination of parental rights.

The family court may order the termination of parental rights upon a finding of one or more of the following grounds and a finding that termination is in the best interest of the child:

(1) The child or another child in the home has been harmed as defined in Section 20-7-490, and because of the severity or repetition of the abuse or neglect, it is not reasonably likely that the home can be made safe within twelve months. In determining the likelihood that the home can be made safe, the parent's previous abuse or neglect of the child or another child in the home may be considered;

(2) The child has been removed from the parent pursuant to Section 20-7-610 or Section 20-7-736, has been out of the home for a period of six months following the adoption of a placement plan by court order or by agreement between the department and the parent, and the parent has not remedied the conditions which caused the removal;

(3) The child has lived outside the home of either parent for a period of six months, and during that time the parent has wilfully failed to visit the child. The court may attach little or no weight to incidental visitations, but it must be shown that the parent was not prevented from visiting by the party having custody or by court order. The distance of the child's placement from the parent's home must be taken into consideration when determining the ability to visit;

(4) The child has lived outside the home of either parent for a period of six months, and during that time the parent has wilfully failed to support the child. Failure to support means that the parent has failed to make a material contribution to the child's care. A material contribution consists of either financial contributions according to the parent's means or contributions of food, clothing, shelter, or other necessities for the care of the child according to the parent's means. The court may consider all relevant circumstances in determining whether or not the parent has wilfully failed to support the child, including requests for support by the custodian and the ability of the parent to provide support;

(5) The presumptive legal father is not the biological father of the child, and the welfare of the child can best be served by termination of the parental rights of the presumptive legal father;

(6) The parent has a diagnosable condition unlikely to change within a reasonable time including, but not limited to, alcohol or drug addiction, mental deficiency, mental illness, or extreme physical incapacity, and the condition makes the parent unlikely to provide minimally acceptable care of the child. It is presumed that the parent's condition is unlikely to change within a reasonable time upon proof that the parent has been required by the department or the family court to participate in a treatment program for alcohol or drug addiction, and the parent has failed two or more times to complete the program successfully or has refused at two or more separate meetings with the department to participate in a treatment program;

(7) The child has been abandoned as defined in Section 20-7-490(21);

(8) The child has been in foster care under the responsibility of the State for fifteen of the most recent twenty-two months; or

(9) The physical abuse of a child of the parent resulted in the death or admission to the hospital for in-patient care of that child and the abuse is the act for which the parent has been convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to committing, aiding, abetting, conspiring to commit, or soliciting an offense against the person as provided for in Title 16, Chapter 3, criminal domestic violence as defined in Section 16-25-20, criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature as defined in Section 16-25-65, or the common law offense of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.

(10) A parent of the child pleads guilty or nolo contendere to or is convicted of the murder of the child's other parent.

(11) conception of a child as a result of the criminal sexual conduct of a biological parent, as found by a court of competent jurisdiction, is grounds for terminating the rights of that biological parent, unless the sentencing court makes specific findings on the record that the conviction resulted from consensual sexual conduct where neither the victim nor the actor were younger than fourteen years of age nor older than eighteen years of age at the time of the offense.

SECTION 20-7-1574. Permanency of order terminating parental rights; adoption; additional permanency hearings.

(A) If the court finds that a ground for termination, as provided for in Section 20-7-1572, exists, the court may issue an order forever terminating parental rights to the child. Where the petitioner is an authorized agency, the court shall place the child in the custody of the petitioner or other child-placing agency for adoption and shall require the submission of a plan for permanent placement of the child within thirty days after the close of the proceedings to the court and to the child's guardian ad litem. Within an additional sixty days the agency shall submit a report to the court and to the guardian ad litem on the implementation of the plan. The court, on its own motion, may schedule a hearing to review the progress of the implementation of the plan.

(B) If the court finds that no ground for termination exists and the child is in the custody of the Department of Social Services, the order denying termination must specify a new permanent plan for the child or order a hearing on a new permanent plan.

(C) If the court determines that an additional permanency hearing is not needed, the court may order:

(1) the child returned to the child's parent if the parent has counterclaimed for custody and the court determines that the return of the child to the parent would not cause an unreasonable risk of harm to the child's life, physical health or safety, or mental well-being. The court may order a specified period of supervision and services not to exceed twelve months.

(2) a disposition provided for in Section 20-7-766(E) if the court determines that the child should not be returned to a parent.

(D) If the court determines that an additional permanency hearing is required, the court's order shall schedule a permanency hearing to be held within fifteen days of the date the order is filed. The court's order must be sufficient to continue jurisdiction over the parties without any need for filing or service of pleadings by the department.

The permanency hearing must be held before the termination of parental rights trial judge if reasonably possible.

At the hearing, the department shall present a proposed disposition and permanent plan in accordance with Section 20-7-766. No supplemental report may be required. The hearing and any order issuing from the hearing shall conform to Section 20-7-766.

If the court approves retention of the child in foster care pursuant to Section 20-7-766(E)(iii), any new plan for services and placement of the child must conform to the requirements of Section 20-7-764. Section 20-7-764 requires the plan to address conditions that necessitated removal of the child, but the plan approved pursuant to this subsection shall address conditions that necessitate retention of the child in foster care.

SECTION 20-7-1576. Effect of order terminating parental rights; rights of inheritance.

(A) An order terminating the relationship between parent and child under this subarticle divests the parent and the child of all legal rights, powers, privileges, immunities, duties, and obligations with respect to each other, except the right of the child to inherit from the parent. A right of inheritance is terminated only by a final order of adoption.

(B) The relationship between a parent and child may be terminated with respect to one parent without affecting the relationship between the child and the other parent.

SECTION 20-7-1578. Construction of provisions; interest of child as prevailing.

This subarticle must be liberally construed in order to ensure prompt judicial procedures for freeing minor children from the custody and control of their parents by terminating the parent-child relationship. The interests of the child shall prevail if the child's interest and the parental rights conflict.

SECTION 20-7-1580. Confidentiality of records.

All papers and records pertaining to a termination of parental rights are confidential and all court records must be sealed and opened only upon order of the judge for good cause shown.

SECTION 20-7-1582. Effect on adoption laws.

The provisions of this subarticle do not, except as specifically provided, modify or supersede the general adoption laws of this State.

SUBARTICLE 5.

FOSTER CARE

SECTION 20-7-1620. Repealed by 1985 Act No. 201, Part II, Section 45, eff June 20, 1985.

SECTION 20-7-1630. Placement with relatives; licensure; services and benefits.

(A) When the Department of Social Services has custody of a child and places that child with a relative who is licensed to provide foster care, the agency must provide the same services and financial benefits as provided to other licensed foster homes. Children placed pursuant to this section are subject to the permanency planning requirements in Section 20-7-766.

(B) If the department has determined that it is in the best interest of a child requiring foster care that the child be placed with a relative, and the relative is not licensed to provide foster care, or if a relative advises the department that the relative is interested in providing placement for a child requiring foster care, the department shall inform the relative of the procedures for obtaining licensure and the benefits of licensure. The department also shall provide information and reasonable assistance to a relative seeking a foster care license to the same extent that it provides this information and assistance to other persons contacting the department about foster care licensing.

SECTION 20-7-1635. Foster care placement of minor convicted of sex offense.

No agency may place a minor in a foster home if the agency has actual knowledge that the minor has been adjudicated delinquent for, or has pled guilty or nolo contendere to, or has been convicted of a sex offense, unless the placement is in a therapeutic foster home or unless the minor is the only child in the foster home at the time of placement and for the length of that minor's placement in the foster home. Notwithstanding this provision, the placing agency may petition the court for an order allowing the minor to be placed in a foster home, other than a therapeutic home, if good cause is shown. Good cause shall include, but not be limited to, the fact that the minor is being placed in a home with his siblings.

The placing agency must inform the foster parent in whose home the minor is placed of that minor's prior history of a sex offense. For purposes of this section the term "sex offense" means:

(1) criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, as provided in Section 16-3-652;

(2) criminal sexual conduct in the second degree, as provided in Section 16-3-653;

(3) criminal sexual conduct in the third degree, as provided in Section 16-3-654;

(4) criminal sexual conduct with minors in the first degree, as provided in Section 16-3-655(1);

(5) criminal sexual conduct with minors in the second degree, as provided in Section 16-3-655(2) and (3);

(6) engaging a child for a sexual performance, as provided in Section 16-3-810;

(7) producing, directing, or promoting sexual performance by a child, as provided in Section 16-3-820;

(8) assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct, as provided in Section 16-3-656;

(9) incest, as provided in Section 16-15-20;

(10) buggery, as provided in Section 16-15-120;

(11) committing or attempting lewd act upon child under sixteen, as provided in Section 16-15-140;

(12) violations of Article 3, Chapter 15 of Title 16 involving a child when the violations are felonies;

(13) accessory before the fact to commit an offense enumerated in this item and as provided for in Section 16-1-40;

(14) attempt to commit any of the offenses enumerated herein; or

(15) any offense for which the judge makes a specific finding on the record that based on the circumstances of the case, the minor's offense should be considered a sex offense.

SECTION 20-7-1640. FBI fingerprinting of foster care license applicants and persons eighteen years or older residing in home; temporary licenses; fee.

(A) A person applying for licensure as a foster parent and a person eighteen years of age or older, residing in a home in which a person has applied to be licensed as a foster parent, must undergo a state fingerprint review to be conducted by the State Law Enforcement Division to determine any state criminal history and a fingerprinting review to be conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine any other criminal history.

(B) Any fee charged by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the fingerprint review must be paid by the individual.

SECTION 20-7-1642. Restrictions on foster care placements with persons with history of child abuse or neglect or certain criminal convictions of pleas; exception where conviction, guilty plea or plea of nolo contendere pardoned.

(A) No child may be placed in foster care with a person:

(1) with a substantiated history of child abuse or neglect; or

(2) who has pled guilty or nolo contendere to or who has been convicted of:

(a) an "Offense Against the Person" as provided for in Chapter 3, Title 16;

(b) an "Offense Against Morality or Decency" as provided for in Chapter 15, Title 16;

(c) contributing to the delinquency of a minor as provided for in Section 16-17-490;

(d) the common law offense of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature when the victim was a person seventeen years of age or younger;

(e) criminal domestic violence, as defined in Section 16-25-20;

(f) criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature, as defined in Section 16-25-65;

(g) a felony drug-related offense under the laws of this State.

(B) A person who has been convicted of a criminal offense similar in nature to a crime enumerated in subsection (A) when the crime was committed in another jurisdiction or under federal law is subject to the restrictions set out in this section.

(C) This section does not prevent foster care placement when a conviction or plea of guilty or nolo contendere for one of the crimes enumerated in subsection (A) has been pardoned. However, notwithstanding the entry of a pardon, the department or other entity making placement or licensing decisions may consider all information available, including the person's pardoned convictions or pleas and the circumstances surrounding them, to determine whether the applicant is unfit or otherwise unsuited to provide foster care services.

SECTION 20-7-1643. Standards for foster parent training.

The Department of Social Services shall establish standards for foster parent training so as to ensure uniform preparedness for foster parents who care for abused or neglected children in the custody of the State. These standards shall specifically prohibit the viewing of standard television programs or reading of articles from popular magazines or daily newspapers as complying with the completion of pre-service or annual foster parent training requirements.

SECTION 20-7-1645. Compensation of foster family for uninsured loss caused by foster child.

A state agency which places a child in a foster home may compensate a foster family, who has made its private residence available as a foster home, for the uninsured loss it incurs when its personal or real property is damaged, destroyed, or stolen by a child placed in its home, if the loss is found by the director of the placing state agency, or his designee, to have occurred, to have been caused solely or primarily by the acts of the child placed with the foster family, and if the acts of the foster family have not in any way caused or contributed to the loss. Compensation may not be in excess of the actual cost of repair or replacement of the damaged or destroyed property but in no case may compensation exceed five hundred dollars for each occurrence.

SUBARTICLE 7.

ADOPTION

SECTION 20-7-1646. Short title.

This subarticle may be cited as the South Carolina Adoption Act.

SECTION 20-7-1647. Legislative purpose; resolution of conflicts in favor of children; requirement that children be adopted by, or placed with, South Carolina residents.

The purpose of this subarticle is to establish fair and reasonable procedures for the adoption of children and to provide for the well-being of the child, with full recognition of the interdependent needs and interests of the biological parents and the adoptive parents. However, when the interests of a child and an adult are in conflict, the conflict must be resolved in favor of the child. Children may be adopted by or placed for adoption with residents of South Carolina only, except in unusual or exceptional circumstances.

SECTION 20-7-1650. Definitions.

(a) "Adoptee" means a person who is proposed to be or who has been legally adopted.

(b) "Adoption" means the judicial act of creating the relationship of parent and child where it did not exist previously.

(c) "Adoptive parent" means an adult who has become a parent of a child through the legal process of adoption.

(d) "Child" means any person under eighteen years of age.

(e) "Child placing agency" or "agency" means the State Department of Social Services and any person or entity who holds legal or physical custody of a child for the purpose of placement for adoption or a person or entity who facilitates the placement of children for the purpose of adoption. For the purposes of this subsection, a person or entity who offers services for compensation where the intent of those services is to arrange or secure adoptions must be considered "facilitating the placement of children for adoption", whether those services constitute counseling, referrals, searches, or any other form of adoption services. However, an attorney engaged in the practice of law who represents a client in an adoption or who otherwise facilitates an adoption in the course of that practice is exempt from this definition.

(f) "Consent" means the informed and voluntary release in writing of all parental rights with respect to a child by a parent for the purpose of adoption, or the informed and voluntary release in writing of all custodial or guardianship rights, or both, with respect to a child by the child placing agency or person facilitating the placement of the child for adoption where the child's parent previously has executed a relinquishment to that agency or person.

(g) "Court" means any family court in this State.

(h) "Relinquishment" means the informed and voluntary release in writing of all parental rights with respect to a child by a parent to a child placing agency or to a person who facilitates the placement of a child for the purpose of adoption and to whom the parent has given the right to consent to the adoption of the child.

(i) "South Carolina resident" means a person who has established a true, fixed principal residence and place of habitation in this State, and who intends to remain or expects to return upon leaving without establishing residence in another state. Temporary absences for short periods of time do not affect the establishment of residency.

(j) "Special needs child" means children who fall into one or more of the following categories:

(1) children who are members of a sibling group;

(2) children of mixed racial heritage;

(3) children aged six or older; or

(4) children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities.

SECTION 20-7-1660. Children who may be adopted.

Any child present within this State at the time the petition for adoption is filed, irrespective of place of birth or place of residence, may be adopted.

SECTION 20-7-1670. Persons who may petition for adoption of child; exceptions to requirements that children be placed with South Carolina residents and placements by Department of Social Services.

(A) Any South Carolina resident may petition the court to adopt a child. Placement of children for adoption pursuant to Subarticle 7, Article 11, Chapter 7 of Title 20 is limited to South Carolina residents with exceptions being made in the following circumstances only:

(a) the child is a special needs child, as defined by Section 20-7-1650;

(b) there has been public notoriety concerning the child or child's family, and the best interests of the child would be served by placement outside this State;

(c) the child is to be placed for adoption with a relative related biologically or by marriage;

(d) at least one of the adoptive parents is in the military service stationed in South Carolina;

(e) there are unusual or exceptional circumstances such that the best interests of the child would be served by placement with or adoption by nonresidents of this State; or

(f) the child has been in foster care for at least six months after having been legally freed for adoption and no South Carolina resident has been identified as a prospective adoptive home.

Before a child is placed within or outside the boundaries of this State for adoption with nonresidents of this State, compliance with Subarticle 11, Article 11, Chapter 7 of Title 20 (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) is required, and a judicial determination must be made in this State that one of the circumstances in items (a) through (f) of this section applies, whether or not the adoption proceedings are instituted in South Carolina. Additionally, in order to determine if any of the circumstances in items (a) through (f) of this section apply so as to permit placement with a nonresident for the purpose of adoption or adoption by a nonresident, a petition may be brought for the determination before the birth of the child or before placement of the child with the prospective adoptive parents. In ruling on this question the court must include in its order specific findings of fact as to the circumstances allowing the placement of a child with a nonresident or the adoption of a child by a nonresident. The court also must analyze the facts against the objective criteria established in Sections 16-3-1060 and 20-7-1690(F) and make specific findings in accordance with the pertinent law and evidence presented. The order resulting from this action does not prohibit or waive the right to refuse to consent to a release of rights or relinquish rights at later time nor to withdraw a consent or relinquish at a later time as provided in this chapter. The order must be merged with and made a part of any subsequent adoption proceeding initiated in South Carolina.

(B) This section does not apply to a child placed by the State Department of Social Services or any agency under contract with the department for purposes of placing that child for adoption. Neither the department nor its contractors may delay or deny the placement of a child for adoption by a nonresident if that nonresident has been approved for adoption of the child by another state authorized to approve such placements pursuant to the Interstate Compact on Placement of Children. The department shall provide an opportunity for a hearing, in accordance with the department's fair hearing procedures, to a nonresident who believes that the department, in violation of this section, has delayed or denied placement of a child for adoption.

SECTION 20-7-1680. Jurisdiction of adoption proceedings; venue.

The family court has exclusive jurisdiction over all proceedings held pursuant to this Subarticle 7, Article 11, Chapter 7 of Title 20. Proceedings for adoption by residents of this State may be brought in the family court of the county in which the petitioner resides or is in military service, or in the county in which the child resides or is born. For nonresidents of this State proceedings for adoption must be brought in the county in which the child resides, in which the child is born, or in which the agency having custody of the child is located.

The family court may order a change of venue as in civil proceedings in this State.

SECTION 20-7-1690. Persons from whom consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption is required; irrevocability of consent or relinquishment given by minor; prohibition against accepting compensation for consent or relinquishment.

(A) Consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption is required of the following persons:

(1) the adoptee, if over fourteen years of age, except where the court finds that the adoptee does not have the mental capacity to give consent, or that the best interests of the adoptee are served by not requiring consent; and either

(2) the parents or surviving parent of a child conceived or born during the marriage of the parents; or

(3) the mother of a child born when the mother was not married; and either

(4) the father of a child born when the father was not married to the child's mother, if the child was placed with the prospective adoptive parents more than six months after the child's birth, but only if the father has maintained substantial and continuous or repeated contact with the child as demonstrated by:

(a) payment by the father toward the support of the child of a fair and reasonable sum, based on the father's financial ability; and either

(b) visits by the father to the child at least monthly when the father is physically and financially able to do so, and when the father is not prevented from doing so by the person or agency having lawful custody of the child; or

(c) regular communication by the father with the child or with the person or agency having lawful custody of the child, when the father is physically and financially unable to visit the child, or when the father is prevented from visiting the child by the person or agency having lawful custody of the child.

The subjective intent of the father, if unsupported by evidence of the acts specified in subitems (a), (b), and (c) of this item (4) of subsection (A) of this section, does not preclude a determination that the father failed to maintain substantial and continuous or repeated contact with the child. In making this determination, the court may not require a showing of diligent efforts by any person or agency having lawful custody of the child to encourage the father to perform the acts. A father of a child born when the father was not married to the child's mother, who openly lived with the child for a period of six months within the one-year period immediately preceding the placement of the child for adoption, and who during the six-months period openly held himself out to be the father of the child is considered to have maintained substantial and continuous or repeated contact with the child for the purpose of this item (4) of subsection (A) of this section; or

(5) the father of a child born when the father was not married to the child's mother, if the child was placed with the prospective adoptive parents six months or less after the child's birth, but only if:

(a) the father openly lived with the child or the child's mother for a continuous period of six months immediately preceding the placement of the child for adoption, and the father openly held himself out to be the father of the child during the six months period; or

(b) the father paid a fair and reasonable sum, based on the father's financial ability, for the support of the child or for expenses incurred in connection with the mother's pregnancy or with the birth of the child, including, but not limited to, medical, hospital, and nursing expenses.

(B) Consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption is required of the legal guardian, child placing agency, or legal custodian of the child if authority to execute a consent or relinquishment has been vested legally in the agency or person and:

(1) both the parents of the child are deceased; or

(2) the parental rights of both the parents have been judicially terminated.

(C) Consent is required of the child placing agency or person facilitating the placement of the child for adoption if the child has been relinquished for adoption to the agency or person.

(D) If the consent of a child placing agency required by this subsection is not provided to any person eligible under Section 20-7-1670, the agency has an affirmative duty to inform the person who is denied consent of all of his rights for judicial review of the denial.

(E) Consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption given by a parent who is a child is not subject to revocation by reason of the parent's minority.

(F) Under no circumstances may a child-placing agency or any person receive a fee, compensation, or any other thing of value as consideration for giving a consent or relinquishment of a child for the purpose of adoption and no child-placing agency or person may receive a child for payment of such fee, compensation, or any other thing of value.

However, costs may be assessed and payment made, subject to the court's approval, for the following:

(1) reimbursements for necessary, actual medical, and reasonable living expenses incurred by the mother and child for a reasonable period of time;

(2) the fee for obtaining investigations and reports as required by Section 20-7-1740;

(3) the fee of the individuals required to take the consent or relinquishment, as required by Section 20-7-1705(A);

(4) the fee of a guardian ad litem appointed pursuant to Section 20-7-1732;

(5) reasonable attorney's fees and costs for actual services rendered;

(6) reasonable fees to child-placing agencies; and

(7) reasonable fees to sending agencies as defined in Section 20-7-1980( 2)(b), the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

The court may approve an adoption while not approving unreasonable fees and costs.

SECTION 20-7-1695. Persons from whom consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption is not required; appointment of guardian ad litem for incompetent parent.

(A) Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 20-7-1690, consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption is not required of the following persons:

(1) a parent whose rights with reference to the adoptee have been terminated pursuant to subarticle 3, Article 11, Chapter 7 of Title 20;

(2) a parent whom the family court finds to be mentally incapable of giving consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption and whom the court finds to be unlikely to provide minimally acceptable care of the adoptee and whose capacity is unlikely to be restored for a reasonable period of time, and, in the court's judgment, it would be detrimental to the adoptee to delay adoption. The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for an incompetent parent for whom there has been no prior appointment and shall appoint independent counsel for an incompetent parent who is indigent. However, upon good cause shown, the court may waive the requirement for the appointment of independent counsel for an incompetent and indigent parent;

(3) the biological parent of a child conceived as a result of that parent's criminal sexual conduct or incest as found by a court of competent jurisdiction unless, with respect to a conviction for criminal sexual conduct, the sentencing court makes specific findings on the record that the conviction resulted from consensual sexual conduct where neither the victim nor the actor were younger than fourteen years of age nor older than eighteen years of age at the time of the offense.

(B) A parent who has executed a relinquishment pursuant to Section 20-7-1700 to a person facilitating the adoption or to a child placing agency for the purpose of adoption of his child is not required to execute a separate consent document also.

SECTION 20-7-1700. Form and content of consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption; consent of child placing agency which has accepted relinquishment for the purpose of adoption.

(A) Consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption, pursuant to Section 20-7-1690, must be made by a sworn document, signed by the person or the head of the agency giving consent or relinquishment after the birth of the adoptee, and must specify the following:

(1) the permanent address of the person or agency making the sworn written statement;

(2) the date, time, and place of the signing of the statement;

(3) the date of birth, race, and sex of the adoptee and any names by which the adoptee has been known;

(4) the relationship of the adoptee to the person or agency giving consent or relinquishment;

(5) the name and address of the adoptee's mother or father;

(6) that the consent or relinquishment by the person or agency forfeits all rights and obligations of the person or agency with respect to the named adoptee, including any future child support obligation. Giving consent or relinquishment does not relieve a person from the obligation to pay a child support arrearage unless approved by the court;

(7) that consent or relinquishment once given must not be withdrawn except by order of the court upon a finding that it is in the best interests of the child, and that the consent or relinquishment was not given voluntarily or was obtained under duress or through coercion; and that the entry of the final decree of adoption renders any consent or relinquishment irrevocable;

(8) that the person or agency giving the consent or relinquishment understands that consent or relinquishment must not be given if psychological or legal advice, guidance, or counseling is needed or desired and that none is needed or desired;

(9) that the person or agency giving the consent or relinquishment waives further notice of the adoption proceedings, unless the proceedings are contested by another person or agency;

(10) that the person or agency giving the consent or relinquishment is doing so voluntarily, and the consent or relinquishment is not being obtained under duress or through coercion; and

(11) that the person or agency giving the consent or relinquishment has received a copy of the document.

(B) When a child placing agency accepts a relinquishment for the purpose of adoption, which gives the agency the right to consent to an adoption of the child, and which contains the information required in subsection (A) of this section, the consent of the agency for the purpose of adoption is not required to meet the requirements of subsection (A). However, the sworn document relinquishing the child must be filed with the court pursuant to subsection (C) of Section 20-7-1730.

SECTION 20-7-1705. Signing of consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption.

(A) The sworn document provided for in Section 20-7-1700, which gives consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption, must be signed in the presence of two witnesses one of whom must be one of the following:

(1) a judge of any family court in this State;

(2) an attorney licensed to practice law in South Carolina who does not represent the prospective adoption petitioners;

(3) a person certified by the State Department of Social Services, pursuant to Section 20-7-1750, to obtain consents or relinquishments;

(4) when the consent or relinquishment is obtained outside of this State, by an attorney licensed to practice law in that state, by a person designated by an agency of that state, by a person or agency authorized by that state's law to obtain consents or relinquishments or to conduct investigations for adoptions, or by a qualified resident of that state authorized by a South Carolina family court. When a consent or relinquishment is obtained outside of this State, it may be accepted as valid in this State, provided the court determines:

(a) the consent or relinquishment complies with the laws of the state where it is obtained; and

(b) the relinquishing party or agency is domiciled in that state at the time of the signing of the consent or relinquishment; or

(c) the content of the consent or relinquishment is in substantial compliance with the intent of Section 20-7-1700(A).

(B) The persons who witness the signing of the sworn document, as provided for in subsection (A) of this section shall attach to the document written certification signed by each witness that before the signing of the document, the provisions of the document were discussed with the person giving consent or relinquishment, and that based on this discussion, it is each witness' opinion that consent or relinquishment is being given voluntarily and that it is not being obtained under duress or through coercion.

(C) A copy of the document must be delivered to the person giving the consent or relinquishment at the time of the signing of the document.

SECTION 20-7-1710. Repealed by implication by 1986 Act No. 464, Section 2, eff 6 months after approval by the Governor (Approved June 3, 1986).

SECTION 20-7-1720. Withdrawal of consent or relinquishment.

Withdrawal of any consent or relinquishment is not permitted except by order of the court after notice and opportunity to be heard is given to all persons concerned, and except when the court finds that the withdrawal is in the best interests of the child and that the consent or relinquishment was not given voluntarily or was obtained under duress or through coercion. Any person attempting to withdraw consent or relinquishment shall file the reasons for withdrawal with the family court. The entry of the final decree of adoption renders any consent or relinquishment irrevocable.

SECTION 20-7-1730. Filing and contents of, and attachments to, petition for adoption; filing of consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption and postplacement investigation report.

(A) A petition for adoption shall specify:

(1) the full name, age, address, and place of residence of each petitioner, and, if married, the place and date of the marriage;

(2) when the petitioner acquired, or intends to acquire, custody or placement of the child and from what person or agency;

(3) the date and place of birth of the child, if known;

(4) the name used for the child in the proceeding, and if a change in name is desired, the new name;

(5) that it is the desire of the petitioner to establish the relationship of parent and child between the petitioner and the child, and that the petitioner is a fit and proper person and able to care for the child and to provide for the child's welfare;

(6) a full description and statement of value of all real property and of any personal property of value owned or possessed by the child;

(7) facts, if any, which excuse consent on the part of a parent to the adoption or which excuse notice of the adoption proceedings to a parent;

(8) facts, if any, which may permit placement with or adoption by nonresidents of this State, pursuant to Section 20-7-1670;

(9) the existence and nature of any prior court orders known to the petitioner which affect the custody, support, or visitation of the child;

(10) the relationship, if any, of each petitioner to the child; and

(11) the name and address of the child placing agency or the person facilitating placement of the child for adoption, if any.

(B) The petition must be filed within sixty days of the date the adoptee is placed for the purpose of adoption in the home of the petitioner.

(C) All of the following must be filed at the time the adoption petition is filed or, after the filing, upon good cause shown:

(1) any consent or relinquishment required by Section 20-7-1690;

(2) the preplacement investigation report;

(3) the background investigation report;

(4) a statement of all payments of money or anything of value made within the past five years or agreed to be made in the future by or on behalf of the petitioner to any person, agency, or organization connected with the adoption that is not a disbursement made and reported pursuant to Section 20-7-1775.

SECTION 20-7-1732. Appointment of guardian ad litem for child.

Before any hearing is held on the adoption or any matter related to the adoption, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for the adoptee as in other family court actions, and the adoptee must be served with a copy of the pleadings. However, if the adoptee is fourteen years of age or younger, the child may be served by service upon his guardian ad litem or other person with whom he resides.

SECTION 20-7-1734. Notice of adoption proceedings; response to notice; right of certain persons to appear and be heard.

(A) Notice of any proceeding initiated pursuant to this Subarticle 7 of Article 11 of Chapter 7 of Title 20 must be given to the persons or agencies specified in subsection (B) of this section, unless the person has given consent or relinquishment or parental rights have been terminated.

(B) The following persons or agencies are entitled to notice as provided in subsection (A) of this section:

(1) any person adjudicated by a court in this State to be the father of the child;

(2) any person or agency required to give consent or relinquishment pursuant to subsections (A) or (B) of Section 20-7-1690 from whom consent or relinquishment cannot be obtained;

(3) the father of the child whose consent or relinquishment is not required pursuant to items (4) or (5) of subsection (A) of Section 20-7-1690;

(4) any person who is recorded on the child's birth certificate as the child's father;

(5) any person who is openly living with the child or the child's mother, or both, at the time the adoption proceeding is initiated, and who is holding himself out to be the child's father;

(6) any person who has been identified as the child's father by the mother in a sworn, written statement; and

(7) any person from whom consent or relinquishment is not required pursuant to item (2) of subsection (A) of Section 20-7-1695.

(C) Persons specified in subsection (B) of this section are not entitled to notice if the child who is the subject of the adoption proceeding was conceived as a result of criminal sexual conduct or incest.

(D) Any person or agency entitled to notice pursuant to this section must be given notice that adoption proceedings have been initiated. Notice must be given in the manner prescribed by law for personal service of summons in civil actions. If notice cannot be effected by personal service, notice may be given by publication or by the manner the court decides will provide notice.

(E) Notice given pursuant to this section must include notice of the following:

(1) within thirty days of receiving notice the person or agency shall respond in writing by filing with the court in which the adoption is pending notice and reasons to contest, intervene, or otherwise respond;

(2) the court must be informed of the person's or agency's current address and of any changes in address during the adoption proceedings; and

(3) failure to file a response within thirty days of receiving notice constitutes consent to adoption of the child and forfeiture of all rights and obligations of the person or agency with respect to the child.

When notice of intent to contest, intervene, or otherwise respond is filed with the court within the required time period, the person or agency must be given an opportunity to appear and to be heard before the final hearing on the merits of the adoption.

Petitioners must be notified by the court of notice and reasons to contest, intervene, or otherwise respond, and petitioners also must be given the opportunity to be represented or to appear and to be heard at any hearing held relating to the adoption.

SECTION 20-7-1736. Use of fictitious names.

For purposes of this subarticle, the petitioner may employ the use of fictitious names where necessary to avoid disclosure of identities of parties or persons, so long as service of process or notice is considered sufficient by the court.

SECTION 20-7-1738. Temporary custody of adoptee following placement in petitioner's home; completion of postplacement investigation report prior to final hearing; when family court order required.

Once a petitioner has received the adoptee into his home and a petition for adoption has been filed, the petitioner has temporary custody of the adoptee and is responsible for the care, maintenance, and support of the adoptee, including necessary medical or surgical treatment, except as provided in Sections 20-7-1900 through 20-7-1970. A postplacement investigation and report of this investigation pursuant to Section 20-7-1740 must be completed before the final hearing. Unless the adoptee is removed pursuant to Section 20-7-610, when adoptive parents have received the adoptee into their home for the purpose of adoption but no petition has been filed pursuant to Section 20-7-1730, the child-placing agency shall secure an order from the family court before removal of the child from the adoptive parents. At the hearing the burden of proof is on the child-placing agency to prove that continued placement with the adoptive family is not in the adoptee's best interest.

SECTION 20-7-1740. Investigations and reports.

Before the final hearing for adoption of a child, investigations and reports must be completed in accordance with the following:

(A) Before the placement of any child by any agency or by any person with a prospective adoptive parent, a preplacement investigation, a background investigation, and reports of these investigations must be completed.

(1) Preplacement investigations must answer all of the following:

(a) whether the home of the prospective adoptive parent is a suitable one for the placement of a child;

(b) how the emotional maturity, finances, health, relationships, and any other relevant characteristics of the prospective adoptive parent affect the parent's ability to accept, care, and provide a child with an adequate environment as the child matures;

(c) whether the prospective adoptive parent has ever been involved in any proceeding concerning allegedly neglected, abandoned, abused, or delinquent children;

(d) whether the prospective adoptive parent has completed a course or counseling in preparation for adoption;

(e) whether the prospective adoptive parent is approved for placement of a child for purposes of adoption, and if not approved, a statement of the reasons for not approving the prospective adoptive parent; and

(f) any other information that is disclosed by the investigation that would be of value to or would assist the court in deciding the case.

(2) If the waiting period for an adoptive placement exceeds one year from the date the preplacement investigation report is completed, the report must be updated before the placement of a child for the purpose of adoption to determine any change in circumstances.

(3) A background information investigation and a report of this investigation may not disclose the identity of the biological parents of the adoptee and shall provide the following:

(a) a medical history of the biological family of the adoptee, including parents, siblings, and other family members related to the adoptee including ages, sex, race, and any known genetic, psychological, metabolic, or familial disorders; and

(b) a medical and developmental history of the adoptee.

(4) Notwithstanding any provision of this section, upon good cause shown, the court in its discretion may permit the temporary custody and placement of a child with a prospective adoptive parent before the completion of the preplacement or background investigation and reports required pursuant to this subarticle.

(B) A postplacement investigation and report of this investigation must be completed after the filing of the adoption petition. Copies of this report must be provided to the adoption petitioner and must be filed with the court at the final hearing on the adoption provided for in Section 20-7-1760. A postplacement investigation and report of this investigation must:

(1) answer all of the following:

(a) the race, sex, and age of the adoptee and whether the child is a suitable child for adoption by the prospective adoptive parent;

(b) the reason for the adoptee's placement away from the biological parents;

(c) whether the adoptee, if of appropriate age and mental capacity, desires to be adopted;

(2) review and where indicated, investigate the allegations of the adoption petition and its attachments and of the accounting of disbursements required under Section 20-7-1775;

(3) evaluate the progress of the placement of the adoptee; and

(4) determine whether adoption by the petitioner is in the best interests of the adoptee.

(C) The investigators and all persons participating in, conducting, or associated with the preparation of reports required under this section must be available for examination and cross-examination by any party to an adoption proceeding concerning the contents of and recommendations contained in the reports.

SECTION 20-7-1750. Certification of persons who conduct investigation or obtain consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption; directory; fees.

With the exception of the persons provided for in Section 20-7-1705(A)(1), (2), and (4), any person obtaining a consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption must be certified by the State Department of Social Services. Any person conducting an investigation for the adoption of a child pursuant to Section 20-7-1740 also must be certified by the department. However, where the adoption petitioner or prospective adoption petitioner is a nonresident of this State, a South Carolina family court may authorize a qualified nonresident to conduct any investigations required under Section 20-7-1740.

The department shall promulgate regulations to provide for the following: certification of investigators; issuance, monitoring, and revocation of certificates; and sanctioning of noncompliance with regulations. Any person certified by the department may charge a fee which may not exceed the reasonable costs of the services rendered. The fee must be approved by the department during the certification process.

The department shall develop, revise, and publish quarterly a directory of persons certified pursuant to this section. A reasonable fee may be charged by the department for copies of this directory.

SECTION 20-7-1760. Time for holding final hearing; findings which warrant order granting adoption; requirements as to decree.

(A) The final hearing on the adoption petition must not be held before ninety days and no later than six months after the filing of the adoption petition. In the case of a special needs child, the hearing must not be held before ninety days and no later than twelve months after the filing of the adoption petition. In its discretion, upon good cause shown, the court may extend, or in the case of a special needs child extend or shorten the time within which the final hearing on the adoption petition may be held.

(B) Upon satisfactory examination by the court of the record, including the reports required in Section 20-7-1740, and following the final hearing on the adoption petition the court shall issue an order granting the adoption if it finds that:

(1) the adoptee has been in the actual custody of the petitioner for a period of ninety days unless the court finds as provided in subsection (A) that there is good cause for modifying the time within which the final hearing may be held;

(2) all necessary consents or relinquishments for the purpose of adoption have been obtained;

(3) notice of the adoption proceeding has been given to all persons entitled to receive notice under Sections 20-7-1690 and 20-7-1734, and any hearing resulting from the notice has been held and handled according to the satisfaction of the court;

(4) the disbursements made and accounted for pursuant to Section 20-7-1775 are reasonable costs for expenses incurred or for fees for services rendered;

(5) the petitioner is a fit and proper person and able to care for the child and to provide for the child's welfare, and the petitioner desires to establish the relationship of parent and child with the adoptee;

(6) the best interests of the adoptee are served by the adoption; and

(7) if the petitioner is a nonresident of this State, the findings pursuant to Section 20-7-1660 are included in the order, and there has been compliance with Subarticle 11, Article 11, Chapter 7 of Title 20 (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children).

(C) The court shall enter its findings in a written decree which shall also include the new name of the adoptee, if appropriate, and may not include any other name by which the adoptee has been known or the names of the biological or presumed parents of the adoptee. The final adoption decree shall order what effect, if any, the adoption has on the legal rights and responsibilities of the adoptee's biological parents, that the adoptee is the child of the petitioner, and that the adoptee must be accorded the status provided for in Section 20-7-1770.

SECTION 20-7-1770. Effect of final decree.

(A) After the final decree of adoption is entered, the relationship of parent and child and all the rights, duties, and other legal consequences of the natural relationship of parent and child exist between the adoptee, the adoptive parent, and the kindred of the adoptive parent.

(B) After a final decree of adoption is entered, the biological parents of the adoptee are relieved of all parental responsibilities and have no rights over the adoptee.

(C) Notwithstanding any other provision to the contrary in this section, the adoption of a child by an adoptive parent does not in any way change the legal relationship between the child and either biological parent of the child whose parental responsibilities and rights are not expressly affected by the final decree.

(D) The validity of the final decree of adoption is not affected by an agreement entered into before the adoption between adoptive parents and biological parents concerning visitation, exchange of information, or other interaction between the child and any other person. Such an agreement does not preserve any parental rights with the biological parents and does not give to them any rights enforceable in the courts of this State.

SECTION 20-7-1720 did not apply to a purported consent to adoption signed by the natural father, who, in reserving the right of visitation, did not agree to relinquish all rights to the child within the meaning of SECTION 20-7-1770(b). McLaughlin v. Strickland (S.C.App. 1983) 279 S.C. 513, 309 S.E.2d 787.

2. Parent

Insurance agent did not, by means of adult adoption, legally qualify as "parent" of designated producer, for purposes of reinsurance facility statute allowing a designated producer to transfer his or her designated producer status to a parent; although adult adoption rendered agent a parent for purposes of intestate succession, he did not assume "all the rights, duties and other legal consequences" connected with the natural relationship of parent and child. Gorman v. South Carolina Reinsurance Facility (S.C.App. 1999) 333 S.C. 696, 511 S.E.2d 98, rehearing denied, certiorari granted. Insurance 1625

SECTION 20-7-1775. Itemized accounting of disbursements made by or on behalf of petitioner in connection with adoption.

(A) At the final hearing on the adoption, the petitioner shall file a full, itemized accounting of disbursements of anything of value made, agreed to be made, or anticipated being made by or on behalf of the petitioner for expenses incurred or fees for services rendered in connection with the adoption. The accounting must be verified by the petitioner under penalty of perjury.

(B) The accounting by the petitioner must include:

(1) dates and amounts of disbursements made, agreed to be made, or anticipated being made and by whom the disbursements were or are to be made;

(2) names and addresses of persons to whom the disbursements were made or are to be made;

(3) services received for the disbursements and by whom the services were received;

(4) receipts for reasonable living expenses incurred by the mother and child assessed as costs under Section 20-7-1690(F)(1). No assessment is allowed for a cost which does not have a corresponding receipt or which is unreasonable.

SECTION 20-7-1780. Hearings and records confidential; access to records; furnishing nonidentifying information; violations; penalties.

(A) Unless the court otherwise orders, all hearings held in proceedings under Subarticles 7 and 9 of Article 11 of Chapter 7 of Title 20 are confidential and must be held in closed court without admittance of any person other than those persons involved in the proceedings and their counsel.

(B) All papers and records pertaining to the adoption and filed with the clerk of court are confidential from the time of filing and upon entry of the final adoption decree must be sealed and kept as a permanent record of the court and withheld from inspection. No person may have access to the records except for good cause shown by order of the judge of the court in which the decree of adoption was entered.

(C) All files and records pertaining to the adoption proceedings in the State Department of Social Services, or in any authorized agency, or maintained by any person certified by the department under the provisions of Section 20-7-1750, are confidential and must be withheld from inspection except upon court order for good cause shown.

(D) The provisions of this section must not be construed to prevent any adoption agency from furnishing to adoptive parents, biological parents, or adoptees nonidentifying information when in the sole discretion of the chief executive officer of the agency the information would serve the best interests of the persons concerned either during the period of placement or at a subsequent time nor must the provisions of Subarticles 7 and 9 of Article 11 of Chapter 7 of Title 20 be construed to prevent giving nonidentifying information to any other person, party, or agency who in the discretion of the chief executive officer of the agency has established a sufficient reason justifying the release of that nonidentifying information. As used in this subsection "nonidentifying information" includes but is not limited to the following:

(1) the health and medical histories of the biological parents;

(2) the health and medical history of the adoptee;

(3) the adoptee's general family background without name references or geographical designations; and

(4) the length of time the adoptee has been in the care and custody of the adoptive parent.

(E)(1) The public adoption agencies responsible for the placement shall furnish to an adoptee the identity of the adoptee's biological parents and siblings and to the biological parents and siblings the identity of the adoptee under the following conditions:

(a) The adoptee must be twenty-one years of age or older, and the applicants shall apply in writing to the adoption agency for the information.

(b) The adoption agency must have a current file containing affidavits from the adoptee and the biological parents and siblings that they are willing to have their identities revealed to each other. The affidavit also must include a statement releasing the agency from any liability due to the disclosure. It is the responsibility of the person furnishing the affidavit to advise the agency of a change in his status, name, and address.

(c) The adoption agency shall establish and maintain a confidential register containing the names and addresses of the adoptees and biological parents and siblings who have filed affidavits. It is the responsibility of a person whose name and address are in the register to provide the agency with his current name and address.

(d) The adoptee and his biological parents and siblings shall undergo counseling by the adoption agency concerning the effects of the disclosure. The adoption agency may charge a fee for the services, but services must not be denied because of inability to pay.

(2) No disclosure may be made within thirty days after compliance with these conditions. The director of the adoption agency may waive the thirty-day period in extreme circumstances.

(3) The adoption agency may delay disclosure for twenty days from the expiration of the thirty-day period to allow time to apply to a court of competent jurisdiction to enjoin the disclosure for good cause shown.

(F)(1) It is unlawful for a person having custody of or access to the papers, records, or files described in subsections (B) or (C) to disseminate or permit dissemination of information contained in them except as otherwise authorized in this section.

(2) A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both.

SECTION 20-7-1790. Issuance and filing of amended birth certificates.

(A) For each adoption handled through a child placing agency as defined in Section 20-7-1650, the attorney for the petitioner shall, within fifteen days of the filing of the final decree, transmit to the appropriate agency a certified copy of the adoption decree and a Certificate of Adoption with Part II completed and verified by the adoptive parent and Part III certified by the clerk of court. The agency shall complete Part I of the Certificate of Adoption and transmit the form to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics within thirty days of the filing of the final decree.

(B) For other adoptions, the attorney for the petitioner shall complete Parts I and II of the Certificate of Adoption form provided by the State Registrar of Vital Statistics and file with the clerk of court at the time of filing of the final decree. The clerk of court shall certify Part III of the Certificate of Adoption and transmit the form to the State Registrar within thirty days of the filing of the final decree.

(C) In the case of a person who was born in a foreign country and who was not a United States citizen at birth, the court shall require evidence from sources determined to be reliable by the court as to the date and place of birth of the person and shall set forth in the order of the court the date and place of birth as established by the evidence. The court order and evidence submitted to the court must be attached to the Certificate of Adoption and transmitted to the State Registrar.

(D) The Certificate of Adoption form provided by the State Registrar must not be used in conjunction with any legal procedure affecting a birth certificate other than adoption.

(E) The State Registrar, upon receipt of a certified Certificate of Adoption, shall take action as provided by Section 44-63-140 with respect to the issuance and filing of an amended certificate.

SECTION 20-7-1795. Foreign adoptions; review of documentation; forms and guidelines; order and certificate of adoption.

(A) Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 20-7-1790(A) and (B), in the case of a child born in a foreign country who was not a United States citizen at birth and whose adoption was finalized in a foreign country, the court shall review the documentation as required by this section and, if it finds the documentation to be satisfactory, shall issue an order stating that the documentation required by this section has been submitted and is satisfactory and that the foreign adoption must be recognized and domesticated in South Carolina. The court shall transmit the order and the certificate of adoption to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics without the necessity of a hearing unless the court finds the documentation submitted pursuant to subsection (B) is unsatisfactory and such finding is stated in the order resulting from the hearing.

(B) Documentation required to be submitted to the court includes, but is not limited to:

(1) a verified petition seeking domestication of the foreign adoption;

(2) a post foreign adoption home study completed by a person certified pursuant to Section 20-7-1750 which evaluates the adjustment and progress of the child and family since adoption;

(3) naturalization papers, if available;

(4) other documentation as the court may request as stated in materials developed pursuant to subsection (C).

(C) Court administration in consultation with the Department of Health and Environmental Control shall develop petition forms, including documentation required to be filed with the petition, and guidelines for obtaining the domestication of a foreign adoption. These forms and guidelines must be available to the public upon request at all county clerks of court offices and at Department of Health and Environmental Control offices.

(D) The state registrar, upon receipt of the order and certificate of adoption shall take action as provided in Section 44-63-140 with respect to the issuance and filing of an amended certificate of birth.

SECTION 20-7-1800. Direct and collateral attacks on final orders; appeals.

(A) Except as provided in subsection (B), after the final order, judgment, or decree of adoption is entered, no party to an adoption proceeding, and no one claiming under a party, may question the validity of the adoption because of any defect or irregularity, jurisdictional or otherwise, in the proceeding, and a party, and anyone claiming under a party, is fully bound by the order. No adoption may be attacked either directly or collaterally because of any procedural or other defect by anyone who was not a party to the adoption. The failure on the part of the court or an agency to perform duties or acts within the time required by this chapter does not affect the validity of any adoption proceeding.

(B) A party to an adoption proceeding may appeal a final order, judgment, or decree of adoption in the manner provided for appeals from the court in other family court matters. In addition, this section may not be construed to preclude a court's inherent authority to grant collateral relief from a judgment on the ground of extrinsic fraud. For purposes of this subsection, "extrinsic fraud" is fraud that induces a person not to present a case or deprives a person of the opportunity to be heard. However, a court is under no obligation to grant a person relief from a judgment based upon extrinsic fraud if the person might have prevented the judgment by the exercise of proper diligence.

SECTION 20-7-1810. Effect of foreign decrees of adoption.

When the relationship of parent and child has been created by a decree of adoption of a court of any other state or nation, the rights and obligations of the parties as to matters within the jurisdiction of this State must be determined by Section 20-7-1770.

SECTION 20-7-1820. Adoption of spouse's child or child who is related by blood or marriage.

Any person may adopt his spouse's child, and any person may adopt a child to whom he is related by blood or marriage. In the adoption of these children:

(a) no investigation or report required under the provisions of Section 20-7-1740 is required unless otherwise directed by the court;

(b) no accounting by the petitioner of all disbursements required under the provisions of Section 20-7-1775 is required unless the accounting is ordered by the court;

(c) upon good cause shown, the court may waive the requirement, pursuant to Section 20-7-1760, that the final hearing must not be held before ninety days after the filing of the adoption petition; and

(d) upon good cause shown, the court may waive the requirement, pursuant to Section 20-7-1695(A)(2), of the appointment of independent counsel for an indigent parent.

SECTION 20-7-1825. Adoption of adult persons.

An adult person may be adopted by another adult person with the consent of the person to be adopted or his guardian and with the consent of the spouse, if any, of a sole adoptive parent, filed in writing with the court. The provisions of Sections 20-7-1650 through 20-7-1770 and Section 62-2-109 do not apply to the adoption of an adult person. A petition for the adoption must be filed with the family court in the county where the adoptive parents reside. After a hearing on the petition and after those investigations as the court considers advisable, if the court finds that it is in the best interests of the persons involved, a decree of adoption may be entered which has the legal consequences stated in Section 62-2-109.

SECTION 20-7-1830. Repealed by 1986 Act No. 464, Section 3, eff 6 months after approval by the Governor (Approved June 3, 1986); Repealed by 1986 Act No. 525, Section 13.

SECTION 20-7-1840. Repealed by 1986 Act No. 464, Section 3, eff 6 months after approval by the Governor (Approved June 3, 1986); Repealed by 1986 Act No. 525, Section 13.

SECTION 20-7-1850. Repealed by 1986 Act No. 464, Section 3, eff 6 months after approval by the Governor (Approved June 3, 1986); Repealed by 1986 Act No. 525 Section 13.

SECTION 20-7-1860. Repealed by 1986 Act No. 464, Section 3, eff 6 months after approval by the Governor (Approved June 3, 1986); Repealed by 1986 Act No. 525, Section 13.

SECTION 20-7-1870. Repealed by 1986 Act No. 464, Section 3, eff 6 months after approval by the Governor (Approved June 3, 1986).

SECTION 20-7-1880. Repealed by 1986 Act No. 464, Section 3, eff 6 months after approval by the Governor (Approved June 3, 1986).

SECTION 20-7-1890. Repealed by 1986 Act No. 464, Section 3, eff 6 months after approval by the Governor (Approved June 3, 1986); Repealed by 1986 Act No. 525, Section 13.

SECTION 20-7-1895. Statewide adoption exchange.

(A) The State Department of Social Services shall establish, either directly or through purchase of services, a statewide adoption exchange with a photograph listing component.

(B) The adoption exchange must be available to serve all authorized, licensed child-placing agencies in the State as a means of recruiting adoptive families for any child who meets one or more of the following criteria:

(1) The child is legally free for adoption.

(2) The child has been permanently committed to the department or to a licensed child-placing agency.

(3) The court system requires identification of an adoptive family for the child before ties to the biological parents are severed.

(4) The department has identified adoption as the child's treatment plan.

(C) The department shall register with the adoption exchange each child in its care who meets any one or more of the above criteria and for whom no adoptive family has been identified. This registration must be made at least thirty days from the determination date of the child's adoptable status and updated at least monthly.

(D) If an adoption plan has not been made within at least three months from the determination date of the child's adoptable status, the department shall provide the adoption exchange with a photograph, description of the child, and any other necessary information for the purpose of recruitment of an adoptive family for the child, including registration with the photograph listing component of the exchange which must be updated monthly. The department shall establish criteria by which a determination may be made that recruitment or photograph listing is not required for a child. The department also shall establish procedures for monitoring the status of children for whom that determination is made.

(E) In accordance with guidelines established by the department, the adoption exchange may accept from licensed child-placing agencies, referrals and registration for recruitment and photograph listing of children meeting the criteria of this section.

(F) The department shall refer appropriate children to regional and national exchanges when an adoptive family has not been identified within one hundred eighty days of the determination of the child's adoptable status. The department shall establish criteria by which a determination may be made that a referral to regional or national exchanges is not necessary, and the department shall monitor the status of those children not referred.

(G) The department shall provide orientation and training to appropriate staff regarding the adoption exchange procedures and utilization of the photograph listing component.

SECTION 20-7-1897. Adoption and Birth Parent Services Program to be only public adoption program.

The Adoption and Birth Parent Services Program within the South Carolina Department of Social Services is the only public adoption program in South Carolina.

SUBARTICLE 9.

SUPPLEMENTAL BENEFITS TO ASSURE ADOPTION

SECTION 20-7-1900. Purpose.

The purpose of this subarticle is to supplement the South Carolina adoption law by making possible through public supplemental benefits the most appropriate adoption of each child certified by the Department of Social Services as requiring a supplemental benefit to assure adoption.

SECTION 20-7-1910. Short title.

This subarticle may be cited as the "South Carolina Adoption Supplemental Benefits Act".

SECTION 20-7-1920. Definitions.

As used in this article:

(1) "Child" means an individual up to twenty-one years of age;

(2) "Supplemental benefits" means payments made by the State Department of Social Services to provide services, including medical subsidies for payment for treatment pursuant to Section 20-7-1955, for children who without these services may not have been adopted;

(3) "Department" means the Department of Social Services.

SECTION 20-7-1925. Criteria for eligibility.

In order for a child to be eligible for supplemental benefits the department shall determine that the child legally is free for adoption, the child has been placed for adoption by the department, and one of the following provisions applies to the child:

(1) is a special needs child pursuant to Section 20-7-1650(j);

(2) is at high risk of developing a physical, mental, or emotional disability;

(3) is one for whom other factors, as determined by the department, interfere with the child's ability to be placed for adoption;

(4) has established significant emotional ties with prospective adoptive parents while in their care as a foster child, and it is considered by the agency to be in the best interest of the child to be adopted by the foster parents.

SECTION 20-7-1930. Establishment of program of supplemental benefits for adoption; funding.

The department shall establish and administer an ongoing program of supplemental benefits for adoption. Supplemental benefits and services for children under this program must be provided out of funds appropriated to the department for these purposes.

SECTION 20-7-1940. Eligible children; need of supplemental benefits.

A child meeting criteria specified in Section 20-7-1925 for whom the department believes supplemental benefits are necessary to improve opportunities for adoption is eligible for the program. The agency shall document that reasonable efforts have been made to place the child in adoption without supplemental benefits through the use of adoption resource exchanges, recruitment, and referral to appropriate specialized adoption agencies.

SECTION 20-7-1945. Repealed by 1990 Act No. 539, Section 1, eff June 6, 1990.

SECTION 20-7-1950. Adoptive parents; nature of supplemental benefits; written agreements.

(A) When the department determines that a child is eligible for supplemental benefits, a written agreement must be executed between the parents and the department.

(B) In individual cases supplemental benefits may begin with the adoptive placement or at the appropriate time after the adoption decree and will vary with the needs of the child as well as the availability of other resources to meet the child's needs.

(C) The supplemental benefits may be for special services only, or for money payments, and either for a limited period, for a long term, or for a combination of them. The amount of time-limited, long-term supplemental benefits may not exceed that which currently would be allowable for the child under foster family care or, in the case of a special service, the reasonable fee for the service rendered.

(D) When supplemental benefits last for more than one year the adoptive parents shall certify that the child remains under the parents' care and that the child's need for supplemental benefits continues. Based on the certification and investigation by the agency and available funds, the agency may approve continued supplemental benefits. These benefits may be extended so long as the continuing need of the child is verified and the child is the legal dependent of the adoptive parents.

(E) A child who is certified as eligible for supplemental benefits remains eligible and shall receive supplemental benefits, if necessary for adoption, regardless of the domicile or residence of the adopting parents at the time of application for adoption, placement, legal decree of adoption, or after adoption.

SECTION 20-7-1955. Criteria for receipt of payments for medical, rehabilitative, or other treatment.

Only certain children who have been certified as eligible for supplemental benefits may receive payments for medical, rehabilitative, or other treatment services under their supplemental benefits certification. To receive these payments, a child shall fall into one of the following categories:

(1) receiving payments for medical, rehabilitative, or other treatment services immediately before adoption for a physical, mental, or emotional condition;

(2) identified before adoption as being at a high risk for developing a physical, mental, or emotional condition in the future; or

(3) with a physical, mental, or emotional condition diagnosed after adoption if the condition existed before adoption but was not recognized or if substantial risk factors for the condition existed before adoption but were not recognized.

SECTION 20-7-1958. Notice to adoptive parents.

At the time of placement for adoption, the department shall inform in writing the prospective adoptive parents of the:

(1) availability of supplemental benefits;

(2) conditions for which the supplemental benefits are available;

(3) procedure for application for supplemental benefits.

SECTION 20-7-1960. Review of adverse decision; administrative procedure.

A decision concerning supplemental benefits by the department which the adoptive parents consider adverse to the child is reviewable according to department regulations.

SECTION 20-7-1965. Eligibility of substitute caregiver for benefits.

Supplemental benefits may not end solely because the death or disability of the adoptive parents requires placement of the adopted child with another caregiver. The caregiver of the adopted child has the rights and duties imposed on the adoptive parents in this subarticle.

SECTION 20-7-1970. Regulations.

The department shall promulgate regulations to carry out the provisions of this subarticle.

SUBARTICLE 11.

INTERSTATE COMPACT ON THE PLACEMENT OF CHILDREN

SECTION 20-7-1980. Compact enacted.

The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children is hereby enacted into law and entered into with all other jurisdictions legally joining therein in form substantially as follows:

INTERSTATE COMPACT ON THE PLACEMENT OF CHILDREN

Subsection 1. Purpose and Policy:

It is the purpose and policy of the party states to cooperate with each other in the interstate placement of children to the end that:

(a) Each child requiring placement shall receive the maximum opportunity to be placed in a suitable environment and with persons or institutions having appropriate qualifications and facilities to provide a necessary and desirable degree and type of care.

(b) The appropriate authorities in a state where a child is to be placed may have full opportunity to ascertain the circumstances of the proposed placement, thereby promoting full compliance with applicable requirements for the protection of the child.

(c) The proper authorities of the state from which the placement is made may obtain the most complete information on the basis of which to evaluate a projected placement before it is made.

(d) Appropriate jurisdictional arrangements for the care of children will be promoted.

Subsection 2. Definitions:

As used in this compact:

(a) "Child" means a person who, by reason of minority, is legally subject to parental guardianship or similar control.

(b) "Sending agency" means a party state, officer or employee thereof, a subdivision of a party state, or officer or employee thereof, a court of a party state, a person, corporation, association, charitable agency or other entity which sends, brings, or causes to be sent or brought any child to another party state.

(c) "Receiving state" means the state to which a child is sent, brought, or caused to be sent or brought, whether by public authorities or private persons or agencies, and whether for placement with state or local public authorities or for placement with private agencies or persons.

(d) "Placement" means the arrangement for the care of a child in a family free or boarding home or in a child-caring agency or institution but does not include any institution caring for the mentally ill, mentally defective or epileptic or any institution primarily educational in character, and any hospital or other medical facility.

Subsection 3. Conditions for Placement:

(a) No sending agency shall send, bring, or cause to be sent or brought into any other party state any child for placement in foster care or as a preliminary to a possible adoption unless the sending agency shall comply with each and every requirement set forth in this subsection and with the applicable laws of the receiving state governing the placement of children therein.

(b) Prior to sending, bringing or causing any child to be sent or brought into a receiving state for placement in foster care or as a preliminary to a possible adoption, the sending agency shall furnish the appropriate public authorities in the receiving state written notice of the intention to send, bring, or place the child in the receiving state.

The notice shall contain:

(1) The name, date and place of birth of the child.

(2) The identity and address or addresses of the parents or legal guardian.

(3) The name and address of the person, agency or institution to or with which the sending agency proposes to send, bring or place the child.

(4) A full statement of the reasons for such proposed action and evidence of the authority pursuant to which the placement is proposed to be made.

(c) Any public officer or agency in a receiving state which is in receipt of a notice pursuant to item (b) of this subsection may request of the sending agency, or any other appropriate officer or agency of or in the sending agency's state, and shall be entitled to receive therefrom, such supporting or additional information as it may deem necessary under the circumstances to carry out the purpose and policy of this compact.

(d) The child shall not be sent, brought, or caused to be sent or brought into the receiving state until the appropriate public authorities in the receiving state shall notify the sending agency, in writing, to the effect that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.

Subsection 4. Penalty for Illegal Placement:

The sending, bringing, or causing to be sent or brought into any receiving state of a child in violation of the terms of this compact shall constitute a violation of the laws respecting the placement of children of both the state in which the sending agency is located or from which it sends or brings the child and of the receiving state. Such violation may be punished or subjected to penalty in either jurisdiction in accordance with its laws. In addition to liability for any such punishment or penalty, any such violation shall constitute full and sufficient grounds for the suspension or revocation of any license, permit, or other legal authorization held by the sending agency which empowers or allows it to place or care for children.

Subsection 5. Retention of Jurisdiction:

(a) The sending agency shall retain jurisdiction over the child sufficient to determine all matters in relation to the custody, supervision, care, treatment and disposition of the child which it would have had if the child had remained in the sending agency's state, until the child is adopted, reaches majority, becomes self-supporting or is discharged with the concurrence of the appropriate authority in the receiving state. Such jurisdiction shall also include the power to effect or cause the return of the child or its transfer to another location and custody pursuant to law. The sending agency shall continue to have financial responsibility for support and maintenance of the child during the period of the placement. Nothing contained herein shall defeat a claim of jurisdiction by a receiving state sufficient to deal with an act of delinquency or crime committed therein.

(b) When the sending agency is a public agency, it may enter into an agreement with an authorized public or private agency in the receiving state providing for the performance of one or more services in respect of such case by the latter as agent for the sending agency.

(c) Nothing in this compact shall be construed to prevent a private charitable agency authorized to place children in the receiving state from performing services or acting as agent in that state for a private charitable agency of the sending state, nor to prevent the agency in the receiving state from discharging financial responsibility for the support and maintenance of a child who has been placed on behalf of the sending agency without relieving the responsibility set forth in paragraph (a) hereof.

Subsection 6. Institutional Care of Delinquent Children:

A child adjudicated delinquent may be placed in an institution in another party jurisdiction pursuant to this compact but no such placement shall be made unless the child is given a court hearing on notice to the parent or guardian with opportunity to be heard prior to his being sent to such other party jurisdiction for institutional care and the court finds that:

1. Equivalent facilities for the child are not available in the sending agency's jurisdiction;

2. Institutional care in the other jurisdiction is in the best interest of the child and will not produce undue hardship.

Subsection 7. Compact Administrator:

The executive head of each jurisdiction party to this compact shall designate an officer who shall be general coordinator of activities under this compact in his jurisdiction and who, acting jointly with like officers of other party jurisdictions, shall have power to promulgate rules and regulations to carry out more effectively the terms and provisions of this compact.

Subsection 8. Limitations:

This compact shall not apply to:

(a) The sending or bringing of a child into a receiving state by his parent, stepparent, grandparent, adult brother or sister, adult uncle or aunt, or his guardian and leaving the child with any such relative or nonagency guardian in the receiving state.

(b) Any placement, sending or bringing of a child into a receiving state pursuant to any other interstate compact to which both the state from which the child is sent or brought and the receiving state are party or to any other agreement between states which has the force of law.

Subsection 9. Enactment and Withdrawal:

This compact shall be open to joinder by any state, territory or possession of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and with the consent of Congress, the Government of Canada or any province thereof. It shall become effective with respect to any such jurisdiction when such jurisdiction has enacted the same into law. Withdrawal from this compact shall be by the enactment of a statute repealing the same, but shall not take effect until two years after the effective date of such statute and until written notice of the withdrawal has been given by the withdrawing state to the Governor of each other party jurisdiction. Withdrawal of a party state shall not affect the rights, duties and obligations under this compact of any sending agency therein with respect to a placement made prior to the effective date of withdrawal.

Subsection 10. Construction and Severability:

The provisions of this compact shall be liberally construed to effectuate the purposes thereof. The provisions of this compact shall be severable and if any phrase, clause, sentence or provision of this compact is declared to be contrary to the constitution of any party, state or of the United States or the applicability thereof to any government, agency, person or circumstance is held invalid, the validity of the remainder of this compact and the applicability thereof to any government, agency, person or circumstance shall not be affected thereby. If this compact shall be held contrary to the constitution of any state party thereto, the compact shall remain in full force and effect as to the remaining states and in full force and effect as to the state affected as to all severable matters.

SECTION 20-7-1990. Financial responsibility for child placed pursuant to Compact; default of financial performance.

Financial responsibility for any child placed pursuant to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children shall be determined in accordance with the provisions of Subsection 5 thereof in the first instance. However, in the event of partial or complete default of performance thereunder, the provisions of subarticle 5 of Article 9 of this chapter also may be invoked.

SECTION 20-7-2000. "Appropriate public authorities" defined.

The "appropriate public authorities" as used in subsection 3 of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, with reference to this State, means the South Carolina Department of Social Services for adoptive and foster care purposes. The department shall receive and act with reference to notices required by subsection 3.

SECTION 20-7-2010. "Appropriate authority in receiving state" defined.

As used in item (a) of subsection 5 of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, "appropriate authority in the receiving state" with reference to this State means the Department of Social Services as the compact administrator.

SECTION 20-7-2020. Agreements with officers or agencies of other Compact states; approval required for agreements containing financial commitments.

The officers and agencies of this State and its subdivisions having authority to place children are empowered to enter into agreements with appropriate officers or agencies of or in other party states pursuant to item (b) of subsection 5 of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. Any agreement which contains a financial commitment or imposes a financial obligation of this State or subdivision or agency of it is not binding unless it has the approval in writing of the State Treasurer in the case of the State and of the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services in the case of a subdivision of the State, as their respective functions and duties may appear and be appropriate pursuant to this subarticle.

SECTION 20-7-2030. Visitation, inspection or supervision performed pursuant to agreement deemed to comply with Section 20-7-1880.

Any requirements for visitation, inspection or supervision of children, homes, institutions or other agencies in another party state which may apply under Section 20-7-1880 shall be deemed to be met if performed pursuant to an agreement entered into by appropriate officers or agencies of this State or a subdivision thereof as contemplated by item (b) of subsection 5 of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

SECTION 20-7-2040. Out-of-state placements pursuant to Compact not subject to legal restrictions.

There shall be no legal restrictions on out-of-state placements made pursuant to the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

SECTION 20-7-2050. Placement of delinquent children.

Any court having jurisdiction to place delinquent children may place such a child in an institution in another state pursuant to subsection 6 of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children and shall retain jurisdiction as provided in subsection 5 thereof.

SECTION 20-7-2060. "Executive head" defined; designation of Compact administrator.

As used in subsection 7 of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, "executive head" means the Governor. The Governor is authorized to designate the Department of Social Services as the compact administrator in accordance with the terms of subsection 7.

SECTION 20-7-2070. Promulgation of procedures governing interstate adoptive and foster care placements.

The Department of Social Services shall promulgate procedures to govern all aspects of interstate adoptive and interstate foster care placements.

SUBARTICLE 13.

INTERSTATE COMPACT ON JUVENILES [REPEALED]

SECTION 20-7-2080. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SUBARTICLE 15.

PROBATION AND AFTERCARE [REPEALED]

SECTION 20-7-2095. Repealed by 1996 Act 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-2105. Repealed by 1996 Act 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-2115. Repealed by 1996 Act 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-2125. Repealed by 1996 Act 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-2135. Repealed by 1996 Act 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-2145. Repealed by 1996 Act 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-2155. Repealed by 1996 Act 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SUBARTICLE 17.

COMMITMENT [REPEALED]

SECTION 20-7-2170. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-2175. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-2180. Repealed 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-2185. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-2190. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-2195. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-2200. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-2203. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-2205. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-2210. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SUBARTICLE 19.

APPEALS

SECTION 20-7-2220. Appeals; effect of pendency of, or application for, appeal.

Any appeal from an order, judgment, or decree of the family court shall be taken in the manner provided by the South Carolina Appellate Court Rules. The right to appeal must be governed by the same rules, practices, and procedures that govern appeals from the circuit court.

The pendency of an appeal or application may not suspend the order of the family court regarding a child, nor shall it discharge the child from the custody of that court or of the person, institution, or agency to whose care the child shall have been committed; nor shall it suspend payments for support and maintenance of the wife and child.

SECTION 20-7-2225. Repealed by 1991 Act No. 115, Section 4, eff June 5, 1991.

ARTICLE 13.

ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS OF CHILDREN'S SERVICE AGENCIES

SUBARTICLE 1.

CHILD WELFARE AGENCIES

SECTION 20-7-2230. "Child welfare agency" defined.

Any agency, institution or family home engaged in the business of receiving children for care and maintenance, either part or full time, shall be classed as a child welfare agency.

SECTION 20-7-2240. Agencies, homes and institutions exempted from provisions of subarticle.

(A) This subarticle does not apply to:

(1) child welfare agencies operating under the active supervision of a governing board representing an established religious denomination, except as these agencies voluntarily assume the obligations and acquire the rights provided by this subarticle;

(2) any children's home or institution to which state funds are appropriated;

(3) the John de la Howe School in McCormick County; provided, that the board of trustees of that school may elect to be licensed by the department, in which case the board of trustees shall request, by resolution, the department to license the John de la Howe School. When a license has been issued to the John de la Howe School by the department, pursuant to this subarticle, the school is bound by all regulations promulgated by the department relating to licensing standards and other matters pertaining to licensing standards.

(4) rescue missions or other similar charitable institutions organized before May 8, 1959, for the purpose of providing temporary care and custody of children and other needy persons and operating under a local board of trustees pursuant to and authorized by law.

(B) However, a foster care facility which does not receive state or federal financial assistance, operated by a local church congregation or established religious denomination or religious college or university must register with the department and report the number of children kept at the facility with the State Department of Social Services by January second of every year. These facilities must pass annual inspections by state or local authorities for compliance with the fire, health, and sanitation requirements.

SECTION 20-7-2250. Department shall administer subarticle and promulgate rules and regulations.

The Department shall administer the provisions of this subarticle and shall make and promulgate such rules and regulations relating to licensing standards and other matters as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this subarticle.

SECTION 20-7-2260. Revocation or refusal to renew license; notice and hearing.

The department may revoke the license of any child welfare agency which fails to maintain the proper standards of care and service to children in its charge or which violates any provision of this subarticle. No license shall be revoked or its renewal refused except upon thirty days' written notice thereof. Upon appeal from such revocation or refusal to renew a license, the department shall, after thirty days' written notice thereof, hold a hearing, at which time the agency shall be given an opportunity to present testimony and confront witnesses. An appeal of the agency's decision may be made to an administrative law judge pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act.

SECTION 20-7-2265. Background check for licensing, placement, volunteer service or employment with child welfare agency; effect of pardoned conviction, guilty plea or nolo contendere plea.

When a provision of law or regulation provides for a criminal history background check in connection with licensing, placement, service as a volunteer, or employment with a child welfare agency, the provision of law or regulation may not operate to prohibit licensing, placement, service as a volunteer, or employment when a conviction or plea of guilty or nolo contendere has been pardoned. However, notwithstanding the entry of a pardon, the department, child welfare agency, or employer may consider all information available, including the person's pardoned convictions or pleas and the circumstances surrounding them, to determine whether the person is unfit or otherwise unsuited for licensing, placement, service as a volunteer, or employment.

SECTION 20-7-2270. Placing of children in family homes and removal therefrom.

A licensed child welfare agency may place children in family homes for care, if authorized to do so by the Department. Any child so placed may be taken from such family home when the child welfare agency responsible for his care is satisfied that the child's welfare requires such action.

SECTION 20-7-2275. Kinship foster care program.

(A) As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires:

(1) "Department" means the Department of Social Services; and

(2) "Foster parent" means any person with whom a child in the care, custody, or guardianship of the department is placed for temporary or long-term care.

(B) There is established a "Kinship Foster Care Program" in the State Department of Social Services.

(C) When a child has been removed from his home and is in the care, custody, or guardianship of the department, the department shall attempt to identify a relative who would be appropriate for placement of the child in accordance with the preliminary investigation requirements of Section 20-7-610 and in accordance with Section 20-7-764(B)(6). If the department determines that it is in the best interest of a child requiring out-of-home placement that the child be placed with a relative for foster care, or if a relative advises the department that the relative is interested in providing placement for a child requiring foster care, and the relative is not already licensed to provide foster care, the department shall inform the relative of the procedures for being licensed as a kinship foster parent, assist the foster parent with the licensing process, and inform the relative of availability of payments and other services to kinship foster parents. If the relative is licensed by the department to provide kinship foster care services, in accordance with rules and regulations adopted by the department regarding kinship foster care, and a placement with the relative is made, the relative may receive payment for the full foster care rate for the care of the child and any other benefits that might be available to foster parents, whether in money or in services.

(D) The department shall establish, in accordance with this section and the rules and regulations promulgated hereunder, eligibility standards for becoming a kinship foster parent.

(1) Relatives within the first, second, or third degree to the parent or stepparent of a child who may be related through blood, marriage, or adoption may be eligible for licensing as a kinship foster parent.

(2) The kinship foster parent must be twenty-one years of age or older, except that if the spouse or partner of the relative is twenty-one years of age or older and living in the home, and the relative is between eighteen and twenty-one years of age, the department may waive the age requirement.

(3)(a) A person may become a kinship foster parent only upon the completion of a full kinship foster care licensing study performed in accordance with rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to this section. Residents of the household who are age eighteen years of age or older must undergo the state and federal fingerprint review procedures as provided for in Section 20-7-1640. The department shall apply the screening criteria in Section 20-7-1642 to the results of the fingerprint reviews and the licensing study.

(b) The department shall maintain the confidentiality of the results of fingerprint reviews as provided for in state and federal regulations.

(4) The department shall determine, after a thorough review of information obtained in the kinship foster care licensing process, whether the person is able to care effectively for the foster child.

(E)(1) The department shall involve the kinship foster parents in development of the child's permanent plan pursuant to Section 20-7-766 and other plans for services to the child and the kinship foster home. The department shall give notice of proceedings and information to the kinship foster parent as provided for elsewhere in this article for other foster parents. If planning for the child includes the use of childcare, the department shall pay for childcare arrangements, according to established criteria for payment of these services for foster children. If the permanent plan for the child involves requesting the court to grant custody or guardianship of the child to the kinship foster parent, the department must ensure that it has informed the kinship foster parent about adoption, including services and financial benefits that might be available.

(2) The kinship foster parent shall cooperate with any activities specified in the case plan for the foster child, such as counseling, therapy or court sessions, or visits with the foster child's parents or other family members. Kinship foster parents and placements made in kinship foster care homes are subject to the requirements of Section 20-7-767.

SECTION 20-7-2280. Information about children, their relatives and other persons shall not be disclosed.

No officer, agent or employee of the Department or a child welfare agency shall directly or indirectly disclose information learned about the children, their parents or relatives or other persons having custody or control of them.

SECTION 20-7-2290. Penalties.

Any person and any officer, agent or employee of the Department or of a child welfare agency who violates any of the provisions of this subarticle, or who shall intentionally make any false statement to the Department shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars, or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.

SUBARTICLE 3.

CHILDREN'S BUREAU



SECTION 20-7-2300. Declaration of purpose.

It is the purpose of this subarticle to achieve the objective of the best interests of the child, as the primary client. Adoption programs must be structured so that all questions of interpretation are resolved with that objective in mind. To achieve this objective, adoption services must be delivered in the most effective and cost-efficient manner with assurances for the provision of quality services.

SECTION 20-7-2305. Transfer of functions of Children's Bureau to adoption program within Department of Social Services; monitoring of public placements; use of administrative cost savings.

The General Assembly finds that there should no longer be two public adoption agencies in South Carolina and that a single system within a comprehensive children's services agency is needed to assure that public adoption services are provided in the most effective and efficient manner. Therefore, the functions of the Children's Bureau of South Carolina are transferred to the adoption program within the Department of Social Services.

The public adoption agency shall monitor and evaluate all public placements so as to insure that placements are suitable and in the best interests of the child. Any administrative costs savings accrued through the establishment of a single public adoptive system must be directed into the provision of adoption services.

SECTION 20-7-2307. Requirement that department take action to achieve accreditation of adoption program.

The department shall take all actions necessary to achieve accreditation of its adoption program by a nationally recognized accreditation organization, such as the Council on Accreditation of Services for Families and Children, as soon as practicable.

SECTION 20-7-2308. Repealed by Act No. 181, Section 1617(A), eff July 1, 1993.

SECTION 20-7-2309. Repealed by Act No. 181, Section 1617(A), eff July 1, 1993.

SECTION 20-7-2310. Administration of adoption program by Department of Social Services; evaluation; appointment of committee on children's services.

The Department of Social Services shall administer an adoption program on behalf of the State. Adoption services must be available statewide. The adoption program provided by the department must be a centrally administered state program. The department shall designate regions which will be administered by the state office. The adoption unit shall constitute a separate and distinct unit within the department so as to assure specialization of effort and effective access to the department director. This unit must be staffed with qualified personnel professionally trained in the social work or other related fields. The department shall continually evaluate its staffing, functions, policies, and practices on the basis of nationally recognized standards. A committee to advise the department on all children's services must be appointed by the department director. Persons appointed to the committee must be knowledgeable on adoption, protective services, foster care, and other children's services.

SECTION 20-7-2320. Repealed by 1986 Act No. 525, Section 13, eff February 25, 1987 (See Editor's Note preceding Section 20-7-2300).

SECTION 20-7-2323. Information to be furnished to persons who wish to relinquish child for adoption; waiting period.

The Department of Social Services, before it may accept as a client a parent or parents, or prospective parent or parents who wish to relinquish their child for adoption, must first provide them with an informational brochure which outlines the services available from and the procedure used to select adoptive parents by the Department and by the licensed private adoption agencies in this State. It must also contain a listing of the licensed private adoption agencies in this State. The information contained in the brochure relating to the private adoption agencies must be jointly authored by the private adoption agencies and furnished to the Department. The Department may not accept the above persons as clients until a period of forty-eight hours has elapsed from the time they are furnished this brochure, and the Department upon accepting these persons as clients must have them sign an affirmative statement that they have received this brochure and this statement must be kept in the adoption file maintained by the Department.

SECTION 20-7-2325. Repealed by 1986 Act No. 525, Section 13, eff February 25, 1987 (See Editor's Note preceding Section 20-7-2300).

SECTION 20-7-2327. Repealed by Act No. 181, Section 1617(A), eff July 1, 1993.

SECTION 20-7-2330. Repealed by 1986 Act No. 525, Section 13, eff February 25, 1987 (See Editor's Note preceding Section 20-7-2300).

SECTION 20-7-2335. Repealed by Act No. 181, Section 1617(A), eff July 1, 1993.

SECTION 20-7-2337. Repealed by Act No. 181, Section 1617(A), eff July 1, 1993.

SECTION 20-7-2340. Fees for adoption and related services.

The department shall establish fees for certain adoption and related services. The fees must be charged on a scale related to income as established by the state board, but the inability to pay a fee does not preclude the providing of any service.

A fee may not be charged for the placement of a child with special needs, as defined by the South Carolina Adoption Act of 1986, into an adoptive home.

Fees collected under this section must be forwarded to the State Treasurer who shall hold them in a separate account. These funds may be expended only as provided for by the General Assembly. Of the funds authorized to be expended, not less than seventy-five percent must be used for the sole purpose of paying for the medical and maternity home expenses incurred by clients (1) who are pregnant, (2) who have requested the services of the Department of Social Services in planning for permanence for their child, and (3) for whom other public or private funds are not available, and the remainder of the funds may be used to defray other operating expenses related to adoption service delivery.

SECTION 20-7-2345. Children's Bureau as guardian of children committed to its care.

The Children's Bureau is the guardian of any destitute, dependent, neglected, or delinquent child committed to the care of the Children's Bureau and shall, as soon as practicable, place the child in a private home, either temporarily or as a member of the family, and, when this action is considered proper and desirable and does not conflict with any retained legal rights of the biological parents of the child, the Children's Bureau may consent in loco parentis to the legal adoption of the child.

SECTION 20-7-2350. Repealed by 1986 Act No. 525, Section 13, eff February 25, 1987 (See Editor's Note preceding Section 20-7-2300).

SECTION 20-7-2355. Repealed by 1990 Act No. 455, Section 1, eff May 3, 1990; and by 1990 Act No. 512, Section 1, eff May 29, 1990.

SECTION 20-7-2360. Repealed by 1986 Act No. 525, Section 13, eff February 25, 1987 (See Editor's Note preceding Section 20-7-2300).

SECTION 20-7-2365. Repealed by Act No. 181, Section 1617(A), eff July 1, 1993.

SECTION 20-7-2370. Repealed by 1986 Act No. 525, Section 13, eff February 25, 1987 (See Editor's Note preceding Section 20-7-2300).

SUBARTICLE 4.

FOSTER CARE REVIEW BOARD

SECTION 20-7-2376. Functions and powers of local foster care review boards.

The functions and powers of local foster care review boards are:

(A) To review every six months but no less frequently than once every six months the cases of children who have resided in public foster care for a period of more than four consecutive months and to review every six months the cases of children who have resided in private foster care for a period of more than six consecutive months to determine what efforts have been made by the supervising agency or child caring facility to acquire a permanent home for the child. Following review of a case pursuant to this section, the local foster care review board shall submit a written report and recommendations to the court concerning the case. In order for the report and recommendations of the foster care review board to be easily identifiable and accessible by the judge, the report and recommendations must be visually distinct from other documents in the case file in their coloring or other prominent aspect. A child's return home for temporary placements, trial placements, visits, holidays, weekend visits, or changes from one foster care placement to another must not be construed to mean a break or lapse in determination of a consecutive four-month period for children in public foster care or six-month period for children in private foster care;

(B) To recommend continued placement of a child in the child caring facility, unless the parent is able to resume care, in at least those instances when:

(1) Children are privately placed in privately-owned facilities or group homes;

(2) A notarized affidavit of summary review is executed by the child caring facility and is valid on its face. The affidavit of summary review must be submitted to the board every six months and accepted by the board if it is valid on its face. The affidavit must attest to the following conditions:

(a) The person who placed the child has legal custody of the child;

(b) No court has ordered or approved the placement of the child in the care of the child caring facility except as a part of an order granting legal custody of the child to a parent or legal guardian;

(c) The facility has no knowledge that a child has ever been abused, neglected, or abandoned while under the care of the person who placed the child in the facility;

(d) The person who placed the child contributes regularly to the support of the child to the level of his ability and has done so for a period of six months immediately prior to the date of the affidavit;

(e) The person who placed the child has maintained contact and visitation with the child to the best of his ability under existing circumstances.

(C) To encourage the return of children to their natural parents, except as provided in item (B) of this section, or, upon determination during a case review of the local review board that this return is not in the best interest of the child, to recommend to the appropriate agency action be taken for a maximum effort to place the child for adoption;

(D) To promote and encourage all agencies and facilities involved in placing children in foster care to place children with persons suitable and eligible as adoptive parents;

(E) To advise foster parents of their right to petition the family court for termination of parental rights and for adoption and to encourage these foster parents to initiate these proceedings in an appropriate case when it has been determined by the local review board that return to the natural parent is not in the best interest of the child;

(F) To recommend that a child caring facility or agency exert all possible efforts to make arrangements for permanent foster care or guardianship for children for whom return to natural parents or adoption is not feasible or possible as determined during a case review by the local review board;

(G) To report to the state office of the Department of Social Services and other adoptive or foster care agencies any deficiencies in these agencies' efforts to secure permanent homes for children discovered in the local board's review of these cases as provided for in items (A) and (B) of this section.

Any case findings or recommendations of a local review board are advisory.

SECTION 20-7-2377. Participation in judicial reviews.

The Foster Care Review Board may participate in judicial reviews pursuant to Sections 20-7-736, 20-7-766, and 20-7-1562 but shall file a motion to intervene if it intends to become a party to the action.

SECTION 20-7-2379. Division for Review of the Foster Care of Children; Board; membership, terms of office, and meetings; employment of director; promulgation of regulations.

(A) There is created, as part of the Office of the Governor, the Division for Review of the Foster Care of Children. The division must be supported by a board consisting of seven members, all of whom must be past or present members of local review boards. There must be one member from each congressional district and one member from the State at large, all appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.

(B) Terms of office for the members of the board are for four years and until their successors are appointed and qualify. Appointments must be made by the Governor for terms of four years to expire on June thirtieth of the appropriate year.

(C) The board shall elect from its members a chairman who shall serve for two years. Four members of the board constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. Members of the board shall receive per diem, mileage, and subsistence as provided by law for members of boards, commissions, and committees while engaged in the work of the board.

(D) The board shall meet at least quarterly and more frequently upon the call of the division director to review and coordinate the activities of the local review boards and make recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly with regard to foster care policies, procedures, and deficiencies of public and private agencies which arrange for foster care of children as determined by the review of cases provided for in Section 20-7-2376(A) and (B). These recommendations must be submitted to the Governor and included in an annual report, filed with the General Assembly, of the activities of the state office and local review boards.

(E) The board, upon recommendation of the division director, shall promulgate regulations to carry out the provisions of this subarticle. These regulations shall provide for and must be limited to procedures for: reviewing reports and other necessary information at state, county, and private agencies and facilities; scheduling of reviews and notification of interested parties; conducting local review board and board of directors' meetings; disseminating local review board recommendations, including reporting to the appropriate family court judges the status of judicially approved treatment plans; participating and intervening in family court proceedings; and developing policies for summary review of children privately placed in privately-owned facilities or group homes.

(F) The Governor may employ a division director to serve at the Governor's pleasure who may be paid an annual salary to be determined by the Governor. The director may be removed pursuant to Section 1-3-240. The director shall employ staff as is necessary to carry out this subarticle, and the staff must be compensated in an amount and in a manner as may be determined by the Governor.

(G) This subarticle may not be construed to provide for subpoena authority.

SECTION 20-7-2382. Board members not liable.

After participating in a training program of the system for the review of foster care of children, a local review board member is not liable for damages for personal injury as a result of an act or omission in the discharge of his duties as a member if he acts in good faith and his conduct does not constitute gross negligence, recklessness, wilfulness, or wantonness.

SECTION 20-7-2385. Creation, membership, and dissolution of local review boards.

There are created sixteen local boards for review of cases of children receiving foster care, one in each judicial circuit, composed of five members appointed by the Governor upon recommendation of the legislative delegation of each county within the circuit for terms of four years and until their successors are appointed and qualify. If the county legislative delegations within a judicial circuit have not recommended to the Governor a person to fill a review board vacancy within ninety days after being notified by certified mail that the vacancy exists, then the local review boards in the judicial circuit may recommend to the Governor someone to fill the vacancy. All local board members must be residents of the judicial circuit which they represent, except where a current or former member is substituting for an absent member. Local boards shall elect their chairman.

If the board of directors determines that additional local review boards are necessary in a judicial circuit because of an excessively large case load for review or if the local board is no longer necessary because of a reduced case load, the board may create or dissolve local review boards by resolution, and the boards created have all authority and duties provided for the boards by the provisions of this subarticle.

In Dorchester County, appointments made pursuant to this section are governed by the provisions of Act 512 of 1996.

In Georgetown County, appointments made pursuant to this section are governed by the provisions of Act 515 of 1996.

SECTION 20-7-2386. Eligibility for employment by the Division for Review of the Foster Care of Children and for service as member of state and local foster care review board; abuse and neglect and criminal records checks required.

(A) No person may be employed by the Division for Review of the Foster Care of Children, Office of the Governor, or may serve on the state or a local foster care review board if the person:

(1) is the subject of an indicated report or affirmative determination of abuse or neglect as maintained by the Department of Social Services in the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect pursuant to Section 20-7-680;

(2) has been convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to:

(a) an "offense against the person" as provided for in Title 16, Chapter 3;

(b) an "offense against morality or decency" as provided for in Title 16, Chapter 15; or

(c) contributing to the delinquency of a minor, as provided for in Section 16-17-490.

(B) Before a person is employed by the Division for Review of the Foster Care of Children or before an appointment or reappointment is made to the state or a local foster care review board, the division shall submit the name of the potential employee or a list containing the names, addresses, and social security numbers of persons nominated to serve on the state or local boards to the Department of Social Services for a records check of indicated reports or affirmative determinations from the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect and to SLED for a criminal records background check to certify that no potential employee or person nominated to serve on the state or a local board is in violation of subsection (A). A list of the persons employed by the division or serving on the state or local boards also must be submitted annually to the Department of Social Services for a records check of indicated reports or affirmative determinations to certify that no person employed by the division or serving on a board is in violation of subsection (A)(1). The division may not be charged by the Department of Social Services for these records checks.

SECTION 20-7-2388. Meetings of local boards; staffing; expenses of local board members.

Local boards shall conduct meetings in the judicial circuit which they represent. Each board must be provided sufficient staff to perform its functions as set forth in this subarticle with funds provided in the annual state general appropriations act. Members of the local boards and former members substituting for an absent member may not receive compensation for their services but must be allowed mileage, per diem, and subsistence as provided by law for state boards, committees, and commissions for attendance at board meetings. If needed to ensure a quorum at a board meeting, a current or former member of a local board may serve as a substitute on a board other than his own board, whether or not the substitute member is a resident of the judicial circuit of that board.

SECTION 20-7-2391. Petitions for relief from actions or recommendations of local boards; notification as to disagreement concerning permanent placement recommendation.

A person or agency aggrieved by an action or recommendation of a local review board may seek relief by petition to the family court of that county which shall issue a rule to show cause why the action or recommendation of the local review board should not be set aside or modified.

SECTION 20-7-2394. Cooperation by public and private agencies and facilities.

All public and private agencies and facilities which provide for or arrange foster care for children shall cooperate with the board of directors and local review boards by making available for review records as may be requested.

SECTION 20-7-2397. Effect of subarticle on actions of agencies or facilities on their own initiative.

The provisions of this subarticle may not be construed to limit or delay actions by agencies or facilities to arrange for adoptions, foster care, termination of parental rights, or other related matters on their own initiative, nor do the provisions of this subarticle in any manner alter or restrict the duties and authority of these agencies and facilities in those matters.

SUBARTICLE 5.

FOSTER CARE REVIEW BOARD [REPEALED]

SECTIONS 20-7-2380 to 20-7-2430.
Repealed by 1985 Act No. 201, Part II, Section 45, eff June 20, 1985.

SECTIONS 20-7-2380 to 20-7-2430. Repealed by 1985 Act No. 201, Part II, Section 45, eff June 20, 1985.

SUBARTICLE 7.

DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES AID TO DEPENDENT CHILDREN



SECTION 20-7-2440. Definitions.

When used in this article and unless the specific context indicates otherwise:

(A) "Dependent child" means a child under the age of eighteen years who has been deprived of parental support or care by reason of the death, continued absence from home or physical or mental incapacity of a parent and who is living with his father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, brother, sister, stepfather, stepmother, stepbrother, stepsister, uncle, aunt, first cousin, nephew or niece in a place of residence maintained by one or more of such relatives as his or their own home and who, if not granted aid, is likely to become a public charge or who would otherwise be deprived of proper support, care or training or a child under the age of twenty-one years who is attending high school or college or regularly attending a course of vocational or technical training;

(B) The term "dependent child" shall also include a child (a) who would meet the requirements of subsection (A) except for his removal, after April 30, 1961, from the home of a relative, specified in subsection (A) as a result of a judicial determination to the effect that continuation therein would be contrary to the welfare of such child (b) whose placement and care are the responsibility of the state agency and (c) who has been placed in a foster family home or child care institution as a result of such determination. The term "foster family home" or "child care institution" means a foster family home or child care institution for children which is licensed by the State; and

(C) "Aid to dependent children or needy relative" means money payments with respect to or medical care in behalf of or any type of remedial care recognized under state law in behalf of a dependent child or dependent children, or a needy relative with whom any dependent child is living.

SECTION 20-7-2450. State Department shall cooperate with Federal Government and administer funds.

The State Department may cooperate with the Federal Government in the development of plans and policies for aid to dependent children. It shall administer all funds appropriated or made available for this purpose.

SECTION 20-7-2460. Application for aid.

Any person having knowledge that any child is dependent and that the interest of such child or of the public requires that such child be granted aid may bring such fact to the attention of the county department in the county in which the dependent child has residence or to the State Department by making application for aid on such blanks as the State Department shall prescribe and supply, furnishing such information as is required thereon and is necessary for the proper administration of these purposes.

SECTION 20-7-2470. County department shall investigate and make report.

The county department shall make an investigation and examination of the circumstances of such child. Such investigation and examination shall be made in accordance with rules prescribed by the State Department. A report of such investigation and examination shall be made in writing and shall become a part of the records of the county department.

SECTION 20-7-2480. Grant of aid; appeal if aid denied.

If such child is found to be in need, the county department shall grant such aid as may be necessary for the support of such child in his own home or in the home of one of his relatives as set forth in this article, in a manner compatible with decency and health. In case application for aid for a dependent child is rejected by the county department, appeal may be made to the State Department as elsewhere provided in this article.

SECTION 20-7-2490. Amount of grants.

In granting aid for dependent children the amount granted shall not exceed thirty dollars per month for one child in any home, nor twenty-one dollars per month for each additional child in the same home, and shall not exceed thirty dollars per month for a needy relative with whom any dependent child is living. Provided, the State agency shall with respect to any month disregard (1) all of the earned income of each dependent child receiving aid to families with dependent children who is a full-time student to part-time student who is not a full-time employee attending a school, college, or university, or a course of vocational or technical training designed to fit him for gainful employment, and (2) in the case of earned income of a dependent child not included under item (1), a relative receiving such aid, and any other individual (living in the same home as such relative and child) whose needs are taken into account in making such determination, the first thirty dollars of the total of such earned income for such month plus one third of the remainder of such income for such month. Provided, further, that the provisions of this item shall not apply to earned income derived from participation on a project maintained under the programs established by Section 432(b)(2) and (3) of the Federal Social Security Act. Provided, further, that within the limitations of the State appropriation the maximum amount per caretaker and per child may be increased not in excess of the amount which may hereafter be matched by the Federal Government.

SECTION 20-7-2500. County department shall make estimate of amount needed for dependent children.

Each county department shall prepare, as required by the State Department, an estimate of the amount needed for dependent children in its county. Such estimate shall set forth the number of children being aided, with the amounts of grants to each individual child and such information or data as is necessary for the State Department to estimate the probable increase or decrease during the next ensuing period. A copy of such estimates from the various county departments shall be furnished each member of the legislative delegation of the respective counties.

SECTION 20-7-2510. Receipt and deposit of federal funds for aid to dependent children.

The State Treasurer shall receive and deposit in the State Treasury any Federal funds allotted to the State under Section 403 of Title IV of the Federal Social Security Act, or otherwise, for aid to dependent children. Such sums shall be kept by the State Treasurer in a dependent children's aid account.

SUBARTICLE 9.

INTERSTATE COMPACT FOR ADOPTION AND MEDICAL ASSISTANCE

SECTION 20-7-2610. Authorization for interstate compacts; definitions.

(A) The State Department of Social Services may develop, participate in the development of, negotiate, and enter into one or more interstate compacts on behalf of this State with other states to implement one or more of the purposes set forth in this subarticle. The compact has the effect of law.

(B) For the purposes of this subarticle:

(1) "State" means a state of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or a territory or possession of or administered by the United States.

(2) "Adoption assistance state" means the state that is signatory to an adoption assistance agreement in a particular case.

(3) "Residence state" means the state of which the child is a resident by virtue of the residence of the adoptive parents.

SECTION 20-7-2620. Required contents of compact.

A compact entered into pursuant to the authority conferred by this subarticle must contain:

(1) a provision making it available for joinder by all states;

(2) a provision for withdrawal from the compact upon written notice to the parties but one year between the date of the notice and the effective date of the withdrawal;

(3) a requirement that the protections afforded by or pursuant to the compact continue in force for the duration of the adoption assistance and be applicable to all children and their adoptive parents who on the effective date of the withdrawal are receiving adoption assistance from a party state other than the one in which they are resident and have their principal place of abode;

(4) a requirement that each instance of adoption assistance to which the compact applies be covered by an adoption assistance agreement in writing between the adoptive parents and the state child welfare agency of the state which undertakes to provide the adoption assistance, and that the agreement be expressly for the benefit of the adopted child and enforceable by the adoptive parents and the state agency providing the adoption assistance;

(5) other provisions as may be appropriate to implement the proper administration of the compact.

SECTION 20-7-2630. Permissible additional compact provisions.

A compact entered into pursuant to the authority conferred by this subarticle may contain provisions in addition to those required by Section 20-7-2620 as follows:

(1) establishing procedures and entitlements to medical, developmental, child care, or other social services for the child in accordance with applicable laws, even though the child and the adoptive parents are in a state other than the one responsible for or providing the services or the funds to defray part or all of the costs of the services;

(2) other provisions as may be appropriate or incidental to the proper administration of the compact.

SECTION 20-7-2640. Medical assistance identification; benefits; exceptions.

(A) A child with special needs who is a resident in the State who is the subject of an adoption assistance agreement with another state may receive medical assistance identification from this State upon the filing with the Department of Social Services of a certified copy of the agreement obtained from the adoption assistance state. In accordance with regulations of the department, the adoptive parents at least annually shall show that the agreement is still in force or has been renewed.

(B) The Department of Health and Human Services shall consider the holder of medical assistance identification pursuant to this section as any other holder of medical assistance identification under the laws of this State and shall process and make payment on claims on account of the holder in the same manner and pursuant to the same conditions and procedures as for other recipients of medical assistance.

(C) The Department of Health and Human Services or the Department of Social Services shall provide coverage and benefits for a child who is in another state and who is covered by an adoption assistance agreement made by the department for the coverage or benefits, if any, not provided by the residence state. To this end, the adoptive parents acting for the child may submit evidence of payment for services or benefit amounts not payable in the residence state and must be reimbursed for them. However, there is no reimbursement for services or benefit amounts covered under insurance or other third party medical contract or arrangement held by the child or the adoptive parents. The department shall promulgate regulations implementing this subsection. The additional coverages and benefit amounts provided pursuant to this subsection are for the costs of services for which there is no federal contribution, or which, if federally aided, are not provided by the residence state. The regulations must include, but are not limited to, procedures to be followed in obtaining prior approval for services in those instances where required for the assistance.

(D) The provisions of this section apply only to medical assistance for children under adoption assistance agreements from states that have entered into a compact with this State under which the other state provides medical assistance to children with special needs under adoption assistance agreements made by this State. All other children entitled to medical assistance pursuant to adoption assistance agreements entered into by this State are eligible to receive assistance in accordance with the laws and procedures applicable to the agreements.

SECTION 20-7-2650. Compliance with Federal law; Federal aid.

Consistent with federal law, the Department of Social Services in connection with the administration of this subarticle and a compact pursuant to it must include in a state plan made pursuant to the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, Public Law 96-272, Titles IV (e) and XIX of the Social Security Act, and other applicable federal laws, the provision of adoption assistance and medical assistance for which the federal government pays some or all of the cost. The department shall apply for and administer all relevant federal aid in accordance with the law.

SECTION 20-7-2660. Penalty for false claim.

A person who submits a claim for payment or reimbursement for services or benefits pursuant to this subarticle or makes a statement in connection with payment or reimbursement, which he knows or should know to be false, misleading, or fraudulent, is guilty of a misdemeanor. Upon conviction, the person must be fined not more than ten thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

SUBARTICLE 11.

CHILDCARE FACILITIES

SECTION 20-7-2700. Definitions.

For the purpose of this subarticle:

a. "Childcare" means the care, supervision, or guidance of a child or children, unaccompanied by the parent, guardian, or custodian, on a regular basis, for periods of less than twenty-four hours per day, but more than four hours, in a place other than the child's or the children's own home or homes.

b. "Childcare facilities" means a facility which provides care, supervision, or guidance for a minor child who is not related by blood, marriage, or adoption to the owner or operator of the facility whether or not the facility is operated for profit and whether or not the facility makes a charge for services offered by it. This definition includes, but is not limited to, day nurseries, nursery schools, childcare centers, group childcare homes, and family childcare homes. The term does not include:

(1) an educational facility, whether private or public, which operates solely for educational purposes in grade one or above;

(2) five-year-old kindergarten programs;

(3) kindergartens or nursery schools or other daytime programs, with or without stated educational purposes, operating no more than four hours a day and receiving children younger than lawful school age;

(4) facilities operated for more than four hours a day in connection with a shopping center or service or other similar facility, where the same children are cared for less than four hours a day and not on a regular basis as defined in this subarticle while parents or custodians of the children are occupied on the premises or are in the immediate vicinity and immediately available; however, these facilities must meet local fire and sanitation requirements and maintain documentation on these requirements on file at the facility available for public inspection;

(5) school vacation or school holiday day camps for children operating in distinct sessions running less than three weeks per session unless the day camp permits children to enroll in successive sessions so that their total attendance may exceed three weeks;

(6) summer resident camps for children;

(7) bible schools normally conducted during vacation periods;

(8) facilities for the mentally retarded provided for in Chapter 21, Title 44;

(9) facilities for the mentally ill as provided for in Chapter 17, Title 44;

(10) childcare centers and group childcare homes owned and operated by a local church congregation or an established religious denomination or a religious college or university which does not receive state or federal financial assistance for childcare services; however, these facilities must comply with the provisions of Sections 20-7-2900 through 20-7-2975 and that these facilities voluntarily may elect to become licensed according to the process as set forth in Sections 20-7-2700 through 20-7-2780 and Sections 20-7-2980 through 20-7-3090.

c. "Public childcare facility" means a facility as defined under item b of this section which was created and exists by act of the State, or a county, city or other political subdivision, whose operation remains under the tutelage and control of a governmental agency.

d. "Private childcare facility" means a facility as defined under item b. of this section which is not a public childcare facility, and which is able to be further classified as follows:

(1) "Entrepreneurial childcare facility" means a facility whose childcare operator may receive public assistance funds directly or indirectly but which is managed as a profit-making business enterprise and whose corporation or private ownership is liable for payment of federal and state income taxes on profits earned by the facility.

(2) "Nonprofit childcare facility" means a facility whose childcare operator may receive public assistance funds directly or indirectly but which is operated under the tutelage and control of a nonprofit or eleemosynary corporation, foundation, association, or other organization whose ownership may or may not be liable for payment of federal and state income taxes on profits earned by the facility.

e. "Childcare center" means any facility which regularly receives thirteen or more children for childcare.

f. "Group childcare home" means a facility within a residence occupied by the operator which regularly provides childcare for at least seven but not more than twelve children, unattended by a parent or a legal guardian including those children living in the home and children received for childcare who are related to the resident caregiver. However, an occupied residence in which childcare is provided only for a child or children related to the resident caregiver or only for the child or children of one unrelated family or only for a combination of these children is not a group childcare home.

g. "Family childcare home" means a facility within a residence occupied by the operator in which childcare is regularly provided for no more than six children, unattended by a parent or legal guardian, including those children living in the home and children received for childcare who are related to the resident caregiver. However, an occupied residence in which childcare is provided only for a child or children related to the resident caregiver or only for the child or children of one unrelated family or only for a combination of these children is not a family childcare home.

h. "Childcare operator" means the person, corporation, partnership, voluntary association, or other public or private organization ultimately responsible for the overall operation of a childcare facility.

i. "Caregiver" means any person whose duties include direct care, supervision, and guidance of children in a childcare facility.

j. "Minor child" means a person who has not reached the eighteenth birthday.

k. "Department" means the State Department of Social Services, the agency designated to administer the regulation of childcare facilities under this subarticle, with the advice of the State Advisory Committee on the Regulation of Childcare Facilities.

l. "Committee" means the State Advisory Committee on the Regulation of Childcare Facilities, named under this subarticle to advise the department on regulatory matters related to childcare facilities.

m. "Director" means the administrative head of the department.

n. "Regularly, or on a regular basis": these terms refer to the frequency with which childcare services are available and provided at a facility in any one week; these terms mean the availability and provision of periods of daycare on more than two days in such week.

o. "Related" means any of the following relationships by marriage, blood, or adoption: parent, grandparent, brother, sister, stepparent, stepsister, stepbrother, uncle, aunt, cousin of the first degree.

p. "Regular license" means a license issued by the department for two years to an operator of a private childcare center or group childcare home or a family childcare home which elects to be licensed showing that the licensee is in compliance with the provisions of this subarticle and the regulations of the department at the time of issuance and authorizing the licensee to operate in accordance with the license, this subarticle, and the regulations of the department.

q. "Provisional license" means a license issued by the department to an operator of a private childcare center or group childcare home or a family childcare home which elects to be licensed authorizing the licensee to begin operations although the licensee temporarily is unable to comply with all of the requirements for a license.

r. "Regular approval" means a written notice issued by the department for a two-year period to a department, agency, or institution of the State, or a county, city, or other political subdivision, approving the operation of a public childcare center or group childcare home in accordance with the provisions of the notice, this subarticle, and the regulations of the department.

s. "Provisional approval" means a written notice issued by the department to a department, agency, or institution of the State, or a county, city, or other political subdivision approving the commencement of the operations of a public childcare center or group childcare home although the operator is temporarily unable to comply with all of the requirements for approval.

t. "Registration" means the process whereby childcare centers and group childcare homes owned and operated by a church or a publicly recognized religious educational or religious charitable institution are regulated under this subarticle and the process whereby all family childcare homes are regulated under this subarticle.

u. "Declaratory order" means a written statement on the part of the department approving plans for construction or renovation ensuring against the imposition of more stringent regulations at a later date.

v. "Renewal" means in regard to childcare centers and group childcare homes, to grant an extension of a regular license or regular approval for another two-year period provided an investigation of such facilities verifies that they are in compliance with the applicable regulations, in regard to family childcare homes, to place the name of the operator on the registration list for another year provided procedures indicated in this subarticle have been completed.

w. "Revocation" means to void the regular license of a childcare center or group childcare home.

x. "Deficiency correction notice" means a written statement on the part of the department notifying a childcare facility which is not complying with any applicable regulations to correct the deficiencies stated in the notice within a reasonable time limit.

y. "Complaint" means a written statement reporting unsatisfactory conditions in a childcare facility.

z. "Curriculum" means and includes design of courses, teaching philosophy, methods, and activities.

aa. "Summer resident camp for children" means a twenty- four-hour residential program offered during the summer that provides recreational activities for children.

bb. "Summer day camp for children" means a program offered during the summer that provides recreational activities primarily during daytime hours throughout the period of the program and may include an occasional overnight activity under the supervision of the operator.

cc. "Infant" means a child age twelve months or younger for the purposes of this chapter.

SECTION 20-7-2710. Purpose.

a. The intent of this subarticle is to define the regulatory duties of government necessary to safeguard children in care in places other than their own homes, ensuring for them minimum levels of protection and supervision. Toward that end, it is the purpose of this subarticle to establish statewide minimum regulations for the care and protection of children in childcare facilities, to ensure maintenance of these regulations and to approve administration and enforcement to regulate conditions in such facilities. It is the policy of the State to ensure protection of children under care in childcare facilities, and to encourage the improvement of childcare programs.

b. It is the further intent of this subarticle that the freedom of religion of all citizens is inviolate. Nothing in this subarticle shall give any governmental agency jurisdiction or authority to regulate, supervise, or in any way be involved in any Sunday school, Sabbath school, religious services or any nursery service or other program conducted during religious or church services primarily for the convenience of those attending the services.

c. Nothing in this subarticle shall create authority for the Department of Social Services to influence or regulate the curriculum of childcare facilities.

SECTION 20-7-2720. Application of the law; private centers and homes.

No person, corporation, partnership, voluntary association, or other organization may operate a private childcare center or group childcare home unless licensed to do so by the department.

SECTION 20-7-2725. Childcare center employment.

(A) No childcare center, group childcare home, family childcare home, or church or religious childcare center may employ a person or engage the services of a caregiver who is required to register under the sex offender registry act pursuant to Section 23-3-430 or who has been convicted of:

(1) a crime listed in Chapter 3 of Title 16, Offenses Against the Person;

(2) a crime listed in Chapter 15 of Title 16, Offenses Against Morality and Decency;

(3) the crime of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, contained in Section 16-17-490;

(4) the felonies classified in Section 16-1-10(A), except that this prohibition does not apply to Section 56-5-2930, the Class F felony of driving under the influence pursuant to Section 56-5-2940(4) if the conviction occurred at least ten years prior to the application for employment and the following conditions are met:

(a) the person has not been convicted in this State or any other state of an alcohol or drug violation during the previous ten-year period;

(b) the person has not been convicted of and has no charges pending in this State or any other state for a violation of driving while his license is canceled, suspended, or revoked during the previous ten-year period; and

(c) the person has completed successfully an alcohol or drug assessment and treatment program provided by the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services or an equivalent program designated by that agency.

A person who has been convicted of a first-offense violation of Section 56-5-2930 must not drive a motor vehicle or provide transportation while in the official course of his duties as an employee of a childcare center, group childcare home, family childcare home, or church or religious childcare center.

If the person subsequently is convicted of, receives a sentence upon a plea of guilty or of nolo contendere, or forfeits bail posted for a violation of Section 56-5-2930 or for a violation of another law or ordinance of this State or any other state or of a municipality of this State or any other state that prohibits a person from operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, drugs, or narcotics, the person's employment must be terminated;

(5) the offenses enumerated in Section 16-1-10(D); or

(6) a criminal offense similar in nature to the crimes listed in this subsection committed in other jurisdictions or under federal law.

This section does not prohibit employment or provision of caregiver services when a conviction or plea of guilty or nolo contendere for one of the crimes enumerated in this subsection has been pardoned. However, notwithstanding the entry of a pardon, an operator or the department may consider all information available, including the person's pardoned convictions or pleas and the circumstances surrounding them, to determine whether the applicant is unfit or otherwise unsuited for employment or to provide caregiver services.

(B) A person who has been convicted of a crime enumerated in subsection (A) who applies for employment with, is employed by, or is a caregiver at a childcare center, group childcare home, family childcare home, or church or religious childcare center is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

(C) Application forms for employment at childcare centers, group childcare homes, family childcare homes, or church or religious childcare centers must include, at the top of the form in large bold type, a statement indicating that a person who has been convicted of a crime enumerated in subsection (A) who applies for employment with, is employed by, or seeks to provide caregiver services or is a caregiver at a facility is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

(D) To be employed by or to provide caregiver services at a childcare facility licensed, registered, or approved under this subarticle, a person first shall undergo a state fingerprint review to be conducted by the State Law Enforcement Division to determine any state criminal history and a fingerprint review to be conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine any other criminal history. A person may be provisionally employed or may provisionally provide caregiver services after the favorable completion of the State Law Enforcement Division fingerprint review and until such time as the Federal Bureau of Investigation review is completed if the person affirms in writing on a form provided by the department that he or she has not been convicted of any crime enumerated in this section. The results of the fingerprint reviews are valid and reviews are not required to be repeated as long as the person remains employed by or continues providing caregiver services in a childcare center, group childcare home, family childcare home, or church or religious childcare center; however, if a person is not employed or does not provide caregiver services for one year or longer, the fingerprint reviews must be repeated.

(E) Unless otherwise required by law, this section does not apply to volunteers in a childcare center, group childcare home, family childcare home, or church or religious childcare center. For purposes of this section, "volunteer" means a person who:

(1) provides services without compensation relating to the operation of a childcare center, group childcare home, family childcare home, or church or religious childcare center; and

(2) is in the presence of an operator, employee, or caregiver when providing direct care to children.

"Volunteer" includes, but is not limited to, parents, grandparents, students, and student teachers.

(F) Unless otherwise required by law, this section applies to:

(1) an employee who provides care to the child or children without the direct personal supervision of a person licensed, registered, or approved under this subarticle; and

(2) any other employee at a facility licensed, registered, or approved under this subarticle who has direct access to a child outside the immediate presence of a person who has undergone the fingerprint review required under this subarticle.

SECTION 20-7-2730. Issuance of license; private centers and homes.

(A) Application for license must be made on forms supplied by the department and in the manner it prescribes.

(B) Before issuing a license the department shall conduct an investigation of the applicant and the proposed plan of care for children and for operating a private childcare center or group childcare home. If the results of the investigation verify that the provisions of this subarticle and the applicable regulations promulgated by the department are satisfied, a license must be issued. The applicant shall cooperate with the investigation and related inspections by providing access to the physical plant, records, excluding financial records, and staff. Failure to comply with the regulations promulgated by the department within the time period specified in this subarticle, if adequate notification of deficiencies has been made, is a ground for denial of application. The investigation and inspections may involve consideration of any facts, conditions, or circumstances relevant to the operation of the childcare center or group childcare home, including references and other information about the character and quality of the personnel.

(C) Each license must be conditioned by stating clearly the name and address of the licensee, the address of the childcare center or group childcare home, and the number of children who may be served.

(D) Failure of the department, except as provided in Section 20-7-3070, to approve or deny an application within ninety days results in the granting of a provisional license.

(E) No license may be issued to an operator who has been convicted of:

(1) a crime listed in Chapter 3 of Title 16, Offenses Against the Person;

(2) a crime listed in Chapter 15 of Title 16, Offenses Against Morality and Decency;

(3) the crime of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, contained in Section 16-17-490;

(4) the felonies classified in Section 16-1-10(A);

(5) the offenses enumerated in Section 16-1-10(D); or

(6) a criminal offense similar in nature to the crimes listed in this subsection committed in other jurisdictions or under federal law.

This section does not prohibit licensing when a conviction or plea of guilty or nolo contendere for one of the crimes enumerated in this subsection has been pardoned. However, notwithstanding the entry of a pardon, the department may consider all information available, including the person's pardoned convictions or pleas and the circumstances surrounding them, to determine whether the person is unfit or otherwise unsuited to be an operator.

(F) Application forms for licenses issued under this section must include, at the top of the form in large bold type, a statement indicating that a person who has been convicted of a crime enumerated in subsection (E) who applies for a license as an operator is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

(G) A person applying for a license as an operator under this section shall undergo a state fingerprint review to be conducted by the State Law Enforcement Division to determine any state criminal history and a fingerprint review to be conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine any other criminal history. The fingerprint reviews required by this subsection are not required upon each renewal.

(H) A person applying for a license as an operator under this section or seeking employment or seeking to provide caregiver services at a facility licensed under this section shall undergo a state fingerprint review to be conducted by the State Law Enforcement Division to determine any state criminal history and a fingerprint review to be conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine any other criminal history. The fingerprint reviews required by this subsection are not required upon each renewal unless the renewal coincides with employment of a new operator, employee, or caregiver.

SECTION 20-7-2735. Childcare center caregivers; educational and experience requirements.

(A) A caregiver who begins employment in a licensed or approved childcare center in South Carolina after June 30, 1994, must have at least a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) and at least six months' experience as a caregiver in a licensed or approved childcare facility. If a caregiver does not meet the experience requirements, the caregiver must be directly supervised for six months by a staff person with at least one year experience as a caregiver in a licensed or approved childcare facility. Within six months of being employed, a caregiver must have six clock hours of training in child growth and development and early childhood education or shall continue to be under the direct supervision of a caregiver who has at least one year of experience as a caregiver in a licensed or approved childcare facility.

(B) A caregiver who has two years' experience as a caregiver in a licensed or approved facility and is employed as of July 1, 1994, in a licensed or approved childcare center in South Carolina is exempt from the high school diploma and General Educational Development (GED) requirements of subsection (A).

SECTION 20-7-2740. License renewal; private centers and homes.

(A) Regular licenses may be renewed upon application and approval. Notification of a childcare center or group childcare home regarding renewal is the responsibility of the department.

(B) Application for renewal must be made on forms supplied by the department in the manner it prescribes.

(C) Before renewing a license the department shall conduct an investigation of the childcare center or group childcare home. If the results of the investigation verify that the provisions of this subarticle and the applicable regulations promulgated by the department are satisfied, the license must be renewed. The licensee shall cooperate with the investigation and related inspections by providing access to the physical plant, records, and staff. Failure to comply with the regulations promulgated by the department within the time period specified in this subarticle, if adequate notification of deficiencies has been made, is a ground for revocation of the license. The investigation and inspections may involve consideration of any facts, conditions, or circumstances relevant to the operation of the childcare center or group childcare home.

(D) No license may be renewed for any operator who has been convicted of:

(1) a crime listed in Chapter 3 of Title 16, Offenses Against the Person;

(2) a crime listed in Chapter 15 of Title 16, Offenses Against Morality and Decency;

(3) the crime of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, contained in Section 16-17-490;

(4) the felonies classified in Section 16-1-10(A);

(5) the offenses enumerated in Section 16-1-10(D); or

(6) a criminal offense similar in nature to the crimes listed in this subsection committed in other jurisdictions or under federal law.

This section does not prohibit renewal when a conviction or plea of guilty or nolo contendere for one of the crimes enumerated in this subsection has been pardoned. However, notwithstanding the entry of a pardon, the department may consider all information available, including the person's pardoned convictions or pleas and the circumstances surrounding them, to determine whether the person is unfit or otherwise unsuited to be an operator.

(E) Application forms for license renewals issued under this section must include, at the top of the form in large bold type, a statement indicating that a person who has been convicted of a crime enumerated in subsection (D) who applies for a license renewal as operator is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

(F) A licensee seeking license renewal under this section, its employees, and its caregivers, who have not done so previously, on the first renewal after June 30, 1995, shall undergo a state fingerprint review to be conducted by the State Law Enforcement Division to determine any state criminal history and a fingerprint review to be conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine any other criminal history.

(G) No facility may employ or engage the services of an employee or caregiver who has been convicted of one of the crimes listed in this section.

SECTION 20-7-2750. Deficiency correction notices; private centers and homes.

Whenever the department finds upon inspection that a private childcare center or group childcare home is not complying with any applicable licensing regulations, the department shall notify the operator to correct these deficiencies.

a. Every correction notice must be in writing and must include a statement of the deficiencies found, the period within which the deficiencies must be corrected and the provision of the subarticle and regulations relied upon. The period must be reasonable and, except when the department finds an emergency dangerous to the health or safety of children, not less than thirty days from the receipt of the notice.

b. Within two weeks of receipt of the notice, the operator of the facility may file a written request with the department for administrative reconsideration of the notice or any portion of the notice.

c. The department shall grant or deny a written request within seven days of filing and shall notify the operator of the grant or denial.

d. In the event that the operator of the facility fails to correct deficiencies within the period prescribed, the department may revoke the license.

SECTION 20-7-2760. Notice of license denial, nonrenewal, etc.; hearings; appeals.

a. An applicant who has been denied a license by the department must be given prompt written notice by certified or registered mail. The notice shall indicate the reasons for the proposed action and shall inform the applicant of the right to appeal the decision to the director in writing within thirty days after the receipt of notice of denial. An appeal from the final decision of the director may be taken to an administrative law judge pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act.

b. A licensee whose application for renewal is denied or whose license is about to be revoked must be given written notice by certified or registered mail. The notice must contain the reasons for the proposed action and shall inform the licensee of the right to appeal the decision to the director or his designee in writing within thirty calendar days after the receipt of the notice. An appeal from the final decision of the director may be taken to an administrative law judge pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act.

c. At the hearing provided for in this section, the applicant or licensee may be represented by counsel and has the right to call, examine, and cross-examine witnesses and to otherwise introduce evidence. Parents appearing at the hearing may also be represented by counsel. The hearing examiner is empowered to require the presence of witnesses and evidence by subpoena on behalf of the appellant or department. The final decision of the department must be in writing, must contain the department's findings of fact and rulings of law, and must be mailed to the parties to the proceedings by certified or registered mail to their last known addresses as may be shown in the application, or otherwise. A full and complete record must be kept of all proceedings, and all testimony must be reported but need not be transcribed unless the department's decision is appealed, or a transcript is requested by an interested party. Upon an appeal, the department shall furnish to any appellant, free of charges, a certified copy of the transcript of all evidentiary proceedings before it. Other parties shall pay the cost of transcripts prepared at their request.

d. The decision of the department is final unless appealed by a party to an administrative law judge pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act.

SECTION 20-7-2770. Register; private centers and homes.

Every childcare center or group childcare home shall maintain a register setting forth essential facts concerning each child enrolled under the age of eighteen years.

SECTION 20-7-2780. License; private centers and homes.

a. Each childcare center or group childcare home shall maintain its current license displayed in a prominent place at all times and must state its license number in all advertisements of the childcare center or group daycare home.

b. No license may be transferred nor shall the location of any childcare center or group childcare home or place of performance of service be changed without the written consent of the department. The department shall consent to the change for a reasonable period of time when emergency conditions require it, so long as the new location or place of performance substantially conforms to state fire and health requirements.

c. Upon occurrence of death of a child on the premises of a childcare center or group childcare home in which the child is enrolled or while under the constructive control of the holder of the license of the facility, it is the responsibility of the holder of the license to notify the department within forty-eight hours and follow up with a written report as soon as the stated cause of death is certified by the appropriate government official.

SECTION 20-7-2790. Application of the law; public centers and homes.

Every operator or potential operator of a public childcare center or group childcare home must apply to the department for an investigation and a statement of standard conformity or approval, except those facilities designated in Section 20-7-2700.

SECTION 20-7-2800. Issuance of statement of approval; public centers and homes.

(A) Application for a statement of standard conformity or approval must be made on forms supplied by the department and in the manner it prescribes.

(B) Before issuing approval the department shall conduct an investigation of the applicant and the proposed plan of care for children and for operating a public childcare center or group childcare home. If the results of the investigation verify that the provisions of the subarticle and the applicable regulations promulgated by the department are satisfied, approval must be issued. The applicant shall cooperate with the investigation and inspections by providing access to the physical plant, records, and staff. The investigation and related inspections may involve consideration of any facts, conditions, or circumstances relevant to the operation of the childcare center or group childcare home, including references and other information about the character and quality of the personnel. If the childcare center or group childcare home fails to comply with the regulations promulgated by the department within the time period specified in this subarticle, if adequate notification regarding deficiencies has been given, the appropriate public officials of the state and local government must be notified.

(C) A person applying for approval under this section shall undergo a state fingerprint review to be conducted by the State Law Enforcement Division to determine any state criminal history and a fingerprint review to be conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine any other criminal history. The fingerprint reviews required by this subsection are not required upon each renewal.

(D) No approval may be granted under this section if the person applying for approval or the operator, an employee, or a caregiver of the facility has been convicted of:

(1) a crime listed in Chapter 3 of Title 16, Offenses Against the Person;

(2) a crime listed in Chapter 15 of Title 16, Offenses Against Morality and Decency;

(3) the crime of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, contained in Section 16-17-490;

(4) the felonies classified in Section 16-1-10(A);

(5) the offenses enumerated in Section 16-1-10(D); or

(6) a criminal offense similar in nature to the crimes in this subsection committed in other jurisdictions or under federal law.

This section does not prohibit approval when a conviction or plea of guilty or nolo contendere for one of the crimes enumerated in this subsection has been pardoned. However, notwithstanding the entry of a pardon, the department may consider all information available, including the person's pardoned convictions or pleas and the circumstances surrounding them, to determine whether the person is unfit or otherwise unsuited as an applicant or to be an operator, caregiver, or employee.

(E) Application forms for a statement of standard conformity or approval issued under this section must include, at the top of the form in large bold type, a statement indicating that a person who has been convicted of a crime enumerated in subsection (D) who applies for approval is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

(F) Application forms for a statement of standard conformity or approval issued under this chapter by the department and application forms for employment at individual public childcare centers or group childcare homes must include, at the top of the form in large bold type, a statement indicating that a person who has been convicted of one of the crimes listed in this section who applies for a license as operator, applies for employment with, is employed by, seeks to provide caregiver services with, or is a caregiver at a facility is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

SECTION 20-7-2810. Approval renewal; public centers and homes.

(A) Regular approvals may be renewed upon application and approval. Notification of a childcare center or group childcare home regarding renewal is the responsibility of the department.

(B) Application for renewal must be made on forms supplied by the department and in the manner it prescribes.

(C) Before renewing an approval the department shall conduct an investigation of the childcare center or group childcare home. If the results of the investigation verify that the provisions of this subarticle and the applicable regulations promulgated by the department are satisfied, the approval must be renewed. The operator shall cooperate with the investigation and related inspections by providing access to the physical plant, records, and staff. If the operator's statement of approval cannot be renewed, the appropriate public officials must be notified.

(D) A person applying for approval renewal under this section, a person who will operate the facility, and its employees and caregivers, who have not done so previously, on the first approval renewal after June 30, 1995, shall undergo a state fingerprint review to be conducted by the State Law Enforcement Division to determine any state criminal history and a fingerprint review to be conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine any other criminal history.

No approval may be renewed under this section if the person applying for renewal, the operator of the facility, or an employee or a caregiver has been convicted of:

(1) a crime listed in Chapter 3 of Title 16, Offenses Against the Person;

(2) a crime listed in Chapter 15 of Title 16, Offenses Against Morality and Decency;

(3) the crime of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, contained in Section 16-17-490;

(4) the felonies classified in Section 16-1-10(A);

(5) the offenses enumerated in Section 16-1-10(D); or

(6) a criminal offense similar in nature to the crimes listed in this subsection committed in other jurisdictions or under federal law.

This section does not prohibit renewal when a conviction or plea of guilty or nolo contendere for one of the crimes enumerated in this subsection has been pardoned. However, notwithstanding the entry of a pardon, the department may consider all information available, including the person's pardoned convictions or pleas and the circumstances surrounding them, to determine whether the person is unfit or otherwise unsuited as an applicant or to be an operator, caregiver, or employee.

(E) Application forms for renewal of a statement of standard conformity or approval issued under this section must include, at the top of the form in large bold type, a statement indicating that a person who has been convicted of a crime enumerated in subsection (D) who applies for approval renewal is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

(F) No facility may employ or engage the services of an employee or a caregiver who has been convicted of one of the crimes listed in this section.

(G) Application forms for renewal of a statement of standard conformity or approval issued under this chapter by the department for individual public childcare centers or group childcare homes must include, at the top of the form in large bold type, a statement indicating that a person who has been convicted of one of the crimes listed in this section who applies for a license as operator, applies for employment with, is employed by, seeks to provide caregiver services with, or is a caregiver at a facility is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

SECTION 20-7-2820. Deficiency correction notices; public centers and homes.

Whenever the department finds upon inspection that a public childcare center or group childcare home is not complying with any applicable regulations, the department may notify the operator to correct the deficiencies.

a. Every correction notice must be in writing and shall include a statement of the deficiencies found, the period within which the deficiencies must be corrected and the provision of the subarticle and regulations relied upon. The period must be reasonable and, except when the department finds an emergency dangerous to the health or safety of children, not less than thirty days from the receipt of the notice.

b. Within two weeks of receipt of the notice, the operator of the public childcare center or group childcare home may file a written request with the department for administrative reconsideration of the notice or any portion of the notice.

c. The department shall grant or deny a written request within seven days of filing and shall notify the operator of the childcare center or group childcare home of the grant or denial.

d. In the event that the operator fails to correct any deficiency within the period prescribed for correction, the department shall notify the appropriate public officials.

SECTION 20-7-2830. Review meeting; public centers and homes.

a. An applicant or operator who has been denied approval or renewal of approval by the department must be given prompt written notice of the denial, which shall include a statement of the reasons for the denial. The notice must also inform the applicant or operator that it may, within thirty days after the receipt of the notice of denial, appeal the denial by making a written request to the director or his designee for an opportunity to show cause why its application should not be denied.

b. Upon receiving a written petition, the director or his designee shall give the applicant or operator reasonable notice and an opportunity for a prompt, informal meeting with the director or his designee with respect to the action by the department, and an opportunity to submit written material. On the basis of the available evidence, including information obtained at the informal meeting and from the written material, the director or his designee shall decide whether the application must be granted for approval, provisional approval, or denied. The decision of the director or his designee must be in writing, must contain findings of fact and must be mailed to the parties to the proceedings by certified or registered mail. Notification of the decision must be sent to the Governor and appropriate officials of the state or local government.

SECTION 20-7-2840. Registration of family childcare homes.

(A) As used in this subarticle, "family childcare home" means a facility within a residence occupied by the operator in which childcare regularly is provided for no more than six children, unattended by a parent or legal guardian, including those children living in the home and the children received for childcare who are related to the resident caregiver. However, an occupied residence in which childcare is provided only for a child or children related to the resident caregiver or only for the child or children of one unrelated family, or only for a combination of these children, is not a family childcare home.

(B) An operator of a family childcare home shall register with the department within six months of June 13, 1977.

(C) A family childcare home which elects to participate in a federal program which requires licensing as a prerequisite to participation may elect to be licensed under the procedures in Section 20-7-2850. A family childcare home electing licensing shall demonstrate compliance with the suggested standards developed by the department under Section 20-7-2980 and shall comply with provisions of Sections 20-7-2730 and 20-7-2740 relating to criminal history conviction records checks upon original licensing and upon renewal. Operators and caregivers of licensed family childcare homes are held to the standards in Sections 20-7-2730 and 20-7-2740 regarding criminal convictions.

SECTION 20-7-2850. Registration procedures; family childcare homes.

(A) Registration must be completed on forms supplied by the department and in the manner it prescribes.

(B) Before becoming a registered operator the applicant shall:

(1) sign a statement that he has read the suggested standards developed by the department under Section 20-7-2980;

(2) furnish the department with a signed statement by each consumer parent verifying that the operator has provided each consumer parent with a copy of the suggested standards for family childcare homes and the procedures for filing complaints;

(3) upon request, provide the department with any facts, conditions, or circumstances relevant to the operation of the family childcare home, including references and other information regarding the character of the family childcare home operator.

(C) A person applying to become a registered operator of a family childcare home under this section and a person fifteen years of age or older living in the family childcare home shall undergo a state fingerprint review to be conducted by the State Law Enforcement Division to determine any state criminal history and a fingerprint review to be conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine any other criminal history. The fingerprint reviews required by this subsection are not required upon each renewal.

(D) No applicant may be registered as an operator if the person, an employee, a caregiver, or a person fifteen years of age or older living in the family childcare home has been convicted of:

(1) a crime listed in Chapter 3 of Title 16, Offenses Against the Person;

(2) a crime listed in Chapter 15 of Title 16, Offenses Against Morality and Decency;

(3) the crime of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, contained in Section 16-17-490;

(4) the felonies classified in Section 16-1-10(A);

(5) the offenses enumerated in Section 16-1-10(D); or

(6) a criminal offense similar in nature to the crimes listed in this subsection committed in other jurisdictions or under federal law.

This section does not operate to prohibit registration or renewal when a conviction or plea of guilty or nolo contendere for one of the crimes enumerated in this subsection has been pardoned. However, notwithstanding the entry of a pardon, the department may consider all information available, including the person's pardoned convictions or pleas and the circumstances surrounding them, to determine whether the person is unfit or otherwise unsuited to be an operator, caregiver, employee, or to be living in the family daycare home.

(E) Application forms for registration issued under this section must include, at the top of the form in large bold type, a statement indicating that a person who has been convicted of a crime enumerated in subsection (D) who applies for registration as operator or a person who applies for registration as an operator who has a person fifteen years of age or older living in the family childcare home who has been convicted of a crime enumerated in subsection (D) is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

(F) Application forms for registration issued under this chapter by the department and application forms for employment at a family childcare home must include, at the top of the form in large bold type, a statement indicating that a person who has been convicted of one of the crimes listed in this section who applies for a license as operator, applies for employment with, is employed by, seeks to provide caregiver services with, or is a caregiver at a facility is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

SECTION 20-7-2860. Statement of registration; family childcare homes.

(A) A statement of registration must be issued when the family childcare operator satisfactorily completes the procedures prescribed by this subarticle. The current statement must be displayed in a prominent place in the facility at all times and the registration number must be stated in all advertisements of the family childcare home.

(B) Registration expires at the end of one year from the date of issuance of the statement of registration. Registration may be renewed according to the procedures developed by the department.

(C) A person applying for renewal of registration as an operator of a family childcare home registered under this chapter and a person employed or providing caregiver services at a family childcare home registered under this chapter, who has not done so previously, on the first renewal after June 30, 1996, shall undergo a state fingerprint review to be conducted by the State Law Enforcement Division to determine any state criminal history and a fingerprint review to be conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine any other criminal history.

Application forms for registration renewal issued under this section must include, at the top of the form in large bold type, a statement indicating that a person who has been convicted of a crime enumerated in Section 20-7-2850(D) who applies for registration as an operator or a person who applies for registration as an operator who has a person fifteen years of age or older living in the home who has been convicted of a crime enumerated in Section 20-7-2850(D) is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

(D) Application forms for registration renewal issued under this chapter by the department for a family childcare home must include, at the top of the form in large bold type, a statement indicating that a person who has been convicted of one of the crimes listed in this section who applies for a license as operator, applies for employment with, is employed by, seeks to provide caregiver services with, or is a caregiver at a facility is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

(E) The department may withdraw the statement of registration if one or more of the following apply:

(1) The health and safety of the children require withdrawal.

(2) The facility has enrolled children beyond the limits defined in this subarticle.

(3) The operator fails to comply with the registration procedures provided in this subarticle.

SECTION 20-7-2870. Visits upon expressed concerns by the community; family day care homes.

The department shall visit the facility when concerns are expressed by the community regarding the health and safety of the children, child abuse, or enrollment beyond the limits set forth in this subarticle.

a. If the concern is in regard to the health and safety of the children, the department may call on other appropriate agencies (i.e., State Department of Health and Environmental Control, Office of the State Fire Marshal) as necessary to conduct an inspection.

b. If the concern indicates that the child has been abused, the department shall carry out its responsibility as authorized under Article 7 of this chapter.

c. If the visits and inspections verify conditions detrimental to the health and safety of the children or overenrollment, the department shall carry out its responsibility as authorized by Section 20-7-2860(C) and Section 20-7-3010.

SECTION 20-7-2880. Appeals; family childcare homes.

(a) A registrant whose statement of registration has been withdrawn by the department must be given written notice by certified or registered mail. The notice must contain the reasons for the proposed action and must inform the registrant of the right to appeal the decision to the director or his designee in writing within thirty calendar days after the receipt of the notice. Upon receiving a written appeal the director or his designee shall give the registrant reasonable notice and an opportunity for a prompt hearing before the director or his designee. On the basis of the evidence adduced at the hearing, the director or his designee shall make the final decision of the department as to whether the statement of registration must be withdrawn. If no written appeal is made, the statement of registration must be withdrawn as of the termination of the thirty-day period.

(b) At the hearing provided for in this section, the registrant may be represented by counsel, and has the right to call, examine, and cross-examine witnesses, and to otherwise introduce evidence. Parents appearing at the hearing may also be represented by counsel. The director is empowered to require the presence of witnesses and evidence by subpoena on behalf of the appellant or department. The final decision of the department must be in writing, must contain the department's findings of fact and rulings of law and must be mailed to the parties to the proceedings by certified or registered mail. A full and complete record must be kept of all proceedings, and all testimony must be reported and need not be transcribed unless the decision is appealed, or a transcript is requested by an interested party. Upon an appeal, the department shall furnish to any appellate, free of charge, a certified copy of the transcript of all evidentiary proceedings before it. Other parties shall pay the cost of transcripts.

(c) The decision of the department is final unless appealed by a party pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act.

SECTION 20-7-2890. Consultation; family childcare homes.

The department shall offer consultation through employed staff or other qualified persons to assist a potential applicant, an applicant or registered operator in meeting and maintaining the suggested standards for family childcare homes.

SECTION 20-7-2900. Application of the law; church or religious childcare centers.

(A) No church congregation or established religious denomination or religious college or university which does not receive state or federal financial assistance for childcare services may operate a childcare center or group childcare home unless it complies with the requirements for registration and inspection and the regulations for health and fire safety as set forth in Sections 20-7-2910 through 20-7-2975 and requirements applicable to private and public childcare centers and group childcare homes for floor space, child-staff ratios, and staff training. Application for registration must be made on forms supplied by the department and in the manner it prescribes. Registration expires two years from the date of issuance of the statement of registration. Registration may be renewed according to the procedures developed by the department.

(B) Before issuing a registration, the department shall conduct an investigation of the applicant. This investigation is limited to:

(1) the results of the criminal history review required by subsection (G);

(2) the requirements for registration and inspection and the regulations for health and fire safety provided for in Sections 20-7-2910 through 20-7-2975; and

(3) requirements applicable to private and public childcare centers and group childcare homes for floor space, child-staff ratios, and staff training.

(C) No license or registration may be issued to a church congregation, established religious denomination, or religious college or university if a person who provides service as an operator, caregiver, or employee at the childcare facility has been convicted of:

(1) a crime listed in Chapter 3 of Title 16, Offenses Against the Person;

(2) a crime listed in Chapter 15 of Title 16, Offenses Against Morality and Decency;

(3) the crime of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, contained in Section 16-17-490;

(4) the felonies classified in Section 16-1-10(A);

(5) the offenses enumerated in Section 16-1-10(D); or

(6) a criminal offense similar in nature to the crimes listed in this subsection committed in other jurisdictions or under federal law.

This section does not prohibit licensing, registration, or the renewal of a license or registration when a conviction or plea of guilty or nolo contendere for one of the crimes enumerated in this subsection has been pardoned. However, notwithstanding the entry of a pardon, the department may consider all information available, including the person's pardoned convictions or pleas and the circumstances surrounding them, to determine whether the person is unfit or otherwise unsuited to be an operator, caregiver, or employee.

(D) Application forms for licensure or registration issued under this subarticle must include, at the top of the form in large bold type, a statement indicating that a person who has been convicted of a crime enumerated in this section who applies for a license or registration as operator is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

(E) A person applying for a license or registration as an operator of a church or religious childcare center shall undergo a state fingerprint review to be conducted by the State Law Enforcement Division to determine any state criminal history and a fingerprint review to be conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine any other criminal history. The fingerprint reviews required by this subsection are not required upon each renewal.

(F) Application forms for licensure or registration issued under this chapter by the department and application forms for employment at a facility operated by a church congregation, established religious denomination, or religious college or university must include, at the top of the form in large bold type, a statement indicating that a person who has been convicted of one of the crimes listed in this section who applies for a license as operator, applies for employment with, is employed by, seeks to provide caregiver services with, or is a caregiver at a facility is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

(G) A person applying for a license or registration as an operator of a church or religious childcare center or seeking employment or seeking to provide caregiver services at a church or religious childcare center shall undergo a state fingerprint review to be conducted by the State Law Enforcement Division to determine any state criminal history and a fingerprint review to be conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine any other criminal history. The fingerprint reviews required by this subsection are not required upon each renewal unless the renewal coincides with employment of a new operator, employee, or caregiver.

(H) A person applying for renewal of a license or registration as an operator of a church or religious childcare center licensed or registered under this chapter and a person employed or registered under this chapter, who has not done so previously, on the first renewal after June 30, 1996, shall undergo a state fingerprint review to be conducted by the State Law Enforcement Division to determine any state criminal history and a fingerprint review to be conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine any other criminal history.

SECTION 20-7-2902. Department prohibited from prescribing staff training and children's activities curricula.

Notwithstanding the staff training requirements of Section 20-7-2900(A) and (B)(3), the department may not prescribe the curriculum for staff training, other than curriculum addressing administration, child growth and development, and health and safety, for a church congregation, established religious denomination, or religious college or university, childcare center or group childcare home. Additionally, the department may not prescribe the content of curriculum activities for children provided by these childcare centers or group childcare homes.

SECTION 20-7-2905. Criminal history review charge.

For conducting a state criminal history review as required by this subarticle, the State Law Enforcement Division may not impose a fee greater than the fee imposed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for conducting such a review.

SECTION 20-7-2910. Registration and inspection; church or religious childcare centers.

The childcare operator shall submit a formal request for inspection of the childcare facility to the department. The department shall request the appropriate state health and fire safety agencies to conduct an inspection of the facility before renewal of the registration and more often if necessary to ensure compliance with health and fire safety regulations. The department shall register the childcare facility upon notification from health and fire safety agencies that the childcare facility is in compliance with these regulations and the requirements of Section 20-7-2900.

The applicable regulations must be the same health and fire safety regulations applied to other facilities regulated under this subarticle.

SECTION 20-7-2915. Statement of registration; content; display; registration number to be stated in advertisements.

A statement of registration must be issued when the church or religious childcare operator or group childcare home operator satisfactorily completes the procedures prescribed by this subarticle. An application for a statement of registration must include the name and address of the director, the address of the facility, and the number of children who may be served. Failure of the department to approve or deny an application within ninety days results in the granting of a provisional registration. The current statement of registration must be displayed in a prominent place in the facility at all times, and the registration number must be stated in all advertisements of the church or religious childcare center or group childcare home.

SECTION 20-7-2920. Injunction; church or religious childcare centers.

The department may seek an injunction against the continuing operation of a childcare center or group childcare home in the family court having jurisdiction over the county in which the facility is located when the facility is considered to be out of compliance with the provisions of Sections 20-7-2900 and 20-7-2910.

SECTION 20-7-2930. Deficiency correction notice; church or religious childcare centers.

Whenever the health or fire safety agency finds upon inspection that a childcare center or group childcare home is not complying with the applicable regulations, the appropriate agency shall notify the department. The department shall then request the operator to correct such deficiencies.

a. Every correction notice must be in writing and must include a statement of the deficiencies found, the period within which the deficiencies must be corrected and the provision of the subarticle and regulations relied upon. The period must be reasonable and, except when the appropriate agency finds an emergency dangerous to the health or safety of children, not less than thirty days from the receipt of the notices.

b. Within two weeks of receipt of the notice, the operator of the facility may file a written request with the department for administrative reconsideration of the notice or any portion of the notice.

c. The department shall grant or deny a written request and shall notify the operator of action taken.

d. In the event that the operator of the facility fails to correct deficiencies within the period prescribed, the department may suspend the registration of the facility to be effective thirty days after date of notice. An appeal may be taken pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act.

SECTION 20-7-2940. Appeals; church or religious childcare centers.

a. When the registration of a facility has been suspended, the operator must be given prompt written notice. The notice must indicate the reasons for the suspension and inform the operator of the right to appeal the decision through administrative channels to the department and according to established appeals procedure for the department.

b. Upon appeal, the decision of the department is final unless appealed by a party pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act.

SECTION 20-7-2950. Repealed by 1993 Act No. 181, Section 1617(A), eff July 1, 1993.

SECTION 20-7-2960. Repealed by 1993 Act No. 164, Part II, Section 79A.H, eff July 1, 1993.

SECTION 20-7-2970. Penalties against church or religious childcare centers.

An operator violating the provisions of Sections 20-7-2910 through 20-7-2970 is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be punished by a fine not exceeding one thousand five hundred dollars or imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both.

SECTION 20-7-2975. One caregiver required to have current certificate for first aid and CPR at childcare facilities.

During the hours of operation all childcare facilities, except registered family childcare homes, must have on the premises at least one caregiver with a current certificate for the provision of basic first aid and child-infant cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

SECTION 20-7-2980. Development of regulations and suggested standards by Department of Social Services.

a. The department shall with the advice and consent of the Advisory Committee develop and promulgate regulations depending upon the nature of services to be provided for the operation and maintenance of childcare centers and group childcare homes. The department with the advice of the Advisory Committee shall develop suggested standards which shall serve as guidelines for the operators of family childcare homes and the parents of children who use the service. In developing these regulations and suggested standards, the department shall consult with:

(1) Other state agencies, including the State Department of Health and Environmental Control, the Office of the State Fire Marshal, and the Office of the Attorney General.

(2) Parents, guardians, or custodians of children using the service.

(3) Child advocacy groups.

(4) The State Advisory Committee on the Regulation of Childcare Facilities established by this subarticle.

(5) Operators of childcare facilities from all sectors.

(6) Professionals in fields relevant to childcare and development.

(7) Employers of parents, guardians, or custodians of children using the service.

Draft formulations must be widely circulated for criticism and comment.

b. The regulations for operating and maintaining childcare centers and group childcare homes and the suggested standards for family childcare homes must be designed to promote the health, safety, and welfare of the children who are to be served by assuring safe and adequate physical surroundings and healthful food; by assuring supervision and care of the children by capable, qualified personnel of sufficient number. The regulations with respect to licensing and approval, and the suggested standards with respect to registration of family childcare homes must be designed to promote the proper and efficient processing of matters within the cognizance of the department and to assure applicants, licensees, approved operators, and registrants fair and expeditious treatment under the law.

c. The department shall conduct a comprehensive review of its licensing and approval regulations and family childcare home suggested standards at least once each three years.

d. No regulations for childcare facilities may exceed policies or minimum standards set for public childcare facilities regulated under this subarticle.

e. The department shall submit final drafts of its regulations to the Legislative Council as proposed regulations, and the Administrative Procedures Act Sections 1-23-10 et seq., governs their promulgation.

f. The department shall establish a procedure for its representatives to follow in receiving and recording complaints. Standard forms may be produced and made available to parents and users of facilities upon request to the department. A copy of any complaint must be made available to the involved operator immediately upon his request.

SECTION 20-7-2990. Investigations and inspections by Department of Social Services.

a. In exercising the powers of licensing, approving, renewing, revoking, or making provisional licenses and approvals, the department shall investigate and inspect licensees and approved operators and applicants for a license or an approval. The authorized representative of the department may visit a childcare center or group childcare home anytime during the hours of operation for purposes of investigations and inspections. In conducting investigations and inspections, the department may call on political subdivisions and governmental agencies for appropriate assistance within their authorized fields. The inspection of the health and fire safety of childcare centers and group childcare homes must be completed upon the request of the department by the appropriate agencies (i.e., Department of Health and Environmental Control, the Office of the State Fire Marshal, or local authorities). Inspection reports completed by state agencies and local authorities must be furnished to the department and become a part of its determination of conformity for licensing and approval. After careful consideration of the reports and consultation where necessary, the department shall assume responsibility for the final determination of licensing, approving, renewing, revoking, or making provisional licenses and approvals.

b. Before issuing a license or approval the department shall conduct an investigation of the applicant and the proposed plan of care for children and for operating a childcare center or a group childcare home. If the results of the investigation satisfy the department that the provisions of this subarticle and the applicable regulations promulgated by the department are satisfied, a license or approval must be issued.

SECTION 20-7-3000. Consultation by Department of Social Services.

The department shall offer consultation through employed staff or other qualified person to assist applicants and operators in meeting and maintaining regulations.

SECTION 20-7-3005. Proof of conformity to zoning.

At the time of initial licensing, approval, or registration a childcare facility must provide proof of conformity or authorized nonconformity with county or municipal zoning ordinances or resolutions. The department may impose conditions on the license, approval, or registration consistent with restrictions imposed by zoning authorities.

SECTION 20-7-3010. Injunction sought by Department of Social Services

The department is empowered to seek an injunction against the continuing operation of a childcare facility in the family court having jurisdiction over the county in which the facility is located:

(1) when a facility is operating without a license or statement of registration;

(2) when there is any violation of this subarticle or of the regulations promulgated by the department which threatens serious harm to children in the childcare facility;

(3) when an operator has repeatedly violated this subarticle or the regulations of the department.

SECTION 20-7-3020. Provisional registration, provisional license or provisional approval by Department of Social Services.

a. The department has power to issue a provisional registration, provisional license, or provisional approval only when the department is satisfied that (1) the regulations can and will be met within a reasonable time, and (2) the deviations do not seriously threaten the health or safety of the children. A provisional registration, provisional license, or provisional approval, may be extended for a period as may be determined by the department.

b. Except as noted in subsection c. of this section, no provisional license or provisional approval may be issued effective for any longer than one year.

c. Any facility granted a license or exempt from obtaining a license under the act previously in effect in this State and which does not qualify for a regular license under this subarticle must be granted a provisional license in accord with subsection a. of this section. The provisional license may be issued without regard to the time limit of subsection b. of this section. No provisional license issued under subsection c. is effective, either by its initial issue or by renewal, for a period greater than three years.

SECTION 20-7-3030. Compliance review by Department.

Upon request of an applicant or operator, the department shall offer consultation to address any aspect of compliance with this subarticle or the regulations promulgated under this subarticle. Consultation includes, but is not limited to, review and comment on drawings and specifications related to construction and renovations proposed by a facility.

SECTION 20-7-3040. Creation and membership of State Advisory Committee on regulation of childcare facilities.

a. A State Advisory Committee on the Regulation of Childcare Facilities is established. It consists of seventeen members appointed by the Governor, in accordance with the following:

(1) Five of the members appointed must be parents of children who are receiving childcare services at the time of appointment, with no less than three representing the entrepreneurial facilities.

(2) Eight of the members appointed must be representative of owners and operators of childcare facilities, one of which must be an operator of a childcare home. No less than five other appointees must be operators of facilities subject to regulation who are actively engaged in the operation for profit.

(3) One member appointed shall represent the educational community of the State.

Nominees for membership on the advisory committee pursuant to items (1), (2), and (3) must be made from lists furnished the Governor by South Carolina organizations representing the various types of childcare facilities defined in this subarticle.

(4) One member appointed shall represent the business community of the State. Nominees for membership pursuant to this item must be made from lists furnished the Governor by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.

(5) Two members appointed shall represent church-operated childcare centers, one of whom must be an operator of a church childcare center and one of whom must be a parent of a child who is receiving childcare services in a church-operated childcare center at the time of appointment.

b. Members shall serve for terms of three years and until their successors are appointed and qualify, except that of those initially appointed five shall serve for one year, five for two years, and five for three years. Vacancies must be filled in the manner of the original appointment for the unexpired portion of the term only. Reappointment to serve a full term may ensue at the discretion of the Governor, however, no member may be permitted to succeed himself after serving a full term.

c. The chairman of the committee must be designated by the Governor from among the appointees selected pursuant to the provisions of items (1) and (2) of subsection a. of this section.

SECTION 20-7-3050. Duties of advisory committee.

The State Advisory Committee on the Regulation of Childcare Facilities shall:

a. Review changes in the regulations and suggested standards proposed by the director or his designee and make recommendations on these changes to the director or his designee. The committee shall evaluate the regulations and suggested standards at the three-year review period (subsection c. of Section 20-7-2980) and recommend necessary changes. No regulation may be promulgated if the standard has been disapproved by a simple majority of the committee.

b. Advise the department regarding the improvement of the regulation of childcare facilities.

c. Advise the department on matters of regulatory policy, planning, and priorities.

d. As it considers necessary, hold a public hearing at least thirty days before adoption of the regulations.

e. Plan with the department for the procedures to be used in notifying licensees, approved operators, and registrants regarding regulatory changes sixty days before intended promulgation.

f. Maintain through the department the essential liaison with other departments and agencies of state and local government so as to preclude imposition of duplicate requirements upon operators subject to regulations under this subarticle.

g. Act to move the adoption of its recommendations and other pertinent disposition of matters before it by decision of a simple majority of those members present and voting, provided there is a quorum of eight members.

SECTION 20-7-3055. Waiver of certain provisions for childcare facilities receiving federal funding.

The provisions of Sections 20-7-2980 and 20-7-3050(a) concerning the review authority and the promulgation of regulations and standards upon the advice and consent of the State Advisory Committee on the Regulation of Childcare Facilities are waived. However, nothing in this section affects the regulation of childcare facilities which choose not to receive federal funding.

SECTION 20-7-3060. Secretarial and administrative support for advisory committee.

The department shall provide reasonable secretarial and administrative support to the advisory committee.

SECTION 20-7-3070. Implementation.

In order to provide for the gradual implementation of the licensing, approval, and registration programs, each childcare facility not licensed under the act previously in effect in this State must apply to the department for licensing, approval, or statement of registration within six months of June 13, 1977. The department shall have one year from June 13, 1977 to take action to issue or deny license or approval of childcare centers and group childcare homes or issue a statement of registration to family childcare homes.

SECTION 20-7-3080. Daycare staff training on domestic violence.

The Department of Social Services in conjunction with existing training regulations shall make available to childcare owners and operators staff training on domestic violence including, but not limited to:

(1) the nature, extent, and causes of domestic and family violence;

(2) issues of domestic and family violence concerning children;

(3) prevention of the use of violence by children;

(4) sensitivity to gender bias and cultural, racial, and sexual issues;

(5) the lethality of domestic and family violence;

(6) legal issues relating to domestic violence and child custody.

SECTION 20-7-3090. Penalties.

A person violating the provisions of this subarticle is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be punished by a fine not exceeding one thousand five hundred dollars or imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both.

SECTION 20-7-3092. Fingerprint reviews not required.

The fingerprint reviews required by this subarticle are not required of a certified education personnel who has undergone a fingerprint review pursuant to Section 59-26-40 or of a person licensed as a foster parent who has undergone a state and federal fingerprint review pursuant to Section 20-7-1640, and the results of these reviews have been submitted to the department and the person has remained employed since the review in certified education or licensed as a foster parent or the reviews have been conducted within the preceding year.

SECTION 20-7-3095. Unlawful to commit certain offenses within specified radius of childcare facility; penalties.

It is a separate criminal offense, and a felony, for a person to unlawfully commit any of the offenses listed in Chapter 3 of Title 16, Offenses Against the Person, a crime listed in Chapter 15 of Title 16, Offenses Against Morality and Decency, or the crime of contributing to the delinquency of a minor contained in Section 16-17-490 while within a radius of one hundred yards of the grounds of a public or private childcare facility. A person who commits this offense must, upon conviction, be punished by a fine not to exceed ten thousand dollars or imprisonment not to exceed ten years or both, in addition to any other penalty imposed by law and not in lieu of any other penalty.

SECTION 20-7-3097. Fingerprint review of DSS personnel; provisional employment.

(A) Before the Department of Social Services employs a person in its childcare licensing or child protective services divisions, the person shall undergo a state fingerprint review to be conducted by the State Law Enforcement Division to determine any state criminal history and a fingerprint review to be conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine any other criminal history. No person may be employed in these divisions if the person has been convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to any crime listed in Section 20-7-2725(A).

This section does not prohibit employment when a conviction or plea of guilty or nolo contendere for one of the crimes listed has been pardoned. However, notwithstanding the entry of a pardon, the department may consider all information available, including the person's pardoned convictions or pleas and the circumstances surrounding them, to determine whether the applicant is unfit or otherwise unsuited for employment.

(B) Notwithstanding subsection (A) or any other provision of law, a person may be provisionally employed in the childcare licensing or child protective services divisions upon receipt and review of the results of the State Law Enforcement Division fingerprint review if the results show no convictions of the crimes referenced in subsection (A). Pending receipt of the results of the Federal Bureau of Investigation fingerprint review, the department must obtain from the prospective employee a written affirmation on a form provided by the department that the employee has not been convicted of any crime referenced in subsection (A).

(C) A person who has been convicted of a crime referenced in subsection (A) who applies for employment with the childcare licensing or child protective services divisions is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

SECTION 20-7-3098. Day care violation citation; brochure explaining right to hearing and appeal.

At any time the department cites a childcare center, group childcare home, or family childcare home for a violation of this chapter or regulations promulgated pursuant to this chapter, the department shall provide the owner and operator of the center with a brochure stating, in language easily understood, the rights and procedures available to the owner or operator for a hearing in accordance with the department's fair hearing regulations and the rights and procedures available to appeal a decision rendered under the department's fair hearing process.

SUBARTICLE 13.

YOUTH SERVICES ACT; JUVENILE PAROLE BOARD [REPEALED]

PART 1. THE YOUTH SERVICES ACT OF 1981 [REPEALED]

SECTION 20-7-3100. Repealed 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-3110. Repealed 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-3120. Repealed 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-3130. Repealed 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-3140. Repealed by Act No. 181, Section 1617(A), eff July 1, 1993.

SECTION 20-7-3150. Repealed by Act No. 181, Section 1617(A), eff July 1, 1993.

SECTION 20-7-3160. Repealed by Act No. 181, Section 1617(A), eff July 1, 1993.

SECTION 20-7-3170. Repealed 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-3180. Repealed 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-3190. Repealed 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-3200. Repealed 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-3210. Repealed 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-3220. Repealed 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-3230. Repealed 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-3235. Repealed 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-3240. Repealed 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-3250. Repealed by Act No. 181, Section 1617(A), eff July 1, 1993.

SECTION 20-7-3260. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-3270. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-3280. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-3290. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-3300. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-3310. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-3320. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-3330. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-3340. Repealed by 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

PART 2. JUVENILE PAROLE BOARD [REPEALED]

SECTION 20-7-3350. Repealed 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-3360. Repealed 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-3370. Repealed 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

SECTION 20-7-3380. Repealed 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

ARTICLE 15.

ADULTS SENTENCED UNDER CHAPTER [REPEALED]

SECTION 20-7-4000. Repealed 1996 Act No. 383, Section 2, eff July 1, 1996.

ARTICLE 17.

SOUTH CAROLINA CHILDREN'S TRUST FUND

SECTION 20-7-5010. Establishment of Children's Trust Fund; state agency requirements.

(A) There is established the Children's Trust Fund of South Carolina, an eleemosynary corporation, the resources of which must be used to award grants to private nonprofit organizations and qualified state agencies in order to stimulate a broad range of innovative:

(1) child abuse and neglect prevention programs to meet critical needs of South Carolina's children; or

(2) programs that enhance or promote the adoption of special needs children in state custody.

(B) The trust fund must accept gifts, bequests, and grants from any person or foundation. The trust fund must supplement and augment but not take the place of services provided by state agencies. A state agency is eligible to receive funds under this article only when the state agency:

(1) proposes a program that meets grant qualifications under this article, and

(2) provides matching funds in an amount at least equal to the grant to maximize the effectiveness of the grant.

(C) The board of trustees for the trust fund shall carry out activities necessary to administer the fund including assessing service needs and gaps, soliciting proposals to address identified service needs, and establishing criteria for the awarding of grants.

SECTION 20-7-5020. Board of trustees for Children's Trust fund; appointment and qualifications of board members; compensation.

There is created the Board of Trustees for the Children's Trust Fund of South Carolina composed of nine members appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Governor shall give consideration to recommendations for appointment made by the Joint Legislative Committee on Children. One member must be appointed from each congressional district of the State, and three members must be appointed at large for terms of four years and until successors are appointed and qualify, except members appointed from even-numbered congressional districts and one at-large member must be initially appointed for terms of two years only. Vacancies for any reason must be filled in the manner of the original appointment for the unexpired term. No member shall serve more than two terms or eight years, whichever is longer.

Three members must be knowledgeable in banking, finance, investments, tax laws, or business. Three members must be knowledgeable in the organization and administration of volunteer community services and grant administration. Three members must be knowledgeable in child development, child health, child psychology, education, juvenile delinquency, or other related field.

Members may be paid per diem, mileage, and subsistence as established by the board not to exceed standards provided by law for boards, committees, and commissions. A complete report of the activities of the Trust Fund must be made annually to the General Assembly.

SECTION 20-7-5030. Powers and duties of board of trustees.

To carry out its assigned functions, the board is authorized, but not limited to:

(A) assess the critical needs for:

(1) child abuse and neglect prevention, and

(2) special needs children in state custody whose plan is adoption, and in cooperation with state agencies, establish priorities, and develop goals and objectives for the trust fund;

(B) receive gifts, bequests, and devises for deposit and investment into the trust fund and to award grants to private nonprofit organizations and state agencies that meet certain qualifications;

(C) invest trust fund monies;

(D) solicit proposals for programs which will be aimed at meeting identified child abuse and neglect prevention needs or assisting in the adoption of special needs children in state custody;

(E) provide technical assistance to private, nonprofit organizations, when requested, in preparing proposals for submission to the trust fund;

(F) establish criteria for awarding of grants for child abuse and neglect prevention or to assist in the adoption of special needs children in state custody which shall include the consideration of at least:

(1) the priority of the service need that the proposal addresses;

(2) the quality and soundness of the proposal and its probable effectiveness in accomplishing its objectives;

(3) a cost-benefit analysis of the project;

(4) the degree of community support for the proposal;

(5) the utilization of local resources including volunteers, when appropriate, and matching or in-kind contributions which may be, but are not required;

(6) the qualifications of employees to be hired under the grant;

(7) the experience of the proposed project administrators in providing on- going accountability for the program.

(G) enter into contracts for the awarding of grants to private, nonprofit organizations for child abuse and neglect prevention or to assist in the adoption of special needs children in state custody.

SECTION 20-7-5040. Employment of director and other staff.

The board of trustees may employ a director and other staff as necessary to carry out the duties and responsibilities assigned by the board.

SECTION 20-7-5050. Amount of Trust Fund available for disbursement; authorization of disbursements.

The amount deposited in the trust fund from contributions plus all earnings from the investment of monies of the trust fund credited during the previous fiscal year, after allowances for operating expenses, is available for disbursement upon the authorization of the board of trustees.

At least six of the board members must authorize the disbursement of funds.

SECTION 20-7-5060. Deposit of contributions to Trust Fund resulting from certain designations on state income tax returns.

Funds from the receipt of contributions pursuant to Section 12-7-2416 must be deposited in the Trust Fund for disbursement as prescribed by this article.

ARTICLE 19.

CHILDREN'S CASE RESOLUTION SYSTEM

SECTION 20-7-5210. Creation and housing of System.

There is created the Children's Case Resolution System, referred to in this article as the System, which is a process of reviewing cases on behalf of children for whom the appropriate public agencies collectively have not provided the necessary services. The System must be housed in and staffed by the Governor's Office.

SECTION 20-7-5220. Purposes of System.

The purposes of the System are:

(a) to review cases of children referred to the System to determine the need to facilitate or recommend services for the children, or both, and to designate the responsibilities of each public agency as they relate to the children;

(b) to arbitrate cases where the public agencies charged with administering services to a child are unable to agree upon the services to be provided or where the proportion of the expense for the services to be paid by the agencies cannot be agreed upon; and

(c) to collectively review the cases of children to recommend changes or improvements, or both, in the delivery of service by public agencies serving children.

SECTION 20-7-5230. Circumstances in which cases may be reviewed by System; decisions made through System.

Cases may be reviewed by the System when there is a disagreement between the child's parent and the local educational agency state operated programs, and all due process rights and procedures provided under Public Law 94-142 have been exhausted or terminated by written agreement by the parties; or there is no disagreement between the child's parent and the local educational agency state operated programs as to the services necessary for the child, but there has been an inability to obtain appropriate services.

Decisions made through the System are binding on all parties subject to item (e) of Section 20-7-5240. The decisions must comply with all principles of "least restrictive environment", as used in Public Law 94-142 and of the other provisions of the public law; must serve the children through their families and communities except where not possible; and must comply with all provisions of law regarding division of financial responsibility among public agencies, if any.

SECTION 20-7-5240. Functions of System.

The functions of the System include, but are not limited to, the following:

(a) receive case referrals from any source;

(b) review each case referred and continue in the System only the cases in which individual public agency and interagency efforts to resolve the case have been exhausted;

(c) conduct meetings with public agency representatives designated by the System as relevant to the case for the purpose of obtaining the unanimous consent of the designated agencies in the development of a plan for each child and designating the responsibilities of each agency pursuant to that plan. Each agency requested by the System shall send a representative to the meetings and shall provide information and assistance as may be required by the System. Parties that have prior experience with the child or who logically are presumed to have service delivery responsibility for the child shall participate;

(d) convene a committee composed of public agency heads designated by the System as relevant to the case when unanimous consent is not obtained as required in item (c) for the purpose of obtaining the unanimous consent of the designated agencies in determining the child's service needs and designating the responsibilities of each agency as they relate to the child's service needs. Each agency must be represented by the agency head or by a member of the agency staff having the power to make final decisions on behalf of the agency head;

(e) when unanimous consent is not obtained as required in item (d), a panel must be convened composed of the following persons:

(1) one public agency board member and one agency head appointed by the Governor. Recommendations for appointments may be submitted by the Human Services Coordinating Council. No member may be appointed who represents any agency involved in the resolution of the case;

(2) one legislator appointed by the Governor upon the recommendation of the Joint Legislative Committee on Children; and

(3) two members appointed by the Governor, drawn from a list of qualified individuals not employed by a child-serving public agency, established in advance by the System, who have knowledge of public services for children in South Carolina.

The chairman must be appointed by the Governor from members appointed as provided in subitem (3) of this item. A decision is made by a majority of the panel members present and voting, but in no case may a decision be rendered by less than three members. The panel shall review a case at the earliest possible date after sufficient staff review and evaluation pursuant to items (c) and (d) and shall make a decision by the next scheduled panel meeting. When private services are necessary, financial responsibility must be apportioned among the appropriate public agencies based on the reasons for the private services. Agencies designated by the panel shall carry out the decisions of the panel, but the decisions may not substantially affect the funds appropriated for the designated agency to such a degree that the intent of the General Assembly is changed. Substantial impact of the decisions must be defined by regulations promulgated by the State Budget and Control Board. When the panel identifies similar cases that illustrate a break in the delivery of service to children, either because of restrictions by law or substantial lack of funding, the panel shall report the situation to the General Assembly and subsequently may not accept any similar cases for decision until the General Assembly takes appropriate action, however, the System may continue to perform the functions provided in items (c) and (d).

Each member of the panel is entitled to subsistence, per diem, and mileage authorized for members of state boards, committees, and commissions. The respective agency is responsible for the compensation of the members appointed in subitems (1) and (2) of this item, and the System is responsible for the compensation of the members appointed in subitem (3) of this item;

(f) monitor the implementation of case findings and panel recommendations to assure compliance with the decisions made by the System for each child;

(g) recommend improvements for the purpose of enhancing the effective operation of the System and the delivery of service to children by public agencies;

(h) submit an annual report on the activities of the System to the Governor, the Joint Legislative Committee on Children, and agencies designated by the System as relevant to the cases; and

(i) compile and transmit additional reports on the activities of the System, and recommendations for service delivery improvements, as necessary, to the Governor and the Joint Legislative Committee on Children.

SECTION 20-7-5245. Placement of emotionally disturbed children outside State.

Except as provided in this section, all emotionally disturbed children considered for placement in a substitute care setting outside South Carolina must be referred to the Children's Case Resolution System. No child may be placed in a substitute care setting outside South Carolina without written explanation in the child's records by the involved agencies. The explanation must include, but is not limited to, what services have been utilized within South Carolina and what resources have been secured outside this State that are not available within South Carolina. If the appropriate substitute care setting is located outside South Carolina but within fifty miles of the state line and is closer to the child's home than an appropriate setting within South Carolina, the child's case is not required to be referred to the Children's Case Resolution System.

SECTION 20-7-5250. Limitations relative to staffing and funding.

No additional staff nor state funds may be provided to carry out the administrative provisions of this article.

ARTICLE 21.

STATE COUNCIL ON MATERNAL, INFANT, AND CHILD HEALTH ACT [REPEALED]

SECTIONS 20-7-5410 to 20-7-5450.
Repealed by 2002 Act No. 262, Section 1, eff May 20, 2002.

SECTIONS 20-7-5410 to 20-7-5450. Repealed by 2002 Act No. 262, Section 1, eff May 20, 2002.

SECTIONS 20-7-5410 to 20-7-5450. Repealed by 2002 Act No. 262, Section 1, eff May 20, 2002.

SECTIONS 20-7-5410 to 20-7-5450. Repealed by 2002 Act No. 262, Section 1, eff May 20, 2002.

SECTIONS 20-7-5410 to 20-7-5450. Repealed by 2002 Act No. 262, Section 1, eff May 20, 2002.

ARTICLE 23.

CONTINUUM OF CARE FOR EMOTIONALLY DISTURBED CHILDREN

SECTION 20-7-5610. Purpose of article; Continuum of Care for Emotionally Disturbed Children Division established; article supplements existing services.

It is the purpose of this article to develop and enhance the delivery of services to severely emotionally disturbed children and youth and to ensure that the special needs of this population are met appropriately to the extent possible within this State. To achieve this objective, the Continuum of Care for Emotionally Disturbed Children Division is established in the office of the Governor. This article supplements and does not supplant existing services provided to this population.

SECTION 20-7-5620. Repealed by Act No. 181, Section 1617(A), eff July 1, 1993.

SECTION 20-7-5630. Repealed by 1997 Act No. 60, Section 2, eff June 10, 1997.

SECTION 20-7-5640. Clients served; referrals; evaluations.

(A)(1) The Continuum of Care serves children:

(a) who have been diagnosed as severely emotionally disturbed;

(b) who have exhausted existing available treatment resources or services;

(c) whose severity of emotional, mental, or behavioral disturbance requires a comprehensive and organized system of care.

(2) Priority in the selection of clients must be based on criteria to be established by the Continuum of Care.

(B) Before a court refers a child to the Continuum of Care, it must be given the opportunity to evaluate the child and make a recommendation to the court regarding:

(1) the child's suitability for placement with the Continuum of Care pursuant to the provisions of this article, related regulations, and policies and procedures of administration and operation;

(2) the agencies which offer services most appropriate to meet the child's needs and the proportionate share of the costs among the agencies to meet those needs;

(3) the necessity of obtaining other services for the child if the services provided in item (2) are not available through the existing service delivery system.

SECTION 20-7-5650. Duties and function of Continuum of Care.

The Continuum of Care shall perform the following duties and functions:

(1) identify needs and develop plans to address the needs of severely emotionally disturbed children and youth;

(2) coordinate planning, training, and service delivery among public and private organizations which provide services to severely emotionally disturbed children and youth;

(3)(a) augment existing resources by providing or procuring services to complete the range of services needed to serve this population in the least restrictive, most appropriate setting. The scope of services includes, but is not limited to:

1. in-home treatment programs;

2. residential treatment programs;

3. education services;

4. counseling services;

5. outreach services;

6. volunteer and community services.

(b) provide needed services until they can be procured;

(4) provide case management services directly;

(5) supervise and administer the development and operation of its activities and services on a statewide regional basis.

SECTION 20-7-5655. Confidentiality of client or potential client's records; disclosure.

(A) Records, reports, applications, and files kept on any client or potential client of the Continuum of Care are confidential and only may be disclosed in order to develop or provide appropriate services for the client or potential client unless:

(1) the client or potential client or his guardian consents;

(2) a court orders the disclosure for conduct of proceedings before it upon a showing that disclosure is in the public interest;

(3) disclosure is necessary for research conducted or authorized by the Continuum of Care; or

(4) disclosure is necessary to any entity or state agency providing or potentially providing services to the client or potential client.

(B) Nothing in this section:

(1) precludes disclosure, upon proper inquiry, of information as to a client's or potential client's current condition to members of his family; or

(2) requires the release of records of which disclosure is prohibited or regulated by federal law.

(C) A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

SECTION 20-7-5660. Employment of director; removal; staff; funding; promulgation of regulations.

The Governor may employ a director to serve at his pleasure who is subject to removal pursuant to the provisions of Section 1-3-240. The director shall employ staff necessary to carry out the provisions of this article. The funds for the director, staff, and other purposes of the Continuum of Care Division must be provided in the annual general appropriations act. The division shall promulgate regulations in accordance with this article and the provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act and formulate necessary policies and procedures of administration and operation to carry out effectively the objectives of this article.

SECTION 20-7-5670. Annual report of Division.

The Continuum of Care Division shall submit an annual report to the Governor and General Assembly on its activities and recommendations for changes and improvements in the delivery of services by public agencies serving children.

SECTION 20-7-5680. Repealed by Act No. 181, Section 1617(A), eff July 1, 1993.

ARTICLE 24.

INTERAGENCY SYSTEM FOR CARING FOR EMOTIONALLY DISTURBED CHILDREN

SECTION 20-7-5710. Establishment of Interagency System for Caring for Emotionally Disturbed Children; purpose, duties and functions.

There is established the Interagency System for Caring for Emotionally Disturbed Children, an integrated system of care to be developed by the Continuum of Care for Emotionally Disturbed Children of the Governor's Office, the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, the State Health and Human Services Finance Commission, the Department of Mental Health, and the Department of Social Services to be implemented by November 1, 1994. The goal of the system is to implement South Carolina's Families First Policy and to support children in a manner that enables them to function in a community setting. The system shall provide assessment and evaluation procedures to insure a proper service plan and placement for each child. This system must have as a key component the clear identification of the agency accountable for monitoring on a regular basis each child's care plan and procedures to evaluate and certify the programs offered by providers.

SECTION 20-7-5720. Responsibilities of state agencies in developing system and in serving children; implementation of system; reporting requirements.

The Department of Social Services, in conjunction with the other agencies involved in the Families First Initiative, shall design and manage a component of the Interagency System for Caring for Emotionally Disturbed Children, for families and children identified as in need of special support in the community or when necessary, in a substitute care setting. In an effort to reduce the number of children developing emotional and behavioral disorders, this component of the system must be designed to provide intense services for children who are at risk for removal or who must be removed from their families or who are having difficulty in substitute care and must include age appropriate substitute care. Services provided under this component of the system may be provided by the department to children who are not in the custody of the State. This component of the system must be implemented by January 1, 1995, and the department shall report quarterly to the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee on the activities of this component of the system including, but not limited to, services provided clients served, and assessment of the progress and success of this component in carrying out the purposes of this section.

SECTION 20-7-5730. Services Fund for Emotionally Disturbed Children.

There is established the Services Fund for Emotionally Disturbed Children. The Interagency System for Caring for Emotionally Disturbed Children, as provided for in Section 20-7-5710, must be paid for solely by the fund and money in the fund must be used only to support the system. The fund must be administered by the Department of Social Services. The Department of Education shall continue to be billed a share of costs for covered children in the system as provided for under the Children's Case Resolution System. The Department of Social Services, in conjunction with other agencies participating in the system, shall develop billing and management protocols that maximize the use of the funds available.

ARTICLE 25.

PUBLIC/PRIVATE CHILD CARE COUNCIL [REPEALED]

SECTION 20-7-5810. Repealed by 1993 Act No. 181, Section 1617(A), eff July 1, 1993.

SECTION 20-7-5820. Repealed by 1993 Act No. 181, Section 1617(A), eff July 1, 1993.

SECTION 20-7-5830. Repealed by 1993 Act No. 181, Section 1617(A), eff July 1, 1993.

SECTION 20-7-5840. Repealed by 1993 Act No. 181, Section 1617(A), eff July 1, 1993.

SECTION 20-7-5850. Repealed by 1993 Act No. 181, Section 1617(A), eff July 1, 1993.

SECTION 20-7-5860. Repealed by 1993 Act No. 181, Section 1617(A), eff July 1, 1993.

ARTICLE 26.

DEPARTMENT OF CHILD FATALITIES

STATE CHILD FATALITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE

SECTION 20-7-5900. Definitions.

For purposes of this article:

(1) "Child" means a person under eighteen years of age.

(2) "Committee" means the State Child Fatality Advisory Committee.

(3) "Department" means the State Law Enforcement Division's Department of Child Fatalities.

(4) "Local child protective services agency" means the county department of social services for the jurisdiction where a deceased child resided.

(5) "Meeting" means both in-person meetings and meetings through telephone conferencing.

(6) "Preventable death" means a death which reasonable medical, social, legal, psychological, or educational intervention may have prevented.

(7) "Provider of medical care" means a licensed health care practitioner who provides, or a licensed health care facility through which is provided, medical evaluation or treatment, including dental and mental health evaluation or treatment.

(8) "Working day" means Monday through Friday, excluding official state holidays.

(9) "Unexpected death" includes all child deaths which, before investigation, appear possibly to have been caused by trauma, suspicious or obscure circumstances, or child abuse or neglect.

SECTION 20-7-5902. State policy.

It is the policy of this State that:

(1) Every child is entitled to live in safety and in health and to survive into adulthood;

(2) Responding to child deaths is a state and a community responsibility;

(3) When a child dies, the response by the State and the community to the death must include an accurate and complete determination of the cause of death, the provision of services to surviving family members, and the development and implementation of measures to prevent future deaths from similar causes and may include court action, including prosecution of persons who may be responsible for the death and family court proceedings to protect other children in the care of the responsible person;

(4) Professionals from disparate disciplines and agencies who have responsibilities for children and expertise that can promote child safety and well-being should share their expertise and knowledge toward the goals of determining the causes of children's deaths, planning and providing services to surviving children and nonoffending family members, and preventing future child deaths;

(5) A greater understanding of the incidence and causes of child deaths is necessary if the State is to prevent future child deaths;

(6) Multi-disciplinary and multi-agency reviews of child deaths can assist the State in the investigation of child deaths, in the development of a greater understanding of the incidence and causes of child deaths and the methods for preventing such deaths, and in identifying gaps in services to children and families;

(7) Access to information regarding deceased children and their families by the Department of Child Fatalities is necessary to achieve the department's purposes and duties; and

(8) Competent investigative services must be sensitive to the needs of South Carolina's children and their families and not unnecessarily intrusive and should be achieved through training, awareness, and technical assistance.

SECTION 20-7-5905. Department of Child Fatalities established.

There is created within the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) the Department of Child Fatalities which is under the supervision of the Chief of SLED.

SECTION 20-7-5910. Child Fatality Advisory Committee established; composition; officers; meetings; quorum; staff and administrative support.

(A) There is created a multi-disciplinary State Child Fatality Advisory Committee composed of:

(1) the Commissioner of the South Carolina Department of Social Services;

(2) the Commissioner of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control;

(3) the State Superintendent of Education;

(4) the Executive Director of the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy;

(5) the Chief of the State Law Enforcement Division;

(6) the Commissioner of the South Carolina Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse;

(7) the Commissioner of the State Department of Mental Health;

(8) the Commissioner of the State Department of Mental Retardation;

(9) the Commissioner of the Department of Youth Services;

(10) an attorney with experience in prosecuting crimes against children;

(11) a county coroner or medical examiner;

(12) a pediatrician with experience in diagnosing and treating child abuse and neglect, appointed from recommendations submitted by the State Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics;

(13) a solicitor;

(14) a forensic pathologist; and

(15) two members of the public at large, one of which must represent a private nonprofit organization that advocates children services.

(B) Those state agency members in items (1)-(9) shall serve ex officio and may appoint a designee to serve in their place from their particular departments or agencies who have administrative or program responsibilities for children and family services. The remaining members, including the coroner or medical examiner and solicitor who shall serve ex officio, must be appointed by the Governor for terms of four years and until their successors are appointed and qualify.

(C) A chairman and vice-chairman of the committee must be elected from among the members by a majority vote of the membership for a term of two years.

(D) Meetings of the committee must be held at least quarterly. A majority of the committee constitutes a quorum.

(E) Each ex officio member shall provide sufficient staff and administrative support to carry out the responsibilities of this article.

SECTION 20-7-5915. Purpose and duties of Department of Child Fatalities.

(A) The purpose of the department is to expeditiously investigate child deaths in all counties of the State.

(B) To achieve its purpose, the department shall:

(1) upon receipt of a report of a child death from the county coroner or medical examiner, as required by Section 17-5-540, investigate and gather all information on the child fatality. The coroner or medical examiner immediately must request an autopsy if SLED determines that an autopsy is necessary. The autopsy must be performed by a pathologist with forensic training as soon as possible. The forensic pathologist must inform the department of the findings within forty-eight hours of completion of the autopsy. If the autopsy reveals the cause of death to be pathological or an unavoidable accident, the case must be closed by the department. If the autopsy reveals physical or sexual trauma, suspicious markings, or other findings that are questionable or yields no conclusion to the cause of death, the department immediately must begin an investigation;

(2) request assistance of any other local, county, or state agency to aid in the investigation;

(3) upon receipt of additional investigative information, reopen a case for another coroner's inquest;

(4) upon receipt of the notification required by item (1), review agency records for information regarding the deceased child or family. Information available to the department pursuant to Section 20-7-5930 and information which is public under Chapter 4, Title 30, the Freedom of Information Act, must be available as needed to the county coroner or medical examiner and county department of social services;

(5) report the activities and findings related to a child fatality to the State Child Fatality Advisory Committee;

(6) develop a protocol for child fatality reviews;

(7) develop a protocol for the collection of data regarding child deaths as related to Section 17-5-540 and provide training to local professionals delivering services to children, county coroners and medical examiners, and law enforcement agencies on the use of the protocol;

(8) study the operations of local investigations of child fatalities, including the statutes, regulations, policies, and procedures of the agencies involved with children's services and child death investigations;

(9) examine confidentiality and access to information statutes, regulations, policies, and procedures for agencies with responsibilities for children, including, but not limited to, health, public welfare, education, social services, mental health, alcohol and other substance abuse, and law enforcement agencies and determine whether those statutes, regulations, policies, or procedures impede the exchange of information necessary to protect children from preventable deaths. If the department identifies a statute, regulation, policy, or procedure that impedes the necessary exchange of information, the department shall notify the committee and the agencies serving on the committee and the committee shall include proposals for changes to statutes, regulations, policies, or procedures in the committee's annual report;

(10) develop a Forensic Pathology Network available to coroners and medical examiners for prompt autopsy findings;

(11) submit to the Governor and the General Assembly, an annual report and any other reports prepared by the department, including, but not limited to, the department's findings and recommendations;

(12) promulgate regulations necessary to carry out its purposes and responsibilities under this article.

SECTION 20-7-5920. Purpose and duties of Child Fatality Advisory Committee.

(A) The purpose of the State Child Fatality Advisory Committee is to decrease the incidences of preventable child deaths by:

(1) developing an understanding of the causes and incidences of child deaths;

(2) developing plans for and implementing changes within the agencies represented on the committee which will prevent child deaths; and

(3) advising the Governor and the General Assembly on statutory, policy, and practice changes which will prevent child deaths.

(B) To achieve its purpose, the committee shall:

(1) meet with the department no later than one month after the department receives notification by the county coroner or medical examiner pursuant to Section 17-5-540 to review the investigation of the death;

(2) undertake annual statistical studies of the incidences and causes of child fatalities in this State. The studies shall include an analysis of community and public and private agency involvement with the decedents and their families before and subsequent to the deaths;

(3) the committee shall consider training, including cross-agency training, consultation, technical assistance needs, and service gaps. If the committee determines that changes to any statute, regulation, policy, or procedure is needed to decrease the incidence of preventable child deaths, the committee shall include proposals for changes to statutes, regulations, policies, and procedures in the committee's annual report;

(4) educate the public regarding the incidences and causes of child deaths, the public role in preventing these deaths, and specific steps the public can undertake to prevent child deaths. The committee shall enlist the support of civic, philanthropic, and public service organizations in performing the committee's education duties;

(5) develop and implement policies and procedures for its own governance and operation;

(6) submit to the Governor and the General Assembly, an annual written report and any other reports prepared by the committee, including, but not limited to, the committee's findings and recommendations. Annual reports must be made available to the public.

SECTION 20-7-5930. Departmental access to information concerning child whose death is being investigated.

Upon request of the department and as necessary to carry out the department's purpose and duties, the department immediately must be provided:

(1) by a provider of medical care, access to information and records regarding a child whose death is being reviewed by the department, including information on prenatal care;

(2) access to all information and records maintained by any state, county, or local government agency, including, but not limited to, birth certificates, law enforcement investigation data, county coroner or medical examiner investigation data, parole and probation information and records, and information and records of social services and health agencies that provided services to the child or family, including information made strictly confidential in Section 20-7-650 concerning unfounded reports of abuse or neglect.

SECTION 20-7-5940. Subpoena power.

When necessary in the discharge of the duties of the department and upon application of the department, the clerks of court shall issue a subpoena or subpoena duces tecum to any state, county, or local agency, board, or commission or to any representative of any state, county, or local agency, board, or commission or to a provider of medical care to compel the attendance of witnesses and production of documents, books, papers, correspondence, memoranda, and other relevant records to the discharge of the department's duties. Failure to obey a subpoena or subpoena duces tecum issued pursuant to this section may be punished as contempt.

SECTION 20-7-5950. Confidentiality of meetings when discussing individual cases; applicability of Freedom of Information Act; violations and penalties.

(A) Meetings of the committee and department are closed to the public and are not subject to Chapter 4, Title 30, the Freedom of Information Act, when the committee and department are discussing individual cases of child deaths.

(B) Except as provided in subsection (C), meetings of the committee are open to the public and subject to the Freedom of Information Act when the committee is not discussing individual cases of child deaths.

(C) Information identifying a deceased child or a family member, guardian, or caretaker of a deceased child, or an alleged or suspected perpetrator of abuse or neglect upon a child may not be disclosed during a public meeting and information regarding the involvement of any agency with the deceased child or family may not be disclosed during a public meeting.

(D) Violation of this section is a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, a person must be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

SECTION 20-7-5960. Confidentiality of information, records, and meetings; statistical compilations and reports which lack identifying details; evidentiary privilege; exceptions; violations and penalties.

(A) All information and records acquired by the committee and by the department in the exercise of their purposes and duties pursuant to this article are confidential, exempt from disclosure under Chapter 4, Title 30, the Freedom of Information Act, and only may be disclosed as necessary to carry out the committee's and department's duties and purposes.

(B) Statistical compilations of data which do not contain information that would permit the identification of a person to be ascertained are public records.

(C) Reports of the committee and department which do not contain information that would permit the identification of a person to be ascertained are public information.

(D) Except as necessary to carry out the committee's and department's purposes and duties, members of the committee and department and persons attending their meeting may not disclose what transpired at a meeting which is not public under Section 20-7-5940 and may not disclose information, the disclosure of which is prohibited by this section.

(E) Members of the committee, persons attending a committee meeting, and persons who present information to the committee may not be required to disclose in any civil or criminal proceeding information presented in or opinions formed as a result of a meeting, except that information available from other sources is not immune from introduction into evidence through those sources solely because it was presented during proceedings of the committee or department or because it is maintained by the committee or department. Nothing in this subsection may be construed to prevent a person from testifying to information obtained independently of the committee or which is public information.

(F) Information, documents, and records of the committee and department are not subject to subpoena, discovery, or the Freedom of Information Act, except that information, documents, and records otherwise available from other sources are not immune from subpoena, discovery, or the Freedom of Information Act through those sources solely because they were presented during proceedings of the committee or department or because they are maintained by the committee or department.

(G) Violation of this section is a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, a person must be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both.

ARTICLE 30.

JUVENILE JUSTICE

SUBARTICLE 1.

GENERAL PROVISIONS

SECTION 20-7-6600. Short title.

This article may be cited as the Juvenile Justice Code.

SECTION 20-7-6605. Definitions.

When used in this article and unless otherwise defined or the specific context indicates otherwise:

(1) "Child" means a person less than seventeen years of age. "Child" does not mean a person sixteen years of age or older who is charged with a Class A, B, C, or D felony as defined in Section 16-1-20 or a felony which provides for a maximum term of imprisonment of fifteen years or more. However, a person sixteen years of age who is charged with a Class A, B, C, or D felony as defined in Section 16-1-20 or a felony which provides for a maximum term of imprisonment of fifteen years or more may be remanded to the family court for disposition of the charge at the discretion of the solicitor. An additional or accompanying charge associated with the charges contained in this item must be heard by the court with jurisdiction over the offenses contained in this item.

(2) "Court" means the family court.

(3) "Department" means the Department of Juvenile Justice.

(4) "Guardian" means a person who legally has the care and management of a child.

(5) "Judge" means the judge of the family court.

(6) "Parent" means biological parent, adoptive parents, step-parent, or person with legal custody.

(7) "Parole board" means the Board of Juvenile Parole under the Department of Juvenile Justice.

(8) "Status offense" means an offense which would not be a misdemeanor or felony if committed by an adult including, but not limited to, incorrigibility or beyond the control of parents, truancy, running away, playing or loitering in a billiard room, playing a pinball machine, or gaining admission to a theater by false identification.

(9) "Criminal justice purpose" means:

(a) the performance of any activity directly involving the detection, apprehension, capture from escape or elopement, detention, pretrial release, post-trial release, prosecution, adjudication, supervision, or rehabilitation of accused or adjudicated persons or criminal offenders; or

(b) the collection, storage, and dissemination of child offense history records.

SECTION 20-7-6610. Other state agencies; construction.

It is the duty of other state agencies providing financial assistance and other children's services related to the purposes of this article to cooperate with the department in carrying out its responsibilities to children and their families. Nothing in this article may be construed to relieve a state or local unit of government of any preexisting legal obligation to provide payments, services, or facilities.

SUBARTICLE 3.

DEPARTMENT OF JUVENILE JUSTICE

SECTION 20-7-6805. Creation of department.

There is created the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice.

SECTION 20-7-6810. Appointment of director.

The Governor shall appoint a director of the department with the advice and consent of the Senate who shall possess qualifications necessary to manage the affairs of the department. If a vacancy occurs in the office when the Senate is not in session, the Governor may appoint a director to fill the vacancy until the Senate acts upon the appointment.

SECTION 20-7-6815. Removal of director.

The director is subject to removal by the Governor as provided for in Section 1-3-240.

SECTION 20-7-6820. Bond.

The director must execute a good and sufficient bond payable to the State in the sum of fifty thousand dollars, conditioned for the faithful performance of the duties of the director's office and the accurate accounting for all monies and property coming into the director's hands. The bond must be executed by a surety company authorized to do business under the laws of this State, and the premium on the bond must be paid by the State out of the department's appropriations.

SECTION 20-7-6825. Policy-setting responsibilities of director.

The director is vested with the exclusive responsibility for policy of the department to carry out the responsibilities, duties, and privileges provided for in this article.

SECTION 20-7-6830. Annual report.

An annual report of the department must be prepared by the director which shall include an account of all funds received and expended, persons served by the department including a report of the state and condition of the correctional institutions, and community programs operated by the department.

SECTION 20-7-6835. Executive responsibilities of director.

The director is the chief executive officer of the department. The director may appoint and employ officers and employees necessary to perform the duties and responsibilities of the department and shall ensure that the department's organizational structure differentiates between separate divisions, the community-based services and institutional services of the department.

SECTION 20-7-6840. Community services.

The department shall provide community services as the director shall assign to it which shall include, but are not limited to:

(1) family court intake screening and referral counseling;

(2) serving, advising, and counseling children placed on probation by the family court;

(3) serving, advising, and counseling children in institutions as may be necessary for the placement of the children in a proper environment after release and for the placement of children in suitable jobs where necessary and proper;

(4) supervising and guiding children released or conditionally released from institutions;

[Until April 1, 2007, this subsection reads as follows:]

(5) counseling children released or conditionally released by the parole board;

[Effective April 1, 2007, this subsection reads as follows:]

(5) counseling children released or conditionally released from its commitment facilities;

[Until April 1, 2007, this subsection reads as follows:]

(6) coordinating the activities of supporting community agencies which aid in the social adjustment of children released by the parole board;

[Effective April 1, 2007, this subsection reads as follows:]

(6) coordinating the activities of supporting community agencies which aid in the social adjustment of children released from its commitment facilities;

(7) providing or arranging for necessary services leading to the rehabilitation of delinquents either within the department or through cooperative arrangements with other appropriate agencies;

(8) providing counseling and supervision for a child under twelve years of age who has been adjudicated delinquent or convicted of a crime or who has entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, when other suitable personnel is not available and upon request of the court;

(9) providing detention screening services when a child is taken into custody for violation of a law or ordinance as provided for in this article;

(10) providing prevention services including short- and long-range planning, establishing statewide priorities and standards, developing public awareness programs, and providing technical assistance to local government in the development of prevention programs;

(11) developing secure and nonsecure alternatives to jail;

(12) providing a variety of community-based programs to augment regular probation services including, but not limited to, volunteer services, restitution, community-work programs, family counseling, and contract probation with specific sanctions for various types of behavior;

(13) providing a variety of community-based programs to serve as alternatives to institutions including, but not limited to, halfway houses, work release, intensive supervision services, restitution, forestry and wilderness camps, marine science programs, and other residential and nonresidential programs;

(14) providing programs to divert juveniles, where proper and appropriate, from the juvenile justice system.

(15) Juveniles must be assigned to intensive probation or aftercare services by the Department of Juvenile Justice. Juveniles assigned to these intensive supervision services must be those juveniles who require enhanced supervision, monitoring and contacts, or a higher level of treatment services. Intensive supervision must be provided by the department in all regions of the State. In conjunction with establishing these intensive supervision services, the department shall develop an array of graduated sanctions and impose these sanctions on offenders being provided intensive supervision services for technical rule violations and minor infractions, whenever feasible to do so, in lieu of re-incarceration of the juvenile in a secure correctional facility. The array of graduated sanctions developed by the department may include, as a condition of probation or parole, placement of a juvenile in a staff or environmentally secure residential program. Case workers selected to monitor, supervise, and serve juveniles assigned to intensive supervision services shall have caseloads of no more than twenty juveniles.

SECTION 20-7-6845. Institutional services.

The department shall provide institutional services which include, but are not limited to:

(1) providing correctional institutional services for juveniles committed under this article;

(2) managing, operating, and supervising Birchwood, Willow Lane, John G. Richards, and other facilities as the director may establish;

(3) establishing and maintaining residential and nonresidential reception and evaluation centers at which all children committed to its custody by a circuit or family court must be received, examined, and evaluated before assignment to one of its institutions or before other disposition or recommendation is made concerning the child. The commitment of a child to a reception and evaluation center or youth correctional institution of the department may be made only after the child has been adjudicated delinquent. The evaluation conducted by the reception and evaluation centers includes, but is not limited to:

(a) a complete social, physical, psychological, and mental examination;

(b) an investigation and consideration of family and community environment and other facts in the background of the person concerned that might relate to the person's delinquency;

(c) a determination of the correctional or custodial care that would be most appropriate. The department shall create facilities and employ personnel as will enable the centers to conduct the necessary physical, mental, and psychological examinations required by this section;

(4) providing juvenile detention services for juveniles charged with having committed a criminal offense who are found, after a detention screening or detention hearing, to require detention or placement outside the home pending an adjudication of delinquency or dispositional hearing. Detention services provided by the department for the benefit of the counties and municipalities of this State must include secure juvenile detention centers. The size and capacity of the juvenile detention facilities needed must be determined by the department after its consideration and review of minimum standards for local detention facilities in South Carolina for the design, construction, and operation of juvenile detention centers. These recognized state standards must be met or exceeded by the department in determining the size and capacity of the juvenile detention centers and in planning for the construction and operation of the facilities. The department shall determine and announce the anticipated maximum operational capacity of each facility and shall contact each county and municipal governmental body in this State for the purpose of determining which counties or municipalities anticipate utilizing these facilities upon each facility becoming operational. The department shall inform each county and municipal governmental body of the existing state and federal laws regarding the confinement of juveniles charged with committing criminal offenses, of each county's and municipality's ability to develop its own facility or to contract with other counties or municipalities for the development of a regional facility, and of the availability of the department's facilities. This notice must be provided to each county and municipality for the purpose of determining which county governmental bodies desire to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the department for the detention of juveniles from their particular community who are charged with committing a criminal offense for which pretrial detention is both authorized and appropriate. No later than September 1, 1993, the department shall report to the Budget and Control Board on the strategy of each county to comply with requirements of counties under this article. The department must include with its report a plan for the construction and the operation of those facilities which are projected to be necessary for the preadjudicatory detention of juveniles in this State. No later than September first of each subsequent year, the department shall report to the board on the status of all preadjudicatory juvenile detention facilities known to be operational or planned, regardless of ownership or management. Beginning with the report to the board which is due no later than September 1, 1996, the department must include an annual status report on the numbers of juveniles in pretrial detention who are awaiting disposition in general sessions court, whether they have been waived by the family court or whether they qualify due to the offense with which they are charged. The board then will coordinate with all responsible and affected agencies and entities to ensure that adequate funding is identified to prevent the detention or incarceration of juveniles who are awaiting disposition by, or who are under the jurisdiction of, the family court in adult jails anywhere within the State of South Carolina and to prevent the detention of juveniles who are awaiting disposition by general sessions court in facilities which do not provide actual sight and sound separation from adults who are in detention or custody. Upon completion of each facility and upon the determination by the Jail and Prison Inspection Division of the Department of Corrections that each facility is staffed in accordance with relevant standards and can be operated in accordance with these standards, the division shall determine and announce the rated capacity of each facility. A facility operated by the Department of Juvenile Justice for the preadjudicatory detention of juveniles must be maintained and continued in operation for that purpose until approved for conversion or closure by the Budget and Control Board. However, a county or municipality which decides to maintain its own approved facilities or which has entered into a regional intergovernmental agreement, which has provided secure facilities for preadjudicatory juveniles, and which meets the standards set forth above, may continue to operate these facilities. County and regionally operated facilities are subject to inspection by the Jail and Prison Inspection Division of the Department of Corrections for compliance with the standards set forth above and those created pursuant to Section 24-9-20. The division has the same enforcement authority over county, municipal, and regionally operated secure juvenile detention facilities as that which is provided in Section 24-9-30. In Department of Juvenile Justice operated facilities, the department shall determine an amount of per diem for each child detained in a center, which must be paid by the governing body of the law enforcement agency having original jurisdiction where the offense occurred. The per diem paid by the governing body of the law enforcement agency having original jurisdiction where the offense occurred must be based on the average operating cost among all preadjudicatory state facilities. The Department of Juvenile Justice must assume one-third of the per diem cost and the governing body of the law enforcement agency having original jurisdiction where the offense occurred must assume two-thirds of the cost. Per diem funds received by the department must be placed in a separate account by the department for operation of all preadjudicatory state facilities. Transportation of the juvenile to and from a facility is the responsibility of the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction where the offense was committed. Transportation of juveniles between department facilities, if necessary, is the responsibility of the department.

(5) Each secure facility which detains preadjudicatory youth longer than forty-eight hours, excluding weekends and state holidays, regardless of ownership or management, must have sufficient personnel to provide uninterrupted supervision and to provide administrative, program, and support requirements. Each of these facilities must have a minimum of two juvenile custodial officers on duty each shift, fully dressed, awake, and alert to operate the facility. At least one person shall directly supervise the juveniles at all times. At least one female juvenile custodial officer must be present and available to the female detention population at all times. Staff on duty must be sufficient to provide for a juvenile-staff ratio adequate for custody, control, and supervision, and to provide full coverage of all designated security posts, excluding administrative, program, and other support staff. Staff shall prepare further a facility schedule of preplanned, structured, and productive activities. Schedules must be developed which include designated times for sleeping, dining, education, counseling, recreation, visitation, and personal time. Daily schedules should minimize idleness and promote constructive use of the juvenile's day. The Department of Juvenile Justice shall provide educational programs and services to all preadjudicatory juveniles in its custody. County, municipal, and regionally operated facilities shall provide these services to all preadjudicatory juveniles under the jurisdiction of the family court and all pretrial juveniles awaiting general sessions court who are detained locally for more than forty-eight hours, excluding weekends and state holidays, by contracting with the Department of Juvenile Justice or by arranging the services through the local school district in which the facility is located. It shall be the responsibility of the school district where a local detention center which has been approved to detain juveniles is located to provide adequate teaching staff and to ensure compliance with the educational requirements of this State. Students housed in approved local detention centers are to be included in the average daily membership count of students for that district and reimbursement by the Department of Education shall be made accordingly. Services which are arranged locally must be approved by the Department of Juvenile Justice as meeting all criteria developed under the authority of Section 20-7-6855. Special needs students who are detained locally shall have all services required by federal and state laws and regulations.

(6) A county, municipality, or regional subdivision may provide temporary holdover facilities for juveniles only if the facilities comply with this section and with all standards created under the provisions of Section 24-9-20, which must be monitored and enforced by the Jail and Prison Inspection Division of the South Carolina Department of Corrections pursuant to its authority under Sections 24-9-20 and 24-9-30. The standards shall provide for the regulation of temporary holdover facilities with regard to adequate square footage, juvenile accommodations, access to bathroom facilities, lighting, ventilation, distinctions between secure and nonsecure temporary holdover facilities, staffing qualifications, and additional requirements as may be specified. These facilities may hold juveniles during the period between initial custody and the initial detention hearing before a family court judge for a period up to forty-eight hours, excluding weekends and state holidays. Preadjudicatory juveniles who are subsequently transferred to a juvenile detention center may be housed in a temporary holdover facility when returned to the community for a court appearance. However, the temporary housing shall not exceed forty-eight hours.

SECTION 20-7-6850. Inter-departmental agreements.

The department may enter into agreements with the governing bodies of other state departments or institutions for the purpose of effecting a more efficient and economical management of any institution or program under its supervision. The department is authorized to make contracts and expend public funds as required to carry out the functions prescribed for it in this article within the limits of appropriated funds.

SECTION 20-7-6855. Special school district designation.

(A) The Department of Juvenile Justice is designated as a special school district which shall operate a continuous progress education program on a twelve-month basis. There is created within the department the Education Division which shall provide academic and vocational training at the Reception and Evaluation Center, Birchwood High School, Willow Lane Junior High School, and all other institutions operating under the department. Academic and vocational training provided pursuant to this section shall meet all educational standards prescribed by law and by the Department of Education for public schools of the State including, but not limited to, compliance with and operation under the provisions of the Education Finance Act, the Defined Minimum Program, teacher and superintendent certification laws and regulations, and other laws or regulations governing the education of children. The department may prescribe additional requirements as it may from time to time deem necessary.

(B) The State Superintendent of Education shall administer the standards related to the school programs. Reports from the Department of Education evaluating the educational program at all juvenile corrections institutions and indicating whether or not the program meets the standards as prescribed, must be made directly to the director. Department of Education supervisory personnel as considered appropriate must be utilized for evaluating the programs and for reporting to the director.

(C) Schools operated by the department shall receive funds from the Department of Education under the same provisions as other public schools in the State.

Funds previously received by the Department of Juvenile Justice from the South Carolina Department of Education for programs now being consolidated under the Education Finance Act shall be disbursed to the Department of Juvenile Justice by the Department of Education from the appropriation provided in the annual general appropriations act and entitled "Education Finance Act." The amount to be disbursed to the Department of Juvenile Justice must be sufficient to produce funds equal to the product of the number of students served by the Department of Juvenile Justice weighted according to the criteria established by the South Carolina Department of Education under the provisions of the Education Finance Act and the state portion of the appropriated value statewide of the base student cost, adjusted for twelve months operation. The Department of Juvenile Justice shall comply with the provisions of subsection (4) of Section 59-20-50 and subsections (1), (2), (3)(a), (4)(b), (c), (d), (e), and (f) of Section 59-20-60. The South Carolina Department of Education annually shall determine that these provisions are being met and include its findings in the report mandated in subsection (5)(e) of Section 59-20-60. If the accreditation standards set forth in the Defined Minimum Program for the Department of Juvenile Justice as approved by the State Board of Education are not met, funds by this section shall be reduced the following fiscal year according to the provisions set forth in the Education Finance Act.

(D) The director shall operate as the trustee for schools under the department's jurisdiction for all administrative purposes, including the receipt and expenditure of funds appropriated or granted to the schools for any purpose. The director shall employ a full-time superintendent of schools for the special school district. The superintendent shall hold a valid superintendent's certificate from the Department of Education and shall serve as the head of the Education Division.

(E) In lieu of classification by the Division of State Personnel, the employment status of the superintendent of schools for the department and all instructional personnel operating under the Education Division of the department must be governed by the laws of the State regarding employment of instructional personnel and regulations of the Department of Education.

SECTION 20-7-6860. Status as peace officers; constables.

Juvenile correctional employees of the department, while performing their officially assigned duties relating to the custody, control, transportation, or recapture of a juvenile offender within the jurisdiction of the department, and other employees of the department authorized by the director to perform similar functions as part of their official duties, have the status of peace officers anywhere in this State in a matter relating to the custody, control, transportation, or recapture of the juvenile. Employees of the department's Division of Public Safety, on proper training and certification from the Criminal Justice Academy and after having taken the oath of office prescribed by law and the Constitution of this State, must continue to be commissioned as state constables pursuant to Section 23-1-60.

SECTION 20-7-6865. Gifts.

The department may accept gifts, donations, or contributions and may receive devises and bequests. These acquisitions must be used for the purposes specified by the donors.

SECTION 20-7-6870. Fees.

(A) The department may charge and collect fees for evaluation and treatment services provided for a person referred or temporarily committed to its facilities either at the evaluation center in Columbia or any center or other facility of the department. Fees may be charged to a parent or guardian or to the public or private agency responsible for the temporary commitment or referral. In cases where insurance coverage is available, fees of treatment or evaluation may be charged to the insurer. No fees may be charged to a person who is finally committed to a custodial facility of the department, and no person may be denied treatment or evaluation services because of inability to pay for the services.

(B) The director shall approve and periodically review, a schedule of maximum charges for the services of the department, including residential care. The department shall adopt procedures to determine ability to pay and may authorize its designees to reduce or waive charges based upon their findings. No charge for services rendered by the department may exceed the actual cost of the services at the facility rendering the services.

(C) The department shall establish a hearing and review procedure so that parents or legal guardians of a person under the department's jurisdiction may appeal charges made for services or may present to the departmental officials information or evidence which, in their opinion, needs to be considered in establishing charges.

(D) The department may utilize all legal procedures to collect lawful claims. All funds collected pursuant to this section must be deposited with the State Treasurer for use of the department in defraying the cost of services for which the fees may be collected.

SECTION 20-7-6875. Natural resource sales.

The director is authorized to sell mature trees, other timber, and farm products and commodities from lands owned by the department. Before the sale of timber, the director shall consult with the State Forester to determine the economic feasibility of and obtain approval for the sales. Funds derived from the sales must be credited to the account of the department to be used for capital improvements subject to the approval of the Budget and Control Board.

SECTION 20-7-6880. Bumper sticker sales.

The department may print or purchase for resale bumper stickers and other informational material prepared to publicize and educate the public concerning activities of the department. All these materials must have "South Carolina" inscribed on the material. After the costs of the materials have been recovered, all proceeds from the sale of the materials must be deposited in the student welfare fund of the department and used for the purposes prescribed for that fund.

SECTION 20-7-6885. Goldsmith Center designated.

The department's reception and evaluation center located in Columbia is designated "The William J. Goldsmith Reception and Evaluation Center."

SECTION 20-7-6890. Youth Industries Program; implementation; contracts with private industries to provide certain services; Youth Industries Account.

(A) The Director of the Department of Juvenile Justice may establish a Youth Industries Program, consistent with all applicable state and federal child labor laws, employing juveniles committed to the department. This program may include:

(1) providing services to private industries including, but not limited to:

(a) packing, assembling, handling, reconditioning or restoring products, goods, wares, or merchandise;

(b) contracting with private industry for the manufacturing and processing of goods, wares, or merchandise;

(c) contracting with other profit or nonprofit businesses or commercial enterprises to provide the services enumerated in subitems (a) and (b) within the department's Sheltered Workshop Program;

(2) manufacturing or processing industry or service which utilizes juveniles in the manufacture or production of goods, wares, merchandise, articles, or products or in providing services which may be needed for the construction, operation, maintenance, or use of any office, department, institution, or agency supported in whole or in part by this State or a political subdivision of this State; or

(3) otherwise engaging juveniles in paid work opportunities within the department, consistent with the general welfare of the department's mission of rehabilitation and treatment.

(B) To implement the Youth Industries Program the director may enter into contracts in the manner provided by law to implement its Youth Industries Program. A contract may include rental or lease agreements for state land or buildings or portions of state buildings on the grounds of an institution or a facility of the Department of Juvenile Justice and if the contract contains such rental or lease agreements, it must provide the business entity with reasonable access to and egress from these grounds, buildings, and facilities.

(C) In conducting the Youth Industries Program, the department may purchase equipment, raw materials, and supplies in the manner provided by law and may engage necessary supervisory personnel.

(D) The prices of articles or products manufactured or produced or services rendered under the Youth Industries Program must be uniform and nondiscriminating and must be as near to the usual market price for these articles, products, or services as is practicable.

(E) All monies collected by the department from the sale or disposition of articles and products manufactured or produced or from services rendered by juveniles in the Youth Industries Program must be deposited into a special account designated "Youth Industries Account". The monies collected and deposited into this account must be used solely for the purchasing of manufacturing supplies, equipment, machinery, and buildings for the Youth Industries Program to pay the wages of the juveniles employed in the program and the salaries of the necessary personnel in the program, and to defray the necessary expenses of the program. The director must deduct from wages paid to a juvenile:

(1) state, federal, and local taxes;

(2) allocations for support of children pursuant to law, court order, or agreement by the committed juvenile; and

(3) contributions to any fund established by law to compensate the victims of crime of not more than twenty percent and not less than five percent of gross wages.

These deductions may not exceed eighty percent of gross wages.

SECTION 20-7-6895. Participation in Youth Industries Program to be voluntary; compensation; deductions.

(A) A juvenile may participate in the Youth Industries Program established pursuant to Section 20-7-6890 only on a voluntary basis and only after the juvenile has been informed of the conditions of the employment.

(B) A juvenile participating in the Youth Industries Program:

(1) providing services to private industry must be compensated commensurate with the prevailing wage for work of a similar nature in the private sector;

(2) is not considered an employee of the State and is not eligible for unemployment compensation upon termination from the program; however, a juvenile is entitled to all other work benefits, including worker's compensation or its equivalent.

(C) The wages of a juvenile authorized to work in the Youth Industries Program, if paid other than by the department, must be paid directly to the Department of Juvenile Justice and credited to the juvenile's account. If the wages are paid by an entity other than the department, these wages must be paid directly to the department, and the department shall credit the wages to the juvenile's account. The director must deduct from wages paid to a juvenile:

(1) state, federal, and local taxes;

(2) allocations for support of children pursuant to law, court order, or agreement by the committed juvenile; and

(3) contributions to any fund established by law to compensate the victims of crime of not more than twenty percent and not less than five percent of gross wages.

These deductions may not exceed eighty percent of gross wages.

(D) Juvenile participation in the Youth Industries Program must not result in the displacement of employed workers in the State and must not impair existing contracts.

SECTION 20-7-6900. Promulgation of regulations to implement Youth Industries Program.

The Department of Juvenile Justice in consultation with this state's regulatory agencies may promulgate regulations which are necessary to implement Sections 20-7-6890 and 20-7-6895.

SECTION 20-7-6905. Sale of goods, wares, or merchandise manufactured or produced by juvenile offenders prohibited; exceptions.

It is unlawful to sell or offer for sale on the open market of this State goods, wares, or merchandise manufactured or produced wholly or in part by juvenile offenders in this or another state. However, this subsection does not apply to:

(1) articles produced by juveniles on parole or probation or in community supervision;

(2) products sold by the Department of Juvenile Justice made by juveniles in its arts and crafts programs;

(3) articles or products sold to nonprofit corporations incorporated under Article 1, Chapter 31, Title 33 or to organizations operating in this State which have been granted an exemption under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;

(4) articles or products made in the Youth Industries Program pursuant to Section 20-7-6890, through contracts with private sector businesses which provide work and vocational training opportunities for juvenile offenders with physical or mental disabilities or who are mentally retarded if the compensation is paid by the private sector business to the juvenile offender on a piece rate basis;

(5) products sold intrastate or interstate produced by juveniles employed in the Youth Industries Program;

(6) services provided by juveniles in the Youth Industries Program including, but not limited to, restoration and reconditioning activities, the packaging and handling of goods, wares, or merchandise, or the dismantling and reassembling of products.

SECTION 20-7-6910. Fund for compensation of crime victims; deposits from juvenile's wages deducted pursuant to Youth Industries Program policies; restitution; contributions to state Victim's Compensation Fund.

[Until April 1, 2007, this section reads as follows:]

There is created a fund within the Department of Juvenile Justice for the compensation of victims of crime. All contributions deducted from a juvenile's wages pursuant to Section 20-7-6890(E)(3) or 20-7-6895(C)(3) must be deposited into this fund. Of the amount contributed to the fund by each juvenile, ninety-five percent must be paid by the department on behalf of the juvenile as restitution to the victim or victims of the juvenile's adjudicated crime as ordered by the family court or the Juvenile Parole Board, and five percent must be submitted to the South Carolina Victim's Compensation Fund. If the amount of restitution ordered has been paid in full or if there is no victim of the juvenile's adjudicated crime, the juvenile's contributions must be submitted to the South Carolina Victim's Compensation Fund.

[From and after April 1, 2007 this section is named "Fund for compensation of crime victims; deposits from juvenile's wages; restitution" and reads as follows:]

There is created a fund within the Department of Juvenile Justice for the compensation of victims of crime. All contributions deducted from a juvenile's wages pursuant to Section 20-7-6890(E)(3) or 20-7-6895(C)(3) must be deposited into this fund. Of the amount contributed to the fund by each juvenile, ninety-five percent must be paid by the department on behalf of the juvenile as restitution to the victim or victims of the juvenile's adjudicated crime as ordered by the family court or the releasing entity, and five percent must be submitted to the South Carolina Victim's Compensation Fund. If the amount of restitution ordered has been paid in full or if there is no victim of the juvenile's adjudicated crime, the juvenile's contributions must be submitted to the South Carolina Victim's Compensation Fund.

SUBARTICLE 5.

JUVENILE PAROLE BOARD

SECTION 20-7-7005. Board of Juvenile Parole.

(A) There is created under the Department of Juvenile Justice the Board of Juvenile Parole. The parole board is composed of ten members appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. Of these members, one must be appointed from each of the six congressional districts and four members must be appointed from the State at large. If a vacancy occurs on the parole board when the Senate is not in session, the Governor may appoint a member to fill the vacancy and the appointee is a de facto member until the Senate acts upon the appointment.

(B) Members of the parole board shall serve four-year terms and until their successors are appointed and qualify and these terms expire on June thirtieth of the appropriate year.

(C) No member may be reappointed to the parole board until two years after the expiration of a full four-year term.

SECTION 20-7-7010. Removal of member.

A member of the parole board is subject to removal by the Governor as provided for in Section 1-3-240(C).

SECTION 20-7-7015. Compensation.

The members of the parole board must be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred in attending parole board meetings and shall receive as compensation the same per diem as provided by law for members of state boards, committees, and commissions.

SECTION 20-7-7020. Election of officers; rules and procedures.

The parole board shall elect from among its members a chairman who shall serve a one-year term and who may not succeed himself as chairman. The parole board may elect a vice-chairman and secretary and shall fix the time and place of meetings. Rules and procedures for parole board meetings, as considered advisable, must be adopted by the parole board. Six members of the parole board constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.

SUBARTICLE 7.

CUSTODY AND DETENTION

SECTION 20-7-7205. Taking into custody; release; notification.

(A) When a child found violating a criminal law or ordinance is taken into custody, the taking into custody is not an arrest. The jurisdiction of the court attaches from the time of the taking into custody. When a child is taken into custody, the officer taking the child into custody shall notify the parent, guardian, or custodian of the child as soon as possible. Unless otherwise ordered by the court, the person taking the child into custody may release the child to a parent, a responsible adult, a responsible agent of a court-approved foster home, group home, nonsecure facility, or program upon the written promise, signed by the person, to bring the child to the court at a stated time or at a time the court may direct. The written promise, accompanied by a written report by the officer, must be submitted to the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice as soon as possible, but not later than twenty-four hours after the child is taken into custody. If the person fails to produce the child as agreed, or upon notice from the court, a summons or a warrant may be issued for the apprehension of the person or of the child.

(B) When a child is not released pursuant to subsection (A), the officer taking the child into custody shall immediately notify the authorized representative of the Department of Juvenile Justice, who shall respond within one hour by telephone or to the location where the child is being detained. Upon responding, the authorized representative of the department shall review the facts in the officer's report or petition and any other relevant facts and advise the officer if, in his opinion, there is a need for detention of the child. The officer's written report must be furnished to the authorized representatives of the department and must state:

(1) the facts of the offense;

(2) the reason why the child was not released to the parent. Unless the child is to be detained, the child must be released by the officer to the custody of his parents or other responsible adult upon their written promise to bring the child to the court at a stated time or at a time the court may direct. However, if the offense for which the child was taken into custody is a violent crime as defined in Section 16-1-60, the child may be released only by the officer who took the child into custody. If the officer does not consent to the release of the child, the parents or other responsible adult may apply to any judge of the family court within the circuit for an ex parte order of release of the child. The officer's written report must be furnished to the family court judge. The family court judge may establish conditions for such release.

(C) When a child is charged by a law enforcement officer for an offense which would be a misdemeanor or felony if committed by an adult, not including a traffic or wildlife violation over which courts other than the family court have concurrent jurisdiction as provided in Section 20-7-410, the law enforcement officer also shall notify the principal of the school in which the child is enrolled, if any, of the nature of the offense. This information may be used by the principal for monitoring and supervisory purposes but otherwise must be kept confidential by the principal in the same manner required by Section 20-7-8510(E).

(D) Juveniles may be held in nonsecure custody within the law enforcement center for only the time necessary for purposes of identification, investigation, detention, intake screening, awaiting release to parents or other responsible adult, or awaiting transfer to a juvenile detention facility or to the court for a detention hearing.

SECTION 20-7-7210. Out-of-home placement.

(A) When the officer who took the child into custody determines that placement of a juvenile outside the home is necessary, the authorized representative of the Department of Juvenile Justice shall make a diligent effort to place the child in an approved home, program, or facility, other than a secure juvenile detention facility, when these alternatives are appropriate and available.

(B) A child is eligible for detention in a secure juvenile detention facility only if the child:

(1) is charged with a violent crime as defined in Section 16-1-60;

(2) is charged with a crime which, if committed by an adult, would be a felony or a misdemeanor other than a violent crime, and the child:

(a) is already detained or on probation or conditional release or is awaiting adjudication in connection with another delinquency proceeding;

(b) has a demonstrable recent record of wilful failures to appear at court proceedings;

(c) has a demonstrable recent record of violent conduct resulting in physical injury to others; or

(d) has a demonstrable recent record of adjudications for other felonies or misdemeanors; and

(i) there is reason to believe the child is a flight risk or poses a threat of serious harm to others; or

(ii) the instant offense involved the use of a firearm;

(3) is a fugitive from another jurisdiction;

(4) requests protection in writing under circumstances that present an immediate threat of serious physical injury;

(5) had in his possession a deadly weapon;

(6) has a demonstrable recent record of wilful failure to comply with prior placement orders including, but not limited to, a house arrest order;

(7) has no suitable alternative placement and it is determined that detention is in the child's best interest or is necessary to protect the child or public, or both; or

(8) is charged with an assault and battery or an assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature on school grounds or at a school-sponsored event against any person affiliated with the school in an official capacity.

A child who meets the criteria provided in this subsection is eligible for detention. Detention is not mandatory for a child meeting the criteria if that child can be supervised adequately at home or in a less secure setting or program. If the officer does not consent to the release of the child, the parents or other responsible adult may apply to the family court within the circuit for an ex parte order of release of the child. The officer's written report must be furnished to the family court judge who may establish conditions for the release.

(C) No child may be placed in secure confinement or ordered detained by the court in secure confinement in an adult jail or other place of detention for adults for more than six hours. However, the prohibition against the secure confinement of juveniles in adult jails does not apply to juveniles who have been waived to the court of general sessions for the purpose of standing trial as an adult. Juveniles placed in secure confinement in an adult jail during this six-hour period must be confined in an area of the jail which is separated by sight and sound from adults similarly confined.

(D) Temporary holdover facilities may hold juveniles during the period between initial custody and the initial detention hearing before a family court judge for a period up to forty-eight hours, excluding weekends and state holidays.

(E) A child who is taken into custody because of a violation of law which would not be a criminal offense under the laws of this State if committed by an adult must not be placed or ordered detained in an adult detention facility. A child who is taken into custody because of a violation of the law which would not be a criminal offense under the laws of this State if committed by an adult must not be placed or ordered detained more than twenty-four hours in a juvenile detention facility, unless an order previously has been issued by the court, of which the child has notice and which notifies the child that further violation of the court's order may result in the secure detention of that child in a juvenile detention facility. If a juvenile is ordered detained for violating a valid court order, the juvenile may be held in secure confinement in a juvenile detention facility for not more than seventy-two hours, excluding weekends and holidays. However, nothing in this section precludes a law enforcement officer from taking a status offender into custody.

(F) Children ten years of age and younger must not be incarcerated in a jail or detention facility for any reason. Children eleven or twelve years of age who are taken into custody for a violation of law which would be a criminal offense under the laws of this State if committed by an adult or who violates conditions of probation for such an offense must be incarcerated in a jail or detention facility only by order of the family court.

(G) For purposes of this section, "adult jail" or other place of detention for adults includes a state, county, or municipal police station, law enforcement lockup, or holding cell. "Secure confinement" means an area having bars or other restraints designed to hold one person or a group of persons at a law enforcement location for any period of time and for any reason. Secure confinement in an adult jail or other place of detention does not include a room or a multipurpose area within the law enforcement center which is not secured by locks or other security devices. Rooms or areas of this type include lobbies, offices, and interrogation rooms. Juveniles held in these areas are considered to be in nonsecure custody as long as the room or area is not designed for or intended for use as a residential area, the juvenile is not handcuffed to a stationary object while in the room or area, and the juvenile is under continuous visual supervision by facility staff while in this room or area which is located within the law enforcement center. Secure confinement also does not include a room or area used by law enforcement for processing "booking" purposes, irrespective of whether it is determined to be secure or nonsecure, as long as the juvenile's confinement in the area is limited to the time necessary to fingerprint, photograph, or otherwise "book" the juvenile in accordance with state law.

SECTION 20-7-7215. Detention hearing; psychological screening.

(A) If the officer who took the child into custody has not released the child to the custody the child's parents or other responsible adult, the court shall hold a detention hearing within forty-eight hours from the time the child was taken into custody, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. At this hearing, the authorized representative of the department shall submit to the court a report stating the facts surrounding the case and a recommendation as to the child's continued detention pending the adjudicatory and dispositional hearings. The court shall appoint counsel for the child if none is retained. No child may proceed without counsel in this hearing, unless the child waives the right to counsel and then only after consulting at least once with an attorney. At the conclusion of this hearing, the court shall determine whether probable cause exists to justify the detention of the child and the appropriateness of, and need for, the child's continued detention. If continued detention of a juvenile is considered appropriate by the court and if a juvenile detention facility exists in that county which meets state and federal requirements for the secure detention of juveniles or if that facility exists in another county with which the committing county has a contract for the secure detention of its juveniles and if commitment of a juvenile by the court to that facility does not cause the facility to exceed its design and operational capacity, the family court shall order the detention of the juvenile in that facility. A juvenile must not be detained in secure confinement in excess of ninety days except in exceptional circumstances as determined by the court. A detained juvenile is entitled to further and periodic review:

(1) within ten days following the juvenile's initial detention hearing;

(2) within thirty days following the ten-day hearing; and

(3) at any other time for good cause shown upon motion of the child, the State, or the department.

If the child does not qualify for detention or otherwise require continued detention under the terms of Section 20-7-7210(A) or (B), the child must be released to a parent, guardian, or other responsible person.

(B) A juvenile ordered detained in a facility must be screened within twenty-four hours by a social worker or if considered appropriate by a psychologist in order to determine whether the juvenile is emotionally disturbed, mentally ill, or otherwise in need of services. The services must be provided immediately.

SECTION 20-7-7220. Detention homes.

Provisions must be made for a detention home or homes for the temporary detention of children to be conducted by the court or, subject to the approval and supervision of the court, by an appropriate public agency; or the court may arrange for the use of private homes for detention, subject to the supervision of the court or other agency, or may arrange with an institution or agency to receive for temporary care and custody children within the jurisdiction of the court.

SECTION 20-7-7225. Transportation to juvenile detention facility.

No child may be transported to a juvenile detention facility in a police vehicle which also contains adults under arrest. When a child is to be transported to or from a juvenile detention facility following a detention screening review conducted by the Department of Juvenile Justice or after a detention order has been issued by the court, the local law enforcement agency which originally took the child into custody shall transport this child to or from the juvenile detention facility. Transportation of juveniles between department facilities, if necessary, is the responsibility of the department.

SUBARTICLE 9.

INTAKE AND INITIATION OF PROCEEDINGS

SECTION 20-7-7405. Intake and probation services.

The Department of Juvenile Justice shall provide intake and probation services for juveniles brought before the family courts of this State and for persons committed or referred to the department in cooperation with all local officials or agencies concerned. The role and function of intake is to independently assess the circumstances and needs of children referred for possible prosecution in the family court. Recommendations by the department as to intake must be reviewed by the office of the solicitor in the circuit concerned, and the final determination as to whether or not the juvenile is to be prosecuted in the family court must be made by the solicitor or by the solicitor's authorized assistant. Statements of the juvenile contained in the department's files must not be furnished to the solicitor's office as part of the intake review procedure, and the solicitor's office must not be privy to these statements in connection with its intake review. Where circumstances do not warrant prosecution in the discretion of the solicitor, the intake counselor shall offer referral assistance for services as appropriate for the child and family. In the event that a juvenile is adjudicated to be delinquent or found by the family court to be in violation of the terms of probation, the intake counselor shall offer appropriate dispositional recommendations to the family court for its consideration and determination of the disposition of the case.

SECTION 20-7-7410. Persons entitled to institute proceedings.

The parent or custodian of a child, an official of a child welfare board, a public official charged by law with the care of the poor, the recognized agents of an agency, association, society, or institution, a person having knowledge or information of a nature which convinces the person that a child is delinquent or that a child, by reason of his own acts in accordance with this article, is subject to the jurisdiction of the court, any person who has suffered injury through the delinquency of a child, or an officer having an arrested child in charge, may institute a proceeding respecting the child.

SECTION 20-7-7415. Pre-hearing inquiry and investigation; notice.

(A) Whenever a person informs the court that a child is within the purview of this article, the court shall make preliminary inquiry to determine whether the interest of the public or of the child requires that further action be taken. Thereupon, the court may make an informal adjustment as is practicable without a petition or may authorize a petition to be filed by any person.

(B) The petition and all subsequent court documents must be entitled:

"In the Family Court of --- County.

In the Interest of ---, a child under seventeen years of age."

The petition must be verified and may be upon information and belief. It shall set forth plainly:

(1) the facts which bring the child within the purview of this article;

(2) the name, age, and residence of the child;

(3) the names and residences of the child's parents;

(4) the name and residence of a legal guardian, if there is one, of the person or persons having custody of or control of the child, or of the nearest known relative if no parent or guardian can be found. If any of these facts are not known by the petitioner, the petition shall state that.

(C) Before the hearing of a case of a child, the judge shall cause an investigation of all the facts pertaining to the issue to be made. The investigation shall consist of an examination of the parentage and surroundings of the child, the child's age, habits and history, and also shall include inquiry into the home conditions, habits and character of the child's parents or guardian, if that is necessary in the discretion of the court. In these cases the court, if advisable, shall cause the child to be examined as to the child's mentality by a competent and experienced psychologist or psychiatrist who shall make a report of the findings. Before the hearing in the case of a child, if the child attends school, a report on the child must be obtained from the school which the child attends. The school officials shall furnish the report upon the request of the court or its probation counselor. The court, when it is considered necessary, shall cause a complete physical examination to be made of the child by a competent physician.

(D) In a case where the delinquency proceedings may result in commitment to an institution in which the child's freedom is curtailed, the child or the child's parents or guardian must be given written notice with particularity of the specific charge or factual allegations to be considered at the hearing. The notice must be given as soon as practicable and sufficiently in advance to permit preparation. The child or the child's parent or guardian also must be advised in the notice of their right to be represented by counsel and that, if they are unable to employ counsel, counsel will be appointed to represent them. In the hearing, the parent and child also must be expressly informed of their right to counsel and must be specifically required to consider whether they do or do not waive the right of counsel.

SECTION 20-7-7420. Indigent defense.

Notwithstanding Title 17, Chapter 3, Defense of Indigents, in determining indigence for the purpose of appointing legal counsel for a child in a delinquency proceeding, the court shall determine the financial ability of the child's parents to retain counsel for the child. If the court determines that the parents are able to retain counsel for the child but the parents refuse to retain counsel and the court appoints counsel, the court may order the parents to reimburse the Indigent Defense Fund or pay the court-appointed attorney in an amount to be determined by the court.

SUBARTICLE 11.

TRANSFER OF JURISDICTION

SECTION 20-7-7605. Transfer of jurisdiction.

In accordance with the jurisdiction granted to the family court pursuant to Sections 20-7-400, 20-7-410, and 20-7-420, jurisdiction over a case involving a child must be transferred or retained as follows:

(1) If, during the pendency of a criminal or quasi-criminal charge against a child in a circuit court of this State, it is ascertained that the child was under the age of seventeen years at the time of committing the alleged offense, it is the duty of the circuit court immediately to transfer the case, together with all the papers, documents, and testimony connected with it, to the family court of competent jurisdiction, except in those cases where the Constitution gives to the circuit court exclusive jurisdiction or in those cases where jurisdiction has properly been transferred to the circuit court by the family court under the provisions of this section. The court making the transfer shall order the child to be taken immediately to the place of detention designated by the court or to that court itself, or shall release the child to the custody of some suitable person to be brought before the court at a time designated. The court then shall proceed as provided in this article. The provisions of this section are applicable to all existing offenses and to offenses created in the future unless the General Assembly specifically directs otherwise.

(2) Whenever a child is brought before a magistrate or city recorder and, in the opinion of the magistrate or city recorder, the child should be brought to the family court of competent jurisdiction under the provisions of this section, the magistrate or city recorder shall transfer the case to the family court and direct that the child involved be taken there.

(3) When an action is brought in a circuit court which, in the opinion of the judge, falls within the jurisdiction of the family court, he may transfer the action upon his own motion or the motion of any party.

(4) If a child sixteen years of age or older is charged with an offense which, if committed by an adult, would be a misdemeanor, a Class E or F felony as defined in Section 16-1-20, or a felony which provides for a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years or less, and if the court, after full investigation, considers it contrary to the best interest of the child or of the public to retain jurisdiction, the court, in its discretion, acting as committing magistrate, may bind over the child for proper criminal proceedings to a court which would have trial jurisdiction of the offense if committed by an adult.

(5) If a child fourteen or fifteen years of age is charged with an offense which, if committed by an adult, would be a Class A, B, C, or D felony as defined in Section 16-1-20 or a felony which provides for a maximum term of imprisonment of fifteen years or more, the court, after full investigation and hearing, may determine it contrary to the best interest of the child or of the public to retain jurisdiction. The court, acting as committing magistrate, may bind over the child for proper criminal proceedings to a court which would have trial jurisdiction of the offenses if committed by an adult.

(6) Within thirty days after the filing of a petition in the family court alleging the child has committed the offense of murder or criminal sexual conduct, the person executing the petition may request in writing that the case be transferred to the court of general sessions with a view to proceeding against the child as a criminal rather than as a child coming within the purview of this article. The judge of the family court is authorized to determine this request. If the request is denied, the petitioner may appeal within five days to the circuit court. Upon the hearing of the appeal, the judge of the circuit court is vested with the discretion of exercising and asserting the jurisdiction of the court of general sessions or of relinquishing jurisdiction to the family court. If the circuit judge elects to exercise the jurisdiction of the general sessions court for trial of the case, he shall issue an order to that effect, and then the family court has no further jurisdiction in the matter.

(7) Once the family court relinquishes its jurisdiction over the child and the child is bound over to be treated as an adult, Section 20-7-8510 dealing with the confidentiality of identity and fingerprints does not apply.

(8) When jurisdiction is relinquished by the family court in favor of another court, the court shall have full authority and power to grant bail, hold a preliminary hearing and any other powers as now provided by law for magistrates in such cases.

(9) If a child fourteen years of age or older is charged with a violation of Section 16-23-430(1), Section 16-23-20, assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, or Section 44-53-445, the court, after full investigation and hearing, if it considers it contrary to the best interest of the child or the public to retain jurisdiction, acting as committing magistrate, may bind over the child for proper criminal proceedings to a court which would have trial jurisdiction of the offenses if committed by an adult.

(10) If a child fourteen years of age or older is charged with an offense which, if committed by an adult, provides for a term of imprisonment of ten years or more and the child previously has been adjudicated delinquent in family court or convicted in circuit court for two prior offenses which, if committed by an adult, provide for a term of imprisonment of ten years or more, the court acting as committing magistrate shall bind over the child for proper criminal proceedings to a court which would have trial jurisdiction of the offense if committed by an adult. For the purpose of this item, an adjudication or conviction is considered a second adjudication or conviction only if the date of the commission of the second offense occurred subsequent to the imposition of the sentence for the first offense.

SUBARTICLE 13.

DISPOSITIONAL POWERS OF THE COURT

SECTION 20-7-7805. Adjudication.

(A) When a child is found by decree of the court to be subject to this article, the court shall in its decree make a finding of the facts upon which the court exercises its jurisdiction over the child. Following the decree, the court by order may:

(1) cause a child concerning whom a petition has been filed to be examined or treated by a physician, psychiatrist, or psychologist and for that purpose place the child in a hospital or other suitable facility;

(2) order care and treatment as it considers best, except as otherwise provided in this section and may designate a state agency as the lead agency to provide a family assessment to the court. The assessment shall include, but is not limited to, the strengths and weaknesses of the family, problems interfering with the functioning of the family and with the best interests of the child, and recommendations for a comprehensive service plan to strengthen the family and assist in resolving these issues.

The lead agency shall provide the family assessment to the court in a timely manner, and the court shall conduct a hearing to review the proposed plan and adopt a plan as part of its order that will best meet the needs and best interest of the child. In arriving at a comprehensive plan, the court shall consider:

(a) additional testing or evaluation that may be needed;

(b) economic services including, but not limited to, employment services, job training, food stamps, and aid to families with dependent children;

(c) counseling services including, but not limited to, marital counseling, parenting skills, and alcohol and drug abuse counseling; and

(d) any other programs or services appropriate to the child's and family's needs.

The lead agency is responsible for monitoring compliance with the court-ordered plan and shall report to the court as the court requires. In support of an order, the court may require the parents or other persons having custody of the child or any other person who has been found by the court to be encouraging, causing, or contributing to the acts or conditions which bring the child within the purview of this chapter to do or omit to do acts required or forbidden by law, when the judge considers the requirement necessary for the welfare of the child. In case of failure to comply with the requirement, the court may proceed against those persons for contempt of court;

(3) place the child on probation or under supervision in the child's own home or in the custody of a suitable person elsewhere, upon conditions as the court may determine. A child placed on probation by the court remains under the authority of the court only until the expiration of the specified term of the child's probation. This specified term of probation may expire before but not after the eighteenth birthday of the child. Probation means casework services during a continuance of the case. Probation must not be ordered or administered as punishment but as a measure for the protection, guidance, and well-being of the child and the child's family. Probation methods must be directed to the discovery and correction of the basic causes of maladjustment and to the development of the child's personality and character, with the aid of the social resources of the community. As a condition of probation, the court may order the child to participate in a community mentor program as provided for in Section 20-7-7808. The court may impose monetary restitution or participation in supervised work or community service, or both, as a condition of probation. The Department of Juvenile Justice, in coordination with local community agencies, shall develop and encourage employment of a constructive nature designed to make reparation and to promote the rehabilitation of the child. When considering the appropriate amount of monetary restitution to be ordered, the court shall establish the monetary loss suffered by the victim and then weigh and consider this amount against the number of individuals involved in causing the monetary loss, the child's particular role in causing this loss, and the child's ability to pay the amount over a reasonable period of time. The Department of Juvenile Justice shall develop a system for the transferring of court-ordered restitution from the child to the victim or owner of property injured, destroyed, or stolen. As a condition of probation the court may impose upon the child a fine not exceeding two hundred dollars when the offense is one in which a magistrate, municipal, or circuit court judge has the authority to impose a fine. A fine may be imposed when commitment is suspended but not in addition to commitment;

(4) order the child to participate in a community mentor program as provided in Section 20-7-7808;

(5) commit the child to the custody or to the guardianship of a public or private institution or agency authorized to care for children or to place them in family homes or under the guardianship of a suitable person. Commitment must be for an indeterminate period but in no event beyond the child's twenty-first birthday;

(6) require that a child under twelve years of age who is adjudicated delinquent for an offense listed in Section 23-3-430(C) be given appropriate psychiatric or psychological treatment to address the circumstances of the offense for which the child was adjudicated; and

(7) dismiss the petition or otherwise terminate its jurisdiction at any time on the motion of either party or on its own motion.

(B) Whenever the court commits a child to an institution or agency, it shall transmit with the order of commitment a summary of its information concerning the child, and the institution or agency shall give to the court information concerning the child which the court may require. Counsel of record, if any, must be notified by the court of an adjudication under this section, and in the event there is no counsel of record, the child or the child's parents or guardian must be notified of the adjudication by regular mail from the court to the last address of the child or the child's parents or guardian.

(C) No adjudication by the court of the status of a child is a conviction, nor does the adjudication operate to impose civil disabilities ordinarily resulting from conviction, nor may a child be charged with crime or convicted in a court, except as provided in Section 20-7-7605(6). The disposition made of a child or any evidence given in court does not disqualify the child in a future civil service application or appointment.

SECTION 20-7-7807. Suspension or restriction of driver's license.

(A) If a child is adjudicated delinquent for a status offense or is found in violation of a court order relating to a status offense, the court may suspend or restrict the child's driver's license until the child's seventeenth birthday.

(B) If a child is adjudicated delinquent for violation of a criminal offense or is found in violation of a court order relating to a criminal offense or is found in violation of a term or condition of probation, the court may suspend or restrict the child's driver's license until the child's eighteenth birthday.

(C) If the court suspends the child's driver's license, the child must submit the license to the court, and the court shall forward the license to the Department of Motor Vehicles for license suspension. However, convictions not related to the operation of a motor vehicle shall not result in increased insurance premiums.

(D) If the court restricts the child's driver's license, the court may restrict the child's driving privileges to driving only to and from school or to and from work or as the court considers appropriate. Upon the court restricting a child's driver's license, the child must submit the license to the court and the court shall forward the license to the Department of Motor Vehicles for reissuance of the license with the restriction clearly noted.

(E) Notwithstanding the definition of a 'child' as provided for in Section 20-7-6605, the court may suspend or restrict the driver's license of a child under the age of seventeen until the child's eighteenth birthday if subsection (B) applies.

(F) Upon suspending or restricting a child's driver's license under this section, the family court judge shall complete a form provided by and which must be remitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

SECTION 20-7-7808. Youth Mentor Act; establishment of and participation in Youth Mentor Program.

(A) This section may be cited as the "Youth Mentor Act".

(B) The Attorney General's Office shall establish a Youth Mentor Program to serve juvenile offenders under the jurisdiction of the family court. The program shall consist of a church mentor program and a community mentor program. Participation in the program may be required as a pretrial diversion option by a solicitor or as an optional, alternative disposition by a family court judge. The circuit solicitor may charge a juvenile offender who participates in the Youth Mentor Program a fee to offset the actual cost of administering the program; however, no juvenile offender is barred from the program because of indigence. This program must be available for juveniles who commit nonviolent offenses. For purposes of this subsection, nonviolent offenses mean all offenses not listed in Section 16-1-60.

(C) When a child is charged with a nonviolent offense which places him under the jurisdiction of the family court and the solicitor is of the opinion that justice would be better served if the child completed a church mentor program, the solicitor may divert the child to such a program. Upon completion of the program, the proceedings in family court must be dismissed.

Participation in the church mentor program is voluntary, and the child or his parents or guardians may refuse to participate based upon their religious beliefs or for any other reason.

The Attorney General must establish guidelines for the program, the mentors, and the churches, mosques, masjids, synagogues, and other religious organizations that participate in the church mentor program.

(D) When a child is adjudicated delinquent for a nonviolent offense in family court, the family court judge may order the child to participate in the community mentor program. When a child is ordered to participate in the community mentor program, he must be assigned to a community organization which shall assign a mentor to the child. The mentor shall monitor the academic and personal development of the child for a minimum period of six months and a maximum period not exceeding one year as ordered by the court. Failure to complete the program shall result in the child being brought before the family court for appropriate sanctions or revocation of suspended commitment.

The Attorney General must establish guidelines for the program, the mentors, and the community organizations that participate in the community mentor program.

SECTION 20-7-7810. Commitment.

(A) A child, after the child's twelfth birthday and before the seventeenth birthday or while under the jurisdiction of the family court for disposition of an offense that occurred prior to the child's seventeenth birthday, may be committed to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice which shall arrange for placement in a suitable corrective environment. Children under the age of twelve years may be committed only to the custody of the department which shall arrange for placement in a suitable corrective environment other than institutional confinement. No child under the age of seventeen years may be committed or sentenced to any other penal or correctional institution of this State.

(B) All commitments to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice for delinquency as opposed to the conviction of a specific crime may be made only for the reasons and in the manner prescribed in Sections 20-7-400, 20-7-410, 20-7-460, 20-7-750, 20-7-760, 20-7-1520, and this article, with evaluations made and proceedings conducted only by the judges authorized to order commitments in this section. When a child is committed to the custody of the department, commitment must be for an indeterminate sentence, not extending beyond the twenty-first birthday of the child unless sooner released by the department, or for a determinate commitment sentence not to exceed ninety days.

(C) The court, before committing a child as a delinquent or as a part of a sentence including commitments for contempt, shall order a community evaluation or temporarily commit the child to the Department of Juvenile Justice for not more than forty-five days for evaluation. A community evaluation is equivalent to a residential evaluation, but it is not required to include all components of a residential evaluation. However, in either evaluation the department shall make a recommendation to the court on the appropriate disposition of the case and shall submit that recommendation to the court before final disposition. The court may waive in writing the evaluation of the child and proceed to issue final disposition in the case if the child:

(1) has previously received a residential evaluation or a community evaluation and the evaluation is available to the court;

(2) has been within the past year temporarily or finally discharged or conditionally released for parole from a correctional institution of the department, and the child's previous evaluation or other equivalent information is available to the court; or

(3) receives a determinate commitment sentence not to exceed ninety days.

[Until April 1, 2007, this subsection reads as follows:]

(D) When a child is adjudicated delinquent or convicted of a crime or has entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere in a court authorized to commit to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice, the child may be committed for an indeterminate period until the child has reached age twenty-one or until sooner released by the Board of Juvenile Parole under its discretional powers or released by order of a judge of the Supreme Court or the circuit court of this State, rendered at chambers or otherwise, in a proceeding in the nature of an application for a writ of habeas corpus. A juvenile who has not been paroled or otherwise released from the custody of the department by the juvenile's nineteenth birthday must be transferred to the custody and authority of the Youthful Offender Division of the Department of Corrections. If not sooner released by the Board of Juvenile Parole, the juvenile must be released by age twenty-one according to the provisions of the child's commitment; however, notwithstanding the above provision, any juvenile committed as an adult offender by order of the court of general sessions must be considered for parole or other release according to the laws pertaining to release of adult offenders.

[Effective April 1, 2007, this subsection reads as follows:]

(D) When a juvenile is adjudicated delinquent or convicted of a crime or has entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere in a court authorized to commit to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice, the juvenile may be committed for an indeterminate period until the juvenile has reached age twenty-one or until sooner released by the releasing entity or released by order of a judge of the Supreme Court or the circuit court of this State, rendered at chambers or otherwise, in a proceeding in the nature of an application for a writ of habeas corpus. A juvenile who has not been paroled or otherwise released from the custody of the department by the juvenile's nineteenth birthday must be transferred to the custody and authority of the Youthful Offender Division of the Department of Corrections. If not sooner released by the releasing entity, the juvenile must be released by age twenty-one according to the provisions of the juvenile's commitment; however, notwithstanding the above provision, any juvenile committed as an adult offender by order of the court of general sessions must be considered for parole or other release according to the laws pertaining to release of adult offenders.

(E) A juvenile committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice following an adjudication for a violent offense contained in Section 16-1-60 or for the offense of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, who has not been paroled or released from the custody of the department by his seventeenth birthday must be transferred to the custody and authority of the Youthful Offender Division of the Department of Corrections. A juvenile who has not been paroled or released from the custody of the department by his nineteenth birthday must be transferred to the custody and authority of the Youthful Offender Division of the Department of Corrections at age nineteen. If not released sooner by the Board of Juvenile Parole, a juvenile transferred pursuant to this subsection must be released by his twenty-first birthday according to the provisions of his commitment. Notwithstanding the above provision, a juvenile committed as an adult offender by order of the court of general sessions must be considered for parole or other release according to the laws pertaining to release of adult offenders.

(F) Notwithstanding subsections (A) and (E), a child may be committed to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice or to a secure evaluation center operated by the department for a determinate period not to exceed ninety days when:

(1) the child has been adjudicated delinquent by a family court judge for a status offense, as defined in Section 20-7-6605, excluding truancy, and the order acknowledges that the child has been afforded all due process rights guaranteed to a child offender;

(2) the child is in contempt of court for violation of a court order to attend school or an order issued as a result of the child's adjudication of delinquency for a status offense, as defined in Section 20-7-6605; or

(3) the child is determined by the court to have violated the conditions of probation set forth by the court in an order issued as a result of the child's adjudication of delinquency for a status offense, as defined in Section 20-7-6605, including truancy.

Orders issued pursuant to this subsection must acknowledge:

(a) that the child has been advised of all due process rights afforded to a child offender; and

(b) that the court has received information from the appropriate state or local agency or public entity that has reviewed the facts and circumstances causing the child to be before the court.

A child committed under this section may not be confined with a child who has been determined by the department to be violent.

SECTION 20-7-7815. Commitment of mentally ill or retarded; request for release; taking juveniles into custody.

(A) No juvenile may be committed to an institution under the control of the Department of Juvenile Justice who is seriously handicapped by mental illness or retardation. If, after a juvenile is referred to the Reception and Evaluation Center, it is determined that the juvenile is mentally ill, as defined in Section 44-23-10, or mentally retarded to an extent that the juvenile could not be properly cared for in its custody, the department through the voluntary admission process or by instituting necessary legal action may accomplish the transfer of the juvenile to another state agency which in its judgment is best qualified to care for the juvenile in accordance with the laws of this State. This legal action must be brought in the juvenile's resident county. The department shall establish standards with regard to the physical and mental health of juveniles whom it can accept for commitment.

[Until April 1, 2007 this subsection reads as follows:]

(B) When the state agency to which a juvenile is transferred determines that it is appropriate to release from commitment that juvenile, the state agency must submit a request for release to the Juvenile Parole Board. If the Juvenile Parole Board does not grant the request to release the juvenile, the juvenile must be placed in an environment consistent with the provisions of this section.

[Effective April 1, 2007, this subsection reads as follows:]

(B) When the state agency to which a juvenile is transferred determines that it is appropriate to release from commitment that juvenile, the state agency must submit a request for release to the releasing entity. If the releasing entity does not grant the request to release the juvenile, the juvenile must be placed in an environment consistent with the provisions of this section.

(C) If a juvenile transferred to another state agency pursuant to this section is absent from a treatment facility without proper authorization, any state or local law enforcement officer upon the request of the director, or a designee, of the state agency to which the juvenile has been transferred and without the necessity of a warrant or a court order, may take the juvenile into custody and return the juvenile to the facility designated by the agency director or the designee.

SECTION 20-7-7820. Conveyance of committed by sheriff.

A child committed under the terms of this article must be conveyed by the sheriff, deputy sheriff, or persons appointed by the sheriff of the county in which the child resides to the custody of the department, and the expense of the conveyance and delivery must be borne by the county. The committing judge may order that the child be transferred to the custody of the department without the attendance of an officer or in a manner as may be advisable.

SECTION 20-7-7825. Adult commitment.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an adult sentenced for more than ninety days under this article may serve the time in a minimum security state facility.

SUBARTICLE 15.

DEPARTMENT'S COMMITMENT RESPONSIBILITIES

SECTION 20-7-8005. Exclusive care of department.

From the time of lawful reception of a child by the Department of Juvenile Justice and during the child's stay in custody in a correctional institution, facility, or program operated by the department, the child shall be under the exclusive care, custody, and control of the department. All expenses must be borne by the State except as otherwise provided by law.

SECTION 20-7-8010. Further care; education.

From the time of the lawful reception of a child into custody by the department and during the period of the custody, the department shall provide for, either solely or in cooperation with other agencies, the care, custody, and control of the child, as well as make available instruction as may be suited to the child's years and capacity that will enable the child to learn a useful trade.

SECTION 20-7-8015. Transfer to other institution.

A child committed to an institution under the provisions of this article may be transferred by the department to an institution, facility, or vocational training center under its jurisdiction.

SECTION 20-7-8020. Furloughs.

The department may grant furloughs, not to exceed thirty days, under prescribed conditions to children domiciled in its custody unaccompanied by a custodial agent. Failure by the child to return from a furlough as directed must be deemed an escape.

SECTION 20-7-8025. Transfer to Youthful Offender Division.

(A) The Department of Juvenile Justice, when authorized by an order of a circuit judge, must, after notice to the Department of Corrections, temporarily shall transfer to the custody of the Youthful Offender Division a child who has been committed to the custody of the department who is more than seventeen years of age and whose presence in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice appears to be seriously detrimental to the welfare of others in custody. The Director of the Department of Corrections shall receive these children and shall properly care for them. Each child transferred to the Youthful Offender Division is subject to all the rules and discipline of the division. Children transferred to the Youthful Offender Division pursuant to this section are under the authority of the division but are subject to release Board of Juvenile Parole.

(B) The Youthful Offender Division at least quarterly shall recommend to the parole board possible release of each child transferred to the department or the child's return to institutions of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

SECTION 20-7-8030. Interference with ward.

(A) It is unlawful for a person to:

(1) cause, aid, encourage, or influence a child who is a ward of the Department of Juvenile Justice to:

(a) enter or remain in a house of prostitution or a house or lodging place used for immoral purposes or gambling place;

(b) violate a law of this State or ordinance of a city;

(c) indulge in vicious or immoral conduct; or

(d) violate the child's conditional release or run away from the supervision of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

(2) harbor a child who has escaped from authorities or who is running away from their supervision.

(B) A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both.

SECTION 20-7-8035. Unlawful furnishing of contraband to ward.

(A) While on the institutional grounds of the department, it is unlawful to furnish, attempt to furnish, or to possess with the intent to furnish, contraband to a juvenile committed to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice. "Juvenile", for purposes of this section, is defined as a person committed to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice. It is unlawful for a juvenile committed to the custody of the department to possess contraband.

(B) For purposes of this section, "contraband" is defined as:

(1) a device which may be used as a weapon including, but not limited to, firearms, knives, blades, clubs, or billies;

(2) drugs of any type or description including, but not limited to, marijuana, cocaine, and any other controlled substance as listed in Chapter 53 of Title 44, for which a juvenile does not possess a current lawful prescription;

(3) poisons or other dangerous chemicals which can cause injury or death;

(4) flammable liquids of any type including, but not limited to, gasoline, kerosene, or lighter fluid;

(5) any type of alcohol and any liquid containing any concentration of intoxicating alcohol;

(6) keys, locks, or tools of any description not officially issued to the juvenile by the department; or

(7) any additional items determined to be contraband by the Director of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

(C) If the director determines any additional items to be contraband, a list of these items must be published and posted in conspicuous places so as to be seen readily by a person entering the institutional grounds or on the institutional grounds of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

(D) An adult found violating this section is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than one thousand dollars nor more than ten thousand dollars or imprisoned for not less than one year nor more than ten years, or both.

SECTION 20-7-8040. Child support payments.

Whenever a child is committed by the court to custody other than that of the child's parents or is given medical, psychological, or psychiatric treatment under order of the court, the solicitor of the county where the child is a resident may petition the court to order the parent or parents of the child to pay child support when the child is committed to or detained in the custody of an approved local detention facility or the Department of Juvenile Justice. If the parents of the child are living apart, the court shall pursue child support payments from both parents. The court, after giving the parent a reasonable opportunity to be heard, may order the parent to pay, in the manner the court directs, in accordance with child support guidelines promulgated by the Department of Social Services to cover in whole or in part the support and treatment of the child. In making its determination whether to order child support, the court shall consider the conduct of the parent in supervising and providing care for the child. If the parent wilfully fails or refuses to pay the amount ordered, the court may proceed against the parent for contempt.

SUBARTICLE 17.

PAROLE AND AFTERCARE

SECTION 20-7-8303. Determination of release of juveniles adjudicated delinquent.

(A) The release and revocation of release of juveniles adjudicated delinquent and committed to the department must be determined by:

(1) the department for juveniles adjudicated delinquent and committed for an indeterminate period for a status offense or a misdemeanor and for juveniles who have violated probation for a status offense or a misdemeanor;

(2) the Board of Juvenile Parole for juveniles adjudicated delinquent and committed for an offense other than an offense provided for in item (1).

(B) For purposes of this article, "releasing entity" means:

(1) the department for juveniles described in subsection (A)(1);

(2) the Board of Juvenile Parole for juveniles described in subsection (A)(2).

SECTION 20-7-8305. Board of Juvenile Parole; procedures.

[Until April 1, 2007, this section reads as follows:]

(A)(1) The Board of Juvenile Parole shall meet monthly and at other times as may be necessary to review the records and progress of children committed to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice for the purpose of deciding the release or revocation of release of these children. The parole board shall make periodic inspections, at least quarterly, of the records of persons committed to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice and may issue temporary and final discharges or release these persons conditionally and prescribe conditions for release into aftercare.

(2)(a) It is the right of a juvenile who has not committed a violent offense, as defined by Section 16-1-60, to appear personally before the parole board every three months for the purpose of parole consideration, but no appearance may begin until the parole board determines that an appropriate period of time has elapsed since the juvenile's commitment.

(b) The parole board, in its discretion, may waive the quarterly review of juveniles committed to the department for the commission of a violent crime, as defined in Section 16-1-60, until the juvenile reaches the minimum parole guidelines the board establishes for the juvenile. At that point, the board, in its discretion, is authorized to schedule its first review of the juvenile from three months up to twelve months after the juvenile reaches the minimum parole guidelines established by the board. The scheduling of subsequent reviews is in the discretion of the board but must occur within three to twelve months of the juvenile's last appearance.

(3) In order to allow reviews and appearances by children, the chairman of the parole board may assign the members to meet in panels of not less than three members to receive progress reports and recommendations, review cases, meet with children, meet with counselors, and to hear matters and consider cases for release, parole, and parole revocation. Membership on these panels must be periodically rotated on a random basis by the chairman. At the meetings of the panels, a unanimous vote must be considered the final decision of the parole board. A panel vote that is not unanimous must not be considered as a final decision of the parole board and the matter must be referred to the full parole board, which shall determine the matter by a majority vote of its membership. The parole board or panel may conduct parole hearings by means of a two-way, closed circuit television system.

(B) In the determination of the type of discharges or conditional releases granted, the parole board shall consider the interests of the person involved and the interests of society and shall employ the services of and consult with the personnel of the Reception and Evaluation Center. The parole board may from time to time modify the conditions of discharges or conditional releases previously granted.

(C) The parole board shall develop written guidelines for the consideration of juveniles' releases on parole. The guidelines must be given to juveniles upon commitment and periodically reviewed with each juvenile to assess the progress made toward achieving release on parole.

[From and after April 1, 2007, this section is named "Entities releasing juveniles; review and hearings" and reads as follows:]

(A)(1) The releasing entity shall meet monthly, and at other times as may be necessary, to review the records and progress of juveniles committed to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice for the purpose of deciding the release or revocation of release of these juveniles. The releasing entity shall make periodic inspections, at least quarterly, of the records of persons committed to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice and may issue temporary and final discharges or release these persons conditionally and prescribe conditions for release into aftercare.

(2)(a) It is the right of a juvenile who has not committed a violent offense, as defined by Section 16-1-60, to appear personally before the releasing entity every three months for the purpose of parole consideration, but no appearance may begin until the releasing entity determines that an appropriate period of time has elapsed since the juvenile's commitment.

(b) The parole board may waive the quarterly review of juveniles committed to the department for the commission of a violent crime, as defined in Section 16-1-60, until the juvenile reaches the minimum parole guidelines the board establishes for the juvenile. At that point, the board may schedule its first review of the juvenile from three months up to twelve months after the juvenile reaches the minimum parole guidelines established by the board. The scheduling of subsequent reviews is in the discretion of the board but must occur within three to twelve months of the juvenile's last appearance.

(3) In order to allow reviews and appearances by juveniles, the releasing entity may assign the members or individuals to meet in panels of not less than three members or individuals, to receive progress reports and recommendations, review cases, meet with juveniles, meet with counselors, and to hear matters and consider cases for release, parole, and parole revocation. Membership on these panels must be periodically rotated on a random basis. At the meetings of the panels, a unanimous vote must be considered the final decision. A panel vote that is not unanimous must not be considered as a final decision, and the matter must be referred to the full parole board, which shall determine the matter by a majority vote of its membership, and in the case of reviews conducted by department staff, as provided for by the director of the department.

The releasing entity may conduct parole hearings by means of a two-way, closed circuit television system.

(B) In the determination of the type of discharges or conditional releases granted, the releasing entity shall consider the interests of the person involved and the interests of society and shall employ the services of and consult with the personnel of the Department of Juvenile Justice. The releasing entity may from time to time modify the conditions of discharges or conditional releases previously granted.

(C)(1) The department shall develop written guidelines for the release of juveniles committed to the department for offenses for which the department is the releasing entity.

(2) The parole board shall develop written guidelines for the consideration of parole release of juveniles committed to the department for offenses for which the parole board is the releasing entity.

(3) The guidelines developed pursuant to this subsection must be given by the releasing entity to juveniles upon commitment and periodically reviewed with each juvenile to assess the progress made toward achieving release on parole.

SECTION 20-7-8310. Legal representation before board.

The parole board shall permit legal representation of a juvenile who appears before it for the purpose of parole or parole revocation. The department shall allocate funds to contract with a public defender corporation or similar type legal program for legal assistance for the purpose of appearing before the parole board for a juvenile who desires this service but who cannot either personally or through the juvenile's family afford the assistance.

SECTION 20-7-8315. Aftercare investigations; promulgation of regulations; board employees.

[Until April 1, 2007, this section reads as follows:]

(A) The department is charged with the responsibility of making aftercare investigations to determine suitable placement for children considered for conditional release from the correctional schools. The department shall also have the responsibility of supervising the aftercare program, making revocation investigations, and submitting findings to the parole board.

(B) The director and such staff as he shall designate in the performance of their duties of investigation, counseling and supervision, and revocation investigations, are considered official representatives of the parole board.

(C) The director and his staff are subject to the regulations for parole and parole revocation promulgated by the parole board and shall meet with the parole board at its meetings when requested. Community-based counselors, or their supervisors, with assigned clients committed to institutions of the department shall periodically visit the institutions in order to counsel their clients and accomplish the duties as outlined in this subarticle.

(D) Recognizing the need to maintain autonomy and to provide a check and balance system, the parole board shall employ a director of parole and other staff necessary to carry out the duties of parole examinations, victim liaison, and revocation hearings. The director serves at the will and pleasure of the parole board. All staff are employees of the parole board and are directly responsible to the parole board both administratively and operationally. Funds allocated for the functions designated in this section must be incorporated as a line item within the department's budget and are subject to administrative control by the parole board.

(E) The department shall continue to provide the budgetary, fiscal, personnel, and training information resources and other support considered necessary by the parole board to perform its mandated functions.

[From and after April 1, 2007, this section is named "Aftercare investigations; board employees and functions" and reads as follows:]

(A) The department shall conduct aftercare investigations to determine suitable placement for juveniles considered for conditional release from the correctional schools. The department also shall supervise the aftercare program, making revocation investigations and submitting findings to the releasing entity.

(B) The director and such staff as the director shall designate in the performance of their duties of investigation, counseling and supervision, and revocation investigations are considered official representatives of the releasing entity.

(C) The directors and their staff are subject to the regulations for parole and parole revocation promulgated by the releasing entity and shall meet with the releasing entity at its meetings when requested. Community- based counselors, or their supervisors, with assigned clients committed to institutions of the department shall periodically visit the institutions in order to counsel their clients and accomplish the duties as outlined in this subarticle.

(D) Recognizing the need to maintain autonomy and to provide a check and balance system, the parole board shall employ a director of parole and other staff necessary to carry out the duties of parole examinations, victim liaison, and revocation hearings. The director serves at the will and pleasure of the parole board. All staff are employees of the parole board and are directly responsible to the parole board both administratively and operationally. Funds allocated for the functions designated in this section must be incorporated as a line item within the department's budget and are subject to administrative control by the parole board.

(E) The department shall continue to provide the budgetary, fiscal, personnel, and training information resources and other support considered necessary by the parole board to perform its mandated functions.

SECTION 20-7-8320. Conditional release.

[Until April 1, 2007, this section reads as follows:]

(A) A juvenile who shall have been conditionally released from a correctional facility shall remain under the authority of the parole board until the expiration of the specified term imposed in the juvenile's conditional aftercare release. The specified period of conditional release may expire before but not after the twenty-first birthday of the juvenile. Each juvenile conditionally released is subject to the conditions and restrictions of the release and may at any time on the order of the parole board be returned to the custody of a correctional institution for violation of aftercare rules or conditions of release.

(B) As a condition of correctional release, the parole board may enforce participation in restitution, work ordered by the court, and community service programs established or approved by the Department of Juvenile Justice.

[From and after April 1, 2007, this section reads as follows:]

(A) A juvenile who shall have been conditionally released from a correctional facility shall remain under the authority of the releasing entity until the expiration of the specified term imposed in the juvenile's conditional aftercare release. The specified period of conditional release may expire before but not after the twenty-first birthday of the juvenile. Each juvenile conditionally released is subject to the conditions and restrictions of the release and may at any time on the order of the releasing entity be returned to the custody of a correctional institution for violation of aftercare rules or conditions of release.

(B) As a condition of release, the releasing entity may enforce participation in restitution, work ordered by the court, and community service programs established or approved by the Department of Juvenile Justice.

SECTION 20-7-8325. Violation of conditional release; authority of aftercare counselor to take juvenile into custody.

[Until April 1, 2007, this section reads as follows:]

(A) At any time during the period of conditional release, an aftercare counselor or the counselor's supervisor may issue or cause to be issued a warrant for the juvenile to be taken into custody for violating any of the conditions of the release. A police officer or other officer with power to arrest, upon request of an aftercare counselor, may take the juvenile into custody. The arresting officer shall obtain a warrant signed by the aftercare counselor setting forth that the juvenile, in the counselor's judgment, violated the conditions of the release which is authority for the detention of the juvenile in an appropriate place of detention. If an aftercare release revocation is necessary, the aftercare counselor shall submit in writing a thorough report to the parole board, showing in what manner the delinquent child has violated the conditional release. A child returned to the custody of a correctional school by aftercare revocation shall have a hearing or review of the child's case by the parole board. The parole board is the final authority to determine whether or not the child failed to abide by the aftercare rules and conditions of release.

(B) An aftercare counselor who has successfully completed Class I or II law enforcement officer training and received a certificate from the Department of Public Safety pursuant to the provisions of Article 9, Chapter 6 of Title 23 has the power, when commissioned by the department, to take a child conditionally released from the custody of the department and subject to the jurisdiction of the Board of Juvenile Parole into custody upon the issuance of a warrant for violating the conditions of his release.

[From and after April 1, 2007, this section is named "Conditional release violation; authority of aftercare counselor or probation or parole agent to take juvenile into custody" and reads as follows:]

(A) At any time during the period of conditional release, an aftercare counselor or the counselor's supervisor or a probation or parole agent may issue or cause to be issued a warrant for the juvenile to be taken into custody for violating any of the conditions of the release. A police officer or other officer with power to arrest, upon request of an aftercare counselor or a probation or parole agent, may take the juvenile into custody. The arresting officer shall obtain a warrant signed by the aftercare counselor or a probation or parole agent setting forth that the juvenile, in the counselor's judgment, violated the conditions of the release which is authority for the detention of the juvenile in an appropriate place of detention. If an aftercare release revocation is necessary, the aftercare counselor or a probation or parole agent shall submit in writing a thorough report to the releasing entity, showing in what manner the delinquent juvenile has violated the conditional release. A juvenile returned to the custody of a correctional school by aftercare revocation shall have a hearing or review of the juvenile's case by the releasing entity. The releasing entity is the final authority to determine whether or not the juvenile failed to abide by the aftercare rules and conditions of release.

(B) An aftercare counselor or probation or parole agent who has successfully completed Class I or II law enforcement officer training and received a certificate from the Department of Public Safety pursuant to the provisions of Article 9, Chapter 6 of Title 23 has the power, when commissioned by the department, to take a juvenile conditionally released from the custody of the department and subject to the jurisdiction of the releasing entity into custody upon the issuance of a warrant for violating the conditions of his release.

SECTION 20-7-8330. Revocation of conditional release after expiration of aftercare supervision.

The order of revocation of a conditional release may be issued and made effective after the period of aftercare supervision prescribed in the release has expired when the violations of the conditions or release occurred during the aftercare supervision period.

SECTION 20-7-8335. Probation counselors; authority to take juvenile into custody.

(A) To be eligible for appointment as a probation counselor, an applicant must possess:

(1) a college degree involving special training in the field of social science or its equivalent;

(2) a personality and character as would render the applicant suitable for the functions of the office.

(B) Probation counselors shall live in districts as determined by the director. Each counselor periodically shall visit the schools under the supervision of the Department of Juvenile Justice and become familiar with the records, background, and needs of the children and shall make periodic reports to the school.

(C)(1) The duties of probation counselors include:

(a) conducting an investigation of the child and the child's home as may be required by the court;

(b) being present in court at the hearing of cases;

(c) furnishing to the court information and assistance as the judge may require; and

(d) taking charge of a child before and after hearings as may be directed by the court.

(2) During the probationary period of a child and during the time that the child may be committed to an institution or to the care of an association or person for custodial or disciplinary purposes, the child is always subject to visitation by the probation counselors or other agents of the court.

(D) A probation counselor who has successfully completed Class I or II law enforcement officer training and received a certificate from the Department of Public Safety pursuant to the provisions of Article 9, Chapter 6 of Title 23 has the authority, when commissioned by the department, in the execution of his duties, to take a child under the jurisdiction of the family court into custody pursuant to an order issued by the court directing that the child be taken into custody.

(E) In the performance of the duties of probation, parole, community supervision, and investigation, the probation counselor is regarded as the official representative of the court, the department, and the Juvenile Parole Board.

SUBARTICLE 19.

JUVENILE RECORDS

SECTION 20-7-8505. Juvenile records; confidentiality.

The court shall make and keep records of all cases brought before it. The records of the court are confidential and open to inspection only by court order to persons having a legitimate interest in the records and to the extent necessary to respond to that legitimate interest. These records must always be available to the legal counsel of the child and are open to inspection without a court order where the records are necessary to defend against an action initiated by a child.

SECTION 20-7-8510. Confidentiality and exceptions; policies for transmission of information; inter-agency agreements; reports and recommendations by the department; notice to school principal; information provided to victims; privileges preserved.

(A) Except as provided herein, all information obtained and records prepared in the discharge of official duty by an employee of the court or department are confidential and must not be disclosed directly or indirectly to anyone, other than the judge, the child's attorney, or others entitled under this article or any other article to receive this information, unless otherwise ordered by the court. The court may order the records be disclosed to a person having a legitimate interest and to the extent necessary to respond to that legitimate interest. However, these records are open to inspection without a court order where the records are necessary to defend against an action initiated by a child.

(B) The director of the department must develop policies providing for the transmission of necessary and appropriate information to ensure the provision and coordination of services or assistance to a child under the custody or supervision of the department. This information must include that which is required for the admission or enrollment of a child into a program of services, treatment, training, or education. The information may be provided to another department or agency of state or local government, a school district, or a private institution or facility licensed by the State as a child-serving organization. This information may be summarized in accordance with agency policy.

(C) The director is authorized to enter into interagency agreements for purposes of sharing information about children under the supervision or in the custody of the department. The agencies entering into these agreements must maintain the confidentiality of the information.

(D) Reports and recommendations produced by the department for the court for the purpose of a dispositional hearing must be disseminated by the agency to the court, the solicitor, and the child's attorney.

(E)(1) The department must notify the principal of a school in which a child is enrolled, intends to be enrolled, or was last enrolled upon final disposition of a case in which the child is charged with any of the following offenses:

(a) a violent crime, as defined in Section 16-1-60;

(b) a crime in which a weapon, as defined in Section 59-63-370, was used;

(c) assault and battery against school personnel, as defined in Section 16-3-612;

(d) assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature committed on school grounds or at a school-sponsored event against any person affiliated with the school in an official capacity; or

(e) distribution or trafficking in unlawful drugs, as defined in Article 3, Chapter 53 of Title 44.

(2) Each school district is responsible for developing a policy for schools within the district to follow to ensure that the confidential nature of a child offense history and other information received is maintained. This policy must provide for, but is not limited to:

(a) the retention of the child offense history and other information relating to the child offense history in the child's school disciplinary file or in some other confidential location;

(b) the destruction of the child offense history upon the child's completion of secondary school or upon reaching twenty-one years of age; and

(c) limiting access to the child's school disciplinary file to school personnel. This access must only occur when necessary and appropriate to meet and adequately address the educational needs of the child.

(F) When requested, the department must provide the victim of a crime with the name of the child and the following information retained by the department concerning the child charged with the crime:

(1) other basic descriptive information, including but not limited to, a photograph;

(2) information about the juvenile justice system;

(3) the status and disposition of the delinquency action including hearing dates, times, and locations;

(4) services available to victims of child crime; and

(5) recommendations produced by the department for the court for the purpose of a dispositional hearing.

(G) The department or the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, or both, must provide to the Attorney General, a solicitor, or a law enforcement agency, upon request, a copy of a child offense history for criminal justice purposes. This information must not be disseminated except as authorized in Section 20-7-8515. The department and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division must maintain the child offense history of a person for the same period as for offenses committed by an adult.

(H) Other information retained by the department may be provided to the Attorney General, a solicitor, or a law enforcement agency pursuant to an ongoing criminal investigation or prosecution.

(I) The department may fingerprint and photograph a child upon the filing of a petition, release from detention, release on house arrest, or commitment to a juvenile correctional institution. Fingerprints and photographs taken by the department remain confidential and must not be transmitted to the State Law Enforcement Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or another agency or person, except for the purpose of:

(1) aiding the department in apprehending an escapee from the department;

(2) assisting the Missing Persons Information Center in the location or identification of a missing or runaway child;

(3) locating and identifying a child who fails to appear in court as summoned;

(4) locating a child who is the subject of a house arrest order; or

(5) as otherwise provided in this section.

(J) Nothing in this section shall be construed to waive any statutory or common law privileges attached to the department's internal reports or to information contained in the file of a child under the supervision or custody of the department.

SECTION 20-7-8515. Law enforcement records; confidentiality.

(A) Except as provided herein, law enforcement records and information identifying children pursuant to this article are confidential and may not be disclosed directly or indirectly to anyone, other than those entitled under this article to receive the information.

(B) Law enforcement records of children must be kept separate from records of adults. Information identifying a child must not be open to public inspection, but the remainder of these records are public records.

(C) Law enforcement agencies must maintain admission and release records on children held in secure custody, nonsecure custody, or both. The records must include the times and dates of admission and release from secure and nonsecure custody and, if appropriate, the times and dates of transfer from one custody status to another.

(D) Law enforcement information or records of children created pursuant to the provisions of this article may be shared among law enforcement agencies, solicitors' offices, the Attorney General, the department, the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Corrections, and the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services for criminal justice purposes without a court order.

(E) Incident reports in which a child is the subject are to be provided to the victim of a crime pursuant to Section 16-3-1520. Incident reports, including information identifying a child, must be provided by law enforcement to the principal of the school in which the child is enrolled when the child has been charged with any of the following offenses:

(1) a violent crime, as defined in Section 16-1-60;

(2) an offense that would carry a maximum term of imprisonment of fifteen years or more if committed by an adult;

(3) a crime in which a weapon, as defined in Section 59-63-370, was used;

(4) assault and battery against school personnel, as defined in Section 16-3-612;

(5) assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature committed on school grounds or at a school-sponsored event against any person affiliated with the school in an official capacity; or

(6) distribution or trafficking in unlawful drugs, as defined in Article 3, Chapter 53 of Title 44.

Incident reports involving other offenses must be provided upon request of the principal. This information must be maintained by the principal in the manner set forth in Section 20-7-8510(E) and must be forwarded with the child's permanent school records if the child transfers to another school or school district.

(F) A child charged with any offense may be photographed by the law enforcement agency that takes the child into custody. If the child is taken into secure custody and detained, the detention facility must photograph the child upon admission. These photographs may only be disseminated for criminal justice purposes or to assist the Missing Persons Information Center in the location or identification of a missing or runaway child.

(G) A child charged with an offense that would carry a maximum term of imprisonment of five years or more if committed by an adult must be fingerprinted by the law enforcement agency that takes the child into custody. If the child is taken into secure custody and detained, the detention facility must fingerprint the child upon admission. In addition, a law enforcement agency may petition the court for an order to fingerprint a child when:

(1) the child is charged with any other offense; or

(2) the law enforcement agency has probable cause to suspect the child of committing any offense.

(H) The fingerprint records of a child must be kept separate from the fingerprint records of adults. The fingerprint records of a child must be transmitted to the files of the State Law Enforcement Division.

(I) The fingerprint records of a child may be transmitted by the State Law Enforcement Division to the files of the Federal Bureau of Investigation only when the child has been adjudicated delinquent for having committed an offense that would carry a maximum term of imprisonment of five years or more if committed by an adult.

(J) The fingerprint records of a child adjudicated delinquent for an offense that would carry a maximum term of imprisonment of five years or more if committed by an adult must be provided by the State Law Enforcement Division or the law enforcement agency who took the child into custody to a law enforcement agency upon request by that agency for criminal justice purposes or to assist the Missing Person Information Center in the location or identification of a missing or runaway child.

(K) The fingerprints and any record created by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division as a result of the receipt of fingerprints of a child pursuant to this section must not be disclosed for any purpose not specifically authorized by law or court order.

(L) Upon notification that a child has not been adjudicated delinquent for an offense that would carry a maximum term of imprisonment of five years or more if committed by an adult, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the law enforcement agency who took the child into custody must destroy the fingerprints and all records created as a result of such information.

SECTION 20-7-8520. Release of information about children under certain circumstances.

(A) The name, identity, or picture of a child under the jurisdiction of the court, pursuant to this chapter, must not be provided to a newspaper or radio or television station unless:

(1) authorized by court order;

(2) the solicitor has petitioned the court to waive the child to circuit court;

(3) the child has been bound over to a court which would have jurisdiction of the offense if committed by an adult; or

(4) the child has been adjudicated delinquent in court for one of the following offenses:

(a) a violent crime, as defined in Section 16-1-60;

(b) grand larceny of a motor vehicle;

(c) a crime in which a weapon, as defined in Section 59-63-370, was used; or

(d) distribution or trafficking in unlawful drugs, as defined in Article 3, Chapter 53 of Title 44.

(B) When a child is bound over to the jurisdiction of the circuit court, the provisions of this section pertaining to the confidentiality of fingerprints and identity do not apply.

(C) The provisions of this section do not prohibit the distribution of information pursuant to the provisions of Article 7, Chapter 3 of Title 23.

SECTION 20-7-8525. Petition for destruction of records.

(A) A person who has been taken into custody for, charged with, or adjudicated delinquent for having committed a status or a nonviolent offense may petition the court for an order destroying all official records relating to:

(1) being taken into custody;

(2) the charges filed against the child;

(3) the adjudication; and

(4) disposition.

The granting of the order is in the court's discretion. However, a person may not petition the court if he has a prior adjudication for an offense that would carry a maximum term of imprisonment of five years or more if committed by an adult. In addition, the court must not grant the order unless it finds that the person who is seeking to have the records destroyed is at least eighteen years of age, has successfully completed any dispositional sentence imposed, and has not been subsequently charged with any criminal offense.

(B) An adjudication for a violent crime, as defined in Section 16-1-60, must not be expunged.

(C) If the expungement order is granted by the court, no evidence of the records may be retained by any law enforcement agency or by any municipal, county, state agency, or department. The effect of the order is to restore the person in the contemplation of the law to the status the person occupied before being taken into custody. No person to whom the order has been entered may be held thereafter under any provision of any law to be guilty of perjury or otherwise giving false statement by reason of failing to recite or acknowledge the charge or adjudication in response to an inquiry made of the person for any purpose.

(D) For purposes of this section, an adjudication is considered a previous adjudication only if it occurred prior to the date the subsequent offense was committed.

SUBARTICLE 21.

INTERSTATE COMPACT ON JUVENILES



SECTION 20-7-8705. Interstate Compact on Juveniles.

Repealed by 2006 Act No. 305, Section 2, upon formation of "The Interstate Compact for Juveniles" [see Section 20-7-8800]

The State of South Carolina hereby contracts to enter into the "Interstate Compact on Juveniles" according to the terms set forth in this subarticle and solemnly agrees:

Subsection 1. That juveniles who are not under proper supervision and control, or who have absconded, escaped or run away, are likely to endanger their own health, morals and welfare, and the health, morals and welfare of others. The cooperation of the states party to this compact is therefore necessary to provide for the welfare and protection of juveniles and of the public with respect to (1) cooperative supervision of delinquent juveniles on probation or parole; (2) the return, from one state to another, of delinquent juveniles who have escaped or absconded; (3) the return from one state to another of nondelinquent juveniles who have run away from home; and (4) additional measures for the protection of juveniles and of the public, which any two or more of the party states may find desirable to undertake cooperatively. In carrying out the provisions of this compact the party states shall be guided by the noncriminal, reformative, and protective policies which guide their laws concerning delinquent, neglected, or dependent juveniles generally. It shall be the policy of the states party to this compact to cooperate and observe their respective responsibilities for the prompt return and acceptance of juveniles and delinquent juveniles who become subject to the provisions of this compact. The provisions of this compact shall be reasonably and liberally construed to accomplish the foregoing purposes.

Subsection 2. That all remedies and procedures provided by this compact shall be in addition to and not in substitution for other rights, remedies and procedures, and shall not be in derogation of parental rights and responsibilities.

Subsection 3. That, for the purposes of this compact, "delinquent juvenile" means any juvenile who has been adjudged delinquent and who, at the time the provisions of this compact are invoked, is still subject to the jurisdiction of the court that has made such adjudication or to the jurisdiction or supervision of an agency or institution pursuant to an order of such court; "probation or parole" means any kind of conditional release of juveniles authorized under the laws of the states party hereto; "court" means any court having jurisdiction over delinquent, neglected or dependent children; "state" means any state, territory or possession of the United States, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; and "residence" or any variant thereof means a place at which a home or regular place of abode is maintained.

Subsection 4. (a) That the parent, guardian, person or agency entitled to legal custody of a juvenile who has not been adjudged delinquent but who has run away without the consent of such parent, guardian, person or agency may petition the appropriate court in the demanding state for the issuance of a requisition for his return. The petition shall state the name and age of the juvenile, the name of the petitioner, and the basis of entitlement to the juvenile's custody, the circumstances of his running away, his location if known at the time application is made, and such other facts as may tend to show that the juvenile who has run away is endangering his own welfare or the welfare of others and is not an emancipated minor. The petition shall be verified by affidavit, shall be executed in duplicate, and shall be accompanied by two certified copies of the document or documents on which the petitioner's entitlement to the juvenile's custody is based, such as birth certificates, letters of guardianship, or custody decrees. Such further affidavits and other documents as may be deemed proper may be submitted with such petition. The judge of the court to which this application is made may hold a hearing thereon to determine whether for the purposes of this compact the petitioner is entitled to the legal custody of the juvenile, whether or not it appears that the juvenile has in fact run away without consent, whether or not he is an emancipated minor, and whether or not it is in the best interest of the juvenile to compel his return to the state. If the judge determines, either with or without a hearing, that the juvenile should be returned, he shall present to the appropriate court or to the executive authority of the state where the juvenile is alleged to be located a written requisition for the return of such juvenile. Such requisition shall set forth the name and age of the juvenile, the determination of the court that the juvenile has run away without the consent of a parent, guardian, person or agency entitled to his legal custody, and that it is in the best interest and for the protection of such juvenile that he be returned. In the event that a proceeding for the adjudication of the juvenile as a delinquent, neglected or dependent juvenile is pending in the court at the time when such juvenile runs away, the court may issue a requisition for the return of such juvenile upon its own motion, regardless of the consent of the parent, guardian, person or agency entitled to legal custody, reciting therein the nature and circumstances of the pending proceeding. The requisition shall in every case be executed in duplicate and shall be signed by the judge. One copy of the requisition shall be filed with the compact administrator of the demanding state, there to remain on file subject to the provisions of law governing records of such court. Upon the receipt of a requisition demanding the return of a juvenile who has run away, the court or the executive authority to whom the requisition is addressed shall issue an order to any peace officer or other appropriate person directing him to take into custody and detain such juvenile. Such detention order must substantially recite the facts necessary to the validity of its issuance hereunder. No juvenile detained upon such order shall be delivered over to the officer whom the court demanding him shall have appointed to receive him, unless he shall first be taken forthwith before a judge of a court in the state, who shall inform him of the demand made for his return, and who may appoint counsel or guardian ad litem for him. If the judge of such court shall find that the requisition is in order, he shall deliver such juvenile over to the officer whom the court demanding him shall have appointed to receive him. The judge, however, may fix a reasonable time to be allowed for the purpose of testing the legality of the proceeding.

Upon reasonable information that a person is a juvenile who has run away from another state party to this compact without the consent of a parent, guardian, person or agency entitled to his legal custody, such juvenile may be taken into custody without a requisition and brought forthwith before a judge of the appropriate court who may appoint counsel or guardian ad litem for such juvenile and who shall determine after a hearing whether sufficient cause exists to hold the person, subject to the order of the court, for his own protection and welfare, for such a time not exceeding ninety days as will enable his return to another state party to this compact pursuant to a requisition for his return from a court of that state. If, at the time when a state seeks the return of a juvenile who has run away, there is pending in the state wherein he is found any criminal charge, or any proceeding to have him adjudicated a delinquent juvenile for an act committed in such state, or if he is suspected of having committed within such state a criminal offense or an act of juvenile delinquency, he shall not be returned without the consent of such state until discharged from prosecution or other form of proceeding, imprisonment, detention or supervision for such offense or juvenile delinquency. The duly accredited officers of any state party to this compact, upon the establishment of their authority and the identity of the juvenile being returned, shall be permitted to transport such juvenile through any and all states party to this compact, without interference. Upon his return to the state from which he ran away, the juvenile shall be subject to such further proceedings as may be appropriate under the laws of that state.

(b) That the state to which a juvenile is returned under this subsection shall be responsible for payment of the transportation costs of such return.

(c) That "juvenile", as used in this subsection, means any person who is a minor under the law of the state of residence of the parent, guardian, person or agency entitled to the legal custody of such minor.

Subsection 5. (a) That the appropriate person or authority from whose probation or parole supervision a delinquent juvenile has absconded, or from whose institutional custody he has escaped, shall present to the appropriate court or to the executive authority of the state where the delinquent juvenile is alleged to be located a written requisition for the return of such delinquent juvenile. Such requisition shall state the name and age of the delinquent juvenile, the particulars of his adjudication as a delinquent juvenile, the circumstances of the breach of the terms of his probation or parole or of his escape from an institution or agency vested with his legal custody or supervision, and the location of such delinquent juvenile, if known, at the time the requisition is made. The requisition shall be verified by affidavit, shall be executed in duplicate, and shall be accompanied by two certified copies of the judgment, formal adjudication, or order of commitment which subjects such delinquent juvenile to probation or parole or to the legal custody of the institution or agency concerned. Such further affidavits and other documents as may be deemed proper may be submitted with such requisition. One copy of the requisition shall be filed with the compact administrator of the demanding state, there to remain on file subject to the provisions of law governing records of the appropriate court. Upon the receipt of a requisition demanding the return of a delinquent juvenile who has absconded or escaped, the court or the executive authority to whom the requisition is addressed shall issue an order to any peace officer or other appropriate person directing him to take into custody and detain such delinquent juvenile. Such detention order must substantially recite the facts necessary to the validity of its issuance hereunder. No delinquent juvenile detained upon such order shall be delivered over to the officer whom the appropriate person or authority demanding him shall have appointed to receive him, unless he shall first be taken forthwith before a judge of an appropriate court in the state, who shall inform him of the demand made for his return and who may appoint counsel or guardian ad litem for him. If the judge of such court shall find that the requisition is in order, he shall deliver such delinquent juvenile over to the officer whom the appropriate person or authority demanding him shall have appointed to receive him. The judge, however, may fix a reasonable time to be allowed for the purpose of testing the legality of the proceeding.

Upon reasonable information that a person is a delinquent juvenile who has absconded while on probation or parole, or escaped from an institution or agency vested with his legal custody or supervision in any state party to this compact, such person may be taken into custody in any other state party to this compact without a requisition. But in such event, he must be taken forthwith before a judge of the appropriate court, who may appoint counsel or guardian ad litem for such person and who shall determine, after a hearing, whether sufficient cause exists to hold the person subject to the order of the court for such a time, not exceeding ninety days, as will enable his detention under a detention order issued on a requisition pursuant to this subsection. If, at the time when a state seeks the return of a delinquent juvenile who has either absconded while on probation or parole or escaped from an institution or agency vested with his legal custody or supervision, there is pending in the state wherein he is detained any criminal charge or any proceeding to have him adjudicated a delinquent juvenile for an act committed in such state, or if he is suspected of having committed within such state a criminal offense or an act of juvenile delinquency, he shall not be returned without the consent of such state until discharged from prosecution or other form of proceeding, imprisonment, detention or supervision for such offense or juvenile delinquency. The duly accredited officers of any state party to this compact, upon the establishment of their authority and the identity of the delinquent juvenile being returned, shall be permitted to transport such delinquent juvenile through any and all states party to this compact, without interference. Upon his return to the state from which he escaped or absconded, the delinquent juvenile shall be subject to such further proceedings as may be appropriate under the laws of that state.

(b) That the state to which a delinquent juvenile is returned under this subsection shall be responsible for the payment of the transportation costs of such return.

Subsection 6. That any delinquent juvenile who has absconded while on probation or parole, or escaped from an institution or agency vested with his legal custody or supervision in any state party to this compact, and any juvenile who has run away from any state party to this compact, who is taken into custody without a requisition in another state party to this compact under the provisions of subsection 4(a) or of subsection 5(a), may consent to his immediate return to the state from which he absconded, escaped, or ran away. Such consent shall be given by the juvenile or delinquent juvenile and his counsel or guardian ad litem, if any, by executing or subscribing a writing, in the presence of a judge of the appropriate court, which states that the juvenile or delinquent juvenile and his counsel or guardian ad litem, if any, consent to his return to the demanding state. Before such consent shall be executed or subscribed, however, the judge, in the presence of counsel or guardian ad litem, if any, shall inform the juvenile or delinquent juvenile of his rights under this compact. When the consent has been duly executed, it shall be forwarded to and filed with the compact administrator of the state in which the court is located, and the judge shall direct the officer having the juvenile or delinquent juvenile in custody to deliver him to the duly accredited officer or officers of the state demanding his return, and shall cause to be delivered to such officer or officers a copy of the consent. The court may, however, upon the request of the state to which the juvenile or delinquent juvenile is being returned, order him to return unaccompanied to such state and shall provide him with a copy of such court order; in such event a copy of the consent shall be forwarded to the compact administrator of the state to which such juvenile or delinquent juvenile is ordered to return.

Subsection 7. (a) That the duly constituted judicial and administrative authorities of a state party to this company [compact] (herein called "sending state") may permit any delinquent juvenile within such state, placed on probation or parole, to reside in any other state party to this company [compact] (herein called "receiving state") while on probation or parole, and the receiving state shall accept such delinquent juvenile, if the parent, guardian or person entitled to the legal custody of such delinquent juvenile is residing or undertakes to reside within the receiving state. Before granting such permission, opportunity shall be given to the receiving state to make such investigations as it deems necessary. The authorities of the sending state shall send to the authorities of the receiving state copies of pertinent court orders, social case studies, and all other available information which may be of value to and assist the receiving state in supervising a probationer or parolee under this compact. A receiving state, in its discretion, may agree to accept supervision of a probationer or parolee in cases where the parent, guardian, or person entitled to the legal custody of the delinquent juvenile is not a resident of the receiving state, and if so accepted the sending state may transfer supervision accordingly.

(b) That each receiving state will assume the duties of visitation and of supervision over any such delinquent juvenile and in the exercise of those duties will be governed by the same standards of visitation and supervision that prevail for its own delinquent juveniles released on probation or parole.

(c) That, after consultation between the appropriate authorities of the sending state and of the receiving state as to the desirability and necessity of returning such a delinquent juvenile, the duly accredited officers of a sending state may enter a receiving state and there apprehend and retake any such delinquent juvenile on probation or parole. For that purpose, no formalities will be required, other than establishing the authority of the officer and the identity of the delinquent juvenile to be retaken and returned. The decision of the sending state to retake a delinquent juvenile on probation or parole shall be conclusive upon and not reviewable within the receiving state, but if, at the time the sending state seeks to retake a delinquent juvenile on probation or parole, there is pending against him within the receiving state any criminal charge or any proceeding to have him adjudicated a delinquent juvenile for any act committed in such state or if he is suspected of having committed within such state a criminal offense or an act of juvenile delinquency, he shall not be returned without the consent of the receiving state until discharged from prosecution or other form of proceeding, imprisonment, detention or supervision for such offense or juvenile delinquency. The duly accredited officers of the sending state shall be permitted to transport delinquent juveniles being so returned through any and all states party to this compact, without interference.

(d) That the sending state shall be responsible under this subsection for paying the costs of transporting any delinquent juvenile to the receiving state or of returning any delinquent juvenile to the sending state.

Subsection 8. (a) That the provisions of item (b) of subsection 4 and item (b) of subsection 5 and item (d) of subsection 7 of this compact shall not be construed to alter or affect any internal relationship among the departments, agencies and offices of and in the government of a party state, or between a party state and its subdivisions, as to the payment of costs, or responsibilities therefor.

(b) That nothing in this compact shall be construed to prevent any party state or subdivision thereof from asserting any right against any person, agency or other entity in regard to costs for which such party state or subdivision thereof may be responsible pursuant to item (b) of subsection 4 and item (b) of subsection 5 and item (d) of subsection 7 of this compact.

Subsection 9. That, to every extent possible, it shall be the policy of states party to this compact that no juvenile or delinquent juvenile shall be placed or detained in any prison, jail, or lockup nor be detained or transported in association with criminal, vicious, or dissolute persons.

Subsection 10. That the duly constituted administrative authorities of a state party to this compact may enter into supplementary agreements with any other state or states party hereto for the cooperative care, treatment, and rehabilitation of delinquent juveniles whenever they shall find that such agreements will improve the facilities or programs available for such care, treatment, and rehabilitation. Such care, treatment, and rehabilitation may be provided in an institution located within any state entering into such supplementary agreement. Such supplementary agreements shall:

(1) provide the rates to be paid for the care, treatment, and custody of such delinquent juveniles, taking into consideration the character of facilities, services, and subsistence furnished;

(2) provide that the delinquent juvenile shall be given a court hearing prior to his being sent to another state for care, treatment, and custody;

(3) provide that the state receiving such a delinquent juvenile in one of its institutions shall act solely as agent for the state sending such delinquent juvenile;

(4) provide that the sending state shall at all times retain jurisdiction over delinquent juveniles sent to an institution in another state;

(5) provide for reasonable inspection of such institutions by the sending state;

(6) provide that the consent of the parent, guardian, person or agency entitled to the legal custody of such delinquent juvenile shall be secured prior to his being sent to another state; and

(7) make provision for such other matters and details as shall be necessary to protect the rights and equities of such delinquent juveniles and of the cooperating states.

Subsection 11. That any state party to this compact may accept any and all donations, gifts, and grants of money, equipment and services from the federal or any local government, or any agency thereof, and from any person, firm, or corporation, for any of the purposes and functions of this compact, and may receive and utilize the same subject to the terms, conditions, and regulations governing such donations, gifts, and grants.

Subsection 12. That the governor of each state party to this compact shall designate an officer who, acting jointly with like officers of other party states, shall promulgate rules and regulations to carry out more effectively the terms and provisions of this compact.

Subsection 13. That this compact shall become operative immediately upon its execution by any state as between it and any other state or states so executing. When executed, it shall have the full force and effect of law within such state, the form or execution to be in accordance with the laws of the executing state.

Subsection 14. That this compact shall continue in force and remain binding upon each executing state until renounced by it. Renunciation of this compact shall be by the same authority which executed it, by sending six months' notice in writing of its intention to withdraw from the compact to the other states party hereto. The duties and obligations of a renouncing state under subsection 7 hereof shall continue as to parolees and probationers residing therein at the time of withdrawal until retaken or finally discharged. Supplementary agreements entered into under subsection 10 hereof shall be subject to renunciation as provided by such supplementary agreements, and shall not be subject to the six months' renunciation notice of the present subsection.

Subsection 15. This subsection provides remedies, and is binding only among those party states which specifically execute this subarticle.

All provisions and procedures of subsections 5 and 6 of the Interstate Compact on Juveniles shall be construed to apply to any juvenile charged with being a delinquent by reason of a violation of any criminal law. Any juvenile, charged with being a delinquent by reason of violating any criminal law, must be returned to the requesting state upon a requisition to the state where the juvenile may be found. A petition in this case must be filed in a court of competent jurisdiction in the requesting state where the violation of criminal law is alleged to have been committed. The petition may be filed regardless of whether the juvenile has left the State before or after the filing of the petition. The requisition described in subsection 5 of the Interstate Compact on Juveniles must be forwarded by the judge of the court in which the petition has been filed.

Subsection 16. This subsection provides additional remedies, and is binding only among those party states which specifically execute this subarticle.

For purposes of this subsection, "child" means any minor within the jurisdictional age limits of any court in the home state.

When any child is brought before a court of a state of which the child is not a resident, and the state is willing to permit the child's return to the child's home state, the home state, upon being so advised by the state in which the proceeding is pending, must immediately institute proceedings to determine the residence and jurisdictional facts as to the child in the home state. Upon finding that the child is in fact a resident of the home state and subject to the jurisdiction of the court of the home state, the home state must within five days authorize the return of the child to the home state, and to the parent or custodial agency legally authorized to accept custody in the home state. The home state must pay the expenses for the return of the child.

SUBARTICLE 22.

INTERSTATE COMPACT FOR JUVENILES



SECTION 20-7-8800. Interstate Compact for Juveniles.

The State of South Carolina hereby contracts to enter into the "Interstate Compact for Juveniles" according to the terms and in the form substantially as follows:

Article I

Purpose

The compacting states to this Interstate Compact recognize that each state is responsible for the proper supervision or return of juveniles, delinquents, and status offenders who are on probation or parole and who have absconded, escaped, or run away from supervision and control and in so doing have endangered their own safety and the safety of others. The compacting states also recognize that each state is responsible for the safe return of juveniles who have run away from home and in doing so have left their state of residence. The compacting states also recognize that Congress, by enacting the Crime Control Act, 4 U.S.C. Section 112 (1965), has authorized and encouraged compacts for cooperative efforts and mutual assistance in the prevention of crime.

It is the purpose of this compact, through means of joint and cooperative action among the compacting states to:

(A) ensure that the adjudicated juveniles and status offenders subject to this compact are provided adequate supervision and services in the receiving state as ordered by the adjudicating judge or parole authority in the sending state;

(B) ensure that the public safety interests of the citizens, including the victims of juvenile offenders, in both the sending and receiving states are adequately protected;

(C) return juveniles who have run away, absconded, or escaped from supervision or control or have been accused of an offense to the state requesting their return;

(D) make contracts for the cooperative institutionalization in public facilities in member states for delinquent youth needing special services;

(E) provide for the effective tracking and supervision of juveniles;

(F) equitably allocate the costs, benefits, and obligations of the compacting states;

(G) establish procedures to manage the movement between states of juvenile offenders released to the community under the jurisdiction of courts, juvenile departments, or any other criminal or juvenile justice agency which has jurisdiction over juvenile offenders;

(H) insure immediate notice to jurisdictions where defined offenders are authorized to travel or to relocate across state lines;

(I) establish procedures to resolve pending charges (detainers) against juvenile offenders prior to transfer or release to the community under the terms of this compact;

(J) establish a system of uniform data collection on information pertaining to juveniles subject to this compact that allows access by authorized juvenile justice and criminal justice officials, and regular reporting of compact activities to heads of state executive, judicial, and legislative branches and juvenile and criminal justice administrators;

(K) monitor compliance with rules governing interstate movement of juveniles and initiate interventions to address and correct noncompliance;

(L) coordinate training and education regarding the regulation of interstate movement of juveniles for officials involved in such activity; and

(M) coordinate the implementation and operation of the compact with the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children, the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision, and other compacts affecting juveniles particularly in those cases where concurrent or overlapping supervision issues arise. It is the policy of the compacting states that the activities conducted by the Interstate Commission created herein are the formation of public policies and therefore are public business. Furthermore, the compacting states shall cooperate and observe their individual and collective duties and responsibilities for the prompt return and acceptance of juveniles subject to the provisions of this compact. The provisions of this compact shall be reasonably and liberally construed to accomplish the purposes and policies of the compact.

Article II

Definitions

As used in this compact, unless the context clearly requires a different construction:

A. "By-laws" means those by-laws established by the Interstate Commission for its governance, or for directing or controlling its actions or conduct.

B. "Compact administrator" means the individual in each compacting state appointed pursuant to the terms of this compact, responsible for the administration and management of the state's supervision and transfer of juveniles subject to the terms of this compact, the rules adopted by the Interstate Commission.

C. "Compacting state" means any state which has enacted the enabling legislation for this compact.

D. "Commissioner" means the voting representative of each compacting state appointed pursuant to Article III of this compact.

E. "Court" means any court having jurisdiction over delinquent, neglected, or dependent children.

F. "Deputy compact administrator" means the individual, if any, in each compacting state appointed to act on behalf of a compact administrator pursuant to the terms of this compact responsible for the administration and management of the state's supervision and transfer of juveniles subject to the terms of this compact, the rules adopted by the Interstate Commission, and policies adopted by the state council under this compact.

G. "Interstate Commission" means the Interstate Commission for Juveniles created by Article III of this compact.

H. "Juvenile" means any person defined as a juvenile in any member state or by the rules of the Interstate Commission, including:

(1) accused delinquent - a person charged with an offense that, if committed by an adult, would be a criminal offense;

(2) adjudicated delinquent - a person found to have committed an offense that, if committed by an adult, would be a criminal offense;

(3) accused status offender - a person charged with an offense that would not be a criminal offense if committed by an adult;

(4) adjudicated status offender - a person found to have committed an offense that would not be a criminal offense if committed by an adult; and

(5) nonoffender - a person in need of supervision who has not been accused or adjudicated a status offender or delinquent.

I. "Noncompacting state" means any state which has not enacted the enabling legislation for this compact.

J. "Probation or parole" means any kind of supervision or conditional release of juveniles authorized under the laws of the compacting states.

K. "Rule" means a written statement by the Interstate Commission promulgated pursuant to Article VI of this compact that is of general applicability, implements, interprets, or prescribes a policy or provision of the compact, or an organizational, procedural, or practice requirement of the commission, and has the force and effect of statutory law in a compacting state, and includes the amendment, repeal, or suspension of an existing rule.

L. "State" means a state of the United States, the District of Columbia (or its designee), the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Marianas Islands.

Article III

Interstate Commission for Juveniles

A. The compacting states hereby create the "Interstate Commission for Juveniles". The commission shall be a body corporate and joint agency of the compacting states. The commission shall have all the responsibilities, powers, and duties set forth herein, and such additional powers as may be conferred upon it by subsequent action of the respective legislatures of the compacting states in accordance with the terms of this compact.

B. The Interstate Commission shall consist of commissioners appointed by the appropriate appointing authority in each state pursuant to the rules and requirements of each compacting state and in consultation with the State Council for Interstate Juvenile Supervision created hereunder. The commissioner shall be the compact administrator, deputy compact administrator, or designee from that state who shall serve on the Interstate Commission in such capacity under or pursuant to the applicable law of the compacting state.

C. In addition to the commissioners who are the voting representatives of each state, the Interstate Commission shall include individuals who are not commissioners, but who are members of interested organizations. Such noncommissioner members must include a member of the national organizations of governors, legislators, state chief justices, attorneys general, Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision, Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children, juvenile justice and juvenile corrections officials, and crime victims. All noncommissioner members of the Interstate Commission shall be ex-officio (nonvoting) members. The Interstate Commission may provide in its by-laws for such additional ex-officio (nonvoting) members, including members of other national organizations, in such numbers as shall be determined by the commission.

D. Each compacting state represented at any meeting of the commission is entitled to one vote. A majority of the compacting states shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business, unless a larger quorum is required by the by-laws of the Interstate Commission.

E. The commission shall meet at least once each calendar year. The chairperson may call additional meetings and, upon the request of a simple majority of the compacting states, shall call additional meetings. Public notice shall be given of all meetings and meetings shall be open to the public.

F. The Interstate Commission shall establish an executive committee, which shall include commission officers, members, and others as determined by the by-laws. The executive committee shall have the power to act on behalf of the Interstate Commission during periods when the Interstate Commission is not in session, with the exception of rulemaking and/or amendment to the compact. The executive committee shall oversee the day-to- day activities of the administration of the compact managed by an executive director and Interstate Commission staff; administers enforcement and compliance with the provisions of the compact, its by-laws and rules, and performs such other duties as directed by the Interstate Commission or set forth in the by-laws.

G. Each member of the Interstate Commission shall have the right and power to cast a vote to which that compacting state is entitled and to participate in the business and affairs of the Interstate Commission. A member shall vote in person and shall not delegate a vote to another compacting state. However, a commissioner, in consultation with the state council, shall appoint another authorized representative, in the absence of the commissioner from that state, to cast a vote on behalf of the compacting state at a specified meeting. The by-laws may provide for members' participation in meetings by telephone or other means of telecommunication or electronic communication.

H. The Interstate Commission's by-laws shall establish conditions and procedures under which the Interstate Commission shall make its information and official records available to the public for inspection or copying. The Interstate Commission may exempt from disclosure any information or official records to the extent they would adversely affect personal privacy rights or proprietary interests.

I. Public notice shall be given of all meetings and all meetings shall be open to the public, except as set forth in the rules or as otherwise provided in the compact. The Interstate Commission and any of its committees may close a meeting to the public where it determines by two-thirds vote that an open meeting would be likely to:

1. relate solely to the Interstate Commission's internal personnel practices and procedures;

2. disclose matters specifically exempted from disclosure by statute;

3. disclose trade secrets or commercial or financial information which is privileged or confidential;

4. involve accusing any person of a crime, or formally censuring any person;

5. disclose information of a personal nature where disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;

6. disclose investigative records compiled for law enforcement purposes;

7. disclose information contained in or related to examination, operating, or condition reports prepared by, or on behalf of or for the use of, the Interstate Commission with respect to a regulated person or entity for the purpose of regulation or supervision of such person or entity;

8. disclose information, the premature disclosure of which would significantly endanger the stability of a regulated person or entity; or

9. specifically relate to the Interstate Commission's issuance of a subpoena, or its participation in a civil action or other legal proceeding.

J. For every meeting closed pursuant to this provision, the Interstate Commission's legal counsel shall publicly certify that, in the legal counsel's opinion, the meeting may be closed to the public, and shall reference each relevant exemptive provision. The Interstate Commission shall keep minutes which shall fully and clearly describe all matters discussed in any meeting and shall provide a full and accurate summary of any actions taken, and the reasons therefor, including a description of each of the views expressed on any item and the record of any roll call vote (reflected in the vote of each member on the question). All documents considered in connection with any action shall be identified in such minutes.

K. The Interstate Commission shall collect standardized data concerning the interstate movement of juveniles as directed through its rules which shall specify the data to be collected, the means of collection, and data exchange and reporting requirements. Such methods of data collection, exchange and reporting shall insofar as is reasonably possible conform to up-to-date technology and coordinate its information functions with the appropriate repository of records.

Article IV

Powers and Duties of the Interstate Commission

The commission shall have the following powers and duties to:

1. provide for dispute resolution among compacting states;

2. promulgate rules to effect the purposes and obligations as enumerated in this compact, which shall have the force and effect of statutory law and shall be binding in the compacting states to the extent and in the manner provided in this compact;

3. oversee, supervise, and coordinate the interstate movement of juveniles subject to the terms of this compact and any by-laws adopted and rules promulgated by the Interstate Commission;

4. enforce compliance with the compact provisions, the rules promulgated by the Interstate Commission, and the by-laws, using all necessary and proper means, including, but not limited to, the use of judicial process;

5. establish and maintain offices which shall be located within one or more of the compacting states;

6. purchase and maintain insurance and bonds;

7. borrow, accept, hire, or contract for services of personnel;

8. establish and appoint committees and hire staff which it deems necessary for the carrying out of its functions including, but not limited to, an executive committee as required by Article III which shall have the power to act on behalf of the Interstate Commission in carrying out its powers and duties hereunder;

9. elect or appoint such officers, attorneys, employees, agents, or consultants, and to fix their compensation, define their duties, and determine their qualifications; and to establish the Interstate Commission's personnel policies and programs relating to, inter alia, conflicts of interest, rates of compensation, and qualifications of personnel;

10. accept any and all donations and grants of money, equipment, supplies, materials, and services, and to receive, utilize, and dispose of it;

11. lease, purchase, accept contributions or donations of, or otherwise to own, hold, improve, or use any property, real, personal, or mixed;

12. sell, convey, mortgage, pledge, lease, exchange, abandon, or otherwise dispose of any property, real, personal, or mixed;

13. establish a budget and make expenditures and levy dues as provided in Article VIII of this compact;

14. sue and be sued;

15. adopt a seal and by-laws governing the management and operation of the Interstate Commission;

16. perform such functions as may be necessary or appropriate to achieve the purposes of this compact;

17. report annually to the legislatures, governors, judiciary, and state councils of the compacting states concerning the activities of the Interstate Commission during the preceding year. Such reports shall also include any recommendations that may have been adopted by the Interstate Commission;

18. coordinate education, training, and public awareness regarding the interstate movement of juveniles for officials involved in such activity;

19. establish uniform standards of the reporting, collecting, and exchanging of data; and

20. maintain its corporate books and records in accordance with the by- laws.

Article V

Organization and Operation of the Interstate Commission

A. By-laws

1. The Interstate Commission shall, by a majority of the members present and voting, within twelve months after the first Interstate Commission meeting, adopt by-laws to govern its conduct as may be necessary or appropriate to carry out the purposes of the compact including, but not limited to:

a. establishing the fiscal year of the Interstate Commission;

b. establishing an executive committee and such other committees as may be necessary;

c. providing for the establishment of committees governing any general or specific delegation of any authority or function of the Interstate Commission;

d. providing reasonable procedures for calling and conducting meetings of the Interstate Commission, and ensuring reasonable notice of each such meeting;

e. establishing the titles and responsibilities of the officers of the Interstate Commission;

f. providing a mechanism for concluding the operations of the Interstate Commission and the return of any surplus funds that may exist upon the termination of the compact after the payment and/or reserving of all of its debts and obligations;

g. providing "start-up" rules for initial administration of the compact; and

h. establishing standards and procedures for compliance and technical assistance in carrying out the compact.

B. Officers and Staff

1. The Interstate Commission shall, by a majority of the members, elect annually from among its members a chairperson and a vice chairperson, each of whom shall have such authority and duties as may be specified in the by-laws. The chairperson or, in the chairperson's absence or disability, the vice chairperson shall preside at all meetings of the Interstate Commission. The officers so elected shall serve without compensation or remuneration from the Interstate Commission; provided that, subject to the availability of budgeted funds, the officers shall be reimbursed for any ordinary and necessary costs and expenses incurred by them in the performance of their duties and responsibilities as officers of the Interstate Commission.

2. The Interstate Commission shall, through its executive committee, appoint or retain an executive director for such period, upon such terms and conditions and for such compensation as the Interstate Commission may deem appropriate. The executive director shall serve as secretary to the Interstate Commission, but shall not be a member and shall hire and supervise such other staff as may be authorized by the Interstate Commission.

C. Qualified Immunity, Defense, and Indemnification

1. The commission's executive director and employees shall be immune from suit and liability, either personally or in their official capacity, for any claim for damage to or loss of property or personal injury or other civil liability caused or arising out of or relating to any actual or alleged act, error, or omission that occurred, or that such person had a reasonable basis for believing occurred within the scope of commission employment, duties, or responsibilities; provided, that any such person shall not be protected from suit or liability for any damage, loss, injury, or liability caused by the intentional or willful and wanton misconduct of any such person.

2. The liability of any commissioner, or the employee or agent of a commissioner, acting within the scope of such person's employment or duties for acts, errors, or omissions occurring within such person's state may not exceed the limits of liability set forth under the Constitution and laws of that state for state officials, employees, and agents. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to protect any such person from suit or liability for any damage, loss, injury, or liability caused by the intentional or willful and wanton misconduct of any such person.

3. The Interstate Commission shall defend the executive director or the employees or representatives of the Interstate Commission and, subject to the approval of the Attorney General of the state represented by any commissioner of a compacting state, shall defend such commissioner or the commissioner's representatives or employees in any civil action seeking to impose liability arising out of any actual or alleged act, error, or omission that occurred within the scope of Interstate Commission employment, duties, or responsibilities, or that the defendant had a reasonable basis for believing occurred within the scope of Interstate Commission employment, duties, or responsibilities, provided that the actual or alleged act, error, or omission did not result from intentional or willful and wanton misconduct on the part of such person.

4. The Interstate Commission shall indemnify and hold the commissioner of a compacting state, or the commissioner's representatives or employees, or the Interstate Commission's representatives or employees, harmless in the amount of any settlement or judgment obtained against such persons arising out of any actual or alleged act, error, or omission that occurred within the scope of Interstate Commission employment, duties, or responsibilities, or that such persons had a reasonable basis for believing occurred within the scope of Interstate Commission employment, duties, or responsibilities, provided that the actual or alleged act, error, or omission did not result from intentional or willful and wanton misconduct on the part of such persons.

Article VI

Rulemaking Functions of the Interstate Commission

A. The Interstate Commission shall promulgate and publish rules in order to effectively and efficiently achieve the purposes of the compact.

B. Rulemaking shall occur pursuant to the criteria set forth in this article and the by-laws and rules adopted pursuant thereto. Such rulemaking shall substantially conform to the principles of the "Model State Administrative Procedures Act", 1981 Act, Uniform Laws Annotated, Vol. 15, p. 1 (2000), or such other administrative procedures act, as the Interstate Commission deems appropriate consistent with due process requirements under the United States Constitution as now or hereafter interpreted by the United States Supreme Court. All rules and amendments shall become binding as of the date specified, as published with the final version of the rule as approved by the commission.

C. When promulgating a rule, the Interstate Commission shall, at a minimum:

1. publish the proposed rule's entire text stating the reason(s) for that proposed rule;

2. allow and invite any and all persons to submit written data, facts, opinions, and arguments, which information shall be added to the record, and be made publicly available;

3. provide an opportunity for an informal hearing if petitioned by ten or more persons; and

4. promulgate a final rule and its effective date, if appropriate, based on input from state or local officials, or interested parties.

D. Allow, not later than sixty days after a rule is promulgated, any interested person to file a petition in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia or in the Federal District Court where the Interstate Commission's principal office is located for judicial review of such rule. If the court finds that the Interstate Commission's action is not supported by substantial evidence in the rulemaking record, the court shall hold the rule unlawful and set it aside. For purposes of this subsection, evidence is substantial if it would be considered substantial evidence under the Model State Administrative Procedures Act.

E. If a majority of the legislatures of the compacting states rejects a rule, those states may, by enactment of a statute or resolution in the same manner used to adopt the compact, cause that such rule shall have no further force and effect in any compacting state.

F. The existing rules governing the operation of the Interstate Compact on Juveniles superceded by this act shall be null and void twelve months after the first meeting of the Interstate Commission created hereunder.

G. Upon determination by the Interstate Commission that a state of emergency exists, it may promulgate an emergency rule which shall become effective immediately upon adoption, provided that the usual rulemaking procedures provided hereunder shall be retroactively applied to said rule as soon as reasonably possible, but no later than ninety days after the effective date of the emergency rule.

Article VII

Oversight, Enforcement, and Dispute Resolution by the Interstate Commission

A. Oversight

1. The Interstate Commission shall oversee the administration and operations of the interstate movement of juveniles subject to this compact in the compacting states and shall monitor such activities being administered in noncompacting states which may significantly affect compacting states.

2. The courts and executive agencies in each compacting state shall enforce this compact and shall take all actions necessary and appropriate to effectuate the compact's purposes and intent. The provisions of this compact and the rules promulgated hereunder shall be received by all the judges, public officers, commissions, and departments of the state government as evidence of the authorized statute and administrative rules. All courts shall take judicial notice of the compact and the rules. In any judicial or administrative proceeding in a compacting state pertaining to the subject matter of this compact which may affect the powers, responsibilities, or actions of the Interstate Commission, it shall be entitled to receive all service of process in any such proceeding, and shall have standing to intervene in the proceeding for all purposes.

B. Dispute Resolution

1. The compacting states shall report to the Interstate Commission on all issues and activities necessary for the administration of the compact as well as issues and activities pertaining to compliance with the provisions of the compact and its by-laws and rules.

2. The Interstate Commission shall attempt, upon the request of a compacting state, to resolve any disputes or other issues which are subject to the compact and which may arise among compacting states and between compacting and noncompacting states. The commission shall promulgate a rule providing for both mediation and binding dispute resolution for disputes among the compacting states.

3. The Interstate Commission, in the reasonable exercise of its discretion, shall enforce the provisions and rules of this compact using any or all means set forth in Article XI of this compact.

Article VIII

Finance

A. The Interstate Commission shall pay or provide for the payment of the reasonable expenses of its establishment, organization, and ongoing activities.

B. The Interstate Commission shall levy on and collect an annual assessment from each compacting state to cover the cost of the internal operations and activities of the Interstate Commission and its staff which must be in a total amount sufficient to cover the Interstate Commission's annual budget as approved each year. The aggregate annual assessment amount shall be allocated based upon a formula to be determined by the Interstate Commission, taking into consideration the population of each compacting state and the volume of interstate movement of juveniles in each compacting state and shall promulgate a rule binding upon all compacting states which governs said assessment.

C. The Interstate Commission shall not incur any obligations of any kind prior to securing the funds adequate to meet the same; nor shall the Interstate Commission pledge the credit of any of the compacting states, except by and with the authority of the compacting state.

D. The Interstate Commission shall keep accurate accounts of all receipts and disbursements. The receipts and disbursements of the Interstate Commission shall be subject to the audit and accounting procedures established under its by-laws. However, all receipts and disbursements of funds handled by the Interstate Commission shall be audited yearly by a certified or licensed public accountant and the report of the audit shall be included in and become part of the annual report of the Interstate Commission.

Article IX

The State Council

A. Each member state shall create a State Council for Interstate Juvenile Supervision. While each state may determine the membership of its own state council, its membership must include at least one representative from the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of government, victims groups, and the compact administrator, deputy compact administrator, or designee. Each compacting state retains the right to determine the qualifications of the compact administrator or deputy compact administrator. Each state council will advise and may exercise oversight and advocacy concerning that state's participation in Interstate Commission activities and other duties as may be determined by that state, including, but not limited to, development of policy concerning operations and procedures of the compact within that state.

B. The Director of the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice, or his designee, must serve as Compact Administrator for the State of South Carolina. The Director of the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice shall appoint the members of the state council. The state council shall act as an advisory body to the director regarding the activities of the Interstate Compact.

Article X

Compacting States, Effective Date, and Amendment

A. Any state, the District of Columbia (or its designee), the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Marianas Islands as defined in Article II of this compact is eligible to become a compacting state.

B. The compact shall become effective and binding upon legislative enactment of the compact into law by no less than thirty-five of the states. The initial effective date shall be the later of July 1, 2004, or upon enactment into law by the 35th jurisdiction. Thereafter, it shall become effective and binding as to any other compacting state upon enactment of the compact into law by that state. The governors of nonmember states or their designees shall be invited to participate in the activities of the Interstate Commission on a nonvoting basis prior to adoption of the compact by all states and territories of the United States.

C. The Interstate Commission may propose amendments to the compact for enactment by the compacting states. No amendment shall become effective and binding upon the Interstate Commission and the compacting states unless and until it is enacted into law by unanimous consent of the compacting states.

Article XI

Withdrawal, Default, Termination, and Judicial Enforcement

A. Withdrawal

1. Once effective, the compact shall continue in force and remain binding upon each and every compacting state; provided that a compacting state may withdraw from the compact by specifically repealing the statute which enacted the compact into law.

2. The effective date of withdrawal is the effective date of the repeal.

3. The withdrawing state shall immediately notify the Chairperson of the Interstate Commission in writing upon the introduction of legislation repealing this compact in the withdrawing state. The Interstate Commission shall notify the other compacting states of the withdrawing state's intent to withdraw within sixty days of its receipt thereof.

4. The withdrawing state is responsible for all assessments, obligations, and liabilities incurred through the effective date of withdrawal, including any obligations, the performance of which extend beyond the effective date of withdrawal.

5. Reinstatement following withdrawal of any compacting state shall occur upon the withdrawing state reenacting the compact or upon such later date as determined by the Interstate Commission.

B. Technical Assistance, Fines, Suspension, Termination, and Default

1. If the Interstate Commission determines that any compacting state has at any time defaulted in the performance of any of its obligations or responsibilities under this compact, or the by-laws or duly promulgated rules, the Interstate Commission may impose any or all of the following penalties:

a. remedial training and technical assistance as directed by the Interstate Commission;

b. alternative dispute resolution;

c. fines, fees, and costs in such amounts as are deemed to be reasonable as fixed by the Interstate Commission; and

d. suspension or termination of membership in the compact, which shall be only imposed after all other reasonable means of securing compliance under the by-laws and rules have been exhausted and the Interstate Commission has therefore determined that the offending state is in default. Immediate notice of suspension shall be given by the Interstate Commission to the Governor, the Chief Justice, or the Chief Judicial Officer of the state, the majority and minority leaders of the defaulting state's legislature, and the state council. The grounds for default include, but are not limited to, failure of a compacting state to perform such obligations or responsibilities imposed upon it by this compact, the by-laws, or duly promulgated rules and any other grounds designated in commission by-laws and rules. The Interstate Commission shall immediately notify the defaulting state in writing of the penalty imposed by the Interstate Commission and of the default pending a cure of the default. The commission shall stipulate the conditions and the time period within which the defaulting state must cure its default. If the defaulting state fails to cure the default within the time period specified by the commission, the defaulting state shall be terminated from the compact upon an affirmative vote of a majority of the compacting states and all rights, privileges, and benefits conferred by this compact shall be terminated from the eff