Florida Senate - 2016 SB 7034
By the Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs
1 A bill to be entitled
2 An act relating to prenatal services and early
3 childhood development; amending s. 383.141, F.S.;
4 revising the requirements for the Department of Health
5 to maintain a clearinghouse of information for parents
6 and health care providers and to increase public
7 awareness on developmental evaluation and early
8 intervention programs; requiring the clearinghouse to
9 use a specified term; revising the information to be
10 included in the clearinghouse; amending s. 391.025,
11 F.S.; renaming the “Infants and Toddlers Early
12 Intervention Program” as the “Early Steps Program”;
13 revising the components of the Children’s Medical
14 Services program; amending s. 391.026, F.S.; requiring
15 the department to serve as the lead agency in
16 administering the Early Steps Program; amending s.
17 391.301, F.S.; establishing the Early Steps Program
18 within the department; deleting provisions relating to
19 legislative findings; authorizing the program to
20 include certain screening and referral services for
21 specified purposes; providing requirements and
22 responsibilities for the program; amending s. 391.302,
23 F.S.; defining terms; revising the definitions of
24 certain terms; amending s. 391.308, F.S.; renaming the
25 “Infants and Toddlers Early Intervention Program” as
26 the “Early Steps Program”; requiring, rather than
27 authorizing, the department to implement and
28 administer the program; requiring the department to
29 ensure that the program follows specified performance
30 standards; providing requirements of the program to
31 meet such performance standards; revising the duties
32 of the department; requiring the department to apply
33 specified eligibility criteria for the program;
34 providing duties for local program offices; requiring
35 the development of an individualized family support
36 plan for each child served in the program; requiring
37 referral for services by a local program office under
38 certain circumstances; requiring the local program
39 office to negotiate and maintain agreements with
40 specified providers and managed care entities;
41 requiring the local program office to coordinate with
42 managed care plans; requiring the department to submit
43 an annual report, subject to certain requirements, to
44 the Governor, the Legislature, and the Florida
45 Interagency Coordinating Council for Infants and
46 Toddlers by a specified date; designating the Florida
47 Interagency Coordinating Council for Infants and
48 Toddlers as the state interagency coordinating council
49 required by federal rule subject to certain
50 requirements; providing requirements for the local
51 program office and local school district to prepare
52 certain children for the transition to school under
53 certain circumstances; amending ss. 413.092 and
54 1003.575, F.S.; conforming provisions to changes made
55 by the act; repealing ss. 391.303, 391.304, 391.305,
56 391.306, and 391.307, F.S., relating to requirements
57 for the Children’s Medical Services program, program
58 coordination, program standards, program funding and
59 contracts, and program review, respectively; providing
60 an effective date.
62 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
64 Section 1. Subsections (2) and (3) of section 383.141,
65 Florida Statutes, are amended, and subsection (4) is added to
66 that section, to read:
67 383.141 Prenatally diagnosed conditions; patient to be
68 provided information; definitions; information clearinghouse;
69 advisory council.—
70 (2) When a developmental disability is diagnosed based on
71 the results of a prenatal test, the health care provider who
72 ordered the prenatal test, or his or her designee, shall provide
73 the patient with current information about the nature of the
74 developmental disability, the accuracy of the prenatal test, and
75 resources for obtaining relevant support services, including
76 hotlines, resource centers, and information clearinghouses
77 related to Down syndrome or other prenatally diagnosed
78 developmental disabilities; support programs for parents and
79 families; and developmental evaluation and intervention services
80 under this part
81 (3) The Department of Health shall develop and implement a
82 comprehensive information clearinghouse to educate health care
83 providers, inform parents, and increase public awareness
84 regarding brain development, developmental disabilities and
85 delays, and all services, resources, and interventions available
86 to mitigate the effects of impaired development among children.
87 The clearinghouse must use the term “unique abilities” as much
88 as possible when identifying infants or children with
89 developmental disabilities and delays. The clearinghouse must
91 (a) Health information on conditions that may lead to
92 impaired development of physical, learning, language, or
93 behavioral skills.
94 (b) Education and information to support parents whose
95 unborn children have been prenatally diagnosed with
96 developmental disabilities or whose children have diagnosed or
97 suspected developmental delays.
98 (c) Education and training for health care providers to
99 recognize and respond appropriately to developmental
100 disabilities, delays, and conditions related to disabilities or
101 delays. Specific information approved by the advisory council
102 shall be made available to health care providers for use in
103 counseling parents whose unborn children have been prenatally
104 diagnosed with developmental disabilities or whose children have
105 diagnosed or suspected developmental delays.
106 (d) Promotion of public awareness of availability of
107 supportive services, such as resource centers, educational
108 programs, other support programs for parents and families, and
109 developmental evaluation and intervention services.
110 (e) Hotlines specific to Down syndrome and other prenatally
111 diagnosed developmental disabilities. The hotlines and the
112 department’s clearinghouse must provide information to parents
113 and families or other caregivers regarding the Early Steps
114 Program under s. 391.301, the Florida Diagnostic Learning and
115 Resource System, the Early Learning program, Healthy Start, Help
116 Me Grow, and any other intervention programs. Information
117 offered must include directions on how to obtain early
118 intervention, rehabilitative, and habilitative services and
119 devices establish on its Internet website a clearinghouse of
120 information related to developmental disabilities concerning
121 providers of supportive services, information hotlines specific
122 to Down syndrome and other prenatally diagnosed developmental
123 disabilities, resource centers, educational programs, other
124 support programs for parents and families, and developmental
125 evaluation and intervention services under s. 391.303 . Such
126 information shall be made available to health care providers for
127 use in counseling pregnant women whose unborn children have been
128 prenatally diagnosed with developmental disabilities.
129 (4)(a) There is established an advisory council within the
130 Department of Health which consists of health care providers and
131 caregivers who perform health care services for persons who have
132 developmental disabilities, including Down syndrome and autism.
133 This group shall consist of nine members as follows:
134 1. Three members appointed by the Governor;
135 2. Three members appointed by the President of the Senate;
137 3. Three members appointed by the Speaker of the House of
139 (b) The advisory council shall provide technical assistance
140 to the Department of Health in the establishment of the
141 information clearinghouse and give the department the benefit of
142 the council members’ knowledge and experience relating to the
143 needs of patients and families of patients with developmental
144 disabilities and available support services.
145 (c) Members of the council shall elect a chairperson and a
146 vice chairperson. The elected chairperson and vice chairperson
147 shall serve in these roles until their terms of appointment on
148 the council expire.
149 (d) The advisory council shall meet quarterly to review
150 this clearinghouse of information, and may meet more often at
151 the call of the chairperson or as determined by a majority of
153 (e) The council members shall be appointed to 4-year terms,
154 except that, to provide for staggered terms, one initial
155 appointee each from the Governor, the President of the Senate,
156 and the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall be
157 appointed to a 2-year term, one appointee each from these
158 officials shall be appointed to a 3-year term, and the remaining
159 initial appointees shall be appointed to 4-year terms. All
160 subsequent appointments shall be for 4-year terms. A vacancy
161 shall be filled for the remainder of the unexpired term in the
162 same manner as the original appointment.
163 (f) Members of the council shall serve without
164 compensation. Meetings of the council may be held in person,
165 without reimbursement for travel expenses, or by teleconference
166 or other electronic means.
167 (g) The Department of Health shall provide administrative
168 support for the advisory council.
169 Section 2. Paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of section
170 391.025, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
171 391.025 Applicability and scope.—
172 (1) The Children’s Medical Services program consists of the
173 following components:
174 (c) The developmental evaluation and intervention program,
175 including the Early Steps Florida Infants and Toddlers Early
176 Intervention Program.
177 Section 3. Subsection (19) is added to section 391.026,
178 Florida Statutes, to read:
179 391.026 Powers and duties of the department.—The department
180 shall have the following powers, duties, and responsibilities:
181 (19) To serve as the lead agency in administering the Early
182 Steps Program pursuant to part C of the federal Individuals with
183 Disabilities Education Act and part III of this chapter.
184 Section 4. Section 391.301, Florida Statutes, is amended to
186 391.301 Early Steps Program; establishment and goals
187 Developmental evaluation and intervention programs; legislative
188 findings and intent.—
189 (1) The Early Steps Program is established within the
190 department to serve infants and toddlers who are at risk of
191 developmental disabilities and infants and toddlers with
192 developmental delays by providing developmental evaluation and
193 early intervention and by providing families with training and
194 support services in a variety of home and community settings The
195 Legislature finds that the high-risk and disabled newborn
196 infants in this state need in-hospital and outpatient
197 developmental evaluation and intervention and that their
198 families need training and support services. The Legislature
199 further finds that there is an identifiable and increasing
200 number of infants who need developmental evaluation and
201 intervention and family support due to the fact that increased
202 numbers of low-birthweight and sick full-term newborn infants
203 are now surviving because of the advances in neonatal intensive
204 care medicine; increased numbers of medically involved infants
205 are remaining inappropriately in hospitals because their parents
206 lack the confidence or skills to care for these infants without
207 support; and increased numbers of infants are at risk due to
208 parent risk factors, such as substance abuse, teenage pregnancy,
209 and other high-risk conditions.
210 (2) The program may include screening and referral It is
211 the intent of the Legislature to establish developmental
212 evaluation and intervention services at all hospitals providing
213 Level II or Level III neonatal intensive care services, in order
214 to promptly identify newborns with disabilities or with
215 conditions associated with risks of developmental delays so that
216 families with high-risk or disabled infants may gain as early as
217 possible the services and skills they need to support their
218 infants’ development infants.
219 (3) The program must It is the intent of the Legislature
220 that a methodology be developed to integrate information and
221 coordinate services on infants with potentially disabling
222 conditions with other early intervention programs, including,
223 but not limited to, Part C of Pub. L. No. 105-17 and the Healthy
224 Start program, the newborn screening program, and the Blind
225 Babies Program.
226 (4) The program must:
227 (a) Provide services to enhance the development of infants
228 and toddlers with disabilities and delays.
229 (b) Expand the recognition by health care providers,
230 families, and the public of the significant brain development
231 that occurs during a child’s first 3 years of life.
232 (c) Maintain the importance of the family in all areas of
233 the child’s development and support the family’s participation
234 in early intervention services and decisions affecting the
236 (d) Operate a comprehensive, coordinated interagency system
237 of early intervention services and supports in accordance with
238 part C of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education
240 (e) Ensure timely evaluation, individual planning, and
241 early intervention services necessary to meet the unique needs
242 of eligible infants and toddlers.
243 (f) Build the service capacity and enhance the competencies
244 of health care providers serving infants and toddlers with
245 unique needs and abilities.
246 (g) Ensure programmatic and fiscal accountability through
247 establishment of a high-capacity data system, active monitoring
248 of performance indicators, and ongoing quality improvement.
249 Section 5. Section 391.302, Florida Statutes, is amended to
251 391.302 Definitions.—As used in ss. 391.301-391.308 ss.
252 391.301-391.307, the term:
253 (1) “Developmental delay” means a condition, identified and
254 measured through appropriate instruments and procedures, which
255 may delay physical, cognitive, communication, social/emotional,
256 or adaptive development.
257 (2) “Developmental disability” means a condition,
258 identified and measured through appropriate instruments and
259 procedures, which may impair physical, cognitive, communication,
260 social/emotional, or adaptive development.
261 (3) “Developmental intervention” or “early intervention”
262 means individual and group individualized therapies and services
263 needed to enhance both the infant’s or toddler’s growth and
264 development and family functioning. The term includes
265 habilitative services and assistive technology devices,
266 rehabilitative services and assistive technology devices, and
267 parent support and training.
268 (4) “Habilitative services and devices” means health care
269 services and devices that help a child maintain, learn, or
270 improve skills and functioning for daily living.
271 (5) (2) “Infant or toddler” or “child” means a child from
272 birth until the child’s third birthday.
273 (6) (3) “In-hospital intervention services” means the
274 provision of assessments; the provision of individual
275 individualized services; monitoring and modifying the delivery
276 of medical interventions; and enhancing the environment for the
277 high-risk, developmentally disabled, or medically involved
278 infant or toddler in order to achieve optimum growth and
280 (7) “Local program office” means an office that administers
281 the Early Steps Program within a municipality, county, or
283 (8) (4) “Parent support and training” means a range of
284 services to families of high-risk, developmentally disabled, or
285 medically involved infants or toddlers, including family
286 counseling; financial planning; agency referral; development of
287 parent-to-parent support groups; education concerning growth,
288 development, and developmental intervention and objective
289 measurable skills, including abuse avoidance skills; and
290 training of parents to advocate for their child ; and bereavement
292 (9) “Rehabilitative services and devices” means restorative
293 and remedial services that maintain or enhance the current level
294 of functioning of a child if there is a possibility of
295 improvement or reversal of impairment.
296 Section 6. Section 391.308, Florida Statutes, is amended to
298 391.308 Early Steps Infants and Toddlers Early Intervention
299 Program.—The department shall Department of Health may implement
300 and administer part C of the federal Individuals with
301 Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which shall be known as the
302 “Early Steps “Florida Infants and Toddlers Early Intervention
304 (1) PERFORMANCE STANDARDS.—The department shall ensure that
305 the Early Steps Program complies with the following performance
307 (a) The program must provide services from referral through
308 transition in a family-centered manner that recognizes and
309 responds to unique circumstances and needs of infants and
310 toddlers and their families as measured by a variety of
311 qualitative data, including satisfaction surveys, interviews,
312 focus groups, and input from stakeholders.
313 (b) The program must provide individualized family support
314 plans that are understandable and usable by families, health
315 care providers, and payors and that identify the current level
316 of functioning of the infant or toddler, family supports and
317 resources, expected outcomes, and specific early intervention
318 services needed to achieve the expected outcomes, as measured by
319 periodic system independent evaluation.
320 (c) The program must help each family to use available
321 resources in a way that maximizes the child’s access to services
322 necessary to achieve the outcomes of the individualized family
323 support plan, as measured by family feedback and by independent
324 assessments of services used by each child.
325 (d) The program must offer families access to quality
326 services that effectively enable infants and toddlers with
327 developmental disabilities and developmental delays to achieve
328 optimal functional levels as measured by an independent
329 evaluation of outcome indicators in social emotional skills,
330 communication, and adaptive behaviors.
331 (2) DUTIES OF THE DEPARTMENT.—The department shall: ,
332 (a) Jointly with the Department of Education, shall
333 Annually prepare a grant application to the United States
334 Department of Education for funding early intervention services
335 for infants and toddlers with disabilities, from birth through
336 36 months of age, and their families pursuant to part C of the
337 federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
338 (b) (2) The department, Jointly with the Department of
339 Education, provide shall include a reading initiative as an
340 early intervention service for infants and toddlers.
341 (c) Annually develop a state plan for the Early Steps
343 1. The plan must assess the need for early intervention
344 services, evaluate the extent of the statewide need that is met
345 by the program, identify barriers to fully meeting the need, and
346 recommend specific action steps to improve program performance.
347 2. The plan must be developed through an inclusive process
348 that involves families, local program offices, health care
349 providers, and other stakeholders.
350 (d) Ensure the provision of developmental evaluation and
351 intervention services in each hospital that provides Level II
352 and Level III neonatal intensive care services to an infant or a
353 toddler identified as being at risk for developmental
354 disabilities who along with his or her family, would benefit
355 from early intervention services.
356 (e) Establish standards and qualifications for
357 developmental evaluation and early intervention service
358 providers, including standards for determining the adequacy of
359 provider networks in each local program office service area.
360 (f) Establish statewide uniform protocols and procedures to
361 determine eligibility for developmental evaluation and early
362 intervention services.
363 (g) Establish a consistent, statewide format and procedure
364 for preparing and completing an individualized family support
366 (h) Promote interagency cooperation and coordination, with
367 the Medicaid program, the Department of Education program
368 pursuant to part B of the federal Individuals with Disabilities
369 Education Act, and programs providing child screening such as
370 the Florida Diagnostic Learning and Resource System, the Early
371 Learning program, Healthy Start, and Help Me Grow program.
372 1. Coordination with the Medicaid program shall be
373 developed and maintained through written agreements with the
374 Agency for Health Care Administration and Medicaid managed care
375 entities as well as through active and ongoing communication
376 with these entities. The department shall assist local program
377 offices to negotiate agreements with Medicaid managed care
378 entities in the service areas of the local program offices. Such
379 agreements may be formal or informal.
380 2. Coordination with education programs pursuant to part B
381 of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act shall
382 be developed and maintained through written agreements with the
383 Department of Education. The department shall assist local
384 program offices to negotiate agreements with school districts in
385 the service areas of the local program offices.
386 (i) Develop and disseminate the knowledge and methods
387 necessary to effectively coordinate benefits among various payor
389 (j) Provide an appeals process under chapter 120 for
390 applicants found ineligible for developmental evaluation or
391 early intervention services or denied financial support for such
393 (k) Competitively procure local program offices to provide
394 services throughout the state in accordance with chapter 287.
395 The department shall specify the requirements and qualifications
396 for local program offices in the procurement document.
397 (l) Establish performance standards and other metrics for
398 evaluation of local program offices, including standards for
399 measuring timeliness of services, outcomes of early intervention
400 services, and administrative efficiency. Performance standards
401 and metrics shall be developed in consultation with local
402 program offices.
403 (m) Provide technical assistance to the local program
405 (3) ELIGIBILITY.—The department shall apply the following
406 eligibility criteria as authorized in the General Appropriations
408 (a) All infants and toddlers in this state are eligible for
409 an evaluation to determine the presence of a developmental
410 disability or conditions that cause or increase the risk of
411 developmental delays.
412 (b) All infants and toddlers determined to have a
413 developmental disability based on an established condition or
414 determined to be at risk of developmental delays based on an
415 informed clinical opinion are eligible for Early Steps Program
417 (c) A child is eligible for Early Steps Program services if
418 the application of a standardized evaluation instrument results
419 in a score that is 1.5 standard deviations from the mean in two
420 or more of the following domains: physical, cognitive,
421 communication, social or emotional, and adaptive.
422 (d) A child is eligible for Early Steps Program services if
423 the application of a standardized evaluation instrument results
424 in a score that is 2.0 standard deviations from the mean in one
425 of the following domains: physical, cognitive, communication,
426 social or emotional, and adaptive.
427 (e) A child is eligible for Early Steps Program services if
428 diagnosed with a physical or mental condition that has a high
429 probability of resulting in a developmental delay.
430 (4) DUTIES OF THE LOCAL PROGRAM OFFICES.—A local program
431 office shall:
432 (a) Evaluate a child to determine eligibility within 45
433 calendar days after the child is referred to the program.
434 (b) Notify the parent or legal guardian of his or her
435 child’s eligibility status initially and at least annually
436 thereafter. If a child is determined not to be eligible, the
437 local program office must provide the parent or legal guardian
438 with written information on the right to an appeal and the
439 process for making such an appeal.
440 (c) Secure and maintain interagency agreements or contracts
441 with local school districts and the Medicaid managed care plans
442 in a local service area.
443 (d) Provide services directly or procure services from
444 health care providers that meet or exceed the minimum
445 qualifications established for service providers. The local
446 program office must become a Medicaid provider if it provides
447 services directly.
448 (e) Provide directly or procure services that are, to the
449 extent possible, delivered in a child’s natural environment,
450 such as in the child’s home or community setting. The inability
451 to provide services in the natural environment is not a
452 sufficient reason to deny services.
453 (f) Develop an individualized family support plan for each
454 child served. The plan must:
455 1. Be completed within 45 calendar days after referral in
456 the program;
457 2. Be developed in conjunction with the child’s parent or
458 legal guardian who provides written consent for the services
459 included in the plan;
460 3. Be reviewed at least every six months with the parent or
461 legal guardian and updated if needed; and
462 4. Include steps to transition to school or other future
463 services by the child’s third birthday.
464 (g) Assess the progress of the child and his or her family
465 in meeting the goals of the individualized family support plan.
466 (h) For each service required by the individualized family
467 support plan, refer the child to an appropriate service provider
468 or work with Medicaid managed care entities or private insurers
469 to secure the needed services.
470 (i) Provide service coordination services, including
471 contacting the appropriate service provider to determine whether
472 the provider can timely deliver the service, providing the
473 parent or legal guardian with the name and location of the
474 service and the date of any appointment made on behalf of the
475 child, and contacting the parent or legal guardian after the
476 service is provided to ensure that the service is delivered
477 timely and to determine whether the family requests additional
479 (j) Negotiate and maintain agreements with Medicaid
480 providers and Medicaid managed care entities in its area.
481 1. With the parent’s or legal guardian’s permission, the
482 services in the child’s approved individualized family support
483 plan shall be communicated to the Medicaid managed care entity.
484 Services that cannot be funded by Medicaid must be specifically
485 identified and explained to the family.
486 2. The agreement between the local program office and
487 Medicaid managed care entities must establish methods of
488 communication and procedures for the timely approval of services
489 covered by Medicaid.
490 (k) Develop agreements and arrangements with private
491 insurers in order to coordinate benefits and services for any
492 mutual enrollee.
493 1. The child’s approved individualized family support plan
494 may be communicated to the child’s insurer with the parent’s or
495 legal guardian’s permission.
496 2. The local program office and private insurers shall
497 establish methods of communication and procedures for the timely
498 approval of services covered by the child’s insurer, if
499 appropriate and approved by the child’s parent or legal
501 (l) Provide to the department data necessary for an
502 evaluation of the local program office performance.
503 (5) ACCOUNTABILITY REPORTING.—By December 1 of each year,
504 the department shall prepare and submit a report that assesses
505 the performance of the Early Steps Program to the Governor, the
506 President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of
507 Representatives, and the Florida Interagency Coordinating
508 Council for Infants and Toddlers. The department must address
509 the performance standards in subsection (1) and report actual
510 performance compared to the standards for the prior fiscal year.
511 The data used to compile the report must be submitted by each
512 local program office in the state. The department shall report
513 on all of the following measures:
514 (a) Number and percentage of infants and toddlers served
515 with an individualized family support plan.
516 (b) Number and percentage of infants and toddlers
517 demonstrating improved social/emotional skills after the
519 (c) Number and percentage of infants and toddlers
520 demonstrating improved use of knowledge and cognitive skills
521 after the program.
522 (d) Number and percentage of families reporting positive
523 outcomes in their infant’s and toddler’s development as a result
524 of early intervention services.
525 (e) Progress toward meeting the goals of individualized
526 family support plans.
527 (f) Any additional measures established by the department.
528 (6) STATE INTERAGENCY COORDINATING COUNCIL.—The Florida
529 Interagency Coordinating Council for Infants and Toddlers shall
530 serve as the state interagency coordinating council required by
531 34 C.F.R. s. 303.600. The council shall be housed for
532 administrative purposes in the department, and the department
533 shall provide administrative support to the council.
534 (7) TRANSITION TO EDUCATION.—
535 (a) At least 90 days before a child reaches 3 years of age,
536 the local program office shall initiate transition planning to
537 ensure the child’s successful transition from the Early Steps
538 Program to a school district program for children with
539 disabilities or to another program as part of an individual
540 family support plan.
541 (b) At least 3 months before a child reaches 3 years of
542 age, the local program office shall:
543 1. Notify the local school district in which the child
544 resides and the Department of Education that the child may be
545 eligible for special education or related services as determined
546 by the local school district pursuant to ss. 1003.21 and
547 1003.57, unless the child’s parent or legal guardian has opted
548 out of such notification; and
549 2. Upon approval by the child’s parent or legal guardian,
550 convene a transition conference that includes participation of a
551 local school district representative and the parent or legal
552 guardian to discuss options for and availability of services.
553 (c) The local school district shall evaluate and determine
554 a child’s eligibility to receive special education or related
555 services pursuant to part B of the federal Individuals with
556 Disabilities Education Act and ss. 1003.21 and 1003.57.
557 (d) The local program office, in conjunction with the local
558 school district, shall modify a child’s individual family
559 support plan or, if applicable, the local school district shall
560 develop an individual education plan for the child pursuant to
561 ss. 1003.57, 1003.571, and 1003.5715, which identifies special
562 education or related services that the child will receive and
563 the providers or agencies that will provide such services.
564 (e) If a child is determined to be ineligible for school
565 district program services, the local program office and the
566 local school district shall provide the child’s parent or legal
567 guardian with written information on other available services or
568 community resources.
569 (f) The local program office shall negotiate and maintain
570 an interagency agreement with each local school district in its
571 service area pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities
572 Education Act, 20 U.S.C. s. 1435(a)(10)(F). Each interagency
573 agreement must be reviewed at least annually and updated upon
574 review, if needed.
575 Section 7. Subsections (1) and (2) of section 413.092,
576 Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
577 413.092 Blind Babies Program.—
578 (1) The Blind Babies Program is created within the Division
579 of Blind Services of the Department of Education to provide
580 community-based early-intervention education to children from
581 birth through 5 years of age who are blind or visually impaired,
582 and to their parents, families, and caregivers, through
583 community-based provider organizations. The division shall
584 enlist parents, ophthalmologists, pediatricians, schools, the
585 Early Steps Program Infant and Toddlers Early Intervention
586 Programs, and therapists to help identify and enroll blind and
587 visually impaired children, as well as their parents, families,
588 and caregivers, in these educational programs.
589 (2) The program is not an entitlement but shall promote
590 early development with a special emphasis on vision skills to
591 minimize developmental delays. The education shall lay the
592 groundwork for future learning by helping a child progress
593 through normal developmental stages. It shall teach children to
594 discover and make the best use of their skills for future
595 success in school. It shall seek to ensure that visually
596 impaired and blind children enter school as ready to learn as
597 their sighted classmates. The program shall seek to link these
598 children, and their parents, families, and caregivers, to other
599 available services, training, education, and employment programs
600 that could assist these families in the future. This linkage may
601 include referrals to the school districts and the Early Steps
602 Infants and Toddlers Early Intervention Program for assessments
603 to identify any additional services needed which are not
604 provided by the Blind Babies Program. The division shall develop
605 a formula for eligibility based on financial means and may
606 create a means-based matrix to set a copayment fee for families
607 having sufficient financial means.
608 Section 8. Subsection (1) of section 1003.575, Florida
609 Statutes, is amended to read:
610 1003.575 Assistive technology devices; findings;
611 interagency agreements.—Accessibility, utilization, and
612 coordination of appropriate assistive technology devices and
613 services are essential as a young person with disabilities moves
614 from early intervention to preschool, from preschool to school,
615 from one school to another, and from school to employment or
616 independent living. If an individual education plan team makes a
617 recommendation in accordance with State Board of Education rule
618 for a student with a disability, as defined in s. 1003.01(3), to
619 receive an assistive technology assessment, that assessment must
620 be completed within 60 school days after the team’s
621 recommendation. To ensure that an assistive technology device
622 issued to a young person as part of his or her individualized
623 family support plan, individual support plan, or an individual
624 education plan remains with the individual through such
625 transitions, the following agencies shall enter into interagency
626 agreements, as appropriate, to ensure the transaction of
627 assistive technology devices:
628 (1) The Early Steps Florida Infants and Toddlers Early
629 Intervention Program in the Division of Children’s Medical
630 Services of the Department of Health.
632 Interagency agreements entered into pursuant to this section
633 shall provide a framework for ensuring that young persons with
634 disabilities and their families, educators, and employers are
635 informed about the utilization and coordination of assistive
636 technology devices and services that may assist in meeting
637 transition needs, and shall establish a mechanism by which a
638 young person or his or her parent may request that an assistive
639 technology device remain with the young person as he or she
640 moves through the continuum from home to school to postschool.
641 Section 9. Section 391.303, Florida Statutes, is repealed.
642 Section 10. Section 391.304, Florida Statutes, is repealed.
643 Section 11. Section 391.305, Florida Statutes, is repealed.
644 Section 12. Section 391.306, Florida Statutes, is repealed.
645 Section 13. Section 391.307, Florida Statutes, is repealed.
646 Section 14. This act shall take effect July 1, 2016.