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The Florida Senate

CS/SB 262 — Child Welfare

by Judiciary Committee and Senators Albritton, Harrell, Montford, and Rader

This summary is provided for information only and does not represent the opinion of any Senator, Senate Officer, or Senate Office.

Prepared by: Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee (CF)

The bill revises the dependency process for abused children removed from their home to facilitate permanency within 1 year. Permanency for a dependent child can be reunification with parents, placement with a permanent guardian, such as a relative, or adoption. State law sets 1 year as a goal to achieve permanency. According to the Department of Children and Families, only 40% of dependent children in Florida reach their permanency goal within 1 year. To shorten the time children spend in dependency, the bill:

  • Requires the court to name the Guardian ad Litem in the record;
  • Directs caseworkers to provide updated contact information to parents;
  • Limits court continuances to less than 60 days each year;
  • Requires parents to give updated contact information to the caseworker and the court;
  • Makes parents notify the court of any barriers to completing their case plan;
  • Obligates case managers to make referrals to needed services for parents within 7 days after the case plan is approved;
  • Requires the case plan to include strategies to overcome any barriers that would prevent the parents from completing any tasks;
  • Orders the court to clearly inform parents that if they do not complete their case plan within 1 year, the court may terminate their parental rights; and
  • Requires the court to provide a written order following a termination of parental rights within 30 days.

If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect October 1, 2019.

Vote: Senate 39-0; House 112-0