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parents, family members, or children, the Director shall take specific action to assure that the individual rights of all persons involved are fully protected.
SEC. 102. (a) If, before an investigation in a child abuse or neglect case is completed, the opinion of the multidisciplinary team is that immediate removal of the child from its parents, guardians, or custodians is necessary to protect the child from further abuse or neglect, the Family Division of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, on petition by a member of such team and with good cause being shown, shall issue (according to applicable law) an order for temporary removal and custody.
(b) The Director shall, upon completion of an investigation in a case of child abuse or neglect, determine whether or not a petition shall be filed in the Family Division of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on behalf of the child concerned. Such a petition shall be filed if the multidisciplinary team conducting the investigation with respect to such child determines that this would serve the best interests of the child. The Director shall, in the event that such a petition is filed, notify a guardian ad litem appointed to represent such child, in writing. Such notification shall contain the reasons for initiating such petition, suggested therapeutic treatment available within the community for the child and his parents, guardians, or custodians, and the recommendation of the multidisciplinary team as to the optimum disposition of that particular case.
SEC. 103. (a) The Director shall develop and maintain a confidential central registry of all cases of alleged child abuse or neglect reported to him under the provisions of title II, or under section 101 (c), and shall coordinate and cooperate with State and local agencies in the development of regional and national registers of cases of alleged child abuse or neglect. The confidential central registry developed by the Director shall be maintained on a 24-hour basis, and the Director shall establish procedures to ensure the accuracy of information filed in such registry, and for restricting access to such registry to the attorney or parents of a child with respect to whom an alleged instance of child abuse or neglect has been filed, medical personnel investigating child abuse or neglect, members of the Metropolitan Police force, the Corporation Counsel of the District of Columbia, and persons employed by the Center. The Director shall also maintain a record of each instance where information from the central registry is released showing the date of such release, and the purpose for which, and the person to whom, such data was released. Data shall not be transmitted from the central registry to other jurisdictions without the consent of the persons concerned and unless the receiving jurisdiction has comparable safeguard on the use and dissemination of such data.
(b) Unless an investigation of a report conducted pursuant to this Act determines there is some credible evidence of alleged abuse or neglect, all information identifying the subject of the report shall be expunged from the central registry forthwith. The decision to expunge the record shall be made by the Director based upon the investigation made by the Center.
(c) After a child, who is the subject of a report in the central registry, reaches the age of 18 years, the report in the central registry relating to that child shall be sealed, except access to that child's report shall be permitted if a sibling or offspring of such child is a suspected victim of child abuse or neglect. The amount of such detail shall depend upon the source of the report and shall be established by regulations of the Director. In all other cases, the record of the reports to the central registry shall be sealed at no later than 10 years after the subject child's 18th birthday. Once sealed, the record shall not otherwise be available, unless the Director upon receiving the consent from the subject of the report, gives his personal approval for an appropriate reason. In any case, and at any time, the Director may amend, seal, or expunge any record upon good cause shown and notice to the subjects of the report.
(d) At any time, any person identified in a report in the central registry may receive, upon request, all information pertaining to him contained in the central registry.
(e) At any time, subsequent to the completion of the investigation, but in no event later than 90 days after the receipt of the report, any person identified in the report may request the Director to amend, seal, or expunge the record of the report. If the Director refuses or does not act within a reasonable time, but in no event later than 30 days after such request, that person shall have the right to a fair hearing before the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to determine whether the record of the report in the central registry should
be amended or expunged on the grounds that it is inaccurate or it is being maintained in a manner inconsistent with this Act. The Director shall be given fair notice of the hearing. The burden of proof in such a hearing shall be on the Director.
(f) Written notice of any amendment or expungement made pursuant to the provisions of this section shall be made to each person identified in the report and to the Director. The Director, upon receipt of such notice, shall take similar action regarding any other related file for child abuse or neglect.
TITLE II-REPORTING CHILD ABUSE OR NEGLECT
SEC. 201. Notwithstanding section 307 of title 14 of the District of Columbia Code, any medical personnel and certain persons in child care in the District of Columbia, including persons licensed under the Healing Arts Practice Act, District of Columbia, 1928, having reasonable cause to believe that a child under the age of 18 brought to him or coming before him for examination, care, or treatment has had physical injury or sexual abuses inflicted upon him other than by accidental means, or is neglected as defined in section 2301 (9) of title 16 of the District of Columbia Code, shall report such injury or harm to a member or officer of a specially designated and trained nonuniformed unit of the Metropolitan Police force of the District of Columbia, or to the Director, in accordance with this title. Any person in the District of Columbia other than a medical person or person involved in child care who has reason to believe a child is being abused may report the abuse according to the provisions of this title.
SEC. 202. A report required or permitted under section 201 may be made orally to the Director or to a member or officer of a specially designated and trained nonuniformed unit of the Metropolitan Police force. Such oral report shall be followed by a written report if so requested by the receiving agency. Such report shall contain the name, age, and address of the child concerned, his siblings, his parents, or other persons responsible for his care, if known, the nature and extent of the child's injury (including knowledge of any previous injury), and may include such other information which the person making such report believes might be helpful in establishing the cause of the injury or harın reported and the identity of the perpetrator of such harm or injury. Whenever a report is made under this section to the Director, he may notify the specially designated and trained unit of the Metropolitan Police force. Whenever a report is made under section 201 to a member or officer of the Metropolitan Police force, such member or officer shall notify the Director. Upon receiving a report made under section 201 the Director shall promptly make a thorough investigation. In making such investigation, the Director may request such assistance of the specially designated and trained nonuniformed unit of the Metropolitan Police force, and the Metropolitan Police force shall provide such assistance, as the Director deems necessary and appropriate. The primary purpose of this investigation shall be the protection of the child. The investigation shall seek to determine the nature, extent, and cause of child abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect, the identity of the person responsible therefor, the names and conditions of other children in the home, the stability of the parents or persons responsible for the care of the child, the quality of the home environment, the relationship of the child to the parents or other persons responsible for his care, whether there are any other children in the home whose health, safety, or welfare is in jeopardy from their environment, and whether such children should be removed from such environment. The investigation shall include a visit to the child's home, a physical, psychological, or psychiatric examination of any member of that home, and an interview with the child. If the admission to the home, school, or any other place that the child may be, or permission of the parent of other persons responsible for the child for the physical, psychological, or psychiatric examination cannot be obtained, then the Family Division of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, upon cause shown, shall order the parents or persons responsible and in charge of any place where the child may be to allow entrance for the interview, and related examinations and investigations.
SEC. 203. Any person, hospital, or institution participating in good faith in the making of a report pursuant to this title shall have immunity from liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed with respect to the making of such report. Any such participant shall have the same immunity with respect to participation in any judicial proceeding involving such report.
SEC. 204. Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 306 and 307 of title 14 of the District of Columbia Code, no privilege between husband and wife or between any professional person (except lawyer and client), including physicians ministers, counselors, hospitals, clinics, day care centers, and schools and their clients, shall constitute grounds for excluding evidence in any proceeding in the Family Division of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia concerning the welfare of such child, if the Family Division of the Superior Court determines that such privilege should be waived in the interest of public justice.
SEC. 205. Any person who is required under this title to report cases of child abuse, or neglect may take or cause to be taken, at public expense, color photographs of the areas of trauma visible on a child and, if medically indicated, cause to be performed radiological examinations of the child. Any photographs or X-rays taken shall be sent to the Director as soon as possible. Whenever such person is required to report under this title, in his capacity as a member of the staff of a medical or other private or public institution, school, facility or agency, he shall immediately notify the person in charge of such institution, school, facility or agency or his designated delegate, who shall then take or cause to be taken, at public expense, color photographs of physical trauma and shall, if medically indicated, cause to be performed radiological examination of the child.
SEC. 206. Any person required to make a report under this title who willfully fails to make such report shall be fined not more than $1,000, or imprisoned for not longer than thirty days, or both. Violations of this title shall be prosecuted by the Corporation Counsel in the name of the District of Columbia. SEC. 207. For the purposes of this title
(a) The term "medical personnel" includes a physician, surgeon, dentist, resident, intern, registered nurse, practical nurse, psychiatrist, psychologist, chiropractor, coroner, and medical examiner.
(b) The term "certain persons involved in child care" includes school officials, teachers, social services workers, day care center workers.
SEC. 208. Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, no child who in good faith is under treatment solely by spiritual means through prayer in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination by a duly accredited practitioner thereof shall, for that reason alone, be considered to have been neglected within the purview of this title.
SEC. 209. (a) Section 2301(9) of title 16 of the District of Columbia Code is amended to read as follows:
"(9) The term 'neglected child' means a child
"(A) who has been abandoned or abused by his parent, guardian, custodian, or other person acting in loco parentis;
"(B) who is without proper parental care or maintenance, subsistence, medical or surgical care, education as required by law, or other care necessary for his physical, mental, or emotional health, and the deprivation is not due to the lack of financial means of his parent, guardian, custodian, or other person acting in loco parentis;
"(C) whose parent, guardian, custodian, or other person acting in loco parentis is unable to discharge his responsibilities to and for the child because of incarceration, hospitalization, or other physical or mental incapacity;
"(D) who has been placed for care or adoption in violation of law; or "(E) who is in imminent danger of being without proper parental care or maintenance, and whose sibling is the subject of a petition before a court alleging that the child is neglected."
(b) Such section is amended by adding at the end thereof the following: "(23) The term 'abused child' means a child whose parent, guardian, custodian, or other person acting in loco parentis, inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon such child physical injury or sexual abuse or molestation, including the infliction of excessive corporal punishment; or who is injured and his parent, guardian. custodian, or other person acting in loco parentis can give no satisfactory explanation for the injury."
SEC. 210. The Act of November 6, 1966 (relating to the reporting of certain physical abuses of children) (D.C. Code, sec. 2-161-2-166) is repealed.
TITLE III-AMENDMENTS TO THE JUDICIAL PROCEDURE
SEC. 301. (a) Section 2304 (b) of title 16 of the District of Columbia Code is amended to read as follows:
"(b) (1) When a child is alleged to be abused or neglected or when termination of parental rights is sought, the parent, guardian, or custodian of the child named in the petition is entitled to be represented by counsel at all critical stages of the Division proceedings and, if financially unable to obtain adequate representation, to have counsel appointed in accordance with rules established by the Superior Court. The Division shall in every case involving an abused or neglected child which results in a judicial proceeding appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child in such proceedings. The guardian ad litem shall be given access to all reports relevant to the case and to any reports of examination of the child's parents, or other custodian pursuant to this Act. The guardian ad litem shall, in general, be charged with the representation of the child's best interests. To that end, he shall make such further investigation that he deems necessary to ascertain the facts, to interview witnesses, examine and crossexamine witnesses in both the adjudicatory and dispositional hearings, make recommendations to the court and participate further in the proceedings to the degree appropriate for adequately representing the child.
"(2) At any time after the completion of the adjudicatory hearing of a case of child abuse or neglect and a finding of dependency therein, the court may, on its own motion, or the motion of the guardian ad litem, order the examination by a physician, psychologist or psychiatrist, of any parent or other person having the custody of the child at the time of the alleged abuse or neglect, if the court finds such an examination is necessary to the proper determination of the dispositional hearing of the case. The dispositional hearing may be continued pending the completion of such examination. The physician, psychologist or psychiatrist conducting such an examination, may be required to testify in the dispositional hearing concerning the results of such examination and may be asked to give his opinion as to whether the protection of the child requires that he not be returned to the custody of his parents or other persons having custody of him at the time of the alleged abuse or neglect. The rules of evidence as provided by law shall apply to such testimony except that the physician, psychologist or psychiatrist shall be allowed to testify to conclusions reached from the hospital, medical, psychological or laboratory records, tests or reports, provided the same are produced at the hearing. Persons so testifying shall be subject to cross-examination as are other witnesses. No evidence acquired as a result of any such examination of the parent or any other person having custody of the child may be used against such person in any subsequent criminal proceedings against such person or custodian concerning the abuse or non-accidental injury of the child."
(b) Section 2322 of title 16 of the District of Columbia Code is amended by inserting at the end thereof the following:
"(g) After a dispositional order vesting legal custody of a child adjudicated neglected pursuant to section 2301 (9), or abused pursuant to section 2301 (23), in a department, agency, or institution, a hearing shall be held, after proper notice to the parents, their attorneys, and the child's attorney, at which the department, agency, or institution shall present all relevant information as to whether the parental rights should be terminated for the purposes of seeking an adoptive placement for the child. Such hearing shall be held (1) within six months in the case of a child under twelve months of age, (2) within one year in the case of a child between one and six, and (3) within two years in the case of a child seven or older, and semiannually thereafter. The court in considering on determining if the best interests of the child requires termination of parental rights shall consider, among other factors
"(1) the preservation of continuity of care and caretakers for the child; "(2) the quality of the interaction and interrelationship of the child with his parent or parents, siblings, custodians, or other caretakers;
"(3) the child's own determination, to the extent feasible, of his own best interests in the matter; and
"(4) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
"(h) A request for the termination of parental rights may also be incorporated in a petition for abuse or neglect brought pursuant to section 2301 (9) or section 2301 (23).
"(i) Where an order for permanent termination of parental rights has been entered pursuant to this section, the department, agency, or institution to whom the child has been committed shall be responsible for seeking prompt adoptive placement of the child and shall report to the Division within six months of the order terminating parental rights upon its efforts to secure an adoptive placement. If adoption proceedings have not been initiated within a year of the order terminating parental rights, the department, agency, or institution to which
the child was committed shall report annually on all efforts made to securean adoptive placement for the child.".
SEC. 302. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, or any rule of law, nothing in this Act shall be construed as limiting the authority of the District of Columbia Council to enact any act or resolution, after January 2, 1975, pursuant to the District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act with respect to any matter covered by this Act.
SECTION-BY-SECTION SYNOPSIS H.R. 15918-To ESTABLISH AN AGENCY FOR THE PREVENTION OF CHILD ABUSE IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
Section (a). Statement of Purpose. (same as 15779)
Section (b). Statement of recognition. (same as 15779)
TITLE I-CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION
SECTION 101. Establishment of Center; Responsibilities of Director and Staff. Subsections (a)–(ƒ). (Same as 15779.)
SECTION 102 1 Removal of Child from Home.
Provides for immediate removal of child from home on petition by a member of the multidisciplinary team.
Director determines whether to file a petition for removal after investigation is complete.
Guardian ad litem notified if petition filed.
SECTION 103. Confidential Central Registry.
Subsections (a)–(ƒ). (Same as 15779, Section 102. a-f.)
TITLE II-REPORTING CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT
SECTION 201. Reporting of Suspected Cases. (15779)
SECTION 202.1 Nature and Contents of Report; Investigating Agency. Reports made either orally or in writing to the Director or to the Metropolitan Police Special Unit.
All information which might be helpful to be included.
Director may notify Police of report received.
Police must notify Director of report received.
Director responsible for initial investigation and treatment; may request and receive assistance from Police Special Unit.
Investigation includes welfare of siblings; physical or psychological examinations of persons in home.
Provides for court order to admit investigators if necessary.
SECTION 203. Immunity from Liability. (15779)
SECTION 204. Waiver of Confidential Privilege. (15779)
SECTION 205.' Color Photographs.
Color photographs, X-rays and radiological examinations may be taken or performed at public expense.
SECTION 206. Penalties. (Same as 15779, Sec. 205)
SECTION 207. Definitions. (Same as 15779, Sec. 206)
SECTION 208. Application of Title with Respect to Spiritual Healing. (Same as 15779 Sec. 207.)
SECTION 209. Definitions of "Neglected" and "Abused" Child. (Same as 15779, Sec. 208)
SECTION 210. Repealer of Present Reporting Law. (Same as 15779, Sec. 209.)
TITLE III-AMENDMENTS TO THE JUDICIAL PROCEDURE REGARDING CHILD CUSTODY
SECTION 301.1 Amendments to the District of Columbia Code.
Parent or guardian entitled to counsel when child alleged neglected or abused.
1 H.R. 15918 duplicates H.R. 15779 exactly with the exceptions noted.