Bill Text: CA AB549 | 2021-2022 | Regular Session | Introduced

NOTE: There are more recent revisions of this legislation. Read Latest Draft
Bill Title: Nonminor dependents.

Spectrum: Slight Partisan Bill (Democrat 3-1)

Status: (Introduced) 2021-05-20 - In committee: Held under submission. [AB549 Detail]

Download: California-2021-AB549-Introduced.html


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 549


Introduced by Assembly Member Gipson
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Santiago and Stone)

February 10, 2021


An act to amend, repeal, and add Section 355 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to nonminor dependents.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 549, as introduced, Gipson. Nonminor dependents.
Existing law establishes the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, which may adjudge a petition for a child to be a dependent of the court under certain circumstances, including when the child is abused, a parent or guardian fails to adequately supervise or protect the child, as specified, or a parent or guardian fails to provide the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical treatment.
Existing law authorizes the juvenile court to retain jurisdiction over a person who is found to be a ward or a dependent child of the juvenile court until the ward or dependent child attains 21 years of age. Existing law also authorizes a nonminor who has not yet attained 21 years of age and who exited foster care at or after the age of majority to petition the court to resume dependency jurisdiction or to assume transition jurisdiction, as described.
Under this bill, a court would not be precluded from finding that a minor is a dependent of the court on the sole basis that the minor will turn 18 years of age prior to disposition of the petition. The bill would require the court to report on the total number of cases pursuant to that provision, as specified. The bill would repeal these provisions January 1, 2023.
By imposing additional duties on county employees, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this act to do both of the following:
(a) To ensure that a youth who was subject to a foster care order, and who has not yet been adjudged a dependent or ward of the juvenile court, on their 18th birthday is able to access extended foster care during the COVID-19 pandemic, considering the impacts the pandemic has placed on the dependency court and child welfare system.
(b) To ensure that data is collected regarding the impact of COVID-19 on youth in trying to access the child welfare system.

SEC. 2.

 Section 355 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

355.
 (a) At the jurisdictional hearing, the court shall first consider only the question whether the minor is a person described by in Section 300. Any legally admissible evidence that is relevant to the circumstances or acts that are alleged to bring the minor within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court is admissible and may be received in evidence. Proof by a preponderance of evidence must be adduced to support a finding that the minor is a person described by in Section 300. Objections that could have been made to evidence introduced shall be deemed to have been made by a parent or guardian who is present at the hearing and unrepresented by counsel, unless the court finds that the parent or guardian has made a knowing and intelligent waiver of the right to counsel. Objections that could have been made to evidence introduced shall be deemed to have been made by an unrepresented child.
(b) A social study prepared by the petitioning agency, and hearsay evidence contained in it, is admissible and constitutes competent evidence upon which a finding of jurisdiction pursuant to Section 300 may be based, to the extent allowed by subdivisions (c) and (d).
(1) For purposes of this section, “social study” means any written report furnished to the juvenile court and to all parties or their counsel by the county probation or welfare department in any matter involving the custody, status, or welfare of a minor in a dependency proceeding pursuant to Article 6 (commencing with Section 300) to Article 12 (commencing with Section 385), inclusive.
(2) The preparer of the social study shall be made available for cross-examination upon a timely request by a party. The court may deem the preparer available for cross-examination if it determines that the preparer is on telephone standby and can be present in court within a reasonable time of the request.
(3) The court may grant a reasonable continuance not to exceed 10 days upon request by any party if the social study is not provided to the parties or their counsel within a reasonable time before the hearing.
(c) (1) If a party to the jurisdictional hearing raises a timely objection to the admission of specific hearsay evidence contained in a social study, the specific hearsay evidence shall not be sufficient by itself to support a jurisdictional finding or any ultimate fact upon which a jurisdictional finding is based, unless the petitioner establishes one or more of the following exceptions:
(A) The hearsay evidence would be admissible in any civil or criminal proceeding under any statutory or decisional exception to the prohibition against hearsay.
(B) The hearsay declarant is a minor under 12 years of age who is the subject of the jurisdictional hearing. However, the hearsay statement of a minor under 12 years of age shall not be admissible if the objecting party establishes that the statement is unreliable because it was the product of fraud, deceit, or undue influence.
(C) The hearsay declarant is a peace officer as defined by Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2 of the Penal Code, a health practitioner described in paragraphs (21) to (28), inclusive, of subdivision (a) of Section 11165.7 of the Penal Code, a social worker licensed pursuant to Chapter 14 (commencing with Section 4991) of Division 2 of the Business and Professions Code, or a teacher who holds a credential pursuant to Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 44200) of Part 25 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Education Code. For the purpose of this subdivision, evidence in a declaration is admissible only to the extent that it would otherwise be admissible under this section or if the declarant were present and testifying in court.
(D) The hearsay declarant is available for cross-examination. For purposes of this section, the court may deem a witness available for cross-examination if it determines that the witness is on telephone standby and can be present in court within a reasonable time of a request to examine the witness.
(2) For purposes of this subdivision, an objection is timely if it identifies with reasonable specificity the disputed hearsay evidence and it gives the petitioner a reasonable period of time to meet the objection prior to a contested hearing.
(d) This section shall not be construed to does not limit the right of a party to the jurisdictional hearing to subpoena a witness whose statement is contained in the social study or to introduce admissible evidence relevant to the weight of the hearsay evidence or the credibility of the hearsay declarant.
(e) (1) As a result of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the court is not precluded from finding that the minor is a person described in Section 300 on the sole basis that the minor will turn 18 years of age prior to the disposition of the petition. In these limited cases, the court may find that it is in the person’s best interest to be declared a nonminor dependent.
(2) The court shall report to the chairs of the relevant policy committees in the Senate and the Assembly on the total number of cases that this subdivision was applied, and the minimum, maximum, and average number of days from the detention hearing to the jurisdictional hearing, if known.
(f) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2023, and as of that date is repealed.

SEC. 3.

 Section 355 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

355.
 (a) At the jurisdictional hearing, the court shall first consider only the question whether the minor is a person described in Section 300. Any legally admissible evidence that is relevant to the circumstances or acts that are alleged to bring the minor within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court is admissible and may be received in evidence. Proof by a preponderance of evidence must be adduced to support a finding that the minor is a person described in Section 300. Objections that could have been made to evidence introduced shall be deemed to have been made by a parent or guardian who is present at the hearing and unrepresented by counsel, unless the court finds that the parent or guardian has made a knowing and intelligent waiver of the right to counsel. Objections that could have been made to evidence introduced shall be deemed to have been made by an unrepresented child.
(b) A social study prepared by the petitioning agency, and hearsay evidence contained in it, is admissible and constitutes competent evidence upon which a finding of jurisdiction pursuant to Section 300 may be based, to the extent allowed by subdivisions (c) and (d).
(1) For purposes of this section, “social study” means any written report furnished to the juvenile court and to all parties or their counsel by the county probation or welfare department in any matter involving the custody, status, or welfare of a minor in a dependency proceeding pursuant to Article 6 (commencing with Section 300) to Article 12 (commencing with Section 385), inclusive.
(2) The preparer of the social study shall be made available for cross-examination upon a timely request by a party. The court may deem the preparer available for cross-examination if it determines that the preparer is on telephone standby and can be present in court within a reasonable time of the request.
(3) The court may grant a reasonable continuance not to exceed 10 days upon request by any party if the social study is not provided to the parties or their counsel within a reasonable time before the hearing.
(c) (1) If a party to the jurisdictional hearing raises a timely objection to the admission of specific hearsay evidence contained in a social study, the specific hearsay evidence shall not be sufficient by itself to support a jurisdictional finding or any ultimate fact upon which a jurisdictional finding is based, unless the petitioner establishes one or more of the following exceptions:
(A) The hearsay evidence would be admissible in any civil or criminal proceeding under any statutory or decisional exception to the prohibition against hearsay.
(B) The hearsay declarant is a minor under 12 years of age who is the subject of the jurisdictional hearing. However, the hearsay statement of a minor under 12 years of age shall not be admissible if the objecting party establishes that the statement is unreliable because it was the product of fraud, deceit, or undue influence.
(C) The hearsay declarant is a peace officer as defined by Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2 of the Penal Code, a health practitioner described in paragraphs (21) to (28), inclusive, of subdivision (a) of Section 11165.7 of the Penal Code, a social worker licensed pursuant to Chapter 14 (commencing with Section 4991) of Division 2 of the Business and Professions Code, or a teacher who holds a credential pursuant to Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 44200) of Part 25 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Education Code. For the purpose of this subdivision, evidence in a declaration is admissible only to the extent that it would otherwise be admissible under this section or if the declarant were present and testifying in court.
(D) The hearsay declarant is available for cross-examination. For purposes of this section, the court may deem a witness available for cross-examination if it determines that the witness is on telephone standby and can be present in court within a reasonable time of a request to examine the witness.
(2) For purposes of this subdivision, an objection is timely if it identifies with reasonable specificity the disputed hearsay evidence and it gives the petitioner a reasonable period of time to meet the objection prior to a contested hearing.
(d) This section does not limit the right of a party to the jurisdictional hearing to subpoena a witness whose statement is contained in the social study or to introduce admissible evidence relevant to the weight of the hearsay evidence or the credibility of the hearsay declarant.
(e) This section shall become operative on January 1, 2023.

SEC. 4.

 To the extent that this act has an overall effect of increasing the costs already borne by a local agency for programs or levels of service mandated by the 2011 Realignment Legislation within the meaning of Section 36 of Article XIII of the California Constitution, it shall apply to local agencies only to the extent that the state provides annual funding for the cost increase. Any new program or higher level of service provided by a local agency pursuant to this act above the level for which funding has been provided shall not require a subvention of funds by the state or otherwise be subject to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.
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