[United States Statutes at Large, Volume 120, 109th Congress, 2nd Session]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov]

120 STAT. 508

Public Law 109-239
109th Congress

An Act


 
To improve protections for children and to hold States accountable for
the safe and timely placement of children across State lines, and for
other purposes.  NOTE: July 3, 2006 -  [H.R. 5403]

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress  NOTE: Safe and Timely Interstate
Placement of Foster Children Act of 2006. 42 USC 1305 note.  assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ``Safe and Timely Interstate Placement
of Foster Children Act of 2006''.

SEC. 2. SENSE OF THE CONGRESS.

It is the sense of the Congress that--
(1) the States should expeditiously ratify the revised
Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children recently
promulgated by the American Public Human Services Association;
(2) this Act and the revised Interstate Compact for the
Placement of Children should not apply to those seeking
placement in a licensed residential facility primarily to access
clinical mental heath services;
(3) the States should recognize and implement the deadlines
for the completion and approval of home studies as provided in
section 4 to move children more quickly into safe, permanent
homes; and
(4) Federal policy should encourage the safe and expedited
placement of children into safe, permanent homes across State
lines.

SEC. 3. ORDERLY AND TIMELY PROCESS FOR INTERSTATE PLACEMENT OF CHILDREN.

Section 471(a) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 671(a)) is
amended--
(1) by striking ``and'' at the end of paragraph (23);
(2) by striking the period at the end of paragraph (24) and
inserting ``; and''; and
(3) by adding at the end the following:
``(25)  NOTE: Procedures.  provide that the State shall
have in effect procedures for the orderly and timely interstate
placement of children; and procedures implemented in accordance
with an interstate compact, if incorporating with the procedures
prescribed by paragraph (26), shall be considered to satisfy the
requirement of this paragraph.''.

SEC. 4. HOME STUDIES.

(a) Orderly Process.--
(1) In general.--Section 471(a) of the Social Security Act
(42 U.S.C. 671(a)) is further amended--

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120 STAT. 509

(A) by striking ``and'' at the end of paragraph
(24);
(B) by striking the period at the end of paragraph
(25) and inserting ``; and''; and
(C) by adding at the end the following:
``(26) provides that--
``(A)(i)  NOTE: Deadline. Contracts.  within 60
days after the State receives from another State a
request to conduct a study of a home environment for
purposes of assessing the safety and suitability of
placing a child in the home, the State shall, directly
or by contract--
``(I) conduct and complete the study; and
``(II)  NOTE: Reports.  return to the other
State a report on the results of the study, which
shall address the extent to which placement in the
home would meet the needs of the child; and
``(ii) in the case of a home study begun on or
before September 30, 2008, if the State fails to comply
with clause (i) within the 60-day period as a result of
circumstances beyond the control of the State (such as a
failure by a Federal agency to provide the results of a
background check, or the failure by any entity to
provide completed medical forms, requested by the State
at least 45 days before the end of the 60-day period),
the State shall have 75 days to comply with clause (i)
if the State documents the circumstances involved and
certifies that completing the home study is in the best
interests of the child; except that
``(iii) this subparagraph shall not be construed to
require the State to have completed, within the
applicable period, the parts of the home study involving
the education and training of the prospective foster or
adoptive parents;
``(B) the State shall treat any report described in
subparagraph (A) that is received from another State or
an Indian tribe (or from a private agency under contract
with another State) as meeting any requirements imposed
by the State for the completion of a home study before
placing a child in the home, unless, within 14 days
after receipt of the report, the State determines, based
on grounds that are specific to the content of the
report, that making a decision in reliance on the report
would be contrary to the welfare of the child; and
``(C) the State shall not impose any restriction on
the ability of a State agency administering, or
supervising the administration of, a State program
operated under a State plan approved under this part to
contract with a private agency for the conduct of a home
study described in subparagraph (A).''.
(2) Report to the congress.--Within 12 months after the date
of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Health and Human
Services shall submit to the Committee on Ways and Means of the
House of Representatives and the Committee on Finance of the
Senate a written report on--
(A) how frequently States need the extended 75-day
period provided for in clause (ii) of section
471(a)(26)(A) of the Social Security Act in order to
comply with clause (i) of such section;

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120 STAT. 510

(B) the reasons given for utilizing the extended
compliance period;
(C) the extent to which utilizing the extended
compliance period leads to the resolution of the
circumstances beyond the control of the State; and
(D) the actions taken by States and any relevant
Federal agencies to resolve the need for the extended
compliance period.
(3) Sense of the congress.--It is the sense of the Congress
that each State should--
(A) use private agencies to conduct home studies
when doing so is necessary to meet the requirements of
section 471(a)(26) of the Social Security Act; and
(B) give full faith and credit to any home study
report completed by any other State or an Indian tribe
with respect to the placement of a child in foster care
or for adoption.

(b) Timely Interstate Home Study Incentive Payments.--Part E of
title IV of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 670-679b) is amended by
inserting after section 473A the following:

``SEC. 473B.  NOTE: 42 USC 673c note.  TIMELY INTERSTATE HOME STUDY
INCENTIVE PAYMENTS.

``(a) Grant Authority.--The Secretary shall make a grant to each
State that is a home study incentive-eligible State for a fiscal year in
an amount equal to the timely interstate home study incentive payment
payable to the State under this section for the fiscal year, which shall
be payable in the immediately succeeding fiscal year.
``(b) Home Study Incentive-Eligible State.--A State is a home study
incentive-eligible State for a fiscal year if--
``(1) the State has a plan approved under this part for the
fiscal year;
``(2) the State is in compliance with subsection (c) for the
fiscal year; and
``(3) based on data submitted and verified pursuant to
subsection (c), the State has completed a timely interstate home
study during the fiscal year.

``(c) Data Requirements.--
``(1) In general.--A State is in compliance with this
subsection for a fiscal year if the State has provided to the
Secretary a written report, covering the preceding fiscal year,
that specifies--
``(A) the total number of interstate home studies
requested by the State with respect to children in
foster care under the responsibility of the State, and
with respect to each such study, the identity of the
other State involved;
``(B) the total number of timely interstate home
studies completed by the State with respect to children
in foster care under the responsibility of other States,
and with respect to each such study, the identity of the
other State involved; and
``(C) such other information as the Secretary may
require in order to determine whether the State is a
home study incentive-eligible State.
``(2) Verification of data.--In determining the number of
timely interstate home studies to be attributed to a State under
this section, the Secretary shall check the data provided

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120 STAT. 511

by the State under paragraph (1) against complementary data so
provided by other States.

``(d) Timely Interstate Home Study Incentive Payments.--
``(1) In general.--The timely interstate home study
incentive payment payable to a State for a fiscal year shall be
$1,500, multiplied by the number of timely interstate home
studies attributed to the State under this section during the
fiscal year, subject to paragraph (2).
``(2) Pro rata adjustment if insufficient funds available.--
If the total amount of timely interstate home study incentive
payments otherwise payable under this section for a fiscal year
exceeds the total of the amounts made available pursuant to
subsection (h) for the fiscal year (reduced (but not below zero)
by the total of the amounts (if any) payable under paragraph (3)
of this subsection with respect to the preceding fiscal year),
the amount of each such otherwise payable incentive payment
shall be reduced by a percentage equal to--
``(A) the total of the amounts so made available (as
so reduced); divided by
``(B) the total of such otherwise payable incentive
payments.
``(3) Appropriations available for unpaid incentive payments
for prior fiscal years.--
``(A) In general.--If payments under this section
are reduced under paragraph (2) or subparagraph (B) of
this paragraph for a fiscal year, then, before making
any other payment under this section for the next fiscal
year, the Secretary shall pay each State whose payment
was so reduced an amount equal to the total amount of
the reductions which applied to the State, subject to
subparagraph (B) of this paragraph.
``(B) Pro rata adjustment if insufficient funds
available.--If the total amount of payments otherwise
payable under subparagraph (A) of this paragraph for a
fiscal year exceeds the total of the amounts made
available pursuant to subsection (h) for the fiscal
year, the amount of each such payment shall be reduced
by a percentage equal to--
``(i) the total of the amounts so made
available; divided by
``(ii) the total of such otherwise payable
payments.

``(e) Two-Year Availability of Incentive Payments.--Payments to a
State under this section in a fiscal year shall remain available for use
by the State through the end of the next fiscal year.
``(f) Limitations on Use of Incentive Payments.--A State shall not
expend an amount paid to the State under this section except to provide
to children or families any service (including post-adoption services)
that may be provided under part B or E. Amounts expended by a State in
accordance with the preceding sentence shall be disregarded in
determining State expenditures for purposes of Federal matching payments
under sections 423, 434, and 474.
``(g) Definitions.--In this section:
``(1) Home study.--The term `home study' means an evaluation
of a home environment conducted in accordance

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120 STAT. 512

with applicable requirements of the State in which the home is
located, to determine whether a proposed placement of a child
would meet the individual needs of the child, including the
child's safety, permanency, health, well-being, and mental,
emotional, and physical development.
``(2) Interstate home study.--The term `interstate home
study' means a home study conducted by a State at the request of
another State, to facilitate an adoptive or foster placement in
the State of a child in foster care under the responsibility of
the State.
``(3) Timely interstate home study.--
The  NOTE: Deadline. Reports.  term `timely interstate home
study' means an interstate home study completed by a State if
the State provides to the State that requested the study, within
30 days after receipt of the request, a report on the results of
the study. The preceding sentence shall not be construed to
require the State to have completed, within the 30-day period,
the parts of the home study involving the education and training
of the prospective foster or adoptive parents.

``(h) Limitations on Authorization of Appropriations.--
``(1) In general.--For payments under this section, there
are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary--
``(A) $10,000,000 for fiscal year 2007;
``(B) $10,000,000 for fiscal year 2008;
``(C) $10,000,000 for fiscal year 2009; and
``(D) $10,000,000 for fiscal year 2010.
``(2) Availability.--Amounts appropriated under paragraph
(1) are authorized to remain available until expended.''.

(c)  NOTE: Effective date. 42 USC 673c and note.  Repealer.--
Effective October 1, 2010, section 473B of the Social Security Act is
repealed.

SEC. 5. SENSE OF THE CONGRESS.

It is the sense of the Congress that State agencies should fully
cooperate with any court which has authority with respect to the
placement of a child in foster care or for adoption, for the purpose of
locating a parent of the child, and such cooperation should include
making available all information obtained from the Federal Parent
Locator Service.

SEC. 6. CASEWORKER VISITS.

(a) Purchase of Services in Interstate Placement Cases.--Section
475(5)(A)(ii) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 675(5)(A)(ii)) is
amended by striking ``or of the State in which the child has been
placed'' and inserting ``of the State in which the child has been
placed, or of a private agency under contract with either such State''.
(b) Increased Visits.--Section 475(5)(A)(ii) of such Act (42 U.S.C.
675(5)(A)(ii)) is amended by striking ``12'' and inserting ``6''.

SEC. 7. HEALTH AND EDUCATION RECORDS.

Section 475 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 675) is amended--
(1) in paragraph (1)(C)--
(A) by striking ``To the extent available and
accessible, the'' and inserting ``The''; and
(B) by inserting ``the most recent information
available regarding'' after ``including''; and
(2) in paragraph (5)(D)--

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120 STAT. 513

(A) by inserting ``a copy of the record is'' before
``supplied''; and
(B) by inserting ``, and is supplied to the child at
no cost at the time the child leaves foster care if the
child is leaving foster care by reason of having
attained the age of majority under State law'' before
the semicolon.

SEC. 8. RIGHT TO BE HEARD IN FOSTER CARE PROCEEDINGS.

(a) In General.--Section 475(5)(G) of the Social Security Act (42
U.S.C. 675(5)(G)) is amended--
(1) by striking ``an opportunity'' and inserting ``a
right'';
(2) by striking ``and opportunity'' and inserting ``and
right''; and
(3) by striking ``review or hearing'' each place it appears
and inserting ``proceeding''.

(b) Notice of Proceeding.--Section 438(b) of such Act (42 U.S.C.
638(b))  NOTE: 42 USC 629h.  is amended by inserting ``shall have in
effect a rule requiring State courts to ensure that foster parents, pre-
adoptive parents, and relative caregivers of a child in foster care
under the responsibility of the State are notified of any proceeding to
be held with respect to the child, and'' after ``highest State court''.

SEC. 9. COURT IMPROVEMENT.

Section 438(a)(1) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 629h(a)(1))
is amended--
(1) by striking ``and'' at the end of subparagraph (C); and
(2) by adding at the end the following:
``(E) that determine the best strategy to use to
expedite the interstate placement of children,
including--
``(i) requiring courts in different States to
cooperate in the sharing of information;
``(ii) authorizing courts to obtain
information and testimony from agencies and
parties in other States without requiring
interstate travel by the agencies and parties; and
``(iii) permitting the participation of
parents, children, other necessary parties, and
attorneys in cases involving interstate placement
without requiring their interstate travel; and''.

SEC. 10. REASONABLE EFFORTS.

(a) In General.--Section 471(a)(15)(C) of the Social Security Act
(42 U.S.C. 671(a)(15)(C)) is amended by inserting ``(including, if
appropriate, through an interstate placement)'' after ``accordance with
the permanency plan''.
(b) Permanency Hearing.--Section 471(a)(15)(E)(i) of such Act (42
U.S.C. 671(a)(15)(E)(i)) is amended by inserting ``, which considers in-
State and out-of-State permanent placement options for the child,''
before ``shall''.
(c) Concurrent Planning.--Section 471(a)(15)(F) of such Act (42
U.S.C. 671(a)(15)(F)) is amended by inserting ``, including identifying
appropriate in-State and out-of-State placements'' before ``may''.

SEC. 11. CASE PLANS.

Section 475(1)(E) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 675(1)(E))
is amended by inserting ``to facilitate orderly and timely in-State and
interstate placements'' before the period.

[[Page 514]]
120 STAT. 514

SEC. 12. CASE REVIEW SYSTEM.

Section 475(5)(C) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 675(5)(C) is
amended--
(1) by inserting ``, in the case of a child who will not be
returned to the parent, the hearing shall consider in-State and
out-of-State placement options,'' after ``living arrangement'';
and
(2) by inserting ``the hearing shall determine'' before
``whether the''.

SEC. 13. USE OF INTERJURISDICTIONAL RESOURCES.

Section 422(b)(12) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 622(b)(12))
is amended--
(1) by striking ``develop plans for the'' and inserting
``make'';
(2) by inserting ``(including through contracts for the
purchase of services)'' after ``resources''; and
(3) by inserting ``, and shall eliminate legal barriers,''
before ``to facilitate''.

SEC. 14.  NOTE: 42 USC 622 note.  EFFECTIVE DATE.

(a) In General.--Except as otherwise provided in this section, the
amendments made by this Act shall take effect on October 1, 2006, and
shall apply to payments under parts B and E of title IV of the Social
Security Act for calendar quarters beginning on or after such date,
without regard to whether regulations to implement the amendments are
promulgated by such date.
(b) Delay Permitted If State Legislation Required.--If the Secretary
of Health and Human Services determines that State legislation (other
than legislation appropriating funds) is required in order for a State
plan under part B or E of title IV of the Social Security Act to meet
the additional requirements imposed by the amendments made by a
provision of this Act, the plan shall not be regarded as failing to meet
any of the additional requirements before the 1st day of the 1st
calendar quarter beginning after the first regular session of the State
legislature that begins after the date of the enactment of this Act. If
the State has a 2-year legislative session, each year of the session is
deemed to be a separate regular session of the State legislature.

Approved July 3, 2006.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--H.R. 5403:
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CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 152 (2006):
May 24, considered and passed House.
June 23, considered and passed Senate.