Chapter 6 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2012 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out, in its entirety section 215 and inserting in place thereof the following new section:-
(a) There shall be an interagency child welfare task force, hereinafter called the task force. The secretary of health and human services or his designee and the child advocate shall serve as its co-chairs. The task force members shall include the designees of the department of children and families; the department of youth services; the department of transitional assistance; the department of mental health; the department of developmental services; the department of public health; the department of elementary and secondary education; the department of early education and care; the office of medicaid; the executive office of public safety and security; the executive office of labor and workforce development; the division of insurance; the department of housing and community development; the juvenile court; the department of probation, the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative; the Children’s Trust; the Office of the Child Advocate; the Family and Probate Court; the Committee for Public Counsel Services; seven members appointed by the governor including a parent of a youth formerly in the care of the commonwealth; a youth formerly in the care of the commonwealth; a foster parent; a direct line social worker selected from a list of 6 applicants selected by the statewide advisory council; a child welfare advocate who is not under contract with any of the member agencies; and 2 members from provider agencies who offer services to children in the care of DCF to include one agency that provides family stabilization and support services to keep children safely at home and one that provides foster care.
(b) The task force may seek advice broadly from consumers and individuals with expertise in child welfare and child development including but not limited to social workers of the department of children and families, medical and mental health practitioners, community based service providers, child welfare advocates including advocates who are not under contract with the department, foster parents and academic institutions. Said consumers and experts may also be asked to serve on any subcommittees of the task force which may be established.
(c) The task force shall formulate a comprehensive plan, with annual interagency goals, periodic benchmarks and cost estimates, to recommend coordinated, system-wide strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect, including but not limited to those related to mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, homelessness and juvenile justice issues. The comprehensive plan shall look forward 5 years or more, shall be updated annually to plan for the ensuing 5-year period, shall assess previous efforts and, if appropriate, shall include legislative and regulatory recommendations.
(d) The comprehensive plan shall be filed annually with the governor, the clerks of the senate and the house, the senate and house committees on ways and means, and the joint committee on children, families and persons with disabilities.
(e) The comprehensive plan shall include an inventory of the services available in the Commonwealth to address issues that put children at risk of abuse and neglect, identify gaps in such services, and formulate an interagency plan for addressing those gaps in services. The purpose of this plan shall be to ensure that, to the extent possible, the Commonwealth’s agencies work in coordination to prevent child abuse and neglect before children and families need to enter the DCF system and to prevent the need for out-of-home placements.
In furtherance of its mission, the task force:
(1) shall implement a procedure for children’s impact statements in which, before finalization of a change in eligibility for or a reduction in services that may prevent abuse and neglect, including but not limited to services to adults for substance abuse, mental health, domestic violence or family homelessness, the agency whose services would be restricted or reduced would be required to issue a children’s impact statement projecting the impact on child safety, and on DCF’s caseload, as a result of such reduction in services; and
(2) may examine the status of and address other issues related to child welfare.
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