TITLE XII
PUBLIC SAFETY AND WELFARE

Chapter 161
HUMAN SERVICE

Section 161:1

    161:1 Organization. – [Omitted.]

Section 161:2

    161:2 Duties of the Department. –
Except as otherwise provided by law, the duties of the department of health and human services with respect to the public assistance and welfare activities of the state shall be as hereinafter prescribed, for which funds appropriated for the general purposes of this chapter or RSA 167 may be expended:
I. General. Develop plans to provide assistance to needy aged, blind, permanently and totally disabled persons, and dependent children; administer or supervise the administration of these activities, child welfare services, social service index and other activities hereinafter mentioned; establish, maintain and direct an electronic benefits disbursement system using automatic teller machines and point-of-sale devices to distribute such assistance.
II. Child Welfare Services. Develop and administer state responsibilities for child welfare, and may administer directly such child welfare activities. Child welfare activities shall include: Protection and care of homeless, dependent and neglected children, and children in danger of becoming delinquent; cooperation with any court and with state and other institutions for children, including investigation and follow-up services; services and care of children in foster homes; and all other child welfare activities authorized by law; provided, however, that nothing in this chapter or RSA 167 shall be construed as authorizing any public official, agent, or representative, in carrying out any of the provisions of this chapter or RSA 167 to take charge of any child over the objection of either of the parents of such child, or of the person standing in loco parentis to such child, except pursuant to a proper court order.
III. General Supervision. Have general supervision of all neglected or dependent children and see that they receive suitable education, training, and support; assist in the enforcement of all laws for the protection of children and investigate charges that may be brought to their attention, and if a crime allegedly has been committed, report to the county attorney.
IV. Supervision and Licensing. Supervise all foster family homes and child placing agencies. The commissioner of the department of health and human services shall adopt rules under RSA 541-A to ensure that a wholesome living environment is provided to children in such homes.
IV-a. Supervision of Residential Care Facilities. Supervise all facilities which are shared by adult clients of the department of health and human services which provide assistance, care or other direct services to the aged, blind or other persons with disabilities.
V. Blind. In cooperation with the department of education, in connection with assistance to needy blind persons the department shall give due consideration to the special needs associated with the condition of blindness and shall: (a) promulgate rules and regulations stating in terms of ophthalmic measurements the amount of visual acuity which an applicant may have and be eligible for assistance and providing for an examination by an ophthalmologist or physician skilled in diseases of the eye or by an optometrist, whichever the individual may select, in making the determination whether the individual is eligible and fixing the fee for such examination; (b) establish the procedure for securing competent medical examination; (c) designate or approve a suitable number of ophthalmologists or physicians skilled in diseases of the eye, and optometrists, who must be duly licensed or registered under the laws of this state and actively engaged in the practice of their professions, to examine applicants and recipients of aid to determine their eligibility for assistance; (d) fix the fees to be paid for medical examination from funds available to the department.
VI. Medical Care. In cooperation with state health authorities and county and local officials, develop and administer a state plan for providing medical or other remedial assistance. The department of health and human services shall not amend nor seek to amend, nor gain nor seek to gain approval of waivers to, the state medicaid plan in any way that would consolidate federal grants or allotments or would cap the federal portion of medicaid spending or would in any way result in a change to the state-federal proportional share of medicaid spending or any component thereof, without the prior approval of the fiscal committee of the general court.
VII. Cooperation; State, Local. Cooperate with other departments, agencies and institutions, both state and local, in performing services in conformity with the purposes of this chapter or RSA 167.
VIII. Cooperation, Federal. Cooperate with the federal government in carrying out the purposes of the Federal Social Security Act, and in other matters of mutual concern pertaining to public welfare, child welfare services, and public assistance, including the adoption, so far as is consistent with the provisions hereof, of such methods of administration as are found by the federal government to be necessary for the efficient operation of the plan for such public assistance and welfare services.
IX. Reports, Federal. Make such reports, in such form and containing such information, as the federal government may from time to time require, and comply with such provisions as the federal government may from time to time find necessary to assure the correctness and verification of such reports.
X. Reciprocal Agreements. Have authority to enter into reciprocal agreements with public welfare agencies in other states to grant assistance to persons removing from such other states to this state, and otherwise eligible for assistance in this state except for the residence requirement.
XI. Research. Carry on research and compile statistics relative to public welfare throughout the state including dependency, physical or mental incapacity, and related problems; and develop plans in cooperation with other public and private agencies for the prevention as well as treatment of conditions giving rise to public welfare problems.
XII. Social Service Programs. Develop a broad range of social and related services aimed at preventing dependency and family breakdown, promoting child development and child care, protecting vulnerable children and enabling them to live in their own homes or foster homes rather than in institutions, assisting individuals to attain and maintain self-support and strengthen family life, develop and operate social service programs within the department of health and human services, receive and distribute such federal funds which are allocated specifically to the state for day care for children and adults, and purchase or contract with other agencies or individuals to provide direct grants from sums appropriated for such purpose to other agencies upon submission of approvable plans within the objectives of this paragraph. Child care provided as a preventive or protective service shall be available to grandparents who are the legal guardians or primary caretakers of their grandchildren. Beginning July 1, 2021, child care providers who contract with the department to provide preventive and protective child care services shall be trained in trauma-informed care.
XII-a. Residential Care Facility Program. Develop a broad range of social and related services aimed at protecting adults and enabling aged and infirm adults to live in their own homes or residential care facilities rather than in institutions, assisting individuals to attain and maintain self-support and strengthen family life, develop and supervise a residential care facility program, receive and distribute federal funds which are allocated specifically to the state for adult service programs, purchase or contract with other agencies or individuals to provide direct grants from sums appropriated for such purpose to other agencies upon submission of approvable plans within the objectives of this paragraph.
XIII. Food Stamp Program. Develop and administer a food stamp program within the state, also known as SNAP, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, under the provisions of the Federal Food Stamp Act of 1964, as amended, and in accordance with Federal Regulations duly promulgated by the United States Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
XIII-a. SNAP Incentive Programs. Implement SNAP incentive programs enabling beneficiaries of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to receive a dollar-for-dollar match for fresh fruits and vegetables, with an emphasis on locally grown, at participating farmer's markets, farm stands, mobile markets, community supported agriculture sites, grocery stores, or other participating direct food retailers.
XIV. Child Support Program. Establish, direct and maintain a program of child support based upon Title IV-D of the Social Security Act as amended. The commissioner is authorized to enter into agreements with any individual, state or local agency or governmental body and may employ such assistants, including, but not limited to, persons with legal training who are not licensed attorneys, as may be necessary to carry out the purpose of this paragraph.
XV. Special Investigations. Investigate and take any other appropriate actions relating to suspected violations of law or rules relative to programs administered by the department. The commissioner may enter into agreements with any individual or any state, federal, or local agency or governmental body and may employ individuals as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this paragraph.
XVI. Collection of Child Support. Establish, maintain and direct a system of collecting and disbursing payments, including an electronic benefits disbursement system as described in paragraph I, ordered in divorce, nonsupport and support for children of unwed parents cases when so ordered by the court in accordance with regulations established under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act. All current and future cases in which the department of health and human services is ordered by the court to collect and enforce an obligation for support shall require IV-D status either through the receipt of public assistance under Title IV-A of the Social Security Act or by application for IV-D support services filed with the court and forwarded with the court order to the department of health and human services.
XVII. Review of Rates For Child Day Care Services. Review annually the rates established for the purchase of child day care services on behalf of eligible persons. This annual review shall consider the effects of the established rates on current costs, quality and availability of services.
XVIII. Refugee Resettlement. Administer the New Hampshire refugee resettlement program as funded by and in cooperation with the United States Department of Health and Human Services under the Refugee Act of 1980.

Source. PL 108:7. 1937, 202:6. 1939, 8:5. 1941, 125:1. RL 126:6. 1951, 90:1; 139:1-3. RSA 161:2. 1970, 34:2. 1971, 131:1. 1973, 353:1, 2. 1974, 14:1. 1975, 265:2-5. 1977, 589:2. 1979, 149:1-3. 1981, 189:5; 568:91, III. 1982, 42:23. 1983, 291:1; 465:1, 2. 1985, 237:1, 2. 1987, 343:6. 1988, 178:7; 289:2. 1989, 142:1. 1991, 186:1, 2. 1993, 22:1. 1995, 310:105, 175, 181, 183. 1999, 18:1. 2004, 260:24. 2010, Sp. Sess., 1:9, eff. June 10, 2010. 2019, 158:1, eff. Aug. 30, 2019. 2021, 91:401, eff. July 1, 2021.

Section 161:2-a

    161:2-a Local Officials Authorized to be Issuing Agent for Food Stamps. – Any town, city, or county official, so designated in a written agreement between the commissioner of the department of health and human services and the selectmen of a town, the city council of a city or the county commissioners of a county, may receive, store, issue and sell food stamps under the food stamp program established under RSA 161:2, XIII, as agent of the commissioner in the respective town, city or county, in accordance with and pursuant to the terms of said written agreement. Said designated official shall be bonded and insured as such agent in the manner and amount required by the commissioner, and the commissioner shall pay the cost thereof from funds appropriated for the administration of the food stamp program.

Source. 1975, 288:1. 1983, 291:1, II. 1995, 310:182, 183, eff. Nov. 1, 1995.

Section 161:2-b

    161:2-b Undeliverable Collections. – Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any amount collected pursuant to RSA 161:2, XVI which is unclaimed or undeliverable to a recipient and which is in the opinion of the commissioner of health and human services unreturnable to the payor for a period of one year shall be deposited forthwith to the general fund as unrestricted revenue. In the event that such recipient or payor is later located and a claim is made, the commissioner of health and human services is hereby authorized to expend such sums as may be necessary to satisfy such claim and the governor is authorized to draw his warrant for such sums out of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated. The provisions of this section shall not be construed to require the commissioner of health and human services to return any sums collected to the payor if he is of the opinion that said sums should be retained for later disbursement to the recipient.

Source. 1981, 568:148. 1995, 310:176, eff. Nov. 1, 1995.

Section 161:3

    161:3 Repealed by 1961, 222:6, IV. –

Section 161:4

    161:4 Duties of the Commissioner. –
I. Supervision. It shall be the duty of the commissioner of the department of health and human services to supervise and direct the department so that its duties herein defined be effectuated and take action necessary or desirable to carry out the provisions of this chapter or RSA 167.
II. Personnel Standards. Based upon the number of applicants and recipients in the localities, the commissioner of health and human services shall determine the number of employees necessary for the administration of public assistance, old age assistance, and aid to the needy blind in all administrative units, state, county, and town, subject to the regulations of the director of personnel.
III. Liability Insurance. The commissioner of the department of health and human services or designee shall have the authority, after consultation with the insurance department and the division of risk and benefits, and in accordance with the procedures established by the commissioner of administrative services under RSA 21-I:7-c, V, to purchase personal liability coverage for individuals providing care to adults receiving assistance from the department of health and human services who reside in certified residential care facilities. The amount and nature of this insurance coverage may vary in the discretion of the commissioner of administrative services.
IV. Hearings Officer. The commissioner may, in accordance with the rules adopted by the director of personnel pursuant to RSA 541-A, appoint a hearings officer or hearings officers, as necessary, to preside over such hearings as are required to comply with federal and state statutes and federal or state rules or regulations. The decision of the officer shall not be contrary to rules adopted by the department of health and human services pursuant to RSA 541-A. The officer's decision shall be binding on all parties unless such decision is overturned on appeal.
V. There shall be no more than 60 percent of the total number of children in the custody of the department living in foster care for more than 24 months. The commissioner of the department of health and human services may adopt rules, pursuant to RSA 541-A, setting a lower limit on the total number of children living in foster care.
VI. Medical Assistance Program.
(a) The commissioner of health and human services shall establish rates of reimbursement to providers of medical services under the medical assistance program administered under this chapter and RSA 167. Publication of rates of reimbursement shall be exempt from the provisions of RSA 541-A.
(b) The commissioner of health and human services shall have the authority to reorganize rules of the medical assistance program under chapter He-W 500 of the department's administrative rules to conform to the requirements of the uniform system of drafting and numbering adopted by the director of legislative services. Changes shall be limited to title, chapter, part, section and subsection designations and numbers and shall be made subject to review by the director of legislative services for compliance with the uniform system of numbering and drafting. Such reorganized rules shall become effective when notice of these changes is published by the director of legislative services in the rulemaking register. Changes shall be submitted by the commissioner of health and human services for review by the director of legislative services before January 1, 1994. Changes authorized under this section shall not affect the adoption or expiration date of rules reorganized under this section.
VII. [Repealed.]

Source. PL 108:7. 1937, 202:3, 6. 1939, 8:5. 1941, 107:2; 125:1. RL 126:3, 6. RSA 161:4. 1965, 352:11. 1970, 34:13. 1977, 340:4. 1979, 226:1; 464:1. 1981, 174:1. 1983, 242:1; 291:1, II. 1986, 12:4. 1988, 289:2. 1991, 127:1. 1993, 151:1. 1994, 403:4. 1995, 294:1; 310:11. 2006, 70:6. 2010, 136:2, eff. Aug. 13, 2010. 2018, 335:4, III, eff. June 25, 2018. 2019, 346:19, eff. July 1, 2019.

Section 161:4-a

    161:4-a Rulemaking. –
The commissioner of the department of health and human services shall adopt rules under RSA 541-A relative to:
I. The development, administration and supervision of child welfare services by the department of health and human services under RSA 161:2, II.
II. The determination of eligibility for assistance to needy blind persons under RSA 161:2, V.
III. The development and operation of social and related service programs under RSA 161:2, XII.
IV. The development and administration of the food stamp program under RSA 161:2, XIII, including procedures for waiver of food stamp overpayments.
V. The establishment, maintenance and direction of a system of collecting and disbursing court ordered support payments in divorce, nonsupport and support of children of unwed parents cases under RSA 161:2, XVI.
VI. The custody, use and preservation of records, papers, files and communications relating to the department of health and human services.
VII. The decision of hearings officers appointed under RSA 161:4, IV.
VIII. Limitations on the total number of children living in foster care under RSA 161:4, V.
VIII-a. The establishment, maintenance, and direction of a reasonable and fair system of recouping payments made in error from child support collected pursuant to RSA 161:2, XVI, or other means as allowed by law. Such system shall include, but shall not be limited to, grounds for appeal on the basis of economic hardship.
IX. The implementation of the requirements of federal discretionary grants awarded to the department of health and human services and any other awards received through a successful department of health and human services response to federal requests for applications and requests for proposals.
X. Sections 1902 through 1946 of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. section 1396, et seq. that reflect how the Title XIX program will be administered in New Hampshire in order to carry out the purposes of the Title XIX program. Such rules shall be adopted, consistent with the provisions of the Title XIX program, as are necessary for the proper and efficient administration of the Title XIX program in New Hampshire and in conformity with the specific requirements of Title XIX, federal regulations, and other official federal Health and Human Services issuances. Such rules shall include, as applicable, but not be limited to:
(a) Recipient eligibility.
(b) Provider participation requirements.
(c) Types and ranges of services covered and non-covered.
(d) Service limits.
(e) Co-payment requirements.
(f) Prior authorization requirements.
(g) Documentation.
(h) Third party liability.
(i) Utilization review and control.
(j) Payment for services.
(k) Rate setting methodologies.
(l) Administrative and operating procedures such as claim submission requirements, forms, payment limits and adjustments, lock-in, provider suspension and exclusion, board composition, board functions and responsibilities, appeals, dispensing limitations, prescription certifications, documentation retention policies, and informing requirements.
(m) Any other item necessary for proper operation of the title XIX program consistent with efficiency, economy, and quality of care.
XI. Requiring service providers and facilities to maintain liability insurance, as necessary.
XI-a. The implementation of SNAP incentive programs under RSA 161:2, XIII-a.
XII. Any other matters necessary to implement his or her duties under RSA 161 or any other law delegating the commissioner rulemaking authority. As a condition of the commissioner invoking his or her rulemaking authority under this paragraph, the department of health and human services shall provide a written report detailing the necessity for the proposed rule as set forth in the rulemaking notice, to include any fiscal impact and or policy implications related to the adoption of the proposed rule, to the house and senate executive departments and administration committees, the house and senate finance committees, the joint legislative committee on administrative rules, the oversight committee on health and human services, and the fiscal committee of the general court.

Source. 1983, 242:2; 291:1, II. 1992, 270:1. 1995, 310:181-183. 2006, 85:2. 2012, 171:10, eff. Aug. 10, 2012. 2021, 91:402, eff. July 1, 2021.

Section 161:5

    161:5 Destruction of Certain Records. – The commissioner of the department of health and human services may destroy any reports, records and other documents in the department which in his opinion are no longer of any value to the state provided the records have been retained for a sufficient period of time to comply with federal regulations and provided that payrolls covering payments to recipients of benefits under public welfare programs and medical audits shall be held for a period of 10 years from the date of filing or until such records have been audited.

Source. 1943, 12:2. RSA 161:5. 1959, 232:1. 1979, 164:1. 1983, 291:1, II. 1995, 310:175, 182, eff. Nov. 1, 1995.

Section 161:6

    161:6 Repealed by 1961, 222:6, IV. –

Section 161:7

    161:7 Personnel; Duties. – Subject to the rules of the division of personnel, the commissioner shall appoint such personnel as may be necessary for the efficient performance of the duties prescribed in this chapter or RSA 167 and shall prescribe their duties.

Source. 1937, 202:5. RL 126:5. RSA 161:7. 1965, 352:12. 1983, 291:1, II. 1990, 250:3. 1995, 310:106, eff. Nov. 1, 1995.

Section 161:8

    161:8 Probation Duties. – If appointed by a court of competent jurisdiction, the commissioner of the department of health and human services shall perform, under the supervision of such court, the function of probation officer or agent of the court in any welfare matters which may be before the court.

Source. 1937, 202:7. RL 126:7. RSA 161:8. 1983, 291:1, II. 1995, 310:182, eff. Nov. 1, 1995.

Section 161:9

    161:9 Children in Need of Services. – When the department is a petitioner or respondent in contested cases involving children in need of services, children who are alleged to be neglected or abused, and in contested termination of parental rights cases or contested cases involving protective services for adults, the commissioner may, with the approval of the attorney general, contract with attorneys to represent social workers of the department appearing in such cases. The commissioner may compensate attorneys at a reasonable rate for such representation.

Source. 1975, 89:1. 1979, 412:1. 1983, 291:1. 1986, 223:1. 1995, 310:107, eff. Nov. 1, 1995.

Section 161:10


[RSA 161:10 contingently effective. See contingent 2006 note set out below.]
    161:10 Food Stamp Program; Overpayment. –
To the extent permitted by the Food Stamp Act of 1977, as amended, and federal regulations adopted thereunder, the department of health and human services shall terminate or waive any claim to reimbursement for the overpayment of food stamps if the overpayment was the result of department error and:
I. The amount of the overpayment is not more than $450; or
II. The recipient's income is less than or equal to 2 times the federal poverty level.

Source. 2006, 85:1; for effective date, see contingent 2006 amendment note set out below.

Section 161:11

    161:11 Federal Health Care Reform. – Before initiation of any rulemaking proceeding or waiver request under Public Act 111-148, as amended by Public Act 111-152, or any federal regulations, interpretations, or guidance issued thereunder, the commissioner shall obtain approval for the rule or waiver request from the joint health care reform oversight committee established in RSA 420-N:3.

Source. 2011, 264:2, eff. July 1, 2011.

Section 161:12

    161:12 Repealed by 2016, 269:2, eff. Sept. 1, 2017. –

Section 161:13


[RSA 161:13 repealed by 2018, 145:3, effective November 1, 2022.]
    161:13 Commission to Address Child Hunger in New Hampshire. –
I. There is established a commission to address child hunger in New Hampshire. The membership of the commission shall be as follows:
(a) One member of the senate, appointed by the senate president.
(b) Two members of the house of representatives, one of whom shall serve on the health, human services and elderly affairs committee or the children and family law committee, and one of whom shall serve on the finance committee, appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives.
(c) The commissioner of the department of health and human services, or designee.
(d) The commissioner of the department of education, or designee.
(e) One member of the New Hampshire housing finance authority, appointed by the authority.
(f) One member of New Hampshire Kids Count, appointed by that organization.
(g) One representative of New Hampshire Hunger Solutions, appointed by the coalition.
(h) One representative of the Granite State Children's Alliance, appointed by that organization.
(i) One representative of the New Hampshire chapter of Every Child Matters, appointed by that organization.
(j) One representative of a community action agency, appointed by the governor.
(k) One representative of United Ways of New Hampshire, appointed by that organization.
(l) One representative of the New Hampshire Head Start Directors Association, appointed by that organization.
(m) One representative of a Boys and Girls Club of New Hampshire, appointed by the governor.
(n) One representative of End 68 Hours of Hunger, appointed by that organization.
(o) One representative of Child and Family Services of New Hampshire, appointed by that organization.
(p) One pediatrician licensed in New Hampshire, appointed by the New Hampshire Pediatric Society.
(q) One public school principal, appointed by the New Hampshire Association of School Principals.
(r) One school superintendent, appointed by the New Hampshire School Administrators Association.
(s) One member of the New Hampshire Bar Association, appointed by the association.
(t) One representative of Catholic Charities New Hampshire, appointed by that organization.
(u) One representative of the Business and Industry Association (BIA), appointed by the association.
II. The commission shall address issues related to child hunger in New Hampshire. The commission's duties shall include, but not be limited to:
(a) Review of current data regarding child hunger in New Hampshire.
(b) Review of current data regarding child hunger in New Hampshire public schools.
(c) Identification of causes for hunger affecting New Hampshire children.
(d) Development of corrective actions for ending child hunger in New Hampshire.
(e) Identification of current actions being taken to eliminate child hunger in New Hampshire and their effectiveness.
III. The members of the commission shall elect a chairperson from among the members. The first meeting of the commission shall be called by the senate member. The first meeting of the commission shall be held within 45 days of the effective date of this section. Seven members of the commission shall constitute a quorum.
IV. Legislative members of the commission shall receive mileage at the legislative rate when attending to the duties of the commission.
V. The commission shall submit an interim report of its findings and any recommendations for proposed legislation to the president of the senate, the speaker of the house of representatives, the senate clerk, the house clerk, the governor, and the state library on or before November 1, 2020 and shall submit a final report on or before November 1, 2022.

Source. 2018, 145:1, eff. May 30, 2018.

Section 161:14

    161:14 Use of Corporal Punishment Prohibited. –
I. Each state agency shall provide in its policies and procedures related to children that all forms of corporal punishment are prohibited.
II. In this section:
(a) "Agency" means any executive branch department, institution, bureau, or office of the state, engaged in providing services to or for children. Agency shall include any public or private entity under contract or agreement with the department of health and human services or the department of education to provide services to or for a child or children.
(b) "Child" or "children" means a person under 18 years of age who has not been transferred to the adult criminal justice system, and includes a person under 22 years of age who is attending school and who has not received a high school diploma.
(c) "Corporal punishment" means any punishment in which physical force is issued and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, and is exclusive of restraint as defined in RSA 126-U:1, IV or physical force used to protect self or others.

Source. 2022, 2:1, eff. Mar. 27, 2022.