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HF 3845

as introduced - 92nd Legislature (2021 - 2022) Posted on 04/04/2022 05:07pm

KEY: stricken = removed, old language.
underscored = added, new language.
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A bill for an act
relating to children and families; establishing the Office of the Foster Youth
Ombudsperson and Board of the Foster Youth Ombudsperson; appropriating money
for the Office of the Foster Youth Ombudsperson and Board of the Foster Youth
Ombudsperson; proposing coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes, chapters 13;
260C.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1.

new text begin [13.876] FOSTER YOUTH OMBUDSPERSON; DATA.
new text end

new text begin Subdivision 1. new text end

new text begin Private data. new text end

new text begin The following data maintained by the foster youth
ombudsperson are classified as private data, pursuant to section 13.02, subdivision 12:
new text end

new text begin (1) all data on individuals related to contacts made by individuals seeking the assistance
of the ombudsperson, except as specified in subdivision 2;
new text end

new text begin (2) data recorded from personal and phone conversations and in correspondence between
the ombudsperson's staff and persons interviewed during the course of an investigation;
new text end

new text begin (3) data from juvenile court proceedings in the possession of the foster youth
ombudsperson; and
new text end

new text begin (4) case assignment data.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 2. new text end

new text begin Confidential data. new text end

new text begin The written summary of the investigation maintained by
the ombudsperson is, to the extent that the data identifies individuals, classified as
confidential data, pursuant to section 13.02, subdivision 3.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 3. new text end

new text begin Access to data. new text end

new text begin The foster youth ombudsperson has access to juvenile placement
and medical data as provided under section 260C.82, subdivision 6.
new text end

Sec. 2.

new text begin [260C.80] OFFICE OF THE FOSTER YOUTH OMBUDSPERSON; BOARD.
new text end

new text begin Subdivision 1. new text end

new text begin Office of the Foster Youth Ombudsperson. new text end

new text begin The Office of the Foster
Youth Ombudsperson is hereby created. The ombudsperson serves at the pleasure of the
governor in the unclassified service, must be selected without regard to political affiliation,
and must be a person highly competent and qualified to work to improve the lives of youth
in the foster care system, while understanding the administration and public policy related
to youth in the foster care system. No person may serve as the foster youth ombudsperson
while holding any other public office. The foster youth ombudsperson is accountable to the
governor and may investigate decisions, acts, and other matters related to the health, safety,
and welfare of youth in foster care to promote the highest attainable standards of competence,
efficiency, and justice for youth who are in the care of the state.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 2. new text end

new text begin Board of the Foster Youth Ombudsperson. new text end

new text begin The Board of the Foster Youth
Ombudsperson is established to make recommendations to the foster youth ombudsperson
and staff while continuously overseeing the foster youth ombudsperson's work. The board
shall evaluate the foster youth ombudsperson's effectiveness through regular meetings with
current and former youth in the foster care system and community advocates working closely
with the foster care system. The board consists of:
new text end

new text begin (1) five youth who are currently in the foster care system or who were recently in the
foster care system;
new text end

new text begin (2) four adults who were in the foster care system as youths;
new text end

new text begin (3) one attorney who works in the juvenile court system or family court;
new text end

new text begin (4) one social worker who works in the juvenile justice system or family court; and
new text end

new text begin (5) three nonprofit professionals who work at nonprofits serving foster youth.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 3. new text end

new text begin Terms; compensation; removal; vacancies. new text end

new text begin The membership terms,
compensation, removal of members, and filling of vacancies on the Board of the Foster
Youth Ombudsperson are governed by section 15.0575. A member of the Board of the
Foster Youth Ombudsperson must not have a conflict of interest with the board due to the
member's employment with a county or the agency.
new text end

Sec. 3.

new text begin [260C.81] ORGANIZATION OF THE OFFICE OF THE FOSTER YOUTH
OMBUDSPERSON.
new text end

new text begin The foster youth ombudsperson may select, appoint, and compensate out of available
funds assistants and employees to perform the ombudsperson's responsibilities, including
intake, investigation, administrative support, legal advocacy, and other support necessary
to assist foster youth. The foster youth ombudsperson and full-time staff are members of
the Minnesota State Retirement Association. The foster youth ombudsperson may delegate
to staff members any of the ombudsperson's authority or duties except the duty of formally
making recommendations to an administrative agency or reports to the Office of the Governor
or to the legislature. The Office of the Foster Youth Ombudsperson shall provide outreach,
resources, and assistance to youth in foster care by directly engaging with youth in residential
treatment facilities, group homes, and family foster homes.
new text end

Sec. 4.

new text begin [260C.82] POWERS OF FOSTER YOUTH OMBUDSPERSON;
INVESTIGATION; ACTION ON COMPLAINTS: RECOMMENDATIONS.
new text end

new text begin Subdivision 1. new text end

new text begin Powers. new text end

new text begin (a) The foster youth ombudsperson may:
new text end

new text begin (1) establish a complaint process, including how a person may make a complaint and
how the ombudsperson may review and act upon the complaint;
new text end

new text begin (2) determine the scope and manner of the ombudsperson's and staff's investigations;
new text end

new text begin (3) make conclusions, recommendations, and proposals to the governor or to the
legislature, provided that the governor or legislature may request and receive information
from the ombudsperson at any time;
new text end

new text begin (4) investigate, upon a complaint or upon personal initiative, any action of an
administrative agency, including a request from a youth in foster care to examine the physical
placement where the child resides;
new text end

new text begin (5) request and be given access to information from an administrative agency that is
necessary for performing the ombudsperson's responsibilities;
new text end

new text begin (6) subpoena any person to appear, give testimony, or produce documents or other
evidence that the ombudsperson considers relevant to a matter under inquiry and may petition
a state district court to seek enforcement of a subpoena. Any witness at a hearing or before
an investigation has the same privileges reserved to a witness in the courts or under the laws
of this state; and
new text end

new text begin (7) be present at court hearings, conferences, meetings, and deliberations when a youth
in foster care requests the ombudsperson's presence.
new text end

new text begin (b) Neither the ombudsperson nor any member of the ombudsperson's staff shall be
compelled to testify or to produce evidence in any judicial or administrative proceeding
with respect to any matter involving the exercise of the ombudsperson's official duties.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 2. new text end

new text begin Liability. new text end

new text begin No proceeding or civil action except removal from office or a
proceeding brought pursuant to chapter 13 shall be commenced against the foster youth
ombudsperson for actions taken under sections 260C.80 to 260C.82, unless the act or
omission demonstrates malicious intent or was grossly negligent.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 3. new text end

new text begin Complaints. new text end

new text begin (a) The ombudsperson may receive a complaint from any source
concerning the health, safety, or welfare of a youth in foster care. The ombudsperson may,
at the request of another or on the ombudsperson's own initiative, investigate any action of
an administrative agency, family foster home, custodian, parent, or facility licensed by the
state, including a residential treatment facility and secured detention facility. The
ombudsperson may exercise powers without regard to the finality of any action. The
ombudsperson may require a complainant to pursue other remedies or channels of complaint
open to the complainant before accepting or investigating a complaint. After completing
the investigation of a complaint, the ombudsperson shall inform the complainant, the
administrative agency, and any person who is the subject of the investigation of the action
taken.
new text end

new text begin (b) A facility or family foster home must immediately forward any letter to the
ombudsperson from a person in the facility or family foster home. The facility or family
foster home must not open any letter to the ombudsperson from a person at the facility or
foster home. A facility or family foster home must deliver any mail or forward any e-mail
from the ombudsperson to a person in the facility or family foster home immediately after
the facility or family foster home receives the mail or e-mail. A facility or family foster
home must not punish a person for making a complaint to the ombudsperson. A facility or
family foster home must not unfavorably alter the conditions of a person's placement as a
consequence for making a complaint to the ombudsperson.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 4. new text end

new text begin Recommendations. new text end

new text begin (a) If the ombudsperson considers a complaint to be valid,
the ombudsperson may recommend that an administrative agency or judicial officer:
new text end

new text begin (1) consider the matter further;
new text end

new text begin (2) modify or cancel the agency's or judicial officer's actions;
new text end

new text begin (3) change a ruling or explain an action; or
new text end

new text begin (4) take any other step that the ombudsperson recommends to provide direction or require
action by a facility, placement, or custodian providing a residence to the complainant.
new text end

new text begin (b) If the ombudsperson requests, the agency shall, within the time that the ombudsperson
specifies, inform the ombudsperson about the action taken based on the ombudsperson's
recommendations or the reasons for not complying with the ombudsperson's
recommendations. If the ombudsperson has the reason to believe that any person, including
a public official, has acted in a manner warranting criminal or disciplinary proceedings, the
ombudsperson may refer the matter to the appropriate authorities. If the ombudsperson
believes that an action upon which a valid complaint is founded had a statutory basis, and
that the statute produced results or effects that were unfair or otherwise objectionable, the
ombudsperson shall bring to the attention of the governor and the legislature the
ombudsperson's view concerning desirable statutory change.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 5. new text end

new text begin Grants. new text end

new text begin The ombudsperson may apply for and receive grants from public and
private entities for the purposes of carrying out the ombudsperson's powers and duties under
this section.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 6. new text end

new text begin Data. new text end

new text begin State district courts and administrative agencies must provide the foster
youth ombudsperson with access to juvenile court data, foster care placement data, and
medical data maintained by an agency and classified as private data on individuals or
confidential data on individuals when access to the data is necessary for the ombudsperson
to perform the ombudsperson's duties under sections 260C.80 to 260C.82.
new text end

Sec. 5. new text beginAPPROPRIATION; OFFICE OF THE FOSTER YOUTH OMBUDSPERSON.
new text end

new text begin $650,000 in fiscal year 2023 is appropriated from the general fund to the governor's
office for the establishment and operation of the Office of the Foster Youth Ombudsperson
and the Board of the Foster Youth Ombudsperson.
new text end