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Budget Summary FY2018

Outside Section 128
Data Current as of:  11/30/2017




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Child Welfare Reporting Task Force

SECTION 128.   There shall be a task force on child welfare data reporting. The task force shall develop basic data measures, progress measures and key outcome measures to inform the legislature and the public about the status and demographics of the caseload of the department of children and families, the department's progress in achieving child welfare goals, including safety, permanency and well-being, the status of proceedings in the juvenile court department that involve children in the department's caseload and the status of children who are or have been involved in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

The task force shall develop criteria for measuring outcomes for children and families in the key child welfare domains of safety, permanency and well-being for children including, but not limited to, the outcomes of: (i) protecting children from abuse and neglect; (ii) safely maintaining children in their own homes whenever possible and appropriate; (iii) achieving stability and permanency for children in their living situations; (iv) preserving the continuity of family relationships; (v) enhancing the capacity of families to provide for the needs of children; (vi) ensuring that children receive appropriate services to meet their educational needs; (vii) ensuring that children receive the services necessary to meet their physical and mental health needs; (viii) achieving permanency and opportunity for young adults; (ix) complying with timeframes and deadlines for court hearings; and (x) minimizing the incidence of juvenile justice system involvement for children involved with the department of children and families.

The task force shall also make recommendations to: (i) ensure that department of children and families' annual, biannual and quarterly reports include appropriate data measures that are clearly defined, placed in the context of historical or other comparative data when necessary to convey the meaning of the reported data and include the department's current understanding as to why certain trends may be appearing in the data; (ii) eliminate reports that are no longer necessary; and (iii) ensure that reports are submitted on time and posted on the department's website. The task force shall also make recommendations about periodic reports from the courts on cases involving children involved with the department of children and families.

Not later than 45 days after the end of each quarter, the department of children and families shall publish on its website caseload profile reports that provide statewide, regional and area office summaries that include data covering the number of maltreatment reports received during the year; screen in and support decisions; number of children in placement; adoptions and guardianships legalized; consumer demographics including race and primary language; information relating to children that are in placement, including most recent intake, placement type, race, age group, continuous time in placement, gender, and service plan goal; and information relating to children that are not in placement, including most recent intake and age group.

The task force shall be comprised of the following persons or their designees: the child advocate who shall serve as co-chair; the commissioner of children and families who shall serve as co-chair; the senate and house chairs of the joint committee on children, families and persons with disabilities; the chief justice of the juvenile court department; the executive director of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, Inc.; the chief counsel of the committee for public counsel services; the executive director of Children's League of Massachusetts, Inc.; 1 person with expertise in child welfare data and outcome measurement to be chosen by the child advocate; and 1 person with expertise in the department of children and families' information technology, data collection and reporting systems to be chosen by the commissioner of children and families. The task force shall consult with other individuals who have relevant expertise as needed.

The task force shall meet not less than quarterly and, in the first 6 months of its first year, the full task force or its working groups shall meet at least monthly. Annually, on or before January 31, the task force shall file its recommendations, together with drafts of legislation necessary to implement those recommendations, with the clerks of the senate and house of representatives and the clerks shall forward the report to the senate and house chairs of the joint committee on children, families and persons with disabilities.
 

Veto Explanation:
I am vetoing this section and related sections 129 and 152 because they would require the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and Office of the Child Advocate (OCA) to establish a task force on child welfare data to develop a broad range of basic data measures. The reporting proposed by these sections is duplicative of numerous existing reporting requirements for key outcome and benchmark data pursuant to line item 4800-0015 of this budget, Chapters 18B and 119 of the General Laws, and 42 USC §671(a)(8) (Title IV-E of the Social Security Act and 45 CFR § 205.50 (Federal regulation of Title IV-E). Key benchmark data for DCF is publicly available on the Administration for Children and Families' Children's Bureau website, and DCF will continue to work with OCA to provide the public and the Legislature with accurate, actionable data concerning child welfare in the Commonwealth.