Bill Text: FL S1324 | 2020 | Regular Session | Comm Sub


Bill Title: Child Welfare

Spectrum: Bipartisan Bill

Status: (Introduced) 2020-03-11 - Laid on Table, refer to CS/CS/HB 1105 [S1324 Detail]

Download: Florida-2020-S1324-Comm_Sub.html
       Florida Senate - 2020                      CS for CS for SB 1324
       
       
        
       By the Committees on Appropriations; and Children, Families, and
       Elder Affairs; and Senator Simpson
       
       
       
       
       576-03989C-20                                         20201324c2
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to child welfare; amending s. 25.385,
    3         F.S.; requiring the Florida Court Educational Council
    4         to establish certain standards for instruction of
    5         circuit and county court judges for dependency cases;
    6         requiring the council to provide such instruction on a
    7         periodic and timely basis; creating s. 39.01304, F.S.;
    8         authorizing circuit courts to create early childhood
    9         court programs; providing that early childhood court
   10         programs may have certain components; requiring the
   11         Office of the State Courts Administrator to contract
   12         for an evaluation; requiring the Office of the State
   13         Courts Administrator to provide or contract for
   14         specified duties; amending s. 39.0138, F.S.; requiring
   15         the department to complete background screenings
   16         within a specified timeframe; providing an exception;
   17         amending s. 39.301, F.S.; requiring the department to
   18         notify the court of certain reports; authorizing the
   19         department to file specified petitions under certain
   20         circumstances; amending s. 39.522, F.S.; requiring the
   21         court to consider specified factors when making a
   22         certain determination; authorizing the court or any
   23         party to the case to file a petition to place a child
   24         in out-of-home care under certain circumstances;
   25         requiring the court to consider specified factors when
   26         determining whether the child should be placed in out
   27         of-home care; requiring the court to evaluate and
   28         change a child’s permanency goal under certain
   29         circumstances; amending s. 39.6011, F.S.; revising
   30         requirements for case plan descriptions; amending s.
   31         39.701, F.S.; requiring the court to retain
   32         jurisdiction over a child under certain circumstances;
   33         requiring specified parties to disclose certain
   34         information to the court; providing for certain
   35         caregiver recommendations to the court; requiring the
   36         court and citizen review panel to determine whether
   37         certain parties have developed a productive
   38         relationship; amending s. 63.092, F.S.; providing a
   39         deadline for completion of a preliminary home study;
   40         creating s. 63.093, F.S.; providing requirements and
   41         processes for the adoption of children from the child
   42         welfare system; creating s. 409.1415, F.S.; providing
   43         legislative findings and intent; requiring the
   44         department and community-based care lead agencies to
   45         develop and support relationships between certain
   46         foster families and legal parents of children;
   47         providing responsibilities for foster parents, birth
   48         parents, the department, community-based care lead
   49         agency staff, and other agency staff; defining the
   50         term “excellent parenting”; requiring employees of
   51         residential group homes to meet specified
   52         requirements; requiring the department to adopt rules;
   53         amending s. 409.145, F.S.; conforming provisions to
   54         changes made by the act; amending s. 409.175, F.S.;
   55         revising requirements for the licensure of family
   56         foster homes; requiring the department to issue
   57         determinations for family foster home licenses within
   58         a specified timeframe; providing an exception;
   59         amending s. 409.988, F.S.; authorizing a lead agency
   60         to provide more than 35 percent of all child welfare
   61         services under certain conditions; requiring a
   62         specified local community alliance, or specified
   63         representatives in certain circumstances, to review
   64         and recommend approval or denial of the lead agency’s
   65         request for a specified exemption; amending ss.
   66         39.302, 39.6225, 393.065, and 409.1451, F.S.;
   67         conforming cross-references; providing an
   68         appropriation; providing an effective date.
   69          
   70  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   71  
   72         Section 1. Section 25.385, Florida Statutes, is amended to
   73  read:
   74         25.385 Standards for instruction of circuit and county
   75  court judges in handling domestic violence cases.—
   76         (1) The Florida Court Educational Council shall establish
   77  standards for instruction of circuit and county court judges who
   78  have responsibility for domestic violence cases, and the council
   79  shall provide such instruction on a periodic and timely basis.
   80         (2) As used in this subsection, section:
   81         (a) the term “domestic violence” has the meaning set forth
   82  in s. 741.28.
   83         (b) “Family or household member” has the meaning set forth
   84  in s. 741.28.
   85         (2) The Florida Court Educational Council shall establish
   86  standards for instruction of circuit and county court judges who
   87  have responsibility for dependency cases regarding the benefits
   88  of a secure attachment with a primary caregiver, the importance
   89  of a stable placement, and the impact of trauma on child
   90  development. The council shall provide such instruction to the
   91  circuit and county court judges handling dependency cases on a
   92  periodic and timely basis.
   93         Section 2. Section 39.01304, Florida Statutes, is created
   94  to read:
   95         39.01304 Early childhood court programs.—
   96         (1)A circuit court may create an early childhood court
   97  program to serve the needs of infants and toddlers in dependency
   98  court. If a circuit court creates an early childhood court, it
   99  may consider all of the following components:
  100         (a)The court supporting the therapeutic needs of the
  101  parent and child in a nonadversarial manner.
  102         (b)A multidisciplinary team made up of key community
  103  stakeholders to work with the court to restructure the way the
  104  community responds to the needs of maltreated children.
  105         (c)A community coordinator to facilitate services and
  106  resources for families, serve as a liaison between a
  107  multidisciplinary team and the judiciary, and manage data
  108  collection for program evaluation and accountability. The Office
  109  of the State Courts Administrator may coordinate with each
  110  participating circuit court to fill a community coordinator
  111  position for the circuit’s early childhood court program.
  112         (d)A continuum of mental health services which includes
  113  those that support the parent-child relationship and are
  114  appropriate for children and family served.
  115         (2)The Office of the State Courts Administrator shall
  116  contract for an evaluation of the early childhood programs to
  117  ensure the quality, accountability, and fidelity of the
  118  programs evidence-based treatment. The Office of the State
  119  Courts Administrator may provide, or contract for the provision
  120  of, training and technical assistance related to program
  121  services, consultation and guidance for difficult cases, and
  122  ongoing training for court teams.
  123         Section 3. Subsection (1) of section 39.0138, Florida
  124  Statutes, is amended to read
  125         39.0138 Criminal history and other records checks; limit on
  126  placement of a child.—
  127         (1) The department shall conduct a records check through
  128  the State Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS)
  129  and a local and statewide criminal history records check on all
  130  persons, including parents, being considered by the department
  131  for placement of a child under this chapter, including all
  132  nonrelative placement decisions, and all members of the
  133  household, 12 years of age and older, of the person being
  134  considered. For purposes of this section, a criminal history
  135  records check may include, but is not limited to, submission of
  136  fingerprints to the Department of Law Enforcement for processing
  137  and forwarding to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for state
  138  and national criminal history information, and local criminal
  139  records checks through local law enforcement agencies of all
  140  household members 18 years of age and older and other visitors
  141  to the home. Background screenings must be completed within 14
  142  business days after the department receives the criminal history
  143  results, unless additional information regarding the criminal
  144  history is required to complete processing. An out-of-state
  145  criminal history records check must be initiated for any person
  146  18 years of age or older who resided in another state if that
  147  state allows the release of such records. The department shall
  148  establish by rule standards for evaluating any information
  149  contained in the automated system relating to a person who must
  150  be screened for purposes of making a placement decision.
  151         Section 4. Subsection (1) and paragraph (a) of subsection
  152  (9) of section 39.301, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
  153         39.301 Initiation of protective investigations.—
  154         (1)(a) Upon receiving a report of known or suspected child
  155  abuse, abandonment, or neglect, or that a child is in need of
  156  supervision and care and has no parent, legal custodian, or
  157  responsible adult relative immediately known and available to
  158  provide supervision and care, the central abuse hotline shall
  159  determine if the report requires an immediate onsite protective
  160  investigation. For reports requiring an immediate onsite
  161  protective investigation, the central abuse hotline shall
  162  immediately notify the department’s designated district staff
  163  responsible for protective investigations to ensure that an
  164  onsite investigation is promptly initiated. For reports not
  165  requiring an immediate onsite protective investigation, the
  166  central abuse hotline shall notify the department’s designated
  167  district staff responsible for protective investigations in
  168  sufficient time to allow for an investigation. At the time of
  169  notification, the central abuse hotline shall also provide
  170  information to district staff on any previous report concerning
  171  a subject of the present report or any pertinent information
  172  relative to the present report or any noted earlier reports.
  173         (b) The department shall promptly notify the court of any
  174  report to the central abuse hotline that is accepted for a
  175  protective investigation and involves a child over whom the
  176  court has jurisdiction.
  177         (9)(a) For each report received from the central abuse
  178  hotline and accepted for investigation, the department or the
  179  sheriff providing child protective investigative services under
  180  s. 39.3065, shall perform the following child protective
  181  investigation activities to determine child safety:
  182         1. Conduct a review of all relevant, available information
  183  specific to the child and family and alleged maltreatment;
  184  family child welfare history; local, state, and federal criminal
  185  records checks; and requests for law enforcement assistance
  186  provided by the abuse hotline. Based on a review of available
  187  information, including the allegations in the current report, a
  188  determination shall be made as to whether immediate consultation
  189  should occur with law enforcement, the Child Protection Team, a
  190  domestic violence shelter or advocate, or a substance abuse or
  191  mental health professional. Such consultations should include
  192  discussion as to whether a joint response is necessary and
  193  feasible. A determination shall be made as to whether the person
  194  making the report should be contacted before the face-to-face
  195  interviews with the child and family members.
  196         2. Conduct face-to-face interviews with the child; other
  197  siblings, if any; and the parents, legal custodians, or
  198  caregivers.
  199         3. Assess the child’s residence, including a determination
  200  of the composition of the family and household, including the
  201  name, address, date of birth, social security number, sex, and
  202  race of each child named in the report; any siblings or other
  203  children in the same household or in the care of the same
  204  adults; the parents, legal custodians, or caregivers; and any
  205  other adults in the same household.
  206         4. Determine whether there is any indication that any child
  207  in the family or household has been abused, abandoned, or
  208  neglected; the nature and extent of present or prior injuries,
  209  abuse, or neglect, and any evidence thereof; and a determination
  210  as to the person or persons apparently responsible for the
  211  abuse, abandonment, or neglect, including the name, address,
  212  date of birth, social security number, sex, and race of each
  213  such person.
  214         5. Complete assessment of immediate child safety for each
  215  child based on available records, interviews, and observations
  216  with all persons named in subparagraph 2. and appropriate
  217  collateral contacts, which may include other professionals. The
  218  department’s child protection investigators are hereby
  219  designated a criminal justice agency for the purpose of
  220  accessing criminal justice information to be used for enforcing
  221  this state’s laws concerning the crimes of child abuse,
  222  abandonment, and neglect. This information shall be used solely
  223  for purposes supporting the detection, apprehension,
  224  prosecution, pretrial release, posttrial release, or
  225  rehabilitation of criminal offenders or persons accused of the
  226  crimes of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect and may not be
  227  further disseminated or used for any other purpose.
  228         6. Document the present and impending dangers to each child
  229  based on the identification of inadequate protective capacity
  230  through utilization of a standardized safety assessment
  231  instrument. If present or impending danger is identified, the
  232  child protective investigator must implement a safety plan or
  233  take the child into custody. If present danger is identified and
  234  the child is not removed, the child protective investigator
  235  shall create and implement a safety plan before leaving the home
  236  or the location where there is present danger. If impending
  237  danger is identified, the child protective investigator shall
  238  create and implement a safety plan as soon as necessary to
  239  protect the safety of the child. The child protective
  240  investigator may modify the safety plan if he or she identifies
  241  additional impending danger.
  242         a. If the child protective investigator implements a safety
  243  plan, the plan must be specific, sufficient, feasible, and
  244  sustainable in response to the realities of the present or
  245  impending danger. A safety plan may be an in-home plan or an
  246  out-of-home plan, or a combination of both. A safety plan may
  247  include tasks or responsibilities for a parent, caregiver, or
  248  legal custodian. However, a safety plan may not rely on
  249  promissory commitments by the parent, caregiver, or legal
  250  custodian who is currently not able to protect the child or on
  251  services that are not available or will not result in the safety
  252  of the child. A safety plan may not be implemented if for any
  253  reason the parents, guardian, or legal custodian lacks the
  254  capacity or ability to comply with the plan. If the department
  255  is not able to develop a plan that is specific, sufficient,
  256  feasible, and sustainable, the department shall file a shelter
  257  petition. A child protective investigator shall implement
  258  separate safety plans for the perpetrator of domestic violence,
  259  if the investigator, using reasonable efforts, can locate the
  260  perpetrator to implement a safety plan, and for the parent who
  261  is a victim of domestic violence as defined in s. 741.28.
  262  Reasonable efforts to locate a perpetrator include, but are not
  263  limited to, a diligent search pursuant to the same requirements
  264  as in s. 39.503. If the perpetrator of domestic violence is not
  265  the parent, guardian, or legal custodian of any child in the
  266  home and if the department does not intend to file a shelter
  267  petition or dependency petition that will assert allegations
  268  against the perpetrator as a parent of a child in the home, the
  269  child protective investigator shall seek issuance of an
  270  injunction authorized by s. 39.504 to implement a safety plan
  271  for the perpetrator and impose any other conditions to protect
  272  the child. The safety plan for the parent who is a victim of
  273  domestic violence may not be shared with the perpetrator. If any
  274  party to a safety plan fails to comply with the safety plan
  275  resulting in the child being unsafe, the department shall file a
  276  shelter petition.
  277         b. The child protective investigator shall collaborate with
  278  the community-based care lead agency in the development of the
  279  safety plan as necessary to ensure that the safety plan is
  280  specific, sufficient, feasible, and sustainable. The child
  281  protective investigator shall identify services necessary for
  282  the successful implementation of the safety plan. The child
  283  protective investigator and the community-based care lead agency
  284  shall mobilize service resources to assist all parties in
  285  complying with the safety plan. The community-based care lead
  286  agency shall prioritize safety plan services to families who
  287  have multiple risk factors, including, but not limited to, two
  288  or more of the following:
  289         (I) The parent or legal custodian is of young age;
  290         (II) The parent or legal custodian, or an adult currently
  291  living in or frequently visiting the home, has a history of
  292  substance abuse, mental illness, or domestic violence;
  293         (III) The parent or legal custodian, or an adult currently
  294  living in or frequently visiting the home, has been previously
  295  found to have physically or sexually abused a child;
  296         (IV) The parent or legal custodian or an adult currently
  297  living in or frequently visiting the home has been the subject
  298  of multiple allegations by reputable reports of abuse or
  299  neglect;
  300         (V) The child is physically or developmentally disabled; or
  301         (VI) The child is 3 years of age or younger.
  302         c. The child protective investigator shall monitor the
  303  implementation of the plan to ensure the child’s safety until
  304  the case is transferred to the lead agency at which time the
  305  lead agency shall monitor the implementation.
  306         d. The department may file a petition for shelter or
  307  dependency without a new child protective investigation or the
  308  concurrence of the child protective investigator if the child is
  309  unsafe but for the use of a safety plan and the parent or
  310  caregiver has not sufficiently increased protective capacities
  311  within 90 days after the transfer of the safety plan to the lead
  312  agency.
  313         Section 5. Subsection (1) of section 39.522, Florida
  314  Statutes, is amended, and subsection (4) is added to that
  315  section, to read:
  316         39.522 Postdisposition change of custody.—The court may
  317  change the temporary legal custody or the conditions of
  318  protective supervision at a postdisposition hearing, without the
  319  necessity of another adjudicatory hearing.
  320         (1)(a) At any time before a child is residing in the
  321  permanent placement approved at the permanency hearing, a child
  322  who has been placed in the child’s own home under the protective
  323  supervision of an authorized agent of the department, in the
  324  home of a relative, in the home of a legal custodian, or in some
  325  other place may be brought before the court by the department or
  326  by any other interested person, upon the filing of a motion
  327  alleging a need for a change in the conditions of protective
  328  supervision or the placement. If the parents or other legal
  329  custodians deny the need for a change, the court shall hear all
  330  parties in person or by counsel, or both. Upon the admission of
  331  a need for a change or after such hearing, the court shall enter
  332  an order changing the placement, modifying the conditions of
  333  protective supervision, or continuing the conditions of
  334  protective supervision as ordered. The standard for changing
  335  custody of the child shall be the best interests interest of the
  336  child. When determining whether a change of legal custody or
  337  placement is in applying this standard, the court shall consider
  338  the continuity of the child’s placement in the same out-of-home
  339  residence as a factor when determining the best interests of the
  340  child, the court shall consider:
  341         1. The child’s age.
  342         2. The physical, mental, and emotional health benefits to
  343  the child by remaining in his or her current placement or moving
  344  to the proposed placement.
  345         3. The stability and longevity of the child’s current
  346  placement.
  347         4. The established bonded relationship between the child
  348  and the current or proposed caregiver.
  349         5. The reasonable preference of the child, if the court has
  350  found that the child is of sufficient intelligence,
  351  understanding, and experience to express a preference.
  352         6. The recommendation of the child’s current caregiver.
  353         7. The recommendation of the child’s guardian ad litem, if
  354  one has been appointed.
  355         8. The child’s previous and current relationship with a
  356  sibling, if the change of legal custody or placement will
  357  separate or reunite siblings.
  358         9.The impact on visitation with siblings, parents, kin,
  359  and any other person important to the child.
  360         10. The likelihood of the child attaining permanency in the
  361  current or proposed placement.
  362         11.The likelihood the child will have to change schools or
  363  day care placement, the impact of such change on the child, and
  364  the parties’ recommendations as to the timing on the change.
  365         12.The disruption in medical, mental, dental, or health
  366  care or other treatment that will be caused by the move.
  367         13.The impact on activities that are important to the
  368  child.
  369         14.The likelihood the move will impact the child’s future
  370  access to education, Medicaid, and independent living benefits.
  371         15. Any other relevant factors.
  372         (b) If the child is not placed in foster care, then the new
  373  placement for the child must meet the home study criteria and
  374  court approval under pursuant to this chapter.
  375         (4)(a) The court or any party to the case may file a
  376  petition to place a child in out-of-home care after the child
  377  was placed in the child’s own home with an in-home safety plan
  378  or the child was reunified with a parent or caregiver with an
  379  in-home safety plan if:
  380         1. The child has again been abused, neglected, or abandoned
  381  by the parent or caregiver, or is suffering from or is in
  382  imminent danger of illness or injury as a result of abuse,
  383  neglect, or abandonment that has reoccurred; or
  384         2. The parent or caregiver has materially violated a
  385  condition of placement imposed by the court, including, but not
  386  limited to, not complying with the in-home safety plan or case
  387  plan.
  388         (b) If a child meets the criteria in paragraph (a) to be
  389  removed and placed in out-of-home care, the court must consider,
  390  at a minimum, the following in making its determination to
  391  remove the child and place the child in out-of-home care:
  392         1. The circumstances that caused the child’s dependency and
  393  other subsequently identified issues.
  394         2. The length of time the child has been placed in the home
  395  with an in-home safety plan.
  396         3. The parent’s or caregiver’s current level of protective
  397  capacities.
  398         4. The level of increase, if any, in the parent’s or
  399  caregiver’s protective capacities since the child’s placement in
  400  the home based on the length of time the child has been placed
  401  in the home.
  402         5.The compliance of all parties with any case plan, safety
  403  plan or court order.
  404         6.The preference of the child.
  405         7.The likely placement for the child.
  406         8.Whether the child will have to change schools or day
  407  care placement. The impact of such change on the child.
  408         9.The disruption in medical, mental, dental, health care
  409  or other treatment that will be caused by the removal.
  410         10.The impact on visitation with siblings, kin and any
  411  other person important to the child.
  412         11.The impact on activities that are important to the
  413  child.
  414         (c) The court shall evaluate the child’s permanency goal
  415  and change the permanency goal as needed if doing so would be in
  416  the best interest of the child.
  417         Section 6. Subsection (5) of section 39.6011, Florida
  418  Statutes, is amended to read:
  419         39.6011 Case plan development.—
  420         (5) The case plan must describe all of the following:
  421         (a) The role of the foster parents or caregivers legal
  422  custodians when developing the services that are to be provided
  423  to the child, foster parents, or caregivers. legal custodians;
  424         (b) The responsibilities of the parents, caregivers and
  425  caseworkers to work together when safe to do so, including:
  426         1.How parents and caregivers will work together to
  427  successfully to implement the case plan.
  428         2.How the case manager will assist the parents and
  429  caregivers in developing a productive relationship that includes
  430  meaningful communication and mutual support.
  431         3.How the parents or caregivers are to notify the court or
  432  the case manager if ineffective communication takes place that
  433  negatively impacts the child.
  434         (c)(b) The responsibility of the case manager to forward a
  435  relative’s request to receive notification of all proceedings
  436  and hearings submitted under pursuant to s. 39.301(14)(b) to the
  437  attorney for the department.;
  438         (d)(c) The minimum number of face-to-face meetings to be
  439  held each month between the parents and the case worker
  440  department’s family services counselors to review the progress
  441  of the plan and services to the child, to eliminate barriers to
  442  progress, and to resolve conflicts or disagreements between
  443  parents and caregivers, service providers, or any other
  444  professional assisting the parents in the completion of the case
  445  plan.; and
  446         (e)(d) The parent’s responsibility for financial support of
  447  the child, including, but not limited to, health insurance and
  448  child support. The case plan must list the costs associated with
  449  any services or treatment that the parent and child are expected
  450  to receive which are the financial responsibility of the parent.
  451  The determination of child support and other financial support
  452  shall be made independently of any determination of indigency
  453  under s. 39.013.
  454         Section 7. Paragraph (b) of subsection (1) and paragraphs
  455  (a) and (c) of subsection (2) of section 39.701, Florida
  456  Statutes, are amended to read:
  457         39.701 Judicial review.—
  458         (1) GENERAL PROVISIONS.—
  459         (b)1. The court shall retain jurisdiction over a child
  460  returned to his or her parents for a minimum period of 6 months
  461  following the reunification, but, at that time, based on a
  462  report of the social service agency and the guardian ad litem,
  463  if one has been appointed, and any other relevant factors, the
  464  court shall make a determination as to whether supervision by
  465  the department and the court’s jurisdiction shall continue or be
  466  terminated.
  467         2. Notwithstanding subparagraph 1., the court must retain
  468  jurisdiction over a child if the child is placed in the home
  469  with a parent or caregiver with an in-home safety plan and such
  470  safety plan remains necessary for the child to reside safely in
  471  the home.
  472         (2) REVIEW HEARINGS FOR CHILDREN YOUNGER THAN 18 YEARS OF
  473  AGE.—
  474         (a) Social study report for judicial review.—Before every
  475  judicial review hearing or citizen review panel hearing, the
  476  social service agency shall make an investigation and social
  477  study concerning all pertinent details relating to the child and
  478  shall furnish to the court or citizen review panel a written
  479  report that includes, but is not limited to:
  480         1. A description of the type of placement the child is in
  481  at the time of the hearing, including the safety of the child
  482  and the continuing necessity for and appropriateness of the
  483  placement.
  484         2. Documentation of the diligent efforts made by all
  485  parties to the case plan to comply with each applicable
  486  provision of the plan.
  487         3. The amount of fees assessed and collected during the
  488  period of time being reported.
  489         4. The services provided to the foster family or caregiver
  490  legal custodian in an effort to address the needs of the child
  491  as indicated in the case plan.
  492         5. A statement that either:
  493         a. The parent, though able to do so, did not comply
  494  substantially with the case plan, and the agency
  495  recommendations;
  496         b. The parent did substantially comply with the case plan;
  497  or
  498         c. The parent has partially complied with the case plan,
  499  with a summary of additional progress needed and the agency
  500  recommendations.
  501         6. A statement from the foster parent or caregiver legal
  502  custodian providing any material evidence concerning the well
  503  being of the child, the impact of any services provided to the
  504  child, the working relationship between the parents and
  505  caregivers, and the return of the child to the parent or
  506  parents.
  507         7. A statement concerning the frequency, duration, and
  508  results of the parent-child visitation, if any, and the agency
  509  and caregiver recommendations for an expansion or restriction of
  510  future visitation.
  511         8. The number of times a child has been removed from his or
  512  her home and placed elsewhere, the number and types of
  513  placements that have occurred, and the reason for the changes in
  514  placement.
  515         9. The number of times a child’s educational placement has
  516  been changed, the number and types of educational placements
  517  which have occurred, and the reason for any change in placement.
  518         10. If the child has reached 13 years of age but is not yet
  519  18 years of age, a statement from the caregiver on the progress
  520  the child has made in acquiring independent living skills.
  521         11. Copies of all medical, psychological, and educational
  522  records that support the terms of the case plan and that have
  523  been produced concerning the parents or any caregiver since the
  524  last judicial review hearing.
  525         12. Copies of the child’s current health, mental health,
  526  and education records as identified in s. 39.6012.
  527         (c) Review determinations.—The court and any citizen review
  528  panel shall take into consideration the information contained in
  529  the social services study and investigation and all medical,
  530  psychological, and educational records that support the terms of
  531  the case plan; testimony by the social services agency, the
  532  parent, the foster parent or caregiver legal custodian, the
  533  guardian ad litem or surrogate parent for educational
  534  decisionmaking if one has been appointed for the child, and any
  535  other person deemed appropriate; and any relevant and material
  536  evidence submitted to the court, including written and oral
  537  reports to the extent of their probative value. These reports
  538  and evidence may be received by the court in its effort to
  539  determine the action to be taken with regard to the child and
  540  may be relied upon to the extent of their probative value, even
  541  though not competent in an adjudicatory hearing. In its
  542  deliberations, the court and any citizen review panel shall seek
  543  to determine:
  544         1. If the parent was advised of the right to receive
  545  assistance from any person or social service agency in the
  546  preparation of the case plan.
  547         2. If the parent has been advised of the right to have
  548  counsel present at the judicial review or citizen review
  549  hearings. If not so advised, the court or citizen review panel
  550  shall advise the parent of such right.
  551         3. If a guardian ad litem needs to be appointed for the
  552  child in a case in which a guardian ad litem has not previously
  553  been appointed or if there is a need to continue a guardian ad
  554  litem in a case in which a guardian ad litem has been appointed.
  555         4. Who holds the rights to make educational decisions for
  556  the child. If appropriate, the court may refer the child to the
  557  district school superintendent for appointment of a surrogate
  558  parent or may itself appoint a surrogate parent under the
  559  Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and s. 39.0016.
  560         5. The compliance or lack of compliance of all parties with
  561  applicable items of the case plan, including the parents’
  562  compliance with child support orders.
  563         6. The compliance or lack of compliance with a visitation
  564  contract between the parent and the social service agency for
  565  contact with the child, including the frequency, duration, and
  566  results of the parent-child visitation and the reason for any
  567  noncompliance.
  568         7. The frequency, kind, and duration of contacts among
  569  siblings who have been separated during placement, as well as
  570  any efforts undertaken to reunite separated siblings if doing so
  571  is in the best interests interest of the child.
  572         8. The compliance or lack of compliance of the parent in
  573  meeting specified financial obligations pertaining to the care
  574  of the child, including the reason for failure to comply, if
  575  applicable.
  576         9. Whether the child is receiving safe and proper care
  577  according to s. 39.6012, including, but not limited to, the
  578  appropriateness of the child’s current placement, including
  579  whether the child is in a setting that is as family-like and as
  580  close to the parent’s home as possible, consistent with the
  581  child’s best interests and special needs, and including
  582  maintaining stability in the child’s educational placement, as
  583  documented by assurances from the community-based care lead
  584  agency provider that:
  585         a. The placement of the child takes into account the
  586  appropriateness of the current educational setting and the
  587  proximity to the school in which the child is enrolled at the
  588  time of placement.
  589         b. The community-based care lead agency has coordinated
  590  with appropriate local educational agencies to ensure that the
  591  child remains in the school in which the child is enrolled at
  592  the time of placement.
  593         10. A projected date likely for the child’s return home or
  594  other permanent placement.
  595         11. When appropriate, the basis for the unwillingness or
  596  inability of the parent to become a party to a case plan. The
  597  court and the citizen review panel shall determine if the
  598  efforts of the social service agency to secure party
  599  participation in a case plan were sufficient.
  600         12. For a child who has reached 13 years of age but is not
  601  yet 18 years of age, the adequacy of the child’s preparation for
  602  adulthood and independent living. For a child who is 15 years of
  603  age or older, the court shall determine if appropriate steps are
  604  being taken for the child to obtain a driver license or
  605  learner’s driver license.
  606         13. If amendments to the case plan are required. Amendments
  607  to the case plan must be made under s. 39.6013.
  608         14. If the parents and caregivers have developed a
  609  productive relationship that includes meaningful communication
  610  and mutual support.
  611         Section 8. Subsection (3) of section 63.092, Florida
  612  Statutes, is amended to read:
  613         63.092 Report to the court of intended placement by an
  614  adoption entity; at-risk placement; preliminary study.—
  615         (3) PRELIMINARY HOME STUDY.—Before placing the minor in the
  616  intended adoptive home, a preliminary home study must be
  617  performed by a licensed child-placing agency, a child-caring
  618  agency registered under s. 409.176, a licensed professional, or
  619  an agency described in s. 61.20(2), unless the adoptee is an
  620  adult or the petitioner is a stepparent or a relative. If the
  621  adoptee is an adult or the petitioner is a stepparent or a
  622  relative, a preliminary home study may be required by the court
  623  for good cause shown. The department is required to perform the
  624  preliminary home study only if there is no licensed child
  625  placing agency, child-caring agency registered under s. 409.176,
  626  licensed professional, or agency described in s. 61.20(2), in
  627  the county where the prospective adoptive parents reside. The
  628  preliminary home study must be made to determine the suitability
  629  of the intended adoptive parents and may be completed prior to
  630  identification of a prospective adoptive minor. Preliminary home
  631  studies initiated for identified prospective adoptive minors
  632  that are in the custody of the department must be completed
  633  within 30 days of initiation. A favorable preliminary home study
  634  is valid for 1 year after the date of its completion. Upon its
  635  completion, a signed copy of the home study must be provided to
  636  the intended adoptive parents who were the subject of the home
  637  study. A minor may not be placed in an intended adoptive home
  638  before a favorable preliminary home study is completed unless
  639  the adoptive home is also a licensed foster home under s.
  640  409.175. The preliminary home study must include, at a minimum:
  641         (a) An interview with the intended adoptive parents;
  642         (b) Records checks of the department’s central abuse
  643  registry, which the department shall provide to the entity
  644  conducting the preliminary home study, and criminal records
  645  correspondence checks under s. 39.0138 through the Department of
  646  Law Enforcement on the intended adoptive parents;
  647         (c) An assessment of the physical environment of the home;
  648         (d) A determination of the financial security of the
  649  intended adoptive parents;
  650         (e) Documentation of counseling and education of the
  651  intended adoptive parents on adoptive parenting, as determined
  652  by the entity conducting the preliminary home study. The
  653  training specified in s. 409.175(14) shall only be required for
  654  persons who adopt children from the department;
  655         (f) Documentation that information on adoption and the
  656  adoption process has been provided to the intended adoptive
  657  parents;
  658         (g) Documentation that information on support services
  659  available in the community has been provided to the intended
  660  adoptive parents; and
  661         (h) A copy of each signed acknowledgment of receipt of
  662  disclosure required by s. 63.085.
  663  
  664  If the preliminary home study is favorable, a minor may be
  665  placed in the home pending entry of the judgment of adoption. A
  666  minor may not be placed in the home if the preliminary home
  667  study is unfavorable. If the preliminary home study is
  668  unfavorable, the adoption entity may, within 20 days after
  669  receipt of a copy of the written recommendation, petition the
  670  court to determine the suitability of the intended adoptive
  671  home. A determination as to suitability under this subsection
  672  does not act as a presumption of suitability at the final
  673  hearing. In determining the suitability of the intended adoptive
  674  home, the court must consider the totality of the circumstances
  675  in the home. A minor may not be placed in a home in which there
  676  resides any person determined by the court to be a sexual
  677  predator as defined in s. 775.21 or to have been convicted of an
  678  offense listed in s. 63.089(4)(b)2.
  679         Section 9. Section 63.093, Florida Statutes, is created to
  680  read:
  681         63.093 Adoption of a child from the child welfare system.
  682  The adoption of a child from Florida’s foster care system is a
  683  process that typically includes an orientation session, an in
  684  depth training program to help prospective parents determine if
  685  adoption is right for the family, a home study, and a background
  686  check. Once the process has been completed, prospective parents
  687  are ready to be matched with a child available for adoption.
  688         (1) The prospective adoptive parents’ initial inquiry to
  689  the department or to the community-based care lead agency or
  690  subcontractor staff, whether written or verbal, must receive a
  691  written response or a telephone call from the department or
  692  agency or subcontractor staff, as applicable, within 7 business
  693  days after receipt of the inquiry. Prospective adoptive parents
  694  who indicate an interest in adopting children in the custody of
  695  the department must be referred by the department or agency or
  696  subcontractor staff to a department-approved adoptive parent
  697  training program as prescribed in rule.
  698         (2) An application to adopt must be made on the “Adoptive
  699  Home Application” published by the department.
  700         (3) An adoptive home study that includes observation,
  701  screening, and evaluation of the child and adoptive applicants
  702  must be completed by a staff person with the community-based
  703  care lead agency, the subcontractor agency, or another licensed
  704  child-placing agency prior to the adoptive placement of the
  705  child. The purpose of this evaluation is to select families who
  706  will be able to meet the physical, emotional, social,
  707  educational, and financial needs of a child, while safeguarding
  708  the child from further loss and separation from siblings and
  709  significant adults. The adoptive home study is valid for 12
  710  months from the approval date.
  711         (4) In addition to other required documentation, an
  712  adoptive parent application file must include the adoptive home
  713  study and verification that all background screening
  714  requirements have been met.
  715         (5) The department-approved adoptive parent training must
  716  be provided to and successfully completed by all prospective
  717  adoptive parents except licensed foster parents and relative and
  718  nonrelative caregivers who previously attended the training
  719  within the last 5 years, as prescribed in rule, or have the
  720  child currently placed in their home for 6 months or longer, and
  721  been determined to understand the challenges and parenting
  722  skills needed to successfully parent the children available for
  723  adoption from foster care.
  724         (6) At the conclusion of the preparation and study process,
  725  the counselor and supervisor shall make a decision about the
  726  family’s appropriateness to adopt. The decision to approve or
  727  not to approve will be reflected in the final recommendation
  728  included in the home study. If the recommendation is for
  729  approval, the adoptive parent application file must be submitted
  730  to the community-based lead agency or subcontractor agency for
  731  approval, which must be made within 14 business days.
  732  
  733  With the exception of subsection (1), the provisions of this
  734  section do not apply to children adopted through the process
  735  provided for in s. 63.082(6). The intent of the language is to
  736  not include private adoptions and interventions.
  737         Section 10. Section 409.1415, Florida Statutes, is created
  738  to read:
  739         409.1415 Parenting partnerships for children in out-of-home
  740  care.—
  741         (1)LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND INTENT.—
  742         (a)The Legislature finds that reunification is the most
  743  common outcome for children in out-of-home care and that
  744  caregivers are one of the most important resources to help
  745  children reunify with their families.
  746         (b)The Legislature further finds that the most successful
  747  caregivers understand that their role goes beyond supporting the
  748  children in their care to supporting the children’s families, as
  749  a whole, and that children and their families benefit when
  750  caregivers and birth parents are supported by an agency culture
  751  that encourages a meaningful partnership between them and
  752  provides quality support.
  753         (c)Therefore, in keeping with national trends, it is the
  754  intent of the Legislature to bring birth parents and caregivers
  755  together in order to build strong relationships that lead to
  756  more successful reunifications and more stability for children
  757  being fostered in out-of-home care.
  758         (2)PARENTING PARTNERSHIPS.—
  759         (a)General provisions.—In order to ensure that children in
  760  out-of-home care achieve legal permanency as soon as possible,
  761  to reduce the likelihood that they will re-enter care or that
  762  other children in the family are abused or neglected or enter
  763  out-of-home care, and to ensure that families are fully prepared
  764  to resume custody of their children, the department and
  765  community-based care lead agencies shall develop and support
  766  relationships between caregivers and the legal parents of
  767  children in out-of-home care to the extent that it is safe and
  768  in the child’s best interest, by:
  769         1. Facilitating telephone communication between the
  770  caregiver and the birth or legal parent as soon as possible
  771  after the child is placed in the home.
  772         2. Facilitating and attending an in-person meeting between
  773  the caregiver and the birth or legal parent as soon as possible
  774  after placement.
  775         3. Developing and supporting a plan for birth or legal
  776  parents to participate in medical appointments, educational and
  777  extracurricular activities, and other events involving the
  778  child.
  779         4.Facilitating participation by the caregiver in
  780  visitation between the birth parent and the child.
  781         5.Involving the caregiver in planning meetings with the
  782  birth parent.
  783         6.Developing and implementing effective transition plans
  784  for the child’s return home or placement in any other living
  785  environment.
  786         7.Supporting continued contact between the caregiver and
  787  the child after the child returns home or moves to another
  788  permanent living arrangement.
  789         (b)Responsibilities.—To ensure that a child in out-of-home
  790  care receives support for healthy development which gives him or
  791  her the best possible opportunity for success, caregivers, birth
  792  parents, the department, community-based care lead agency staff,
  793  and other agency staff, as applicable, shall work cooperatively
  794  in a respectful partnership by adhering to the following
  795  requirements:
  796         1. All members of the partnership must interact and
  797  communicate professionally with one another, must share all
  798  relevant information promptly, and must respect the
  799  confidentiality of all information related to a child and his or
  800  her family.
  801         2.Caregivers, the family, the child if appropriate, the
  802  department, community-based care lead agency staff, and other
  803  agency staff must participate in developing a case plan for the
  804  child and family, and all members of the team must work together
  805  to implement the plan. Caregivers must participate in all team
  806  meetings or court hearings related to the child’s care and
  807  future plans. The department, community-based care lead agency
  808  staff, and other agency staff must support and facilitate
  809  caregiver participation through timely notification of such
  810  meetings and hearings and an inclusive process, and by providing
  811  alternative methods for participation for caregivers who cannot
  812  be physically present at a meeting or hearing.
  813         3.Excellent parenting is a reasonable expectation of
  814  caregivers. Caregivers must provide, and the department,
  815  community-based care lead agency staff, and other agency staff
  816  must support, excellent parenting. As used in this subparagraph,
  817  the term “excellent parenting” means a loving commitment to the
  818  child and the child’s safety and well-being; appropriate
  819  supervision and positive methods of discipline; encouragement of
  820  the child’s strengths; respect for the child’s individuality and
  821  likes and dislikes; providing opportunities for the child to
  822  develop interests and skills; being aware of the impact of
  823  trauma on behavior; facilitating equal participation of the
  824  child in family life; involving the child within his or her
  825  community; and a commitment to enable the child to lead a normal
  826  life.
  827         4.Children in out-of-home care may be placed only with a
  828  caregiver who has the ability to care for the child; is willing
  829  to accept responsibility for providing care; and is willing and
  830  able to learn about and be respectful of the child’s culture,
  831  religion, and ethnicity, his or her special physical or
  832  psychological needs, any circumstances unique to the child, and
  833  family relationships. The department, the community-based care
  834  lead agency, and other agencies must provide a caregiver with
  835  all available information necessary to assist the caregiver in
  836  determining whether he or she is able to appropriately care for
  837  a particular child.
  838         5.A caregiver must have access to and take advantage of
  839  all training that he or she needs to improve his or her skills
  840  in parenting a child who has experienced trauma due to neglect,
  841  abuse, or separation from home; to meet the child’s special
  842  needs; and to work effectively with child welfare agencies, the
  843  courts, the schools, and other community and governmental
  844  agencies.
  845         6.The department, community-based care lead agency staff,
  846  and other agency staff must provide caregivers with the services
  847  and support they need to enable them to provide quality care for
  848  the child.
  849         7.Once a caregiver accepts the responsibility of caring
  850  for a child, the child may be removed from that caregiver only
  851  if the caregiver is clearly unable to care for him or her safely
  852  or legally, when the child and his or her biological family are
  853  reunified, when the child is being placed in a legally permanent
  854  home in accordance with a case plan or court order, or when the
  855  removal is demonstrably in the best interests of the child.
  856         8.If a child must leave the caregiver’s home for one of
  857  the reasons stated in subparagraph 7., and in the absence of an
  858  unforeseeable emergency, the transition must be accomplished
  859  according to a plan that involves cooperation and sharing of
  860  information among all persons involved, respects the child’s
  861  developmental stage and psychological needs, ensures the child
  862  has all of his or her belongings, allows for a gradual
  863  transition from the caregiver’s home, and, if possible, allows
  864  for continued contact with the caregiver after the child leaves.
  865         9.When the plan for a child includes reunification,
  866  caregivers and agency staff must work together to assist the
  867  biological parents in improving their ability to care for and
  868  protect their children and to provide continuity for the child.
  869         10.A caregiver must respect and support the child’s ties
  870  to his or her biological family, including parents, siblings,
  871  and extended family members, and must assist the child in
  872  visitation and other forms of communication. The department,
  873  community-based care lead agency staff, and other agency staff
  874  must provide caregivers with the information, guidance,
  875  training, and support necessary for fulfilling this
  876  responsibility.
  877         11.A caregiver must work in partnership with the
  878  department, community-based care lead agency staff, and other
  879  agency staff to obtain and maintain records that are important
  880  to the child’s well-being including, but not limited to, child
  881  resource records, medical records, school records, photographs,
  882  and records of special events and achievements.
  883         12.A caregiver must effectively advocate for a child in
  884  his or her care with the child welfare system, the court, and
  885  community agencies, including schools, child care providers,
  886  health and mental health providers, and employers. The
  887  department, community-based care lead agency staff, and other
  888  agency staff must support a caregiver in effectively advocating
  889  for a child and may not retaliate against the caregiver as a
  890  result of this advocacy.
  891         13.A caregiver must be as fully involved in the child’s
  892  medical, psychological, and dental care as he or she would be
  893  for his or her biological child. Agency staff must support and
  894  facilitate such participation. Caregivers, the department,
  895  community-based care lead agency staff, and other agency staff
  896  must share information with each other about the child’s health
  897  and well-being.
  898         14.A caregiver must support a child’s school success,
  899  including, when possible, maintaining school stability by
  900  participating in school activities and meetings, including
  901  individual education plan meetings; assisting with school
  902  assignments; supporting tutoring programs; meeting with teachers
  903  and working with an educational surrogate, if one has been
  904  appointed; and encouraging the child’s participation in
  905  extracurricular activities. Agency staff must facilitate this
  906  participation and must be kept informed of the child’s progress
  907  and needs.
  908         15.Caregivers must ensure that the child in the
  909  caregiver’s care who is between 13 and 17 years of age learns
  910  and masters independent living skills and is aware of the
  911  requirements and benefits of the Road-to-Independence Program.
  912         16.Caseworkers and caseworker supervisors must mediate
  913  disagreements that occur between caregivers and birth parents.
  914         (c)Residential group homes.—All employees, including
  915  persons who do not work directly with children, of a residential
  916  group home must meet the background screening requirements under
  917  s. 39.0138 and the level 2 standards for screening under chapter
  918  435. All employees in residential group homes working directly
  919  with children as caregivers must meet, at a minimum, the same
  920  education, training, and background and other screening
  921  requirements as level 2 licensed foster parents.
  922         (3)RULEMAKING.—The department shall adopt by rule
  923  procedures to administer this section.
  924         Section 11. Section 409.145, Florida Statutes, is amended
  925  to read:
  926         409.145 Care of children; quality parenting; “reasonable
  927  and prudent parent” standard.—The child welfare system of the
  928  department shall operate as a coordinated community-based system
  929  of care which empowers all caregivers for children in foster
  930  care to provide quality parenting, including approving or
  931  disapproving a child’s participation in activities based on the
  932  caregiver’s assessment using the “reasonable and prudent parent”
  933  standard.
  934         (1) SYSTEM OF CARE.—The department shall develop,
  935  implement, and administer a coordinated community-based system
  936  of care for children who are found to be dependent and their
  937  families. This system of care must be directed toward the
  938  following goals:
  939         (a) Prevention of separation of children from their
  940  families.
  941         (b) Intervention to allow children to remain safely in
  942  their own homes.
  943         (c) Reunification of families who have had children removed
  944  from their care.
  945         (d) Safety for children who are separated from their
  946  families by providing alternative emergency or longer-term
  947  parenting arrangements.
  948         (e) Focus on the well-being of children through emphasis on
  949  maintaining educational stability and providing timely health
  950  care.
  951         (f) Permanency for children for whom reunification with
  952  their families is not possible or is not in the best interest of
  953  the child.
  954         (g) The transition to independence and self-sufficiency for
  955  older children who remain in foster care through adolescence.
  956         (2) QUALITY PARENTING.—A child in foster care shall be
  957  placed only with a caregiver who has the ability to care for the
  958  child, is willing to accept responsibility for providing care,
  959  and is willing and able to learn about and be respectful of the
  960  child’s culture, religion and ethnicity, special physical or
  961  psychological needs, any circumstances unique to the child, and
  962  family relationships. The department, the community-based care
  963  lead agency, and other agencies shall provide such caregiver
  964  with all available information necessary to assist the caregiver
  965  in determining whether he or she is able to appropriately care
  966  for a particular child.
  967         (a) Roles and responsibilities of caregivers.—A caregiver
  968  shall:
  969         1. Participate in developing the case plan for the child
  970  and his or her family and work with others involved in his or
  971  her care to implement this plan. This participation includes the
  972  caregiver’s involvement in all team meetings or court hearings
  973  related to the child’s care.
  974         2. Complete all training needed to improve skills in
  975  parenting a child who has experienced trauma due to neglect,
  976  abuse, or separation from home, to meet the child’s special
  977  needs, and to work effectively with child welfare agencies, the
  978  court, the schools, and other community and governmental
  979  agencies.
  980         3. Respect and support the child’s ties to members of his
  981  or her biological family and assist the child in maintaining
  982  allowable visitation and other forms of communication.
  983         4. Effectively advocate for the child in the caregiver’s
  984  care with the child welfare system, the court, and community
  985  agencies, including the school, child care, health and mental
  986  health providers, and employers.
  987         5. Participate fully in the child’s medical, psychological,
  988  and dental care as the caregiver would for his or her biological
  989  child.
  990         6. Support the child’s educational success by participating
  991  in activities and meetings associated with the child’s school or
  992  other educational setting, including Individual Education Plan
  993  meetings and meetings with an educational surrogate if one has
  994  been appointed, assisting with assignments, supporting tutoring
  995  programs, and encouraging the child’s participation in
  996  extracurricular activities.
  997         a. Maintaining educational stability for a child while in
  998  out-of-home care by allowing the child to remain in the school
  999  or educational setting that he or she attended before entry into
 1000  out-of-home care is the first priority, unless not in the best
 1001  interest of the child.
 1002         b. If it is not in the best interest of the child to remain
 1003  in his or her school or educational setting upon entry into out
 1004  of-home care, the caregiver must work with the case manager,
 1005  guardian ad litem, teachers and guidance counselors, and
 1006  educational surrogate if one has been appointed to determine the
 1007  best educational setting for the child. Such setting may include
 1008  a public school that is not the school of origin, a private
 1009  school pursuant to s. 1002.42, a virtual instruction program
 1010  pursuant to s. 1002.45, or a home education program pursuant to
 1011  s. 1002.41.
 1012         7. Work in partnership with other stakeholders to obtain
 1013  and maintain records that are important to the child’s well
 1014  being, including child resource records, medical records, school
 1015  records, photographs, and records of special events and
 1016  achievements.
 1017         8. Ensure that the child in the caregiver’s care who is
 1018  between 13 and 17 years of age learns and masters independent
 1019  living skills.
 1020         9. Ensure that the child in the caregiver’s care is aware
 1021  of the requirements and benefits of the Road-to-Independence
 1022  Program.
 1023         10. Work to enable the child in the caregiver’s care to
 1024  establish and maintain naturally occurring mentoring
 1025  relationships.
 1026         (b) Roles and responsibilities of the department, the
 1027  community-based care lead agency, and other agency staff.—The
 1028  department, the community-based care lead agency, and other
 1029  agency staff shall:
 1030         1. Include a caregiver in the development and
 1031  implementation of the case plan for the child and his or her
 1032  family. The caregiver shall be authorized to participate in all
 1033  team meetings or court hearings related to the child’s care and
 1034  future plans. The caregiver’s participation shall be facilitated
 1035  through timely notification, an inclusive process, and
 1036  alternative methods for participation for a caregiver who cannot
 1037  be physically present.
 1038         2. Develop and make available to the caregiver the
 1039  information, services, training, and support that the caregiver
 1040  needs to improve his or her skills in parenting children who
 1041  have experienced trauma due to neglect, abuse, or separation
 1042  from home, to meet these children’s special needs, and to
 1043  advocate effectively with child welfare agencies, the courts,
 1044  schools, and other community and governmental agencies.
 1045         3. Provide the caregiver with all information related to
 1046  services and other benefits that are available to the child.
 1047         4. Show no prejudice against a caregiver who desires to
 1048  educate at home a child placed in his or her home through the
 1049  child welfare system.
 1050         (c) Transitions.
 1051         1. Once a caregiver accepts the responsibility of caring
 1052  for a child, the child will be removed from the home of that
 1053  caregiver only if:
 1054         a. The caregiver is clearly unable to safely or legally
 1055  care for the child;
 1056         b. The child and his or her biological family are
 1057  reunified;
 1058         c. The child is being placed in a legally permanent home
 1059  pursuant to the case plan or a court order; or
 1060         d. The removal is demonstrably in the child’s best
 1061  interest.
 1062         2. In the absence of an emergency, if a child leaves the
 1063  caregiver’s home for a reason provided under subparagraph 1.,
 1064  the transition must be accomplished according to a plan that
 1065  involves cooperation and sharing of information among all
 1066  persons involved, respects the child’s developmental stage and
 1067  psychological needs, ensures the child has all of his or her
 1068  belongings, allows for a gradual transition from the caregiver’s
 1069  home and, if possible, for continued contact with the caregiver
 1070  after the child leaves.
 1071         (d) Information sharing.—Whenever a foster home or
 1072  residential group home assumes responsibility for the care of a
 1073  child, the department and any additional providers shall make
 1074  available to the caregiver as soon as is practicable all
 1075  relevant information concerning the child. Records and
 1076  information that are required to be shared with caregivers
 1077  include, but are not limited to:
 1078         1. Medical, dental, psychological, psychiatric, and
 1079  behavioral history, as well as ongoing evaluation or treatment
 1080  needs;
 1081         2. School records;
 1082         3. Copies of his or her birth certificate and, if
 1083  appropriate, immigration status documents;
 1084         4. Consents signed by parents;
 1085         5. Comprehensive behavioral assessments and other social
 1086  assessments;
 1087         6. Court orders;
 1088         7. Visitation and case plans;
 1089         8. Guardian ad litem reports;
 1090         9. Staffing forms; and
 1091         10. Judicial or citizen review panel reports and
 1092  attachments filed with the court, except confidential medical,
 1093  psychiatric, and psychological information regarding any party
 1094  or participant other than the child.
 1095         (e) Caregivers employed by residential group homes.—All
 1096  caregivers in residential group homes shall meet the same
 1097  education, training, and background and other screening
 1098  requirements as foster parents.
 1099         (2)(3) REASONABLE AND PRUDENT PARENT STANDARD.—
 1100         (a) Definitions.—As used in this subsection, the term:
 1101         1. “Age-appropriate” means an activity or item that is
 1102  generally accepted as suitable for a child of the same
 1103  chronological age or level of maturity. Age appropriateness is
 1104  based on the development of cognitive, emotional, physical, and
 1105  behavioral capacity which is typical for an age or age group.
 1106         2. “Caregiver” means a person with whom the child is placed
 1107  in out-of-home care, or a designated official for a group care
 1108  facility licensed by the department under s. 409.175.
 1109         3. “Reasonable and prudent parent” standard means the
 1110  standard of care used by a caregiver in determining whether to
 1111  allow a child in his or her care to participate in
 1112  extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities. This
 1113  standard is characterized by careful and thoughtful parental
 1114  decisionmaking that is intended to maintain a child’s health,
 1115  safety, and best interest while encouraging the child’s
 1116  emotional and developmental growth.
 1117         (b) Application of standard of care.—
 1118         1. Every child who comes into out-of-home care pursuant to
 1119  this chapter is entitled to participate in age-appropriate
 1120  extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities.
 1121         2. Each caregiver shall use the reasonable and prudent
 1122  parent standard in determining whether to give permission for a
 1123  child living in out-of-home care to participate in
 1124  extracurricular, enrichment, or social activities. When using
 1125  the reasonable and prudent parent standard, the caregiver must
 1126  consider:
 1127         a. The child’s age, maturity, and developmental level to
 1128  maintain the overall health and safety of the child.
 1129         b. The potential risk factors and the appropriateness of
 1130  the extracurricular, enrichment, or social activity.
 1131         c. The best interest of the child, based on information
 1132  known by the caregiver.
 1133         d. The importance of encouraging the child’s emotional and
 1134  developmental growth.
 1135         e. The importance of providing the child with the most
 1136  family-like living experience possible.
 1137         f. The behavioral history of the child and the child’s
 1138  ability to safely participate in the proposed activity.
 1139         (c) Verification of services delivered.—The department and
 1140  each community-based care lead agency shall verify that private
 1141  agencies providing out-of-home care services to dependent
 1142  children have policies in place which are consistent with this
 1143  section and that these agencies promote and protect the ability
 1144  of dependent children to participate in age-appropriate
 1145  extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities.
 1146         (d) Limitation of liability.—A caregiver is not liable for
 1147  harm caused to a child who participates in an activity approved
 1148  by the caregiver, provided that the caregiver has acted in
 1149  accordance with the reasonable and prudent parent standard. This
 1150  paragraph may not be interpreted as removing or limiting any
 1151  existing liability protection afforded by law.
 1152         (3)(4) FOSTER CARE ROOM AND BOARD RATES.—
 1153         (a) Effective July 1, 2018, room and board rates shall be
 1154  paid to foster parents as follows:
 1155  
 1156                       Monthly Foster Care Rate                      
 1157       0-5 YearsAge         6-12 YearsAge         13-21 YearsAge    
 1158         $457.95               $469.68               $549.74        
 1159  
 1160         (b) Each January, foster parents shall receive an annual
 1161  cost of living increase. The department shall calculate the new
 1162  room and board rate increase equal to the percentage change in
 1163  the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, U.S. City
 1164  Average, All Items, not seasonally adjusted, or successor
 1165  reports, for the preceding December compared to the prior
 1166  December as initially reported by the United States Department
 1167  of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. The department shall make
 1168  available the adjusted room and board rates annually.
 1169         (c) Effective July 1, 2019, foster parents of level I
 1170  family foster homes, as defined in s. 409.175(5)(a) shall
 1171  receive a room and board rate of $333.
 1172         (d) Effective July 1, 2019, the foster care room and board
 1173  rate for level II family foster homes as defined in s.
 1174  409.175(5)(a) shall be the same as the new rate established for
 1175  family foster homes as of January 1, 2019.
 1176         (e) Effective January 1, 2020, paragraph (b) shall only
 1177  apply to level II through level V family foster homes, as
 1178  defined in s. 409.175(5)(a).
 1179         (f) The amount of the monthly foster care room and board
 1180  rate may be increased upon agreement among the department, the
 1181  community-based care lead agency, and the foster parent.
 1182         (g) From July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019, community
 1183  based care lead agencies providing care under contract with the
 1184  department shall pay a supplemental room and board payment to
 1185  foster care parents of all family foster homes, on a per-child
 1186  basis, for providing independent life skills and normalcy
 1187  supports to children who are 13 through 17 years of age placed
 1188  in their care. The supplemental payment shall be paid monthly to
 1189  the foster care parents in addition to the current monthly room
 1190  and board rate payment. The supplemental monthly payment shall
 1191  be based on 10 percent of the monthly room and board rate for
 1192  children 13 through 21 years of age as provided under this
 1193  section and adjusted annually. Effective July 1, 2019, such
 1194  supplemental payments shall only be paid to foster parents of
 1195  level II through level V family foster homes.
 1196         (4)(5) RULEMAKING.—The department shall adopt by rule
 1197  procedures to administer this section.
 1198         Section 12. Paragraph (b) of subsection (6) of section
 1199  409.175, Florida Statutes, is amended, and paragraph (l) is
 1200  added to that subsection, to read:
 1201         409.175 Licensure of family foster homes, residential
 1202  child-caring agencies, and child-placing agencies; public
 1203  records exemption.—
 1204         (6)
 1205         (b) Upon application for licensure, the department shall
 1206  conduct a licensing study based on its licensing rules; shall
 1207  inspect the home or the agency and the records, including
 1208  financial records, of the applicant or agency; and shall
 1209  interview the applicant. The department may authorize a licensed
 1210  child-placing agency to conduct the licensing study of a family
 1211  foster home to be used exclusively by that agency and to verify
 1212  to the department that the home meets the licensing requirements
 1213  established by the department. A licensing study of a family
 1214  foster home must be completed by the department or an authorized
 1215  licensed child-placing agency within 30 days of initiation. The
 1216  department shall post on its website a list of the agencies
 1217  authorized to conduct such studies.
 1218         1. The complete application file shall be submitted in
 1219  accordance with the traditional or attestation model for
 1220  licensure as prescribed in rule. In addition to other required
 1221  documentation, a traditional licensing application file must
 1222  include a completed licensing study and verification of
 1223  background screening requirements.
 1224         2. The department regional licensing authority shall ensure
 1225  that the licensing application file is complete and that all
 1226  licensing requirements are met for the issuance of the license.
 1227  If the child-placing agency is contracted with a community-based
 1228  care lead agency, the licensing application file must contain
 1229  documentation of a review by the community-based care lead
 1230  agency and the regional licensing authority and a recommendation
 1231  for approval or denial by the community-based care lead agency
 1232  Upon certification by a licensed child-placing agency that a
 1233  family foster home meets the licensing requirements and upon
 1234  receipt of a letter from a community-based care lead agency in
 1235  the service area where the home will be licensed which indicates
 1236  that the family foster home meets the criteria established by
 1237  the lead agency, the department shall issue the license. A
 1238  letter from the lead agency is not required if the lead agency
 1239  where the proposed home is located is directly supervising
 1240  foster homes in the same service area.
 1241         3. An application file must be approved or denied within 10
 1242  business days after receipt by the regional licensing authority.
 1243  If the application file is approved, a license must be issued to
 1244  the applicant. The license must include the name and address of
 1245  the caregiver, the name of the supervising agency, the licensed
 1246  capacity, and the dates for which the license is valid. The
 1247  department regional managing director or designee within upper
 1248  level management shall sign the license. Any limitations must be
 1249  displayed on the license.
 1250         4. The regional licensing authority shall provide a copy of
 1251  the license to the community-based care lead agency or
 1252  supervising agency. The community-based care lead agency or
 1253  supervising agency shall ensure that the license is sent to the
 1254  foster parent.
 1255         (l) The department shall approve or deny a license within
 1256  10 business days after receipt of a complete family foster home
 1257  application and other required documentation as prescribed in
 1258  rule. The department shall approve or deny a complete
 1259  application no later than 100 calendar days after the
 1260  orientation required by s. 409.175(14). The department may
 1261  exceed 100 calendar days to approve or deny a license if
 1262  additional certifications are required by s. 409.175(5)(a).
 1263         Section 13. Paragraph (j) of subsection (1) of section
 1264  409.988, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
 1265         409.988 Lead agency duties; general provisions.—
 1266         (1) DUTIES.—A lead agency:
 1267         (j) May subcontract for the provision of services required
 1268  by the contract with the lead agency and the department;
 1269  however, the subcontracts must specify how the provider will
 1270  contribute to the lead agency meeting the performance standards
 1271  established pursuant to the child welfare results-oriented
 1272  accountability system required by s. 409.997. The lead agency
 1273  shall directly provide no more than 35 percent of all child
 1274  welfare services provided unless it can demonstrate a need,
 1275  within the lead agency’s geographic service area, to exceed this
 1276  threshold. The local community alliance in the geographic
 1277  service area in which the lead agency is seeking to exceed the
 1278  threshold shall review the lead agency’s justification for need
 1279  and recommend to the department whether the department should
 1280  approve or deny the lead agency’s request for an exemption from
 1281  the services threshold. If there is not a community alliance
 1282  operating in the geographic service area in which the lead
 1283  agency is seeking to exceed the threshold, such review and
 1284  recommendation shall be made by representatives of local
 1285  stakeholders, including at least one representative from each of
 1286  the following:
 1287         1. The department.
 1288         2. The county government.
 1289         3. The school district.
 1290         4. The county United Way.
 1291         5. The county sheriff’s office.
 1292         6. The circuit court corresponding to the county.
 1293         7. The county children’s board, if one exists.
 1294         Section 14. Paragraph (b) of subsection (7) of section
 1295  39.302, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
 1296         39.302 Protective investigations of institutional child
 1297  abuse, abandonment, or neglect.—
 1298         (7) When an investigation of institutional abuse, neglect,
 1299  or abandonment is closed and a person is not identified as a
 1300  caregiver responsible for the abuse, neglect, or abandonment
 1301  alleged in the report, the fact that the person is named in some
 1302  capacity in the report may not be used in any way to adversely
 1303  affect the interests of that person. This prohibition applies to
 1304  any use of the information in employment screening, licensing,
 1305  child placement, adoption, or any other decisions by a private
 1306  adoption agency or a state agency or its contracted providers.
 1307         (b) Likewise, if a person is employed as a caregiver in a
 1308  residential group home licensed pursuant to s. 409.175 and is
 1309  named in any capacity in three or more reports within a 5-year
 1310  period, the department may review all reports for the purposes
 1311  of the employment screening required pursuant to s.
 1312  409.1415(2)(c) s. 409.145(2)(e).
 1313         Section 15. Paragraph (d) of subsection (5) of section
 1314  39.6225, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
 1315         39.6225 Guardianship Assistance Program.—
 1316         (5) A guardian with an application approved pursuant to
 1317  subsection (2) who is caring for a child placed with the
 1318  guardian by the court pursuant to this part may receive
 1319  guardianship assistance payments based on the following
 1320  criteria:
 1321         (d) The department shall provide guardianship assistance
 1322  payments in the amount of $4,000 annually, paid on a monthly
 1323  basis, or in an amount other than $4,000 annually as determined
 1324  by the guardian and the department and memorialized in a written
 1325  agreement between the guardian and the department. The agreement
 1326  shall take into consideration the circumstances of the guardian
 1327  and the needs of the child. Changes may not be made without the
 1328  concurrence of the guardian. However, in no case shall the
 1329  amount of the monthly payment exceed the foster care maintenance
 1330  payment that would have been paid during the same period if the
 1331  child had been in licensed care at his or her designated level
 1332  of care at the rate established in s. 409.145(3) s. 409.145(4).
 1333         Section 16. Paragraph (b) of subsection (5) of section
 1334  393.065, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
 1335         393.065 Application and eligibility determination.—
 1336         (5) The agency shall assign and provide priority to clients
 1337  waiting for waiver services in the following order:
 1338         (b) Category 2, which includes individuals on the waiting
 1339  list who are:
 1340         1. From the child welfare system with an open case in the
 1341  Department of Children and Families’ statewide automated child
 1342  welfare information system and who are either:
 1343         a. Transitioning out of the child welfare system at the
 1344  finalization of an adoption, a reunification with family
 1345  members, a permanent placement with a relative, or a
 1346  guardianship with a nonrelative; or
 1347         b. At least 18 years but not yet 22 years of age and who
 1348  need both waiver services and extended foster care services; or
 1349         2. At least 18 years but not yet 22 years of age and who
 1350  withdrew consent pursuant to s. 39.6251(5)(c) to remain in the
 1351  extended foster care system.
 1352  
 1353  For individuals who are at least 18 years but not yet 22 years
 1354  of age and who are eligible under sub-subparagraph 1.b., the
 1355  agency shall provide waiver services, including residential
 1356  habilitation, and the community-based care lead agency shall
 1357  fund room and board at the rate established in s. 409.145(3) s.
 1358  409.145(4) and provide case management and related services as
 1359  defined in s. 409.986(3)(e). Individuals may receive both waiver
 1360  services and services under s. 39.6251. Services may not
 1361  duplicate services available through the Medicaid state plan.
 1362  
 1363  Within categories 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, the agency shall maintain a
 1364  waiting list of clients placed in the order of the date that the
 1365  client is determined eligible for waiver services.
 1366         Section 17. Paragraph (b) of subsection (2) of section
 1367  409.1451, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
 1368         409.1451 The Road-to-Independence Program.—
 1369         (2) POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION SERVICES AND SUPPORT.—
 1370         (b) The amount of the financial assistance shall be as
 1371  follows:
 1372         1. For a young adult who does not remain in foster care and
 1373  is attending a postsecondary school as provided in s. 1009.533,
 1374  the amount is $1,256 monthly.
 1375         2. For a young adult who remains in foster care, is
 1376  attending a postsecondary school, as provided in s. 1009.533,
 1377  and continues to reside in a licensed foster home, the amount is
 1378  the established room and board rate for foster parents. This
 1379  takes the place of the payment provided for in s. 409.145(3) s.
 1380  409.145(4).
 1381         3. For a young adult who remains in foster care, but
 1382  temporarily resides away from a licensed foster home for
 1383  purposes of attending a postsecondary school as provided in s.
 1384  1009.533, the amount is $1,256 monthly. This takes the place of
 1385  the payment provided for in s. 409.145(3) s. 409.145(4).
 1386         4. For a young adult who remains in foster care, is
 1387  attending a postsecondary school as provided in s. 1009.533, and
 1388  continues to reside in a licensed group home, the amount is
 1389  negotiated between the community-based care lead agency and the
 1390  licensed group home provider.
 1391         5. For a young adult who remains in foster care, but
 1392  temporarily resides away from a licensed group home for purposes
 1393  of attending a postsecondary school as provided in s. 1009.533,
 1394  the amount is $1,256 monthly. This takes the place of a
 1395  negotiated room and board rate.
 1396         6. A young adult is eligible to receive financial
 1397  assistance during the months when he or she is enrolled in a
 1398  postsecondary educational institution.
 1399         Section 18. For the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the sums of
 1400  $2,198,670 in recurring and $51,020 in nonrecurring funds from
 1401  the General Revenue Fund are appropriated to the State Court
 1402  System, and 21 full-time equivalent positions with associated
 1403  salary rate of 1,322,144 are authorized for the purposes of
 1404  implementing this act.
 1405         Section 19. This act shall take effect July 1, 2020.

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