SECTION 1. Section 7 of said chapter 18B, is hereby amended by adding at the end thereof the following subsection:-
“(o) The commissioner, in consultation with the child advocate and other agencies the commissioner deems relevant, including, but not limited to, the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, the Massachusetts chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, the Massachusetts Medical Society, the Massachusetts Teachers’ Association and private child service providers shall, if available, adapt, implement and maintain from another state agency or from any suitable program already in use in another state a free standardized online training program to be completed by all mandated reporters as defined in section 21 of chapter 119, and as referenced in section 51A(k) of chapter 119; provided, however, that if the commissioner cannot find an existing program to adapt to this purpose, then the commissioner shall create, implement, maintain and update such an online training program.
SECTION 2. Said chapter 119 is hereby further amended by striking out subsection (k) of section 51A, as so appearing, and inserting in place thereof the following paragraph:-
“(k) A mandated reporter shall successfully complete the training referenced in section 2(e) of chapter 18C by July 1, 2018, and every year thereafter to recognize and report suspected child abuse and neglect. Beginning on July 1, 2017, any mandated reporter who applies for or renews a professional license shall provide evidence of successful completion of this training.”. Successful completion of this training may be used towards continuing education unit requirements.
SECTION 3. Chapter 18C of the General Laws, is hereby amended by inserting after section 4 the following section:-
“Section 4A. (a) There shall be a child abuse and neglect expert review panel, hereinafter referred to as the panel, under the purview of the child advocate, who shall serve as chair. The members of the panel shall include: the commissioner of the department of children and families or designee, the executive director of the Children’s Trust Fund or designee, the medical director of the department of children and families, a social worker with a minimum of 10 years direct case work experience who shall be selected by the child advocate, and any other member that the child advocate deems necessary.
(b) The panel shall review the repeated entry of any child into the care of the department of children and families. Any open or closed cases within a 12 month period for the same child or the same family unit shall constitute repeated entry. The panel shall determine if any actions can be taken to protect the child from further harm or if any agency regulations should be modified. The panel’s review and determinations shall be kept confidential.
(c) The panel shall also report on any system-wide trends that are affecting families, agency service gaps, and recommendations for policy changes to rectify the repeated abuse and neglect of children as part of the annual report as established in section 10 of this chapter.
(d) The child advocate may convene a public meeting or oversight hearing to discuss any trends in child welfare, gather the public’s input or determine if further actions should be taken to improve the lives of the children in the care and custody of the commonwealth. Any findings shall be included in the annual report as established in section 10 of this chapter.”.
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