H.B. 823
May 4, 2021
Short Title: Child Advocacy Centers/Share Information. (Public)
Sponsors: Representative Saine.
Referred to:
4 The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:
5 SECTION 1. Chapter 108A of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new
6 Article to read:
7 "Article 3A.
8 "Child Advocacy Centers.
9 "§ 108A-75.1. Definitions.
10 The following definitions apply in this Article:
11 (1) Child. – Any individual under 18 years of age, or any individual who has a
12 developmental disability, as defined in G.S. 122C-3(12a), that severely
13 impacts conceptual, social, and practical areas of living to the extent the
14 individual cannot live in an independent environment.
15 (2) Child maltreatment. – Any sexual or physical abuse of a child, human
16 trafficking of a child, exploitation of a child, any offense as defined in
17 G.S. 7B-101(1), 7B-101(9), or 7B-101(15), or any act as described in
18 G.S. 110-105.3.
19 (3) Children's Advocacy Center. – A child-focused, trauma-informed,
20 facility-based program in good standing with Children's Advocacy Centers of
21 North Carolina, Inc., or its successor, that assists in the coordination of the
22 investigation of child abuse by promoting a coordinated, multidisciplinary
23 response to cases of child maltreatment in which representatives from law
24 enforcement, child protective services, or prosecution, mental health, forensic
25 interviewing, medical, or victim advocacy groups or disciplines collaborate to
26 make team decisions about the investigation, prosecution, safety, treatment,
27 and support services to provide, directly or by formalized agreements, services
28 that include forensic interviews, medical examinations, mental health and
29 other related support services, court advocacy, consultation, and training, for
30 children suspected to be victims of child maltreatment and their nonoffending
31 family members.
32 (4) Department. – As defined in G.S. 7B-101(8a).
33 (5) Forensic interview. – An interview between a trained forensic interviewer and
34 a child in which the interviewer obtains information from the child in a
35 developmentally and culturally sensitive, unbiased, fact-finding, and legally
36 sound manner to support accurate and fair decision making by the
General Assembly Of North Carolina Session 2021
1 multidisciplinary team in the criminal justice and child protection systems. All
2 interviews must meet State and national standards for forensic interviews, as
3 defined by the Children's Advocacy Centers of North Carolina, Inc., or its
4 successor.
5 (6) Multidisciplinary team. – A group of professionals who represent various
6 disciplines working collaboratively under a written protocol that coordinate,
7 investigate, and are involved in the prosecution of child abuse cases to assure
8 the most effective coordinated response to reports of child maltreatment. In
9 addition to the members listed in this subdivision, a multidisciplinary team
10 may include other professionals involved in the delivery of services to victims
11 of child maltreatment or their nonoffending caregivers and families.
12 Participation in a multidisciplinary team shall not preclude any member from
13 carrying out any mandated responsibility of his or her profession. A Children's
14 Advocacy Center's multidisciplinary team must include, at a minimum, the
15 following professionals:
16 a. A member of participating law enforcement agencies.
17 b. The county district attorney or assistant district attorney.
18 c. A member of the department's child protective services.
19 d. A local mental health provider.
20 e. A local health care provider.
21 f. A victim advocate.
22 g. Children's Advocacy Center staff.
23 "§ 108A-75.2. Entity; eligibility.
24 (a) In order to receive State funds or federal funds administered or distributed by a State
25 agency or any other funds appropriated or allocated by the North Carolina General Assembly, a
26 Child Advocacy Center must satisfy all of the following requirements:
27 (1) Is a Children's Advocacy Center found to be in good standing with State
28 standards set forth by Children's Advocacy Centers of North Carolina, Inc., or
29 its successor.
30 (2) Is an independent nonprofit agency, which may be affiliated with an umbrella
31 organization, such as a hospital or another human or victim service agency, or
32 a part of a governmental entity, with sound administrative policies and
33 procedures designed to ensure quality of services and sustainability, which, at
34 a minimum, include policies governing job descriptions, personnel, financial
35 management, document retention and destruction, and safety and security, and
36 maintains appropriate commercial directors and officers and professional
37 liability insurance.
38 (3) Provides a child-friendly, trauma-informed space for children suspected to be
39 victims of child maltreatment and their nonoffending family members.
40 (4) Conducts on-site interviews of children by a forensic interviewer in
41 appropriate cases of suspected child maltreatment.
42 (5) Maintains a multidisciplinary team, which members meet on a regularly
43 scheduled basis and are routinely involved in investigations and
44 multidisciplinary team interventions.
45 (6) Has a written interagency agreement signed by authorized representatives of
46 all MDT participants that commits the signed parties to the multidisciplinary
47 model for the investigation of child maltreatment, and the agreement must be
48 reviewed and signed annually.
49 (7) Provides a space for multidisciplinary team meetings.
50 (8) Establishes and maintains written protocols, which comply with State and
51 national standards, governing multidisciplinary team case review; access to
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1 medical and mental health treatment; confidentiality of medical and mental
2 health records; information sharing among multidisciplinary team members;
3 functions of the multidisciplinary team; roles and responsibilities of
4 multidisciplinary team members and their interaction in the Children's
5 Advocacy Center; victim support; and advocacy services. These protocols
6 must be reviewed every three years and updated as needed to reflect current
7 practice.
8 (9) Has a designated staff that is supervised and approved by the Children's
9 Advocacy Center's Board of Directors or other governing entity.
10 (10) Provides case tracking of child abuse cases served through the Children's
11 Advocacy Center, according to written protocols. A Children's Advocacy
12 Center shall also track and be able to retrieve statistical data on the number of
13 child abuse cases seen at the center by sex, race and age, type of abuse,
14 relationship of the alleged offender to the child, multidisciplinary team
15 involvement and outcomes, charge disposition, child protection outcomes,
16 and status and follow-through of medical and mental health referrals.
17 (11) Provides medical exams or referrals for medical exams by health care
18 providers with specific training in child sexual and physical abuse who meet
19 required minimum State and national standards for training, documentation,
20 and review, according to the Children's Advocacy Center's written protocols.
21 (12) Provides mental health services or referrals for such mental health services by
22 licensed professionals who deliver trauma-focused, evidence-supported
23 treatment who meet the minimum standards established by the Children's
24 Advocacy Centers of North Carolina, Inc., or its successor.
25 (13) Provides training for various disciplines in the community that deal with child
26 maltreatment.
27 (14) Provide victim support and advocacy that meets State and national standards.
28 (15) Maintain cultural competency and diversity by completing a community
29 assessment every three years, which, at a minimum, shall do all of the
30 following:
31 a. Determine demographics of the community, clients, and the Children's
32 Advocacy Center's staff and board.
33 b. Determine underserved populations.
34 c. Identify and address gaps in services.
35 d. Develop strategies for outreach of underserved populations.
36 e. Monitor effectiveness of outreach and intervention strategies and
37 services that are tailored to meet the unique needs of all children.
38 (16) Provide annual trainings or educational opportunities for multidisciplinary
39 team member professional development.
40 (17) Ensure that Children's Advocacy Center employees and volunteers are
41 properly screened and trained in accordance with State and national standards.
42 (18) Provide all services to a child client regardless of the child or child's family's
43 ability to pay for those services.
44 (b) The Children's Advocacy Centers of North Carolina, Inc., or its successor, shall be
45 responsible for tracking and documenting compliance with all of the requirements of this section
46 and any funds it administers to an eligible Children's Advocacy Center.
47 "§ 108A-75.3. Sharing of information.
48 (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any pertinent or relevant information that
49 may be in the possession of a member of a multidisciplinary team concerning a child whose case
50 is being investigated or discussed by the multidisciplinary team shall be shared with the
51 respective team members as part of the discussion and coordination of efforts for investigative
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1 or treatment purposes. Upon a request under this section by a multidisciplinary team, any
2 individual or State agency with information or records concerning a child shall share all relevant
3 and pertinent information or records with the multidisciplinary team. A multidisciplinary team
4 shall follow a written protocol as determined by the Children Advocacy Center to request
5 information under this section. Only a multidisciplinary team which has accepted the child's case
6 for investigation or treatment shall be entitled to access information requested under this section.
7 Nothing herein shall require disclosure by the department of the identity of the person who made
8 a report pursuant to G.S. 7B-301(a), records protected by the federal Privacy Act of 1974, (P.L.
9 93-579), as amended, or confidential records relative to substance abuse or HIV status or
10 treatment.
11 (b) All information acquired by a multidisciplinary team in accordance with this section
12 shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed except to the extent necessary to perform case
13 consultations, to carry a treatment plan or recommendations, or in compliance with the
14 requirements of this Article. Information, documents, or records otherwise available from the
15 original sources shall not be immune from discovery or use in any civil or criminal action solely
16 on the basis of the information, documents, or records being used in a case consultation under
17 this Article.
18 (c) A multidisciplinary team member who participates in good faith in team discussions
19 or any person who, in good faith, cooperates with a multidisciplinary team by providing
20 information or records about a child whose case has been accepted for investigation or treatment
21 by a multidisciplinary team shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability for disclosure of
22 information, unless the disclosure of information was due to gross negligence, wanton conduct,
23 or intentional wrongdoing.
24 (d) This section shall not be construed to compel or require the disclosure or release of
25 any information in the possession of a district attorney.
26 "§ 108A-75.4. Access to Children's Advocacy Center records.
27 (a) Except as required by federal law, reports, correspondence, memoranda, case
28 histories, medical reports, and other materials compiled or created by a Children's Advocacy
29 Center performing services described in this section shall be confidential and shall not be released
30 or otherwise made available except to the following:
31 (1) The Department of Health and Human Services and local departments of
32 social services.
33 (2) Law enforcement agencies, a prosecuting district attorney, or the Attorney
34 General.
35 (3) A grand jury upon a finding that the records are necessary for the
36 determination of an issue before the grand jury and the information cannot be
37 obtained from the Department of Health and Human Services, law
38 enforcement agencies, the prosecuting attorney, or the Attorney General.
39 (4) An attorney for the child who is the subject of the records or a court-appointed
40 guardian ad litem with a valid court order.
41 (5) If the records sought are medical or mental health records, health care
42 providers or local management entity/managed care organizations providing
43 medical or psychiatric care or services to the child.
44 (6) Members of the Children's Advocacy Center's multidisciplinary team.
45 (7) Members of the Child Fatality Task Force.
46 (8) As permitted under G.S. 7B-3100.
47 (b) Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, a court of competent jurisdiction may
48 order that records of a Children's Advocacy Center be released to the court for an in camera
49 inspection upon a finding by the court that the records are necessary for the determination of a
50 criminal, civil, or administrative matter before a court or grand jury and the information cannot
51 be obtained from the Department of Health and Human Services, law enforcement agencies, the
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1 prosecuting attorney, or the Attorney General. After conducting an in camera inspection of the
2 records, the court shall only release the information from the records that is material and relevant
3 to the matter before the court and necessary to the proper administration of justice.
4 (c) Employees or designated agents of a Children's Advocacy Center may confirm with
5 another Children's Advocacy Center that a child has been seen for services at its facility. If an
6 authorization for release of information has been signed by the parent or guardian of the child, a
7 Children's Advocacy Center may also disclose relevant information to another Children's
8 Advocacy Center, consistent with State and federal law.
9 (d) A Children's Advocacy Ce