Florida Senate - 2019 SB 1432 By Senator Baxley 12-01102-19 20191432__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to foster parents; creating s. 3 39.4087, F.S.; establishing certain rights for foster 4 parents; providing requirements for the Department of 5 Children and Families relating to foster parents; 6 specifying that child abuse, abandonment, or neglect 7 investigations involving a foster parent must be 8 conducted according to certain specifications; 9 authorizing an accused foster parent to select a 10 member of a local agency to advocate for the foster 11 parent during such investigation; authorizing the 12 foster parent to contact certain persons or the 13 department when he or she believes there has been a 14 violation of the act; requiring the department to 15 review and respond to a foster parent’s contact in 16 order to resolve disputes; authorizing the department 17 to request a background screening of a foster parent 18 during certain emergency situations; prohibiting the 19 placement of a child in, or requiring the immediate 20 removal of a child from, a home if the foster parent 21 refuses such screening; providing an effective date. 22 23 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 24 25 Section 1. Section 39.4087, Florida Statutes, is created to 26 read: 27 39.4087 Rights of foster parents; department requirements; 28 background screenings during emergency situations.— 29 (1) A foster parent is entitled to certain rights, 30 including, but not limited to, all of the following: 31 (a) The right to maintain his or her family values or 32 routines without interruption. 33 (b) The right to timely and adequate payment for providing 34 foster care services. 35 (c) The right to full disclosure of any medical, 36 psychological, or behavioral issues of a child in his or her 37 care. 38 (d) The right to submit factually based written statements 39 to the court, as provided by law. 40 (e) The right to receive a traveling file for a child 41 placed in his or her care and written copies of updated 42 documents, including the treatment plan and any subsequent 43 revisions to a document, on a timely basis. 44 (f) The right to intervene in a termination of parental 45 rights proceeding, as provided by law. 46 (2) The department shall do all of the following: 47 (a) Treat a foster parent with dignity, respect, and trust. 48 (b) Provide a foster parent with a clear explanation of the 49 role of the department and the role of the foster child’s 50 biological family as it relates to the delivery of child welfare 51 services. 52 (c) Provide a foster parent with training and support for 53 the purposes of improving skills in providing daily care and 54 meeting any special needs of a foster child. 55 (d) Disclose to a foster parent any issues relating to a 56 child which may jeopardize the health and safety of the foster 57 parent or the foster parent’s family or alter the manner in 58 which the foster parent would normally provide foster care. The 59 department must also disclose any delinquency or criminal record 60 of the child and any instances where the child has been 61 hospitalized due to mental or physical illness. 62 (e) Provide a means by which a foster parent may contact 63 the department, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for the purposes 64 of receiving assistance from the department. 65 (f) Provide a clear and written explanation to a foster 66 parent of any plan concerning the placement of a child in the 67 foster parent’s home. If a plan was not developed before the 68 placement, the department must provide a clear and written 69 explanation to the foster parent once the plan is developed. 70 (g) Allow a foster parent to review information about a 71 child and assist with the determination of whether the child 72 should be placed with the foster parent. During an emergency 73 situation that requires immediate care, the department must 74 provide such information to the foster parent when it becomes 75 available. 76 (h) Allow a foster parent to refuse placement or, upon 77 reasonable notice to the department, to request the removal of a 78 foster child from the foster parent’s home, without retaliation, 79 unless otherwise provided for by contract. 80 (i) Inform a foster parent of any decision made by a court 81 or child care agency which concerns a child in the foster 82 parent’s care. 83 (j) Solicit and consider input from a foster parent on a 84 foster child’s case plan. 85 (k) Allow a foster parent to communicate with professionals 86 who work with the foster child, including, but not limited to, 87 therapists, physicians, and teachers. 88 (l) Provide, in a timely manner, all information regarding 89 a child and the child’s family’s background and health history. 90 The department shall also provide any additional information 91 known by the department which is relevant to the care of the 92 child. A foster parent must maintain the confidentiality of any 93 confidential information that is shared unless sharing it is 94 necessary to promote or protect the health and welfare of the 95 child. 96 (m) Give a foster parent at least 7 days’ notice of any 97 meeting or court hearing relating to a child in his or her care. 98 The notice must include, but need not be limited to, the name of 99 the judge or hearing officer, the location of the hearing, and 100 the docket number. If the department is also providing such 101 information to a child’s biological parent, the foster parent 102 must receive notice at the same time as the biological parent. 103 The foster parent may attend such hearings. 104 (n) Upon request by a foster parent, provide information 105 known to the department relating to a child’s progress after the 106 child has left the foster parent’s home. 107 (o) Provide training to foster parents relating to 108 obtaining support and understanding the rights and 109 responsibilities of a foster parent. 110 (p) Consider a foster parent as the first choice for 111 permanent placement of a child if the child was placed with the 112 foster parent for at least 1 year. 113 (q) Consider a foster parent as a placement option if a 114 child who was formerly placed with the foster parent re-enters 115 foster care. 116 (r) Upon reasonable notice from a foster parent, and as 117 determined by department rule, allow a foster parent a period of 118 respite that is free from placement of foster children in the 119 foster parent’s home. The department must follow up with the 120 foster parent a minimum of every two months during such period. 121 (s) Upon request, provide a foster parent with copies of 122 all information relating to the foster parent in the 123 department’s records. 124 (t) Advise a foster parent of mediation services available 125 to him or her by publishing information on such services in 126 departmental policy manuals and on the department’s website. 127 (u) No later than at the time the foster care contract is 128 signed, inform the foster parent in writing of all information 129 that is available to the department regarding any: 130 1. Pending petitions or adjudications of delinquency when 131 the conduct constituting the delinquent act, if committed by an 132 adult, would constitute murder in the first degree, murder in 133 the second degree, rape, robbery, or kidnapping; 134 2. Behavioral issues that may affect the care and 135 supervision of the child; 136 3. History of physical or sexual abuse; 137 4. Special medical or psychological needs of the child; and 138 5. Current infectious diseases the child has. 139 (3) Child abuse, abandonment, or neglect investigations 140 involving a foster parent or parents shall be conducted pursuant 141 to part III of this chapter. A foster parent under investigation 142 may select a member of an appropriate local agency to act as an 143 advocate for the foster parent. The advocate must be allowed to 144 be present at all portions of the investigation where the 145 accused foster parent is also present. The advocate must 146 maintain the confidentiality of any confidential information 147 received. 148 (4)(a) If a foster parent believes that the department, an 149 employee of the department, an agency under contract with the 150 department, or an employee of such agency has violated this 151 section, and that the violation has harmed or could harm a child 152 who is or was in the custody of the department or that the 153 violation inhibited the foster parent’s ability to meet the 154 child’s needs as set forth in the case plan, the foster parent 155 may notify the child’s case manager and the case manager must 156 make every attempt to resolve the dispute. 157 (b) If a foster parent believes the dispute has not been 158 adequately resolved by the case manager, the foster parent may 159 contact the case manager’s supervisor. If the contact is in 160 writing, the foster parent may copy the department on the 161 communication and the department shall maintain a record of any 162 such communication received. 163 (c) If a foster parent believes that the case manager’s 164 supervisor did not adequately resolve the dispute, the foster 165 parent may contact the department and the department must 166 conduct a review and respond to the foster parent in writing no 167 later than 30 days after being contacted. 168 (5) During an emergency situation that requires immediate 169 placement, the department may request each adult in a foster 170 home under consideration for placement to undergo a level 2 171 background screening as described in s. 435.04. If such 172 background screening request is refused, the child may not be 173 placed in the home or, if already placed in the home, must be 174 removed immediately. 175 Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2019.