P.A. 22-135 AAC the Recommendations of the Office of the Child Advocate. (S.B. 308)
This bill makes several changes in laws related to the Office of the Child Advocate (OCA). It:
- expands the age range, from children age 20 or younger to children age 21 and under, for which the child advocate must report confinement conditions;
- requires the child advocate to report at least three times each year to the OCA advisory committee on the office’s goals and projects, within available appropriations, that are consistent with the child advocate’s responsibilities;
- requires the OCA advisory committee to (a) meet at least three times each year with the child advocate and her staff to receive her reports and (b) annually evaluate OCA’s effectiveness; and
- extends existing law’s whistleblower protections that prohibit municipal agencies from discharging, discriminating, or retaliating against employees who make good faith complaints to OCA, or cooperate with OCA investigations, to cover employees of any agency or entity providing publicly funded services.
Under existing law, the child advocate has the right to inspect and copy any records necessary to carry out her responsibilities. The bill specifies that the child advocate has the right to request and promptly inspect and copy these records. Additionally, the bill requires requested records to be provided to her within 14 days of the request. By law, the child advocate may issue a subpoena for records she is denied access to.
The bill also allows the child advocate to disclose confidential information to a child’s legal representative if the disclosure is necessary to enable the child advocate to perform her responsibilities or to identify, prevent, or treat a child’s abuse or neglect. Under current law, the child advocate may only disclose this information to the appropriate agency responsible for the child’s welfare.
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