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  • NJ A2322
  • Requires DCPP to implement policies and procedures to ensure caseworker safety; "Leah's Law."
Introduced
(2/4/2016)
In Committee
(12/5/2016)
Crossed Over
(11/21/2016)
PassedSignedDead/Failed/Vetoed
2016-2017 Regular Session
This bill designated as "Leah's Law," requires the Division of Child Protection and Permanency in the Department of Children and Families to implement a caseworker safety intervention plan. The plan would, at a minimum: establish specific procedures to follow when a caseworker is faced with, and responding to, a situation that poses a threat to the safety and well-being of the caseworker, whether in the local office, in the field, or when making an emergency removal of a child; specify when to request the assistance of the Human Services police officer assigned to the local office and how to initiate such requests; and be posted in a conspicuous place in the local office and a copy of the plan would be provided to every staff member assigned to that office. The bill requires the division to implement policies and procedures to ensure the safety of every caseworker employed by the division. The policies and procedures would address issues of safety when a caseworker receives a threat of violence from a client, or is presented with a potentially dangerous situation while working in a local office, investigating a report of child abuse or neglect in the field, or making an emergency removal of a child pursuant to section 8 of P.L.1974, c.119 (C.9:6-8.28). Under the provisions of the bill, in order to ensure the safety of a caseworker in a local office, the division would require that: a Human Services police officer be assigned to every building where a local office is located to provide security and assistance to the caseworkers assigned to the office; each local office be equipped with a metal detector or metal detector wands operated by law enforcement officers; a panic button be installed in every meeting room in which a caseworker meets with a client; and at least one meeting or conference room in each local office be equipped with a two-way mirror located to allow for the observation of the room by the Human Services police officer assigned to the office. The bill also provides that, in order to ensure the safety of a caseworker while investigating a report of child abuse or neglect in the field or when making an emergency removal of a child, the division would require: 1) a caseworker assigned to a home visit to be accompanied by another caseworker if certain conditions delineated in the bill are met; 2) at the request of a caseworker or the caseworker's supervisor, the Human Services police officer assigned to the caseworker's local office would accompany and assist the caseworker when conducting an investigation or visit, or when making an emergency removal; and 3) the Human Services police officer assigned to a local office would be available to a caseworker within 30 minutes of a request to accompany and assist the caseworker, except that in an emergency situation, the officer would be immediately available. The provisions of the bill stipulate that while a caseworker, who is investigating a report of child abuse or neglect or making an emergency removal, is assigned to a home visit and is accompanied by another caseworker, nothing would prohibit the division, at the request of the caseworker or supervisor, from requiring a Human Services police officer assigned to the local office to accompany or assist the caseworker.
2nd Reading in the Assembly, Budget and Appropriations, Human Services, Passed Assembly
Received in the Senate, Referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee  (on 12/5/2016)
 
 
Date Chamber Action Description
12/5/2016 S Received in the Senate, Referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee
11/21/2016 A Passed by the Assembly (58-4-7)
4/4/2016 A Reported out of Assembly Comm. with Amendments, 2nd Reading
4/4/2016 Assembly Appropriations Hearing (13:00 4/4/2016 Committee Room 11, 4th Floor)
2/8/2016 A Reported and Referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee
2/8/2016 Assembly Human Services Hearing (13:00 2/8/2016 Committee Room 16, 4th Floor)
2/4/2016 A Introduced, Referred to Assembly Human Services Committee
Date Motion Yea Nay Other
Detail 11/21/2016 Assembly Floor: Third Reading - Final Passage 58 4 17
Detail 4/4/2016 Assembly Appropriations Committee: Reported with Amendments 6 2 3
Detail 2/8/2016 Assembly Human Services Committee: Reported Favorably 4 1 1