Code of the District of Columbia

§ 4–1303.03. Duties and powers of the Director.

*NOTE: This section includes amendments by temporary legislation that will expire on February 4, 2022. To view the text of this section after the expiration of all emergency and temporary legislation, click this link: Permanent Version.*

(a) The Director of the Agency shall have the following duties and powers, any of which may be contracted for, as appropriate, with private or other public agencies:

(1) Receive and investigate reports of abuse or neglect as provided in subchapter II of this chapter, § 4-1301.04 and § 4-1301.06 and assist in the determination of the need for the removal of an abused or neglected child as provided in § 4-1301.07;

(2) Within 90 days of taking a child into custody pursuant to § 4-1303.04(c)(1), return the child to the home or to request that the Office of the Attorney General file a neglect petition in the Family Division of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia;

(3) To maintain a program of treatment and services for families of neglected and abused children including services designed to help children, where safe and appropriate, return to families from which they have been removed;

(4)(A) To prepare annually a plan for child protective services, which shall be reviewed and commented on by the Mayor’s Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, and which shall:

(i) Describe the Agency’s implementation of the Adoption and Safe Families Amendment Act of 2000, effective June 27, 2000 (D.C. Law 13-136; 47 DCR 2850), including its organization, staffing, method of operations and financing, and programs and procedures for the receipt, investigation and verification of reports;

(ii) Describe the provisions for the determination of protective services and the treatment of ameliorative service needs, and the provision of such services;

(iii) State the guidelines for referrals to the Family Division of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia; and

(iv) State the provisions for monitoring, evaluation, and planning.

(B) The first plan shall be made available to the public within 90 days of June 27, 2000;

(5) To encourage and assist in the formation of child abuse and neglect teams in hospitals, health and mental health clinics, and other appropriate facilities in the District of Columbia; and

(6) To take whatever additional actions are necessary to accomplish the purposes of the Adoption and Safe Families Amendment Act of 2000, effective June 27, 2000 (D.C. Law 13-136; 47 DCR 2850).

(7) To provide services to families and children who are eligible for such services, consistent with the requirements of this subchapter, through programs of services to families with children, child protective services, foster care, and adoption;

(8) To maintain a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week intake component to receive reports of suspected child abuse or neglect. The intake component shall be staffed at all times by workers specially trained in intake and crisis intervention and shall maintain:

(A) The capacity for receiving reports and for responding promptly with investigation and emergency services;

(B) A widely publicized telephone number for receiving reports at all times; and

(C) Sufficient telephone lines and qualified staff so that all calls will be answered immediately by a trained worker;

(9) To receive reports of suspected child abuse and neglect;

(10) To conduct a social service investigation of alleged child abuse and neglect cases, including joint investigation with the Metropolitan Police Department;

(11) To provide and maintain, for families of children who have been abused or neglected, a program of treatment and services designed to promote the safety of children, reunification of families, and timely permanent placements;

(12) Repealed.

(13) To provide protective service clients appropriate services necessary for the preservation of families, or to contract with private or other public agencies for the purpose of carrying out this duty. These services may include:

(A) Emergency financial aid;

(B) Emergency caretakers;

(C) Homemakers;

(D) Family shelters;

(E) Emergency foster homes;

(F) Facilities providing medical, psychiatric, and other therapeutic services;

(G) Day care;

(H) Parent aides;

(I) Lay therapists; and

(J) Respite care;

(14) To offer rehabilitative services to the child’s family in an effort to reunify the family when a child has been adjudicated a neglected child and placed in foster care;

(15) To immediately, upon court direction, implement the concurrent or alternative plan for the permanent placement of a child when time-limited family reunification services, as defined in § 4-1301.02(19), have failed to reunite a child in foster care with his or her family or when § 16-2354 applies;

(16)(A) To request from a consumer reporting agency that compiles and maintain files on consumers on a nationwide basis and is nationally ranked among the top 3 such agencies, the disclosure of file information pursuant to section 609 of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, approved October 26, 1970 (84 Stat. 1131; 15 U.S.C. § 1681g), on behalf of a ward of the Agency under the age of 18 years to determine whether identify theft has occurred, when:

(i) An adoption petition has been filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia;

(ii) A motion for guardianship has been filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia;

(iii) The Agency anticipates that the jurisdiction of the Family Court of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia will be terminated; or

(iv) The ward reaches 14 years of age and on an annual basis thereafter.

(B) The Agency shall provide the disclosed file information to the ward’s guardian ad litem within 30 days of obtaining the results.

(C) For a ward over the age of 18 years, the Agency shall assist the ward if the ward wants to obtain disclosure of file information prior to the termination of the jurisdiction of the Family Court of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

(D) If the Agency determines that disclosed file information indicates that identity theft may have occurred, the Agency shall refer the ward to an approved organization that provides credit counseling to victims of identity theft; provided, that the Agency shall not be responsible for providing assistance beyond a referral.

(E) Within 120 days of May 27, 2010, the Mayor, pursuant to subchapter I of Chapter 5 of Title 2 [§ 2-501 et seq.], shall issue rules to implement the provisions of this paragraph. The proposed rules shall be submitted to the Council for a 30-day period of review, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, legal holidays, and days of Council recess. If the Council does not approve or disapprove the proposed rules, in whole or in part, by resolution within the 30-day review period, the proposed rules shall be deemed approved;

(17) To establish and maintain the Voluntary Foster Care Registry, established pursuant to § 4-1303.08 as a post-care service, for individuals 18 years or older who were or currently are respondents in a child abuse or neglect case under Chapter 23 of Title 16 and for their immediate birth family members, as defined in § 4-1303.08(g);

(18) To offer employment counseling to foster children, as defined by § 4-342(3), who are ages 18 through 21 years old; and

(19)(A) When requested by a foster child or former foster child who is 18 years of age or older, to provide a letter verifying the person’s status as a foster child or former foster child pursuant to § 1-608.01(e-1); and

(B) To record and track the number of foster children or former foster children who request a letter from the Child and Family Services Agency verifying their status pursuant to subparagraph (A) of this paragraph.

(a-1) The Director of the Agency shall have the following additional duties and powers:

(1) To take into custody and place in shelter care, in accordance with subchapter I of Chapter 23 of Title 16, children who have been abused or neglected;

(2) To develop and test innovative models of practice consistent with the purposes of this subchapter;

(3) To develop programs that deliver a broad range of child and family services, including programs that involve the participation of community and neighborhood-based groups in prevention and intervention services;

(3A)(A) To issue grants to community and neighborhood-based groups for programs that deliver prevention and intervention services; provided, that the Director submits an annual report to the Council that includes the recipient, amount, purpose, and term of each grant issued, and a description of outcomes to be achieved and an evaluation of whether or not those outcomes have been achieved for each grant issued.

(B) A grant in excess of $1 million shall be submitted to the Council for approval in accordance with § 1-204.51.

(4) To facilitate:

(A) Permanent placement of a child, including reunification with original caretakers where such placement is consistent with the child’s safety;

(B) Permanent placement with relatives; and

(C) Adoptive placement, as appropriate;

(5) To facilitate meetings for a child in foster care with parents, siblings, including individuals who would have been considered siblings of the child but for the termination of parental rights or death of a parent, relatives, and extended family members;

(6) To provide other programs and services that are consistent with the purposes of this subchapter;

(7) To monitor and evaluate services to and needs of abused and neglected children and their families;

(8) To be the personnel authority for all employees of the Agency, including the exercise of full authority to hire, retain, and terminate personnel, consistent with Chapter 6 of Title 1;

(9) By delegation from the Mayor, and independent of the Office of Contracting and Procurement, to exercise procurement authority to carry out the purposes of the Agency, including contracting and contract oversight, consistent with Chapter 3A of Title 2 [§ 2-351.01 et seq.]; except, that § 2-352.01(a) shall not apply;

(10) Starting not later than October 1, 2001, and notwithstanding the licensing powers and responsibilities given to other District agencies and officials in subchapters I-A and I-B of Chapter 28 of Title 47, to be the exclusive agency to regulate foster and group homes for children who have been abused or neglected and to regulate child placement agencies for these children. For the purposes of this paragraph, the term “regulate” means all licensing, and related functions, except fire inspections and the issuance of certificates of occupancy and all inspections relating to those certificates;

(11) Starting not later than October 1, 2001, to be the “appropriate authority,” under § 4-1421 for children who have been abused or neglected;

(12) To adopt regulations to carry out the purposes of this subchapter, in accordance with Chapter 5 of Title 2;

(13) To take whatever additional actions are necessary to accomplish the purposes of this subchapter; and

(14) To retain custody of a youth committed to the Agency who becomes 21 years of age during a period of time for which the Mayor has declared a public health emergency pursuant to § 7-2304.01 for a period not exceeding 90 days after the end of the public health emergency; provided, that the youth consents to the Agency's continued custody .

(b) The Agency, or the person or agency the Agency contracts with, shall:

(1) When a child is at risk of being removed from his or her home because of child abuse or neglect, provide family preservation services designed to help the child remain safely with his or her family;

(2) When a child has been adjudicated a neglected child and committed to the Agency, offer rehabilitative services to the child’s family including time-limited family reunification services designed to help the child, where safe and appropriate, return to the family from which he or she has been removed;

(3) When time-limited family reunification services have failed to reunite a committed child and his or her family, take steps to implement a permanent plan of adoption or an alternative permanent plan for the child;

(4) Establish or attempt to secure priority access for protective service clients, by contract or agreement with private organizations, other public agencies, or other Agency units, to services necessary for the preservation or reunification of families which may include, but not be limited to:

(A) Emergency financial aid;

(B) Emergency caretakers;

(C) Homemakers;

(D) Family shelters and housing assistance;

(E) Emergency foster homes;

(F) Mental health services, including facilities providing medical, psychiatric, or other therapeutic services;

(G) Day care;

(H) Parent aides and lay therapists;

(I) Domestic violence services;

(J) Respite care; and

(K) Substance abuse assessment and treatment;

(5) Monitor and evaluate the services to, and the needs of, neglected children and their families;

(6) Compile and publish training materials; and

(7) Provide technical assistance on neglect prevention, identification, and treatment;

(8) Develop and implement, as soon as possible, standards that provide for quality services that protect the safety and health of children, for children who are removed from their homes;

(9) Develop and operate programs of family preservation services, family support services, time-limited family reunification services, and adoption promotion and support services;

(9A) Offer meeting facilitation services for extended family members when appropriate to meet permanency and safety goals as established by the Adoption and Safe Families Amendment Act of 2000, effective June 27, 2000 (D.C. Law 13-136; 47 DCR 2850);

(9B) Develop procedures and practices for cooperation and joint activities with the Metropolitan Police Department; and

(10) Prepare and submit to the Mayor, the Council, and the public a report to be submitted no later than February 1 of each year; which shall include:

(A) A description of the specific actions taken to implement the Adoption and Safe Families Amendment Act of 2000, effective June 27, 2000 (D.C. Law 13-136; 47 DCR 2850);

(B) A full statistical analysis of cases including:

(i) The total number of children in care, their ages, legal statuses, and permanency goals;

(ii) The number of children who entered care during the previous year (by month), their ages, legal statuses, and the primary reasons they entered care;

(iii) The number of children who have been in care for 24 months or longer, by their length of stay in care, including:

(I) A breakdown in length of stay by permanency goal;

(II) The number of children who became part of this class during the previous year; and

(III) The ages and legal statuses of these children;

(iv) The number of children who left care during the previous year (by month), the number of children in this class who had been in care for 24 months or longer, the ages and legal statuses of these children, and the reasons for their removal from care; and

(v) The number of children who left care during the previous year, by permanency goal; their length of stay in care, by permanency goal; the number of children whose placements were disrupted during the previous year, by placement type; and the number of children who re-entered care during the previous year;

(C) An analysis of any difficulties encountered in reaching the goal for the number of children in care established by the District;

(D) An evaluation of services offered, including specific descriptions of the family preservation services, community-based family support services, time-limited family reunification services, and adoption promotion and support services including:

(i) The service programs which will be made available under the plan in the succeeding fiscal year;

(ii) The populations which the program will serve; and

(iii) The geographic areas in which the services will be available;

(E) An evaluation of the Agency’s performance;

(F) Recommendations for additional legislation or services needed to fulfill the purpose of the Adoption and Safe Families Amendment Act of 2000, effective June 27, 2000 (D.C. Law 13-136; 47 DCR 2850); and

(G) The comments submitted by a multidisciplinary committee that works to prevent child abuse and neglect and which the Mayor designates to receive and comment on the report.

(11) At all stages of a neglect case, the presumption shall be that a child will attend the same school that he or she would have attended but for the child’s removal from his or her home, unless the Agency determines that it is not in the child’s best interest to do so. The Agency shall determine the child’s best interest in consultation with parents, when feasible, the child, resource providers, guardian ad litems, and other significant persons.

(c) The Director of the Agency shall implement the Protection of Children from Exposure to Drug-related Activity Amendment Act of 1989, effective March 15, 1990 (D.C. Law 8-87; 37 DCR 50). The Chief of the Division and the Director of the Department of Human Services shall provide the services authorized pursuant to this section to a child who is abused as a result of inadequate care, control, or diminished subsistence due to exposure to drug-related activity.

(d) The safety of the children being served shall be the paramount concern of the Agency in administering and conducting its duties and responsibilities under this section.