Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 2717
By: Maxey
Human Services


Currently, there are more than 1,200 children under the age of 21 residing
in various Texas institutions, including intermediate care facilities for
people with mental retardation (ICF-MRs) and nursing homes.  As an
alternative to institutionalization, permanency planning is a process
undertaken on behalf of children with developmental disabilities that
attempts to  ensure that all children live with a family.  Unfortunately,
the Children's Long-term Care Policy Council concluded that the absence of
standardized rules, regulations, and polices among health and human service
agencies present barriers to implementing sound permanency planning.
Furthermore, many institutions may not be aware of current permanency
planning requirements and may not know how to develop a permanency plan.
House Bill 2717 requires HHSC and other agencies to develop uniform
permanency planning procedures. 


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does
not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state
officer, department, agency, or institution. 


House Bill 2717 amends the Government Code to require the Health and Human
Services Commission (HHSC) and other appropriate health and human service
agencies (agencies) to develop uniform procedures regarding a permanency
plan for each child younger than 22 years of age in an institution in
Texas.  The bill authorizes the Texas Department of Human Services (DHS),
the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation (MHMR), and
the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (PRS) to delegate each
department's duty to develop a permanency plan to a local mental
retardation authority or enter into a memorandum of understanding with the
local mental retardation authority to develop a permanency plan for each
child who is institutionalized or for whom institutionalized care is
sought, or contract with a private entity, other than an entity that
provides mental retardation services to such a child, to develop a
permanency plan for that child.  The bill requires an agency that contracts
with a private entity to develop a permanency plan to ensure that the
entity is provided training in permanency planning and the available
resources to assist a child in an institution in making a successful
transition to a community-based residence (Sec.531.153). 

House Bill 2717 sets forth notification procedures regarding the initial
placement of a child in an institution (Secs. 531.154 and 531.155).  The
bill requires DHS or MHMR, as appropriate, to designate a person to serve
as a volunteer advocate for a child residing in an institution to assist in
developing a permanency plan for the child if the child's parent or
guardian requests the assistance, or the institution in which the child is
placed cannot locate the child's parent or guardian.  The bill sets forth
provisions regarding who may serve as an advocate, and requires DHS or
MHMR, as appropriate, to provide each advocate with information regarding
permanency planning (Sec. 531.156). 

The bill requires a state agency that receives notice of a child's
placement in an institution to ensure that the child is also placed on a
waiting list for Medicaid waiver program services no later than 24 hours
after the child is initially placed in the institution.  The bill requires
the parent or guardian of a child placed on a  waiting list to determine
whether to accept waiver program services when those services are available
(Sec. 531.157). 

HHSC and each appropriate health and human services agency shall require a
person who develops a permanency plan for a child residing in an
institution to identify and document in the child's permanency plan all
ongoing permanency planning efforts at least once during each calendar
quarter.  The bill provides that the chief executive officer of each agency
or the officer's designee (CEO) must approve the placement of a child in an
institution.  The initial placement of the child in the institution is
temporary.  The bill requires the CEO to review the child's placement and
documented permanency planning efforts at least every calendar quarter and
must approve an extension for the child to continue residing in the
institution.  The commissioner of health and human services (commissioner)
is required to review the placement of each child who resides in an
institution no later than each six-month anniversary of the date of the
child's initial placement.  The child may continue to reside in the
institution only if the placement is approved by the commissioner on or
before each six-month anniversary (Sec.531.159).     

The bill requires each agency or the agency's designee to determine the
extent to which a nursing home, institution, or ICF-MR is complying  with
the permanency planning requirements as a part of each inspection, survey,
or investigation of those institutions (Sec. 531.160). 

The bill requires the commissioner to submit a semiannual report to the
governor and the committees of each house of the legislature that have
primary oversight jurisdiction over the health and human services agencies
regarding permanency planning efforts and specifies the content of the
report (Sec. 531.161). The bill requires the commissioner to conduct a
study regarding the method of reimbursement provided for permanency
planning activities and modify it as necessary to enhance those activities
to support the development of permanency plans (SECTION 2). 

The provisions of this bill do not affect responsibilities imposed by
federal or other state law on a physician or other professional (Sec.

H.B. 2717 amends the Health and Safety Code to repeal existing provisions
regarding permanency planing for children placed in a convalescent or
nursing home or related institution (SECTION 3). 


September 1, 2001.