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Pub.L. 106-315 To designate the building of the United States Postal Service located at 307 Main Street in Johnson City, New York, as the ``James W. McCabe, Sr. Post Office Building''. <> ...
STRENGTHENING ABUSE AND NEGLECT COURTS ACT OF 2000
[[Page 114 STAT. 1266]]
Public Law 106-314
To improve the administrative efficiency and effectiveness of the
Nation's abuse and neglect courts and for other purposes consistent with
the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. <<NOTE: Oct. 17, 2000 - [S.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress <<NOTE: Strengthening Abuse and
Neglect Courts Act of 2000. Inter- governmental relations.>> assembled,
SECTION 1. <<NOTE: 42 USC 670 note.>> SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Strengthening Abuse and Neglect
Courts Act of 2000''.
SEC. 2. <<NOTE: 42 USC 670 note.>> FINDINGS.
Congress finds the following:
(1) Under both Federal and State law, the courts play a
crucial and essential role in the Nation's child welfare system
and in ensuring safety, stability, and permanence for abused and
neglected children under the supervision of that system.
(2) The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (Public Law
105-89; 111 Stat. 2115) establishes explicitly for the first
time in Federal law that a child's health and safety must be the
paramount consideration when any decision is made regarding a
child in the Nation's child welfare system.
(3) The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 promotes
stability and permanence for abused and neglected children by
requiring timely decisionmaking in proceedings to determine
whether children can safely return to their families or whether
they should be moved into safe and stable adoptive homes or
other permanent family arrangements outside the foster care
(4) To avoid unnecessary and lengthy stays in the foster
care system, the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997
specifically requires, among other things, that States move to
terminate the parental rights of the parents of those children
who have been in foster care for 15 of the last 22 months.
(5) While essential to protect children and to carry out the
general purposes of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997,
the accelerated timelines for the termination of parental rights
and the other requirements imposed under that Act increase the
pressure on the Nation's already overburdened abuse and neglect
(6) The administrative efficiency and effectiveness of the
Nation's abuse and neglect courts would be substantially
improved by the acquisition and implementation of computerized
case-tracking systems to identify and eliminate existing
backlogs, to move abuse and neglect caseloads forward in a
[[Page 114 STAT. 1267]]
timely manner, and to move children into safe and stable
families. Such systems could also be used to evaluate the
effectiveness of such courts in meeting the purposes of the
amendments made by, and provisions of, the Adoption and Safe
Families Act of 1997.
(7) The administrative efficiency and effectiveness of the
Nation's abuse and neglect courts would also be improved by the
identification and implementation of projects designed to
eliminate the backlog of abuse and neglect cases, including the
temporary hiring of additional judges, extension of court hours,
and other projects designed to reduce existing caseloads.
(8) The administrative efficiency and effectiveness of the
Nation's abuse and neglect courts would be further strengthened
by improving the quality and availability of training for
judges, court personnel, agency attorneys, guardians ad litem,
volunteers who participate in court-appointed special advocate
(CASA) programs, and attorneys who represent the children and
the parents of children in abuse and neglect proceedings.
(9) While recognizing that abuse and neglect courts in this
country are already committed to the quality administration of
justice, the performance of such courts would be even further
enhanced by the development of models and educational
opportunities that reinforce court projects that have already
been developed, including models for case-flow procedures, case
management, representation of children, automated interagency
interfaces, and ``best practices'' standards.
(10) Judges, magistrates, commissioners, and other judicial
officers play a central and vital role in ensuring that
proceedings in our Nation's abuse and neglect courts are run
efficiently and effectively. The performance of those
individuals in such courts can only be further enhanced by
training, seminars, and an ongoing opportunity to exchange ideas
with their peers.
(11) Volunteers who participate in court-appointed special
advocate (CASA) programs play a vital role as the eyes and ears
of abuse and neglect courts in proceedings conducted by, or
under the supervision of, such courts and also bring increased
public scrutiny of the abuse and neglect court system. The
Nation's abuse and neglect courts would benefit from an
expansion of this program to currently underserved communities.
(12) Improved computerized case-tracking systems,
comprehensive training, and development of, and education on,
model abuse and neglect court systems, particularly with respect
to underserved areas, would significantly further the purposes
of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 by reducing the
average length of an abused and neglected child's stay in foster
care, improving the quality of decision-making and court
services provided to children and families, and increasing the
number of adoptions.
SEC. 3. <<NOTE: 42 USC 670 note.>> DEFINITIONS.
In this Act:
(1) Abuse and neglect courts.--The term ``abuse and neglect
courts'' means the State and local courts that carry out State
or local laws requiring proceedings (conducted by or under the
supervision of the courts)--
[[Page 114 STAT. 1268]]
(A) that implement part B and part E of title IV of
the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 620 et seq.; 670 et
seq.) (including preliminary disposition of such
(B) that determine whether a child was abused or
(C) that determine the advisability or
appropriateness of placement in a family foster home,
group home, or a special residential care facility; or
(D) that determine any other legal disposition of a
child in the abuse and neglect court system.
(2) Agency attorney.--The term ``agency attorney'' means an
attorney or other individual, including any government attorney,
district attorney, attorney general, State attorney, county
attorney, city solicitor or attorney, corporation counsel, or
privately retained special prosecutor, who represents the State
or local agency administrating the programs under parts B and E
of title IV of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 620 et seq.;
670 et seq.) in a proceeding conducted by, or under the
supervision of, an abuse and neglect court, including a
proceeding for termination of parental rights.
SEC. 4. <<NOTE: 42 USC 670 note.>> GRANTS TO STATE COURTS AND
LOCAL COURTS TO AUTOMATE THE DATA COLLECTION
AND TRACKING OF PROCEEDINGS IN ABUSE AND
(a) Authority To Award Grants.--
(1) In general.--Subject to paragraph (2), the Attorney
General, acting through the Office of Juvenile Justice and
Delinquency Prevention of the Office of Justice Programs, shall
award grants in accordance with this section to State courts and
local courts for the purposes of--
(A) enabling such courts to develop and implement
automated data collection and case-tracking systems for
proceedings conducted by, or under the supervision of,
an abuse and neglect court;
(B) encouraging the replication of such systems in
abuse and neglect courts in other jurisdictions; and
(C) requiring the use of such systems to evaluate a
court's performance in implementing the requirements of
parts B and E of title IV of the Social Security Act (42
U.S.C. 620 et seq.; 670 et seq.).
(A) Number of grants.--Not less than 20 nor more
than 50 grants may be awarded under this section.
(B) Per state limitation.--Not more than 2 grants
authorized under this section may be awarded per State.
(C) Use of grants.--Funds provided under a grant
made under this section may only be used for the purpose
of developing, implementing, or enhancing automated data
collection and case-tracking systems for proceedings
conducted by, or under the supervision of, an abuse and
(1) In general.--A State court or local court may submit an
application for a grant authorized under this section at such
time and in such manner as the Attorney General may determine.
[[Page 114 STAT. 1269]]
(2) Information required.--An application for a grant
authorized under this section shall contain the following:
(A) A description of a proposed plan for the
development, implementation, and maintenance of an
automated data collection and case-tracking system for
proceedings conducted by, or under the supervision of,
an abuse and neglect court, including a proposed budget
for the plan and a request for a specific funding
(B) A description of the extent to which such plan
and system are able to be replicated in abuse and
neglect courts of other jurisdictions that specifies the
common case-tracking data elements of the proposed
system, including, at a minimum--
(i) identification of relevant judges, court,
and agency personnel;
(ii) records of all court proceedings with
regard to the abuse and neglect case, including
all court findings and orders (oral and written);
(iii) relevant information about the subject
child, including family information and the reason
for court supervision.
(C) In the case of an application submitted by a
local court, a description of how the plan to implement
the proposed system was developed in consultation with
related State courts, particularly with regard to a
State court improvement plan funded under section 13712
of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (42
U.S.C. 670 note) if there is such a plan in the State.
(D) In the case of an application that is submitted
by a State court, a description of how the proposed
system will integrate with a State court improvement
plan funded under section 13712 of such Act if there is
such a plan in the State.
(E) After consultation with the State agency
responsible for the administration of parts B and E of
title IV of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 620 et
seq.; 670 et seq.)--
(i) a description of the coordination of the
proposed system with other child welfare data
collection systems, including the statewide
automated child welfare information system
(SACWIS) and the adoption and foster care analysis
and reporting system (AFCARS) established pursuant
to section 479 of the Social Security Act (42
U.S.C. 679); and
(ii) an assurance that such coordination will
be implemented and maintained.
(F) Identification of an independent third party
that will conduct ongoing evaluations of the feasibility
and implementation of the plan and system and a
description of the plan for conducting such evaluations.
(G) A description or identification of a proposed
funding source for completion of the plan (if
applicable) and maintenance of the system after the
conclusion of the period for which the grant is to be
(H) An assurance that any contract entered into
between the State court or local court and any other
[[Page 114 STAT. 1270]]
that is to provide services for the development,
implementation, or maintenance of the system under the
proposed plan will require the entity to agree to allow
for replication of the services provided, the plan, and
the system, and to refrain from asserting any
proprietary interest in such services for purposes of
allowing the plan and system to be replicated in another
(I) An assurance that the system established under
the plan will provide data that allows for evaluation
(at least on an annual basis) of the following
(i) The total number of cases that are filed
in the abuse and neglect court.
(ii) The number of cases assigned to each
judge who presides over the abuse and neglect
(iii) The average length of stay of children
in foster care.
(iv) With respect to each child under the
jurisdiction of the court--
(I) the number of episodes of
placement in foster care;
(II) the number of days placed in
foster care and the type of placement
(foster family home, group home, or
special residential care facility);
(III) the number of days of in-home
(IV) the number of separate foster
(v) The number of adoptions, guardianships, or
other permanent dispositions finalized.
(vi) The number of terminations of parental
(vii) The number of child abuse and neglect
proceedings closed that had been pending for 2 or
(viii) With respect to each proceeding
conducted by, or under the supervision of, an
abuse and neglect court--
(I) the timeliness of each stage of
the proceeding from initial filing
through legal finalization of a
permanency plan (for both contested and
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106th Congressional Public Laws Records and Documents
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