ANNAPOLIS – The Judiciary Committee of the Maryland House of Delegates will hold hearings on several bills that the Maryland Department of Human Resources has put forward to improve child welfare in the state on Thursday, February 10 beginning at 1 p.m.
The proposals are designed to: expand the different types of actions that can result from a child protective services investigation, waive reunification services for parents who have their parental rights terminated and modify the length of time DHR is permitted to keep files on the results of certain child abuse and neglect investigations.
House Bill 137
This bill authorizes DHR to develop a different way of responding to the safety needs of a child as a result of certain allegations of abuse. Instead of automatically conducting a child protective services investigation that would result in a finding of abuse or neglect, DHR would assess the needs of the family, and identify and provide services to assist the family and reduce the chances of the child coming into foster care.
Waiver of Reunification Services
House Bill 139
This bill would allow a local department of social services to waive its obligation to provide reunification services to a parent who has subjected any child to chronic abuse, chronic and life-threatening neglect, sexual abuse or torture. Currently, a request for a waiver does not cover an abused child’s siblings.
Expungement of Records Modification
House Bill 134
This bill would allow DHR to retain child protective services records for five years. Current law requires DHR to expunge reports, assessments, and investigative findings of child abuse and neglect within 120 days of a ruled out finding — if no further reports are received during the period. By expunging the records so quickly, DHR is unable to detect possible patterns of potential abusers.