Special Session of 2020
HOUSE BILL No. 2019
By Representative Ousley
1 AN ACT establishing the office of the child advocate for children's
2 protection and services within the department of administration;
3 prescribing certain powers, duties and functions; amending K.S.A.
4 2019 Supp. 38-2211, 38-2212, 38-2213, 38-2309 and 38-2310 and
5 repealing the existing sections.
7 Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Kansas:
8 New Section 1. As used in sections 1 through 8, and amendments
10 (a) "Office" means the office of the child advocate for children's
11 protection and services within the department of administration and
12 includes the child advocate and staff; and
13 (b) "recipient" means any child who is receiving services from the
14 Kansas department for children and families.
15 New Sec. 2. (a) There is hereby established within the department of
16 administration the office of the child advocate for children's protection and
17 services for the purpose of assuring that children receive adequate
18 protection and care through services offered by the Kansas department for
19 children and families.
20 (b) The office shall be administered by the child advocate, who shall
21 be appointed by the governor, subject to confirmation by the senate as
22 provided in K.S.A. 75-4315b, and amendments thereto. The child advocate
23 shall report directly to the secretary of administration. The child advocate
24 shall hold office for a term of six years and shall continue to hold office
25 until a successor has been duly appointed. The child advocate shall act
26 independently of the Kansas department for children and families in the
27 performance of the child advocate's duties. The department of
28 administration shall provide administrative support and staff to the office
29 as deemed necessary by the child advocate.
30 (c) For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021, and for each fiscal year
31 thereafter, the secretary of administration shall include the budget estimate
32 of the office, as prepared and approved by the child advocate, with the
33 budget estimate prepared and submitted to the division of the budget for
34 the department of administration under K.S.A. 75-3717, and amendments
35 thereto. Expenditures from appropriations to the department of
36 administration for the office, made pursuant to budget estimates for the
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1 office, shall be made on vouchers approved by the child advocate or the
2 child advocate's designee. All vouchers for expenditures and all payrolls of
3 the office shall be approved by the child advocate or the child advocate's
5 New Sec. 3. (a) The office of the child advocate for children's
6 protection and services shall have access to the following information:
7 (1) The names and physical location of all children in protective
8 services, treatment or other programs under the jurisdiction of the Kansas
9 department for children and families;
10 (2) all written reports of child abuse and neglect; and
11 (3) all current records required to be maintained pursuant to articles
12 22 and 23 of chapter 38 of the Kansas Statutes Annotated, and
13 amendments thereto.
14 (b) The office shall have the authority to:
15 (1) Communicate privately with any child under protective services
16 and anyone working with the child, including the family, relatives,
17 employees of the Kansas department for children and families and other
18 persons or entities providing treatment and services;
19 (2) access, including the right to inspect, copy and subpoena, relevant
20 child records held by the clerk of any Kansas court, public or private
21 institutions and other agencies or persons with whom a particular child has
22 been either voluntarily or otherwise placed for care or from whom the
23 child has received treatment within this state or in another state;
24 (3) work in conjunction with guardians ad litem;
25 (4) file any findings or reports of the child advocate regarding the
26 parent or child with the appropriate court and issue recommendations
27 regarding the disposition of an investigation to the court and to the
28 investigating agency;
29 (5) file amicus curiae briefs on behalf of the interests of the parent or
31 (6) utilize the resources of the office of the attorney general, as
32 necessary, to carry out any duties of the child advocate for children's
33 protection and services that require legal counsel or services, as authorized
34 pursuant to sections 1 through 8, and amendments thereto;
35 (7) initiate meetings with personnel from the Kansas department for
36 children and families;
37 (8) take whatever steps are appropriate to ensure that individuals are
38 made aware of the services of the office, its purpose and how it can be
40 (9) apply for and accept grants, gifts and bequests of moneys from
41 other state, interstate or federal agencies, independent authorities, private
42 firms, individuals and foundations to carry out the child advocate's duties
43 and responsibilities. The moneys shall be deposited in a dedicated account
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1 established within the office to permit moneys to be expended in
2 accordance with the provisions of the grant or bequest; and
3 (10) subject to appropriations, establish local panels as needed on a
4 regional or county basis to adequately and efficiently carry out the
5 functions and duties of the office and address complaints in a timely
7 (c) (1) For any information obtained from a state agency or other
8 entity under sections 1 through 8, and amendments thereto, the office shall
9 be subject to the same state and federal statutory disclosure restrictions and
10 confidentiality requirements that are applicable to the state agency or other
11 entity providing such information to the office.
12 (2) The provisions of this subsection providing for confidentiality of
13 records shall expire on July 1, 2025, unless the legislature reenacts such
14 provisions. The legislature shall review this subsection pursuant to K.S.A.
15 45-229, and amendments thereto, prior to July 1, 2025.
16 New Sec. 4. (a) The office of the child advocate for children's
17 protection and services shall establish and implement procedures for
18 receiving, processing, responding to and resolving complaints made by or
19 on behalf of children who are recipients of services from the Kansas
20 department for children and families. Such procedures shall address
21 complaints relating to the actions, inactions or decisions of service
22 providers, including contractors, subcontractors and any juvenile court,
23 that may adversely affect the health, safety, welfare or rights of such
25 (b) The office shall have the authority to make the necessary inquiries
26 and review relevant information and records as the office deems necessary.
27 (c) The office may recommend to any state or local agency changes
28 in the rules and regulations adopted or proposed by such state or local
29 agency that adversely affect or may adversely affect the health, safety,
30 welfare or civil or human rights of any recipient. The office shall
31 recommend changes to any current policies and procedures. The office
32 shall analyze and monitor the development and implementation of federal,
33 state and local laws, rules and regulations and policies with respect to
34 services in the state and shall recommend to the Kansas department for
35 children and families, courts, the legislature and the governor changes in
36 such laws, rules and regulations and policies deemed by the office to be
38 (d) The office shall inform recipients, their guardians or their families
39 of their rights and entitlements under state and federal laws and rules and
40 regulations through the distribution of educational materials.
41 (e) The office shall annually submit to the governor, the legislature
42 and the supreme court a detailed report on the work of the office. Such
43 report shall include, but not be limited to, the number of complaints
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1 received by the office, the disposition of such complaints, the number of
2 recipients involved in such complaints, the state entities named in such
3 complaints, whether such complaints were found to be substantiated and
4 any recommendations for improving the delivery of services to reduce
5 complaints or improving the function of the office.
6 New Sec. 5. (a) The office of the child advocate for children's
7 protection and services shall have the authority to and may conduct an
8 independent review of any entity within a county that has experienced
9 three or more reports of child abuse or neglect in a calendar year,
10 including, but not limited to, the Kansas department for children and
11 families or any guardian ad litem. The office shall establish and implement
12 procedures for reviewing any such entity.
13 (b) The office shall have the authority to make the necessary inquiries
14 and review relevant information and records as the office deems necessary
15 in order to conduct such reviews.
16 (c) The office may recommend changes to any entity's policies and
17 procedures based on the results of the review in order to improve the
18 delivery of services or the function of the entity. Upon completing a
19 review under this section, the office shall submit any findings and
20 recommendations to the Kansas department for children and families.
21 New Sec. 6. (a) The secretary for children and families shall enter
22 into agreements with the office of the child advocate for children's
23 protection and services for the provision of financial assistance to the
24 office by the Kansas department for children and families from available
25 state and federal funds of the Kansas department for children and families.
26 This financial assistance shall be to assist the child advocate to provide
27 child advocacy services in accordance with sections 1 through 8, and
28 amendments thereto.
29 (b) For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021, and for each fiscal year
30 thereafter, the secretary for children and families shall include in the
31 budget estimates prepared and submitted to the division of the budget for
32 the Kansas department for children and families under K.S.A. 75-3717,
33 and amendments thereto, in addition to other amounts included in such
34 budget estimates for the Kansas department for children and families,
35 amounts to be provided to the office during such fiscal year pursuant to
36 this section. The amounts included in each such budget estimate to be
37 provided to the office shall include amounts to be appropriated from
38 federal moneys provided to the Kansas department for children and
39 families. Commencing in the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2022, in no
40 case shall the aggregate of the amounts included in any such budget
41 estimates of the Kansas department for children and families that are to be
42 provided to the office be less than the aggregate of all moneys provided
43 during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021, by the Kansas department for
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1 children and families for the office from appropriations to the Kansas
2 department for children and families, including moneys received under
3 federal programs for children. The aggregate amounts included in each
4 such budget estimates of the Kansas department for children and families
5 that are to be provided to the office shall be adjusted appropriately for
6 increases attributable to inflation and other applicable factors.
7 New Sec. 7. (a) The identity of any complainant or recipient shall not
8 be disclosed by the office unless:
9 (1) The complainant or recipient, respectively, or the complainant's or
10 recipient's legal representative, consents in writing to such disclosure; or
11 (2) such disclosure is required by court order.
12 (b) Any statement or communication made by the office relevant to a
13 complaint being addressed by the office and any complaint or information
14 made or provided in good faith by any person shall be absolutely
15 privileged, and such person shall be immune from suit for such statement,
16 communication, complaint or information.
17 (c) Any representative of the office conducting or participating in any
18 examination of a complaint who knowingly and willfully discloses to any
19 person other than the office, or those persons authorized by the office to
20 receive it, the name of any witness examined or any information obtained
21 or given during such examination shall be guilty of a class A nonperson
22 misdemeanor. The office conducting or participating in any examination of
23 a complaint shall disclose the final result of the examination with the
24 consent of the recipient.
25 (d) The office shall not be required to testify in any court with respect
26 to matters held to be confidential in this section, except as the court may
27 deem necessary to enforce the provisions of sections 1 through 8, and
28 amendments thereto, or when otherwise required by court order.
29 (e) The provisions of this section providing for confidentiality of
30 records shall expire on July 1, 2025, unless the legislature reenacts such
31 provisions. The legislature shall review this section pursuant to K.S.A. 45-
32 229, and amendments thereto, prior to July 1, 2025.
33 New Sec. 8. (a) Any employee of the office of the child advocate for
34 children's protection and services shall be treated as a representative of the
35 office. No representative of the office shall be held liable for the good faith
36 performance of such representative's official duties under the provisions of
37 sections 1 through 8, and amendments thereto, and such representative
38 shall be immune from suit for the good faith performance of such duties.
39 Every representative of the office shall be considered an employee of the
40 state of Kansas.
41 (b) (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), no reprisal or retaliatory
42 action shall be taken against any recipient or employee of the Kansas
43 department for children and families for any communication made or
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1 information given to the office. Any person who knowingly or willfully
2 violates the provisions of this paragraph shall be guilty of a class A
3 nonperson misdemeanor.
4 (2) Paragraph (1) shall not apply to an employee who discloses:
5 (A) Information that such employee knows to be false or who
6 discloses information with disregard for the truth or falsity of the
7 information; or
8 (B) without lawful authority, information that is confidential under
9 any other provision of law.
10 (c) As used in this section, "reprisal or retaliatory action" includes,
11 but is not limited to:
12 (1) Letters of reprimand or unsatisfactory performance evaluations;
13 (2) transfer;
14 (3) demotion;
15 (4) reduction in pay;
16 (5) denial of promotion;
17 (6) suspension;
18 (7) dismissal; and
19 (8) denial of employment.
20 Sec. 9. K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 38-2211 is hereby amended to read as
21 follows: 38-2211. (a) Access to the official file. The following persons or
22 entities shall have access to the official file of a child in need of care
23 proceeding pursuant to this code:
24 (1) The court having jurisdiction over the proceedings, including the
25 presiding judge and any court personnel designated by the judge.
26 (2) The parties to the proceedings and their attorneys.
27 (3) The guardian ad litem for a child who is the subject of the
29 (4) A court appointed special advocate for a child who is the subject
30 of the proceeding or a paid staff member of a court appointed special
31 advocate program.
32 (5) Any individual, or any public or private agency or institution,
33 having custody of the child under court order or providing educational,
34 medical or mental health services to the child or any placement provider or
35 potential placement provider as determined by the secretary or court
36 services officer.
37 (6) A citizen review board.
38 (7) The secretary of corrections or any agents designated by the
39 secretary of corrections.
40 (8) Any county or district attorney from another jurisdiction with a
41 pending child in need of care matter regarding any of the same parties.
42 (9) Any other person when authorized by a court order, subject to any
43 conditions imposed by the order.
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1 (10) The commission on judicial performance in the discharge of the
2 commission's duties pursuant to article 32 of chapter 20 of the Kansas
3 Statutes Annotated, and amendments thereto.
4 (11) The office of the child advocate for children's protection and
5 services, pursuant to sections 1 through 8, and amendments thereto.
6 (b) Access to the social file. The following persons or entities shall
7 have access to the social file of a child in need of care proceeding pursuant
8 to this code:
9 (1) The court having jurisdiction over the proceeding, including the
10 presiding judge and any court personnel designated by the judge.
11 (2) The attorney for a party to the proceeding or the person or persons
12 designated by an Indian tribe that is a party.
13 (3) The guardian