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3345Ratification Number: 614Act Number: 525Introducing Body: HouseSubject: Relating to the adoption provisions in the Children's Code, supplemental benefits to assure adoption, and interstate compact on the placement of children
(A525, R614, H3345)
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTIONS 20-7-1740, 20-7-1780, AS AMENDED, 20-7-1900, 20-7-1930 THROUGH 20-7-1970, 20-7-2000 THROUGH 20-7-2020, 20-7-2060, AND 20-7-2070, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO THE ADOPTION PROVISIONS IN THE CHILDREN'S CODE, SUPPLEMENTAL BENEFITS TO ASSURE ADOPTION, AND INTERSTATE COMPACT ON THE PLACEMENT OF CHILDREN, SO AS TO DELETE ALL REFERENCES TO THE CHILDREN'S BUREAU (BUREAU); SECTIONS 20-7-2300 THROUGH 20-7-2310, AND 20-7-2340, AS AMENDED, RELATING TO THE BUREAU, SO AS TO DELETE ALL PROVISIONS PERTAINING TO THE BUREAU, PROVIDE THAT THE CHILD IS THE PRIMARY CLIENT OF STATE ADOPTIVE PROGRAMS, ESTABLISH A SINGLE PUBLIC ADOPTION SYSTEM WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT, PROVIDE FOR THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE PUBLIC ADOPTION AGENCY BY THE DEPARTMENT, TO AUTHORIZE THE DEPARTMENT TO ESTABLISH FEES FOR ADOPTION AND RELATED SERVICES; TO AMEND SECTIONS 20-7-1870 AND 20-7-1880, RELATING TO THE REQUIREMENTS THAT REPORTS OF REMOVALS OF CHILDREN FROM THEIR NATURAL MOTHER MUST BE REPORTED TO THE BUREAU AND THE REQUIREMENT THAT NO PERSON MAY BRING OR SEND INTO THIS STATE ANY CHILD IN A FOSTER HOME UNLESS THE PERSON BRINGING OR SENDING THE CHILD HAS FIRST NOTIFIED THE BUREAU, SO AS TO CHANGE ALL REFERENCES TO THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES; TO ADD SECTION 20-7-1945 SO AS TO REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES (DEPARTMENT) TO CONDUCT A STUDY OF THE ADEQUACY OF MEDICAL, SHELTER, AND SUPPORT SERVICES FOR BIRTH PARENTS AND DETERMINE WHAT IMPROVEMENTS ARE NEEDED; TO ESTABLISH A TRANSITION COMMITTEE TO ASSIST IN THE TRANSFER OF ALL OPERATIONS FROM THE BUREAU TO THE DEPARTMENT; AND TO PROVIDE FOR THE COMPOSITION, POWERS, STAFFING, AND DISSOLUTION OF THE COMMITTEE; TO PROVIDE THAT THE COMMITTEE MUST SUBMIT A PLAN TO THE BUDGET AND CONTROL BOARD BY OCTOBER 1, 1986, TRANSFERRING ALL NECESSARY SERVICE DELIVERY AND SUPPORT FUNCTIONS, CURRENT APPROPRIATIONS, ASSETS, AND LIABILITIES FROM THE BUREAU TO THE DEPARTMENT; TO PROVIDE THAT THE STATE BUDGET AND CONTROL BOARD SHALL MAKE AS PROMPTLY AND PRACTICABLE AS POSSIBLE THE NECESSARY TRANSFER TO CARRY OUT THE TRANSITION COMMITTEE'S PLAN; TO PROVIDE THAT ALL APPLICATIONS ON FILE WITH THE BUREAU AND THE DEPARTMENT ON THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS ACT SHALL RECEIVE PRIORITY CONSIDERATION FOR ADOPTIVE PLACEMENTS WITH THE DEPARTMENT; TO REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT, BEFORE IT ACCEPTS A CLIENT, TO PROVIDE HIM WITH AN INFORMATIONAL BROCHURE WHICH OUTLINES THE SERVICES AVAILABLE FROM AND THE PROCEDURE USED TO SELECT ADOPTIVE PARENTS AND BY THE LICENSED PRIVATE ADOPTION AGENCIES IN THIS STATE; TO PROVIDE THAT UPON COMPLETION OF THE TRANSFER OF THE BUREAU INTO THE DEPARTMENT'S ADOPTION PROGRAM, THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE BUREAU SHALL CONTINUE TO FUNCTION AS AN ADVISORY BOARD ON ADOPTIONS TO THE STATE BOARD OF THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES, TO PROVIDE FOR THE MEMBERSHIP OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS, TO PROVIDE FOR THE DISSOLUTION OF THE ADVISORY BOARD, TO PROVIDE FOR STATUS REPORTS BY THE ADVISORY BOARD OF THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE ADOPTION PROGRAM FOLLOWING THE TRANSITION, AND TO REQUIRE THAT THE STATE BOARD OF THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES MUST REPORT TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE STATE-ADMINISTERED ADOPTION PROGRAM, TO REQUIRE THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO MAKE FINAL DETERMINATION BY JUNE 30, 1989, WHETHER THE SINGLE ADOPTION SYSTEM WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT MUST BE PERMANENTLY AUTHORIZED; TO REPEAL SECTIONS 20-7-1830 THROUGH 20-7-1860, 20-7-1890, 20-7-2320, 20-7-2325, 20-7-2330, AND 20-7-2350 THROUGH 20-7-2370 RELATING TO THE VARIOUS RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE BUREAU REGARDING ADOPTION, THE PROVISIONS AUTHORIZING THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE BUREAU TO PRESCRIBE POLICIES AND ADMINISTRATIVE DUTIES OF THE BUREAU, DISBURSEMENT OF FUNDS APPROPRIATED TO THE BUREAU BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, THE PROVISIONS CONCERNING THE FEES FOR SERVICES PROVIDED BY THE BUREAU, REQUIREMENT THAT THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS MUST HIRE A SUPERVISOR OF THE BUREAU, THE REQUIREMENT OF AN ANNUAL REPORT BY THE BUREAU, AND THE PENALTY PROVISIONS FOR VIOLATION OF SUBARTICLE 3 OF ARTICLE 13 OF CHAPTER 20 OF TITLE 7 (CHILDREN'S BUREAU); AND TO PROVIDE THAT IF THIS DETERMINATION IS NOT MADE BY JUNE 30, 1989, THIS ACT IS REPEALED AND THE TRANSITION COMMITTEE MUST BE RECONVENED FOR THE PURPOSE OF RECONSTITUTING A SINGLE PUBLIC ADOPTION AGENCY EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1, 1990, AND TO PROVIDE FOR A BIFURCATED EFFECTIVE DATE.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. 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 2. Subsection (a) of Section 20-7-1740 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"(a) Upon the filing of a petition for adoption the court shall order an investigation to be made by a private or public welfare organization having as one of its main purposes the care and placement of children, or by a representative designated by the court, and shall further order that a report of the investigation must be filed with the court by the designated investigator within sixty days from the issuance of the order for investigation, unless time therefor is extended by the court. The investigation may be dispensed with upon good cause therefor being presented to the court. The investigation must include the conditions and antecedents of the child for the purpose of determining whether he is a proper subject for adoption, appropriate inquiry to determine whether the proposed home and family are suitable for the child, and any other circumstances and conditions which may have a bearing on the adoption and of which the court should have knowledge."
Files are confidential
SECTION 3. Subsection (c) of Section 20-7-1780 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"(c) All files and records pertaining to the adoption proceedings in the Department of Social Services, or in any authorized agency, are confidential and withheld from inspection except upon order of court for good cause shown."
SECTION 4. Sections 20-7-1900 and 20-7-1930 through 20-7-1970 of the 1976 Code are amended to read:
"Section 20-7-1900. 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 20-7-1930. The Department of Social Services 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 of Social Services for the maintenance of children in foster care or made available to them from other sources.
Section 20-7-1940. Any child meeting criteria specified in Section 20-7-1920 for whom the Department of Social Services 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 20-7-1950. When parents are found and approved for adoption of a child certified as eligible for supplemental benefits, and before the final decree of adoption is issued, there must be executed a written agreement between the family entering the adoption and the Department of Social Services. In individual cases supplemental benefits may commence 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. 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 any combination of the foregoing. The amount of time-limited, long-term supplemental benefits may in no case exceed that which would be currently allowable for the child under foster family care or, in the case of a special service, the reasonable fee for the service rendered.
When supplemental benefits last for more than one year the adoptive parents shall present an annual written certification that the child remains under the parents' care and that the child's need for supplemental benefits continues. Based on the written certification and investigation by the agency and available funds, the agency may approve continued supplemental benefits. These benefits must be extended so long as the continuing need of the child is certified and the child is the legal dependent of the adoptive parents.
A child who is a resident of South Carolina when eligibility for supplemental benefits is certified shall remain eligible and 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 thereafter.
All records regarding the adoption are confidential and may be disclosed only in accordance with existing state law.
Section 20-7-1960. Any decision concerning supplemental benefits by the Department of Social Services which the placement agency or the adoptive parents consider adverse to the child is reviewable according to the provisions of the agency's administrative procedure.
Section 20-7-1970. The Department of Social Services shall promulgate regulations to carry out the provisions of this subarticle. The regulations must provide for improvement of data and statistical information collection on placement of children in adoption, increased outreach to birth parents, increased recruitment of adoptive parents for minority and special needs children, incentives to encourage the adoption of minority and special needs children, and increased efforts to encourage foster parent adoption."
SECTION 5. Subarticle 9 of Article 11 of Chapter 7 of Title 20 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
"Section 20-7-1945. The Department of Social Services is directed to conduct a study of the adequacy of medical, shelter, and support services for birth parents and determine what improvements are needed."
Appropirate public authorities, various terms
SECTION 6. Sections 20-7-2000 through 20-7-2020, 20-7-2060, and 20-7-2070 of the 1976 Code are amended to read:
"Section 20-7-2000. 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. 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. 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 20-7-2060. 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. The Department of Social Services shall promulgate procedures to govern all aspects of interstate adoptive and interstate foster care placements."
Subarticle 3 to be reentitled
SECTION 7. The title to Subarticle 3 of Article 13 of Chapter 7 of Title 20 of the 1976 Code is reentitled "Adoptive Services".
Purpose of subarticle
SECTION 8. Sections 20-7-2300 through 20-7-2310, and 20-7-2340, as amended by Act 157 of 1985, are amended to read:
"Section 20-7-2300. 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 20-7-2310. 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 commissioner. 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 State Board of Social Services. Persons appointed to the committee must be knowledgeable on adoption, protective services, foster care, and other children's services.
Section 20-7-2340. 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 9. A Transition Committee is created to assist in the transfer of all necessary operations from the Children's Bureau of South Carolina to the Department of Social Services. The Transition Committee must approve the structure for service delivery required by Section 11 of this act. The committee shall include the State Auditor, the Chairman of the Human Services Subcommittee of the State Reorganization Commission or his designee, a representative of the Joint Legislative Committee on Personal Service Financing Budgeting to be appointed by the chairman, the Chairman of the Board of the Department of Social Services or his designee, the Chairman of the Board of the Children's Bureau of South Carolina or his designee, such agency heads or others as the Governor determines to appoint so long as the total membership of the committee does not exceed ten, and the Chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee on Children who shall serve as chairman of the Transition Committee. Joint staffing for the Transition Committee must be provided by the Joint Legislative Committee on Children, the State Reorganization Commission, and the Governor's Office. The plan shall be submitted to the General Assembly by October 1, 1986. The plan must be approved by the General Assembly by Concurrent Resolution prior to March 1, 1987, but the plan shall not take effect until approved by the General Assembly. The plan will address, but not be limited to, the transfer of all necessary service delivery and support functions, including classified personnel, current appropriations, assets, and liabilities from the Children's Bureau to the Department of Social Services. The Transition Committee is dissolved one year after the effective date of this act.
SECTION 10. 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.
Board to make transfers
SECTION 11. The State Budget and Control Board, as promptly as practicable, shall make all transfers necessary to carry out the plan developed by a transition committee and approved by the General Assembly for the implementation of this act.
Assurances must be made that adoption direct service delivery personnel may not be decreased below the combined adoption staffing levels of the Children's Bureau and the Department of Social Services on the effective date of this act. Service delivery and support staff and functions or programs which are transferred to the Department of Social Services must be transferred with state merit system coverage along with the staff, functions, or programs. The department must develop an efficient and cost-effective organizational structure and all transferred employees of the Children's Bureau and the employees of the existing adoption program of the Department of Social Services shall have equal opportunity to fill any positions in the combined unit with regard to salary, grade level, classification, and location with the State.
The salaries and classifications of all classified employees of the Children's Bureau and the adoption program of the Department of Social Services shall remain the same, except for base pay or merit increases, until such time as a revised organizational structure has been approved and existing employees have had an opportunity to apply for available positions.
Applications to receive priority considerations
SECTION 12. All applications on file with the Children's Bureau and the department at the time of the passage of this subarticle shall receive priority consideration for adoptive placements by the department. The first applicant on the priority list of the Children's Bureau must be first in the merged priority list and the first applicant in the Department of Social Service's priority list must be second on the merged priority list and the remaining applicants on the priority list of each agency must alternately be assigned to the next position on the merged priority list until all applications on the priority lists of both agencies are incorporated into the merged list. The department is required to insure that the applications are acted upon as soon as practicable.
SECTION 13. Sections 20-7-1830 through 20-7-1860 and 20-7-1890, 20-7-2320, 20-7-2325, 20-7-2330 and 20-7-2350 through 20-7-2370 of the 1976 Code are repealed upon certification by the Transition Committee to the State Budget and Control Board that the transition has been completed.
Individuals to report to department
SECTION 14. Sections 20-7-1870 and 20-7-1880 of the 1976 Code are amended to read:
"Section 20-7-1870. All private individuals, including midwives, physicians and nurses, hospitals, and the offices of all private institutions, as well as agencies and organizations, who shall remove a child within six months after its birth from its natural mother shall report to the Department the names and addresses of the parents of such child and the names and addresses of the persons with whom the child is left, unless the person removing the child from its natural mother knows of his own knowledge that the child was born in wedlock and was not removed from its mother because of immoral surroundings.
Section 20-7-1880. No person shall bring or send into this State from any territory or country any child and, leaving it, place such child in a foster home or procure its adoption unless the person so bringing or sending such child shall have first notified the Department of his intention to do so and provide the appropriate information as required by the Department."
SECTION 15. 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.
Board to continue to function as advisory board
SECTION 16. (A) Upon the completion of the transfer of the Children's Bureau into the Department of Social Services' adoption program, the Board of Directors of the Children's Bureau shall continue to function as an advisory board on adoptions to the State Board of the Department of Social Services. The membership of the Board of Directors of the Children's Bureau shall make up the membership of the advisory board on adoption to the State Department of Social Services. This advisory board on adoptions shall function until June 30, 1989.
The advisory board on adoptions is directed to provide the State Board of the Department of Social Services with status reports every six months beginning January 1, 1988, on the effectiveness of the adoption program following the transition.
(B) The advisory board on adoptions shall issue its third report on January 1, 1989, which shall provide an in-depth assessment of the adoption program as to the quality, effectiveness, and cost-efficiency of the program, the effectiveness of the linkages between the adoption program and the other children's services provided by the department, and a determination that services are being provided in the best interests of the child. Upon receipt of this report, the State Board of the Department of Social Services shall report to the General Assembly on the implementation of the state administered adoption program. The report shall address the findings of the advisory board. The General Assembly must make the determination by June 30, 1989 whether the single public adoption system within the Department of Social Services shall be permanently authorized. In the event the General Assembly does not make the determination by June 30, 1989, this act is repealed and the Transition Committee must be reconvened for the purpose of reconstituting a single public adoption agency effective January 1, 1990.
SECTION 17. Sections 5, 9, 10, and this section shall take effect upon approval by the Governor and Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16 shall take effect upon approval by the General Assembly by Concurrent Resolution of the plan required to be submitted to the Governor and the General Assembly by the Transition Committee pursuant to Section 9 of this act.