2019-2020 Legislative Advocacy

Click here for a PDF version of CLM’s current endorsed legislation, priority legislation, and budget priorities.

CLM Priority Legislation

Massachusetts’ two-year legislative 2019- 2020 session features several legislative priorities for the Children’s League of Massachusetts. Chief among these priorities are:

An Act Ensuring the Continuous Healthcare Coverage for Youth who Have Aged Out of the Department of Children and Families (HD1034/SD1066) – Now Law!

This bill will codify the provision in the Affordable Care Act that allows youth who have aged out of DCF to receive MassHealth benefits until they turn 26. Additionally, it will require that these youths are automatically enrolled annually until no longer eligible. Filed by Senator Sal DiDomenico and Representative Danielle Gregoire.

For more information about this bill, click here to download CLM’s fact sheet.

An Act Expanding Access to Adoptions (S. 63 & H.1492) – Reported favorably out of Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities Committee. Currently in House Steering, Policy and Scheduling Committee!

Siblings in Massachusetts are prohibited from adopting their siblings, even in situations where a much older sibling is independent, stable and can financially support the child. Currently, siblings can obtain guardianship of their younger siblings, but guardianships only provide temporary caregiving support, while adoptions are permanent. Filed by Senator Joan B. Lovely and Representative Jack Lewis.

For more information about this bill, click here to download CLM’s fact sheet. 

CLM Endorsed Legislation

CLM works in coalition with other advocacy groups to accomplish our legislative agenda. CLM has endorsed the following bills for this session:

An Act Granting Equal Access to Original Birth Certificates to All Persons Born in Massachusetts (S. 1267 & H. 1892) – Voted out of the Committee on Public Health

Current Massachusetts law denies adopted persons born in Massachusetts between July 17, 1974 and January 1, 2008 access to their original birth certificates. This bill, put forth by Access Massachusetts, would allow all adopted persons equal access to their original birth certificates.

View the full bill here.

For more information, check out Access Massachusetts’ fact sheet here.

An Act Relative to Mandated Reporter Reform (H. 137) –Voted out of Committee and into Ways and Means

The bill establishes a Special Commission to review the existing mandated reporter law and make recommendations to improve the response and prevention of child abuse and neglect. The Commission will be composed of the OCA, DCF, EEC, the AG, CPCS, and CLM.

An Act Relative to Multisystem Youth (H.1514) – Now Law!

The 2018 Criminal Justice law created protections prohibiting the incarceration (secure detention) of juveniles who have “been alleged to be dependent on the court, neglected or abused”. This language essentially prohibits the detention for all kids in the care and custody of DCF and those subject to the “special immigrant juvenile status”. This bill would clarify that such a child shall not be detained by lack of placement by another agency, unless there was a finding of dangerousness or the child requests that placement.

An Act Relative to Abusive Practices to Change Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Minors (“Conversion Therapy Ban”) – Now Law!

This bill will ban deceptive conversion practices that can lead to depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, and suicidality. This bill was put forth by the Conversion Therapy Ban Coalition, of which CLM is a member. 

View the full bill here.

For more information, check out GLAD‘s fact Sheet here

An Act to End Child Marriage in Massachusetts – Passed Senate, Onto the House!

The bill would forbid anyone under age 18 from getting married in Massachusetts. Currently, someone under 18 can get married with approval from a parent and a judge. The law doesn’t specify a minimum age, leaving that to the discretion of a judge. This bill is sponsored by a coalition organized by Representative Kay Khan & Senator Harriette Chandler. 

View the full bill here.

For more information, check out the Tahirih Justice Center’s page on child marriage here.

An Act Relative to Fair Pay for Comparable Work (S. 1077 & H. 138) –Voted out of Committee and into Health Care Financing Committee

This bill would set a schedule to fully eliminate the pay disparity between state workers and those employed by private, community-based human services nonprofits who are doing similar work. The bill would seek to eliminate the pay disparity no later than July 1, 2023, and it would authorize reports from the administration on the current pay disparity between workers and new strategies to recruit and retain human services workers at community-based nonprofits. This bill was put forth by the Provider’s Council, of which CLM is a member. 

View the full bill here

For more information, check out the Provider’s Council’s page on this bill here or read their fact sheet here.  

Foster Care Review Office Bill (S. 29 & H. 112)

In Massachusetts, foster care review is housed in The Department of Children and Families (DCF), it is an internal DCF department. This structure creates challenges and potential conflicts of interest for ensuring a robust and independent review with transparency, accountability, oversight and real authority to enforce findings and recommendations. This bill, by The Children’s Union (the policy arm of Friends of Children), will create an independent review process that addresses these challenges both at the individual case level and at the systems level.

View the full bill here.

For more information, check out The Children’s Union’s fact page here

An Act to Provide Identification to Homeless Youth and Families (S. 2043 & H. 3066) – Voted out of Committee and into Ways and Means

This bill will establish a fee waiver process for youth and adults experiencing homelessness. It will create a process for individuals experiencing homelessness to apply for IDs if they cannot meet the existing criteria, such as alternative proof of Massachusetts residency that does not require a permanent address (looking to documents already accepted by other Massachusetts state agencies). This bill stems from the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless. 

View the full bill here.

For more information, check out the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless’ fact page here.

An Act Establishing a Foster Parents Bill of Rights (S. 30 & H. 4162) – Voted out of Committee and into Ways and Means

This bill prepares Massachusetts to implement core provisions of the federal Family First Prevention Services Act which will go into effect by October of 2021. The new bill eliminates any reference to the QRTP (Qualified Residential Treatment Program).   It requires that (1) DCF, DM and DPH work together on a plan for family first (2) DCF develop written foster care prevention plans for all children who need preventive services to avoid entering foster care (3) It also establishes a Task Force on Family First Act Implementation.

An Act Preparing Massachusetts Family First Prevention Services (H. 3221) – Granted an extension in Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities until March 18th, 2020

This bill prepares Massachusetts to implement core provisions of the federal Family First Prevention Services Act which will go into effect by October of 2021. The new bill eliminates any reference to the QRTP (Qualified Residential Treatment Program).   It requires that (1) DCF, DM and DPH work together on a plan for family first (2) DCF develop written foster care prevention plans for all children who need preventive services to avoid entering foster care (3) It also establishes a Task Force on Family First Act Implementation.

 

An Act Ensuring Positive Transition for at Risk Youth (H. 144)

This bill mandates that any youth in state care (DCF, DYS, DMH or in the care of a provider agency funded by the state) shall not be discharged without a transition plan by the year 2020. The plan shall include but not be limited to housing, continuity of care, health insurance, employment, benefits, and community resources. Appropriate housing shall not include emergency shelters.

If you would like more information about CLM’s legislative advocacy or to request CLM prioritize or endorse legislation, please contact Public Policy Director Kathryn Cohen at kathryn@childrensleague.org.