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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 33B: Placement in family home care of juvenile who has or may have committed a sexual offense or arson

Section 33B. At the time of placing a child in family home care, but in any event no later that five working days following such placement, the department or any other child-care agency shall determine whether the child has been adjudicated delinquent for a sexual offense or the commission of arson, or has admitted to such behavior, or is the subject of a documented or substantiated report of such behavior. If the department or other agency determines that the child has been so adjudicated, admitted, or found to have engaged in such behavior, it shall immediately refer the child to a qualified diagnostician for evaluation and assessment, including a risk management assessment of the child and a recommendation as to the type of appropriate and safe placement for the child. Such evaluation and assessment shall be completed within not more than ten working days from referral by the department or agency. No delay beyond the time periods in this section by the department shall in itself give rise to any claim of negligence or any other claim for damages. For the purposes of this section, a qualified diagnostician shall mean an individual who possesses specialized training and experience in the evaluation and treatment of sexually abusive youth or arsonists, as appropriate. Pending completion of such evaluation, the department or agency may place the child in an interim setting that is able to provide appropriate safety and security in light of the known risks posed by the child. Such risks shall be disclosed to the caretaker, including an interim safety plan to be implemented by the caretaker.

If the diagnostician recommends that the placement, including situations in which the child remains at home, should have adequate sex offender or arson specific risk management procedures, the department or agency responsible for placing the child shall prepare and implement a plan to address the safety of the child and other children in the home or residence, and to address the safety of the children in the immediate neighborhood. Such plan must include notification to all adults responsible for supervising the child in the home or residence of the child's behavioral history, including adjudications, if any, and education of all persons living in the home or residence about the known risks attendant to the child's behavior and methods of preventing such behavior, and provision for appropriate treatment for the child who is being placed. Where the department or agency makes a referral of such child to a foster home, residential facility, other agencies or organizations, or individuals for the purpose of receiving custodial services, the department or agency shall disclose the child's behavioral history, including adjudications, if any, to the designated recipient of the referral, prior to placement or at referral. All state agencies that use the assessment for safe and appropriate placement instrument shall: (i) consult with relevant experts to revise the instrument based on evidence-based practice; (ii) create a process for keeping the instrument current with evolving best practice standards; and (iii) ensure that all relevant staff are informed about the instrument and have appropriate training in how to make referrals and incorporate results from the instrument into their case management and treatment planning. The Massachusetts Adolescent Sex Offender Coalition and the Juvenile Firesetters Coalition shall provide training staff in partnership with the department on the revised and updated assessment for safe and appropriate placement instrument.