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TO AMEND SECTION 20-7-121, AS AMENDED, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO THE CREATION, PURPOSE, AND ADMINISTRATION OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA GUARDIAN AD LITEM PROGRAM, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT NOTHING PROHIBITS A COUNTY FROM PROVIDING GUARDIAN AD LITEM SERVICES IF THE COUNTY'S PROGRAM IS CERTIFIED BY THE NATIONAL COURT APPOINTED SPECIAL ADVOCATE ASSOCIATION AND TO PROVIDE THAT THIS SUBARTICLE APPLIES TO SUCH PROGRAMS; TO AMEND SECTIONS 20-7-126 AND 20-7-127, BOTH AS AMENDED, RELATING, RESPECTIVELY, TO CONFIDENTIALITY OF RECORDS AND IMMUNITY FROM LIABILITY, SO AS TO FURTHER SPECIFY THAT THESE PROVISIONS APPLY TO COUNTY GUARDIAN AD LITEM PROGRAMS; AND TO AMEND SECTION 20-7-129, AS AMENDED, RELATING TO FUNDING PROVIDED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY FOR THE SOUTH CAROLINA GUARDIAN AD LITEM PROGRAM, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT SUCH FUNDING IS NOT REQUIRED TO BE PROVIDED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY FOR A COUNTY GUARDAIN AD LITEM PROGRAM.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Section 20-7-121 of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 450 of 1996, is further amended to read:
"Section 20-7-121. (A) There is created the South Carolina Guardian ad Litem Program to serve as a statewide system to provide training and supervision to volunteers who serve as court-appointed special advocates for children in abuse and neglect proceedings within the family court, pursuant to Section 20-7-110. This program must be administered by the Office of the Governor.
(B) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (A), nothing prevents a county from providing guardian ad litem services if the county's program is accredited by the National Court Appointed Special Advocates Association. However, unless otherwise provided for in this article, such a program is subject to the provisions of this subarticle."
SECTION 2. Section 20-7-126 of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 450 of 1996, is further amended to read:
"Section 20-7-126. (A) All reports and information collected pursuant to this subarticle maintained by the Guardian ad Litem Program or a county guardian ad litem program certified in accordance with Section 20-7-121(B), are confidential except as provided for in Section 20-7-690(C). A person who disseminates or permits the unauthorized dissemination of the information is guilty of contempt of court and, upon conviction, may be fined or imprisoned, or both, pursuant to Section 20-7-1350.
(B) The name, address, and other identifying characteristics of a person named in a report determined to be judicially unfounded must be destroyed one year from the date of the determination. The name, address, and other identifying characteristics of any person named in a report determined to be judicially indicated must be destroyed seven years from the date that the guardian ad litem formally is relieved of responsibility as guardian ad litem by the family court.
(C) The director of the Guardian ad Litem Program or the director's designee, or chief administrator of a county guardian ad litem program certified in accordance with Section 20-7-121(B), may disclose to the media information contained in child protective services records, if disclosure is limited to discussion of the program's activities in handling the case. The program may incorporate into its discussion of the handling of the case any information placed in the public domain by other public officials, a criminal prosecution, the alleged perpetrator or the attorney for the alleged perpetrator, or other public judicial proceedings. For purposes of this subsection, information is considered 'placed in the public domain' when it has been reported in the news media, is contained in public records of a criminal justice agency, is contained in public records of a court of law, or has been the subject of testimony in a public judicial proceeding."
SECTION 3. Section 20-7-127 of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 450 of 1996, is further amended to read:
"Section 20-7-127. After participating in the training program of the Guardian ad Litem Program, or a county guardian ad litem program certified in accordance with Section 20-7-121(B), a person who is appointed to serve as guardian ad litem and serves without compensation is not liable for any civil damages for any personal injury as a result of any act or omission by the person in the discharge of the responsibilities of a guardian ad litem if the person acts in good faith and is not guilty of gross negligence."
SECTION 4. Section 20-7-129 of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 450 of 1996, is further amended to read:
"Section 20-7-129. The General Assembly shall provide the funds necessary to carry out the provisions of Sections 20-7-121 through 20-7-127 and 20-7-690(B)(5), except that such funding is not required to be provided by the General Assembly for a county guardian ad litem program."
SECTION 5. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
This web page was last updated on Monday, June 22, 2009 at 3:11 P.M.