The 2023 legislative session is underway and it looks to be another big year for child welfare and juvenile justice related legislation. The session started January 9th and will end by May 6th. OCR is monitoring almost 50 bills while taking a more active role in about a dozen. Here are some bills OCR is actively working on.
HB23-1012 Juvenile Competency to Proceed
This bill seeks to improve the juvenile competency procedures in JD cases. It was amended in the House Judiciary Committee, then passed on a vote of 12-1. It will be heard next in the House Appropriations Committee.
HB23-1024 Relative and Kin Placement of a Child
This bill was brought forward by the ORPC and OCR has put significant work into it. It further prioritizes and supports kin and relative placements in D&N cases, limits non-relative intervention, and ensures that when looking at placement preferences, the court will give primary consideration to the child’s/ youth’s mental, physical and emotional needs, including the child’s/youth’s preference regarding placement. It was passed by the House Judiciary and House Appropriations Committees and will next be heard on the House floor.
HB23-1026 Family Time for Grandparents
This bill would allow a CLR to be appointed in some cases addressing grandparent visitation. It has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, where it will be heard later this month.
HB23-1027 Parent and Child Family Time
This bill started with the High-Quality Parenting Time Taskforce created in HB 21-1101. It changes “visitation” to “family time” throughout the Children’s Code and changes some family time requirements. It passed the House and will be introduced in the Senate shortly.
HB23-1043 Emergency and Continued Placement with Relative or Kin
This bill expands the relatives or kin that can be considered for emergency placements, in line with federal requirements. It was passed by both chambers and will be sent to the Governor shortly.
HB23-1109 School Policies and Student Conduct
OCR participated in the coalition that put this bill forward. The bill would prevent schools from expelling students for activities that occur off school grounds that do not have a nexus to the school or student safety. It also inserts due process into school discipline hearing process. OCR Contractor Tiffany Pelham Webb and a young person she has worked with provided compelling testimony on this bill. It has yet to be voted on in the House Education Committee.
HB23-1142 Information of Person Reporting Child Abuse
This bill aims to prevent anonymous reporting of child abuse or neglect. OCR is working to ensure that this bill contains an exception for youth who make reports and a member of our Lived Experts Action Panel will likely testify in favor of that exception. It was amended in the House Public Behavioral Health and Human Services Committee to create a workgroup within CDHS. It will be heard next on the House floor.
HB23-1160 Colorado TRAILS Systems Requirements
This bill was recently amended to create a taskforce to make recommendations about administrative findings and appeals processes. It also allows OCR contractors appointed to represent children/youth in D&N cases to participate in administrative proceedings related to such children/youth with OCR authorization. It also prevents child abuse or neglect findings for children/youth aged less than 13. It will be heard next in the House Appropriations Committee.
HB23-1172 Child Welfare and Juvenile Court Jurisdiction
This bill comes from the CDHS Statutory Review Committee, which OCR participates in. It gives the juvenile court jurisdiction to enter APR orders in limited circumstances when a parent has a deferred adjudication. In addition, it creates explicit authority for the juvenile court to change a child or youth’s name in a dependency and neglect case. It has been approved by the House and the Senate committees and is placed on the Senate consent calendar which indicates that it will be approved quickly.
HB23-1178 Court Personnel and Domestic Violence Awareness
This bill requires domestic abuse and related training for professionals involved in child custody proceedings in accordance with Kayden’s Law, part of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA). It was amended in the House Judiciary committee. Future amendments are expected on the floor.
SB23-039 Reduce Child and Incarcerated Parent Separation
This bill from the ORPC was amended in the Senate Judiciary Committee and will be further amended in appropriations. It reduces barriers for incarcerated parents in participating in their court proceedings, family meetings, treatment planning, and family time.
SB23-082 Colorado Fostering Success Voucher Program
This bill creates a state housing voucher to assist foster youth. It is related to a CDHS budget request and has been approved by the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. It will be heard next in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
If you have questions or comments about these bills or other legislation that has come to your attention, please reach out to OCR’s Legislative Liaison Ashley Chase at firstname.lastname@example.org.