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.
   30  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   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 shall
   84  report to the Legislature on the placement of children in
   85  licensed residential group care during the year, including the
   86  criteria used to determine the placement of children, the number
   87  of children who were evaluated for placement, the number of
   88  children who were placed based upon the evaluation, and the
   89  number of children who were not placed. The department shall
   90  maintain data specifying the number of children who were
   91  referred to licensed residential child care for whom placement
   92  was unavailable and the counties in which such placement was
   93  unavailable. The department shall include this data in its
   94  report to the Legislature due on December 1, so that the
   95  Legislature may consider this information in developing the
   96  General Appropriations Act.
   97         (b) As part of the report required in paragraph (a), the
   98  department shall also provide a detailed account of the
   99  expenditures incurred for “Special Categories: Grants and Aids
  100  Specialized Residential Group Care Services” for the fiscal year
  101  immediately preceding the date of the report. This section of
  102  the report must include whatever supporting data is necessary to
  103  demonstrate full compliance with paragraph (6)(c). The document
  104  must present the information by district and must specify, at a
  105  minimum, the number of additional beds, the average rate per
  106  bed, the number of additional persons served, and a description
  107  of the enhanced and expanded services provided.
  108         (6)(a) The provisions of this section shall be implemented
  109  to the extent of available appropriations contained in the
  110  annual General Appropriations Act for such purpose.
  111         (b) Each year, funds included in the General Appropriations
  112  Act for Enhanced Residential Group Care as provided for in s.
  113  409.1676 shall be appropriated in a separately identified
  114  special category that is designated in the act as “Special
  115  Categories: Grants and Aids—Specialized Residential Group Care
  116  Services.”
  117         (c) Each fiscal year, all funding increases for Enhanced
  118  Residential Group Care as provided in s. 409.1676 which are
  119  included in the General Appropriations Act shall be appropriated
  120  in a lump-sum category as defined in s. 216.011(1)(aa). In
  121  accordance with s. 216.181(6)(a), the Executive Office of the
  122  Governor shall require the department to submit a spending plan
  123  that identifies the residential group care bed capacity shortage
  124  throughout the state and proposes a distribution formula by
  125  district which addresses the reported deficiencies. The spending
  126  plan must have as its first priority the reduction or
  127  elimination of any bed shortage identified and must also provide
  128  for program enhancements to ensure that residential group care
  129  programs meet a minimum level of expected performance and
  130  provide for expansion of the comprehensive residential group
  131  care services described in s. 409.1676. Annual appropriation
  132  increases appropriated in the lump-sum appropriation must be
  133  used in accordance with the provisions of the spending plan.
  134         (d) Funds from “Special Categories: Grants and Aids
  135  Specialized Residential Group Care Services” may be used as one
  136  time startup funding for residential group care purposes that
  137  include, but are not limited to, remodeling or renovation of
  138  existing facilities, construction costs, leasing costs, purchase
  139  of equipment and furniture, site development, and other
  140  necessary and reasonable costs associated with the startup of
  141  facilities or programs upon the recommendation of the lead
  142  community-based provider if one exists and upon specific
  143  approval of the terms and conditions by the secretary of the
  144  department.
  145         Section 2. Section 409.144, Florida Statutes, is created to
  146  read:
  147         409.144Continuum of care; residential group home care.—
  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.