Florida Senate - 2015 CS for SB 940 By the Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs; and Senators Detert and Sachs 586-02204-15 2015940c1 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to continuum of care for children; 3 amending s. 39.523, F.S.; removing a requirement that 4 the Department of Children and Families submit a 5 report annually to the Legislature on the placement of 6 children in licensed residential group care; removing 7 a provision requiring the department to provide a 8 detailed account of certain expenditures; removing 9 provisions regarding implementation and specified 10 annual funding; creating s. 409.144, F.S.; providing 11 legislative findings and intent; requiring the 12 department to collect and compile specified data and 13 information; creating the Continuum of Care Advisory 14 Council within the department for specified purposes; 15 providing duties of the council; requiring the members 16 of the advisory council to be appointed in specified 17 manners; authorizing the advisory council to work with 18 certain individuals and providing limitations on the 19 involvement of those individuals; providing per diem 20 and travel expenses for certain members; requiring the 21 advisory council to submit specified information to 22 the Governor and the Legislature by a certain date; 23 requiring the department to provide administrative 24 support to the advisory council; requiring that the 25 advisory council have access to specified information; 26 prohibiting certain data from including information 27 that would identify specific individuals; providing an 28 effective date. 29 30 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 31 32 Section 1. Section 39.523, Florida Statutes, is amended to 33 read: 34 39.523 Placement in residential group care.— 35 (1) Except as provided in s. 39.407, any dependent child 11 36 years of age or older who has been in licensed family foster 37 care for 6 months or longer and who is then moved more than once 38 and who is a child with extraordinary needs as defined in s. 39 409.1676 must be assessed for placement in licensed residential 40 group care. The assessment procedures shall be conducted by the 41 department or its agent and shall incorporate and address 42 current and historical information from any psychological 43 testing or evaluation that has occurred; current and historical 44 information from the guardian ad litem, if one has been 45 assigned; current and historical information from any current 46 therapist, teacher, or other professional who has knowledge of 47 the child and has worked with the child; information regarding 48 the placement of any siblings of the child and the impact of the 49 child’s placement in residential group care on the child’s 50 siblings; the circumstances necessitating the moves of the child 51 while in family foster care and the recommendations of the 52 former foster families, if available; the status of the child’s 53 case plan and a determination as to the impact of placing the 54 child in residential group care on the goals of the case plan; 55 the age, maturity, and desires of the child concerning 56 placement; the availability of any less restrictive, more 57 family-like setting for the child in which the foster parents 58 have the necessary training and skills for providing a suitable 59 placement for the child; and any other information concerning 60 the availability of suitable residential group care. If such 61 placement is determined to be appropriate as a result of this 62 procedure, the child must be placed in residential group care, 63 if available. 64 (2) The results of the assessment described in subsection 65 (1) and the actions taken as a result of the assessment must be 66 included in the next judicial review of the child. At each 67 subsequent judicial review, the court must be advised in writing 68 of the status of the child’s placement, with special reference 69 regarding the stability of the placement and the permanency 70 planning for the child. 71 (3) Any residential group care facility that receives 72 children under the provisions of this subsection shall establish 73 special permanency teams dedicated to overcoming the special 74 permanency challenges presented by this population of children. 75 Each facility shall report to the department its success in 76 achieving permanency for children placed by the department in 77 its care at intervals that allow the current information to be 78 provided to the court at each judicial review for the child. 79 (4) This section does not prohibit the department from 80 assessing and placing children who do not meet the criteria in 81 subsection (1) in residential group care if such placement is 82 the most appropriate placement for such children. 83
(5)(a) By December 1 of each year, the department shall84 report to the Legislature on the placement of children in85 licensed residential group care during the year, including the86 criteria used to determine the placement of children, the number87 of children who were evaluated for placement, the number of88 children who were placed based upon the evaluation, and the89 number of children who were not placed. The department shall90 maintain data specifying the number of children who were91 referred to licensed residential child care for whom placement92 was unavailable and the counties in which such placement was93 unavailable. The department shall include this data in its94 report to the Legislature due on December 1, so that the95 Legislature may consider this information in developing the96 General Appropriations Act.97 (b) As part of the report required in paragraph (a), the98 department shall also provide a detailed account of the99 expenditures incurred for “Special Categories: Grants and Aids100 Specialized Residential Group Care Services” for the fiscal year101 immediately preceding the date of the report. This section of102 the report must include whatever supporting data is necessary to103 demonstrate full compliance with paragraph (6)(c). The document104 must present the information by district and must specify, at a105 minimum, the number of additional beds, the average rate per106 bed, the number of additional persons served, and a description107 of the enhanced and expanded services provided.108 (6)(a) The provisions of this section shall be implemented109 to the extent of available appropriations contained in the110 annual General Appropriations Act for such purpose.111 (b) Each year, funds included in the General Appropriations112 Act for Enhanced Residential Group Care as provided for in s.113 409.1676 shall be appropriated in a separately identified114 special category that is designated in the act as “Special115 Categories: Grants and Aids—Specialized Residential Group Care116 Services.”117 (c) Each fiscal year, all funding increases for Enhanced118 Residential Group Care as provided in s. 409.1676 which are119 included in the General Appropriations Act shall be appropriated120 in a lump-sum category as defined in s. 216.011(1)(aa). In121 accordance with s. 216.181(6)(a), the Executive Office of the122 Governor shall require the department to submit a spending plan123 that identifies the residential group care bed capacity shortage124 throughout the state and proposes a distribution formula by125 district which addresses the reported deficiencies. The spending126 plan must have as its first priority the reduction or127 elimination of any bed shortage identified and must also provide128 for program enhancements to ensure that residential group care129 programs meet a minimum level of expected performance and130 provide for expansion of the comprehensive residential group131 care services described in s. 409.1676. Annual appropriation132 increases appropriated in the lump-sum appropriation must be133 used in accordance with the provisions of the spending plan.134 (d) Funds from “Special Categories: Grants and Aids135 Specialized Residential Group Care Services” may be used as one136 time startup funding for residential group care purposes that137 include, but are not limited to, remodeling or renovation of138 existing facilities, construction costs, leasing costs, purchase139 of equipment and furniture, site development, and other140 necessary and reasonable costs associated with the startup of141 facilities or programs upon the recommendation of the lead142 community-based provider if one exists and upon specific143 approval of the terms and conditions by the secretary of the144 department.145 Section 2. Section 409.144, Florida Statutes, is created to 146 read: 147 409.144 Continuum of care; residential group home care.— 148 (1) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND INTENT.— 149 (a) The Legislature finds that children in out-of-home care 150 should live in their communities in home-based family care 151 settings and that the need to recruit, train, and support an 152 adequate number of families to provide home-based family care is 153 an essential part of any initiative to reform out-of-home care 154 for children. 155 (b) The Legislature also finds that children who initially 156 cannot be safely placed in home-based family care may be still 157 placed into residential group home care, but for only the 158 minimum time required for stabilization and with specific short 159 time-limited plans for their care. When needed, residential 160 group home care should be considered a short-term, specialized, 161 and intensive intervention that is just one part of a continuum 162 of care available for children. 163 (c) The Legislature further finds that, once stabilized, 164 most children should transition from residential group home care 165 into home-based family care with their services following them. 166 (d) Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature to 167 support an effort to reform the current system of using 168 residential group home care that reflects current research 169 findings and the appropriate place of residential group home 170 care in the child welfare system continuum of care. It is 171 further the intent of the Legislature that the reform effort 172 provides for improved assessments of children and families to 173 make more informed and appropriate initial placement decisions, 174 an emphasis on home-based family care placements for children, 175 appropriate support for those placements with available 176 services, a change in goals for residential group home care 177 placements, and increased transparency and accountability for 178 child outcomes. 179 (2) DUTIES OF THE DEPARTMENT.—The department shall collect 180 and compile data and information necessary to inform the 181 development of a work plan to be used by the Continuum of Care 182 Advisory Council created in subsection (3) to address the 183 placement and services needs of children who are cared for in 184 out-of-home care. At a minimum, the collected and compiled data 185 and information must include current data and information 186 related to all of the following: 187 (a) Methods of assessing children coming into care for 188 their initial placement. 189 (b) Definitions and characteristics of types of placements 190 in use. 191 (c) Service needs of children in out-of-home care. 192 (d) Program design and quality standards. 193 (e) Licensing categories and accreditation requirements for 194 types of out-of-home placements. 195 (f) Rates and procedures used for payment rate setting. 196 (g) Outcomes, outcome indicators and performance measures. 197 (h) Impact of existing performance measures. 198 (i) Mechanisms that ensure continuous quality improvement 199 and transition strategies from group care to other levels of 200 care. 201 (3) CONTINUUM OF CARE ADVISORY COUNCIL.—The Continuum of 202 Care Advisory Council is created within the department for the 203 purpose of recommending a plan to address the placement and 204 service needs of children who are cared for outside their own 205 homes by creating a continuum of care which consists of 206 recruiting, training, and supporting an adequate supply of home 207 based family care; providing needed services and supports in 208 those family care settings; and limiting congregate care to only 209 those situations in which adequate services cannot be safely 210 provided while a child lives with a family, and for only the 211 minimum amount of time required for stabilization. The work of 212 the advisory council shall be conducted in collaboration with 213 the primary stakeholders and shall be based on empirical 214 research and best practices data. The process must include 215 gathering research data, holding public meetings, and entering 216 into partnerships with academia and other stakeholders to 217 complete the task. The advisory council shall function as 218 specified in this subsection until the Legislature determines 219 that the advisory council can no longer provide a valuable 220 contribution to the department’s efforts to create a continuum 221 of care. 222 (a) The 25 members of the advisory council must be 223 appointed in the following manner: 224 1. Three members from the headquarters and regional offices 225 of the department, to be appointed by the secretary. 226 2. One member with recognized expertise in developmental 227 psychology, to be appointed by the secretary. 228 3. One member with expertise in children’s mental health, 229 to be appointed by the secretary. 230 4. One member with expertise in children’s health issues, 231 to be appointed by the secretary. 232 5. One member who is an economist with expertise in 233 behavioral economics, to be appointed by the secretary. 234 6. Two members from the community-based care lead agencies, 235 one from the lead agency with the lowest rate and one from the 236 lead agency with the highest rate of residential group home 237 placement, to be appointed by the secretary. 238 7. One member with experience working with children with 239 special needs in residential group home settings, to be 240 appointed by the secretary. 241 8. Two members who are foster parents, to be appointed by 242 the executive director of the Florida State Foster/Adoptive 243 Parent Association. 244 9. Two members who are kinship caregivers, to be appointed 245 by the secretary. 246 10. One member from the Quality Parenting Initiative, to be 247 appointed by the secretary. 248 11. Three members who are residential group home providers, 249 representing different models of residential group home care and 250 who are involved in daily operation of the facilities, to be 251 appointed by the secretary. 252 12. Two members from Florida Youth SHINE, to be appointed 253 by the secretary. 254 13. One member from Florida’s Children First, to be 255 appointed by the secretary. 256 14. One member from the Agency for Persons with 257 Disabilities, to be appointed by the director of the agency. 258 15. One member from the Department of Juvenile Justice, to 259 be appointed by the Secretary of Juvenile Justice. 260 16. One member from the Department of Education, to be 261 appointed by the Commissioner of Education. 262 17. One member from the Florida Institute for Child 263 Welfare, to be appointed by the secretary. 264 (b) The advisory council is encouraged to work with any 265 additional individuals who are knowledgeable in the subject 266 areas; however, those additional individuals may not become 267 members of the council and may not vote on the final report and 268 recommendations of the council, but may submit reports and 269 recommendations for review by the council and may be invited to 270 speak to the council by a member of the council. 271 (c) Nongovernmental members of the advisory council shall 272 serve without compensation but are entitled to receive per diem 273 and travel expenses in accordance with s. 112.061 while in 274 performance of their duties. 275 (d) The advisory council shall propose a timeline and work 276 plan for reform and an estimate of associated costs and shall 277 submit the proposal and estimate of costs to the Governor, the 278 President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of 279 Representatives by December 31, 2016. At a minimum, the proposal 280 must consider the following: 281 1. The impact of group care on children based on their age 282 and history based on an impartial compilation of research 283 related to residential group care. 284 2. Criteria for admission to residential group care and the 285 types of assessments that should be performed to determine 286 whether the admission criteria are being met and who should 287 perform the assessments. 288 3. Policies and procedures needed to ensure that placement 289 in a residential group care is appropriate for each specific 290 child and lasts only as long as necessary to resolve the issue 291 that required the placement. 292 4. Services that are currently available for children in 293 group placements and the types of services that could be 294 provided to eliminate the need for group care. 295 5. The need to develop a classification system for group 296 care. 297 6. Requirements needed in plans for children in group care 298 to transition to family placement. 299 7. The role of state licensing in determining the quality 300 of care and the need for a new licensing category or categories 301 to better meet the needs of the children in out-of-home care. 302 8. The value of requiring group home accreditation by a 303 national accrediting body. 304 9. The need to plan for any change in federal funding for 305 long-term residential group care. 306 10. Current practices related to the use of residential 307 group home care in order to develop a framework that can be used 308 to transition residential group homes into short-term, 309 specialized, and intensive treatment providers used for the 310 minority of children who cannot safely be served in home-based 311 family care settings. 312 11. Age limitations that should be placed on group care 313 based on developmental research. 314 12. Comparison of cost of group care placement and family 315 based care, and what economic and other incentives exist for 316 placement of children in group care. 317 13. Alternate funding mechanisms for children placed in 318 residential group home care. 319 14. Adjustments to funding to encourage placement in home 320 based family care settings. 321 15. Standards that should be in effect to ensure that group 322 home staff has adequate training, experience, and supervision to 323 provide therapeutic care to children and youth in the 324 facilities. 325 (e) The department shall provide administrative support to 326 the advisory council to accomplish its assigned tasks. The 327 advisory council shall have access to all appropriate data from 328 the department, each community-based care lead agency, and other 329 relevant agencies in order to accomplish the tasks set forth in 330 this section. The data collected by the advisory council may not 331 include information that would identify a specific child or 332 young adult. 333 Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2015.