Florida Senate - 2018 CS for CS for SB 590
By the Committees on Appropriations; and Children, Families, and
Elder Affairs; and Senators Garcia and Campbell
1 A bill to be entitled
2 An act relating to child welfare; creating s. 39.4015,
3 F.S.; providing legislative findings and intent;
4 defining terms; requiring the Department of Children
5 and Families, in collaboration with sheriffs’ offices
6 that conduct child protective investigations and
7 community-based care lead agencies, to develop a
8 statewide family-finding program; specifying that
9 implementation of the family-finding program is
10 contingent upon the appropriation of funds by the
11 Legislature; specifying when a family finding is
12 required; requiring the department and community-based
13 care lead agencies to document strategies taken to
14 engage relatives and kin; providing strategies to
15 engage relatives and kin; requiring the department and
16 community-based care lead agencies to use diligent
17 efforts in family finding; providing that certain
18 actions do not constitute family finding; requiring
19 determinations by the court; requiring the department
20 to adopt rules; amending s. 39.402, F.S.; requiring
21 the court to request that parents consent to providing
22 access to additional records; upon implementation of
23 the family-finding program, requiring a judge to
24 appoint a surrogate parent for certain children;
25 requiring the court to place on the record its
26 determinations regarding the department’s or the
27 community-based lead agency’s reasonable engagement in
28 family finding; providing guidelines for determining
29 reasonableness; amending s. 39.506, F.S.; upon
30 implementation of the family-finding program,
31 requiring the court to make a determination regarding
32 the department’s or the community-based lead agency’s
33 reasonable engagement in family finding; providing
34 guidelines for determining reasonableness; amending s.
35 39.507, F.S.; upon implementation of the family
36 finding program, requiring the court to make a
37 determination regarding the department’s or the
38 community-based lead agency’s reasonable engagement in
39 family finding; providing guidelines for determining
40 reasonableness; requiring the court to advise parents
41 that their parental rights may be terminated and the
42 child’s out-of-home placement may become permanent
43 under certain circumstances; creating s. 39.5086,
44 F.S.; providing legislative findings and intent;
45 defining terms; providing the purpose of a kinship
46 navigator program; contingent upon the appropriation
47 of funds by the Legislature, requiring each community
48 based care lead agency to establish a kinship
49 navigator program; providing requirements for
50 programs; requiring the department to adopt rules;
51 amending s. 39.521, F.S.; upon implementation of the
52 family-finding program, requiring the court to make a
53 determination regarding the department’s or the
54 community-based lead agency’s reasonable engagement in
55 family finding; providing guidelines for determining
56 reasonableness; conforming provisions to changes made
57 by the act; amending s. 39.6012, F.S.; revising the
58 types of records that must be attached to a case plan
59 and updated throughout the judicial review process;
60 upon implementation of the family-finding program,
61 requiring that documentation of the family-finding
62 efforts of the department and the community-based care
63 lead agency be included in certain case plans;
64 amending s. 39.604, F.S.; revising legislative
65 findings and intent; revising enrollment and
66 attendance requirements for children in an early
67 education or child care program; conforming cross
68 references; providing requirements and procedures for
69 maintaining the educational stability of a child
70 during the child’s placement in out-of-home care, or
71 subsequent changes in out-of-home placement; requiring
72 that a child’s transition from a child care or early
73 education program be pursuant to a plan that meets
74 certain requirements; amending s. 39.6251, F.S.;
75 requiring the case manager for a young adult in foster
76 care to consult with the young adult when updating the
77 case plan and the transition plan and arrangements;
78 deleting a provision authorizing case management
79 reviews to be conducted by telephone under certain
80 circumstances; amending s. 39.701, F.S.; requiring the
81 court to appoint a surrogate parent if the child is
82 under the age of school entry; upon implementation of
83 the family-finding program, requiring the court to
84 determine if the department and community-based lead
85 agency have continued to reasonably engage in family
86 finding; providing guidelines for determining the
87 level of reasonableness; amending s. 409.166, F.S.;
88 defining terms; providing conditions for the
89 department to provide adoption assistance payments to
90 adoptive parents of certain children; providing that
91 children and young adults receiving benefits through
92 the adoption assistance program are ineligible for
93 other specified benefits and services; providing
94 additional conditions for eligibility for adoption
95 assistance; contingent upon the appropriation of funds
96 by the Legislature, requiring the department to create
97 a pilot Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance Program;
98 providing definitions; specifying eligibility and
99 limitations; establishing a room and board rate for
100 guardians in certain circuits who are eligible for the
101 program; providing an exception to licensing standards
102 in certain circuits under certain circumstances;
103 providing effective dates.
105 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
107 Section 1. Effective January 1, 2019, section 39.4015,
108 Florida Statutes, is created to read:
109 39.4015 Family finding.—
110 (1) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND INTENT.—
111 (a) The Legislature finds that every child who is in out
112 of-home care has the goal of finding a permanent home, whether
113 achieved by reunifying the child with his or her parents or
114 finding another permanent connection, such as adoption or legal
115 guardianship with a relative or nonrelative who has a
116 significant relationship with the child.
117 (b) The Legislature finds that while legal permanency is
118 important to a child in out-of-home care, emotional permanency
119 helps increase the likelihood that children will achieve
120 stability and well-being and successfully transition to
121 independent adulthood.
122 (c) The Legislature also finds that research has
123 consistently shown that placing a child within his or her own
124 family reduces the trauma of being removed from his or her home,
125 is less likely to result in placement disruptions, and enhances
126 prospects for finding a permanent family if the child cannot
127 return home.
128 (d) The Legislature further finds that the primary purpose
129 of family finding is to facilitate legal and emotional
130 permanency for children who are in out-of-home care by finding
131 and engaging their relatives.
132 (e) It is the intent of the Legislature that every child in
133 out-of-home care be afforded the advantages that can be gained
134 from the use of family finding to establish caring and long-term
135 or permanent connections and relationships for children and
136 youth in out-of-home care, as well as to establish a long-term
137 emotional support network with family members and other adults
138 who may not be able to take the child into their home but who
139 want to stay connected with the child.
140 (2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:
141 (a) “Diligent efforts” means the use of methods and
142 techniques including, but not limited to, interviews with
143 immediate and extended family and kin, genograms, eco-mapping,
144 case mining, cold calls, and specialized computer searches.
145 (b) “Family finding” means an intensive relative search and
146 engagement technique used in identifying family and other close
147 adults for children in out-of-home care and involving them in
148 developing and carrying out a plan for the emotional and legal
149 permanency of a child.
150 (c) “Family group decisionmaking” is a generic term that
151 includes a number of approaches in which family members and
152 fictive kin are brought together to make decisions about how to
153 care for their children and develop a plan for services. The
154 term includes family team conferencing, family team meetings,
155 family group conferencing, family team decisionmaking, family
156 unity meetings, and team decisionmaking, which may consist of
157 several phases and employ a trained facilitator or coordinator.
158 (d) “Fictive kin” means an individual who is unrelated to
159 the child by either birth or marriage, but has such a close
160 emotional relationship with the child that he or she may be
161 considered part of the family.
162 (3) FAMILY-FINDING PROGRAM.—The department, in
163 collaboration with sheriffs’ offices that conduct child
164 protective investigations and community-based care lead
165 agencies, shall develop a formal family-finding program to be
166 implemented statewide by child protective investigators and
167 community-based care lead agencies. Implementation of the
168 program is contingent upon the appropriation of funds by the
169 Legislature specifically for the program.
170 (a) Family finding is required as soon as a child comes to
171 the attention of the department and throughout the duration of
172 the case, and finding and engaging with as many family members
173 and fictive kin as possible for each child who may help with
174 care or support for the child is considered a best practice. The
175 department or community-based care lead agency must specifically
176 document strategies taken to locate and engage relatives and
177 kin. Strategies of engagement may include, but are not limited
178 to, asking the relatives and kin to:
179 1. Participate in a family group decisionmaking conference,
180 family team conferencing, or other family meetings aimed at
181 developing or supporting the family service plan;
182 2. Attend visitations with the child;
183 3. Assist in transportation of the child;
184 4. Provide respite or child care services; or
185 5. Provide actual kinship care.
186 (b) The department and the community-based care lead
187 agencies must use diligent efforts in family finding, must
188 continue those efforts until multiple relatives and kin are
189 identified, and must go beyond basic searching tools by
190 exploring alternative tools and methodologies. Efforts by the
191 department and the community-based care lead agency may include,
192 but are not limited to:
193 1. Searching for and locating adult relatives and kin.
194 2. Identifying and building positive connections between
195 the child and the child’s relatives and fictive kin.
196 3. Supporting the engagement of relatives and fictive kin
197 in social service planning and delivery of services and creating
198 a network of extended family support to assist in remedying the
199 concerns that led to the child becoming involved with the child
200 welfare system, when appropriate.
201 4. Maintaining family connections, when possible.
202 5. Keeping siblings together in care, when in the best
203 interest of each child and when possible.
204 (c) A basic computer search using the Internet or attempts
205 to contact known relatives at a last known address or telephone
206 number do not constitute effective family finding.
207 (d) The court’s inquiry and determination regarding family
208 finding should be made at each stage of the case, including a
209 shelter hearing conducted pursuant to s. 39.402. The court shall
210 place its determinations on the record as to whether the
211 department or community-based care lead agency has reasonably
212 engaged in family finding. The level of reasonableness is to be
213 determined by the length of the case and the amount of time the
214 department or community-based care lead agency has had to begin
215 or continue the process.
216 (4) RULEMAKING.—The department shall adopt rules to
217 implement this section.
218 Section 2. Paragraphs (c) and (d) of subsection (11) of
219 section 39.402, Florida Statutes, and subsection (17) of that
220 section are amended to read:
221 39.402 Placement in a shelter.—
223 (c) The court shall request that the parents consent to
224 provide access to the child’s child care records, early
225 education program records, or other educational records and
226 provide information to the court, the department or its contract
227 agencies, and any guardian ad litem or attorney for the child.
228 If a parent is unavailable or unable to consent or withholds
229 consent and the court determines access to the records and
230 information is necessary to provide services to the child, the
231 court shall issue an order granting access.
232 (d) The court may appoint a surrogate parent or may refer
233 the child to the district school superintendent for appointment
234 of a surrogate parent if the child has or is suspected of having
235 a disability and the parent is unavailable pursuant to s.
236 39.0016(3)(b). If the child is under the age of school entry,
237 the court must make the appointment.
238 (17) At the shelter hearing, the court shall inquire of the
239 parent whether the parent has relatives who might be considered
240 as a placement for the child. The parent shall provide to the
241 court and all parties identification and location information
242 regarding the relatives. The court shall advise the parent that
243 the parent has a continuing duty to inform the department of any
244 relative who should be considered for placement of the child.
245 Upon implementation of the program authorized under s. 39.4015,
246 the court shall place its determinations on the record as to
247 whether the department or community-based care lead agency has
248 reasonably engaged in family finding. The level of
249 reasonableness is to be determined by the length of the case and
250 amount of time the department or community-based care lead
251 agency has had to begin or continue the process.
252 Section 3. Present subsection (9) of section 39.506,
253 Florida Statutes, is redesignated as subsection (10), and a new
254 subsection (9) is added to that section, to read:
255 39.506 Arraignment hearings.—
256 (9) Upon implementation of the program authorized under s.
257 39.4015, the court shall review whether the department or
258 community-based care lead agency has reasonably engaged in
259 family finding and make a written determination as to its
260 findings. The level of reasonableness is determined by the
261 length of the case and amount of time the department or
262 community-based care lead agency has had to begin or continue
263 the process.
264 Section 4. Paragraph (c) of subsection (7) of section
265 39.507, Florida Statutes, is amended, and paragraph (d) is added
266 to that subsection, to read:
267 39.507 Adjudicatory hearings; orders of adjudication.—
269 (c) If a court adjudicates a child dependent and the child
270 is in out-of-home care, the court shall inquire of the parent or
271 parents whether the parents have relatives who might be
272 considered as a placement for the child.
The court shall advise
273 the parents that, if the parents fail to substantially comply
274 with the case plan, their parental rights may be terminated and
275 that the child’s out-of-home placement may become permanent. The
276 parent or parents shall provide to the court and all parties
277 identification and location information of the relatives. Upon
278 implementation of the program authorized under s. 39.4015, the
279 court shall review whether the department or community-based
280 care lead agency has reasonably engaged in family finding and
281 make a written determination as to its findings. The level of
282 reasonableness is determined by the length of the case and
283 amount of time the department or community-based care lead
284 agency has had to begin or continue the process.
285 (d) The court shall advise the parents that, if they fail
286 to substantially comply with the case plan, their parental
287 rights may be terminated and that the child’s out-of-home
288 placement may become permanent.
289 Section 5. Section 39.5086, Florida Statutes, is created to
291 39.5086 Kinship navigator programs.—
292 (1) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND INTENT.—
293 (a) The Legislature finds that an increasing number of
294 relatives and fictive kin are assuming the responsibility of
295 raising children because the parents of these children are
296 unable to care for them.
297 (b) The Legislature also finds that these kinship
298 caregivers perform a vital function by providing homes for
299 children who would otherwise be at risk of foster care placement
300 and that kinship care is a crucial option in the spectrum of
301 out-of-home care available to children in need.
302 (c) The Legislature finds that children living with kinship
303 caregivers experience increased placement stability, are less
304 likely to reenter care if they are reunified with their parents,
305 and have better behavioral and mental health outcomes.
306 (d) The Legislature further finds that these kinship
307 caregivers may face a number of difficulties and need assistance
308 to support the health and well-being of the children in their
309 care. These needs include, but are not limited to, financial
310 assistance, legal assistance, respite care, child care,
311 specialized training, and counseling.
312 (e) It is the intent of the Legislature to provide for the
313 establishment and implementation of procedures and protocols
314 that are likely to increase and adequately support appropriate
315 and safe kinship care placements.
316 (2) DEFINITIONS.—As used this section, the term:
317 (a) “Fictive kin” means an individual who is unrelated to
318 the child by either birth or marriage, but has such a close
319 emotional relationship with the child that he or she may be
320 considered part of the family.
321 (b) “Kinship care” means the full-time care of a child
322 placed in out-of-home care by the court in the home of a
323 relative or fictive kin.
324 (c) “Kinship navigator program” means a statewide program
325 designed to ensure that kinship caregivers are provided with
326 necessary resources for the preservation of the family.
327 (d) “Relative” means an individual who is caring full time
328 for a child placed in out-of-home care by the court and who:
329 1. Is related to the child within the fifth degree by blood
330 or marriage to the parent or stepparent of the child; or
331 2. Is related to a half-sibling of that child within the
332 fifth degree by blood or marriage to the parent or stepparent.
333 (3) PURPOSE AND SERVICES.—
334 (a) The purpose of a kinship navigator program is to help
335 relative caregivers and fictive kin in the child welfare system
336 to navigate the broad range of services available to them and
337 the children from public, private, community, and faith-based
339 (b) Contingent upon a specific appropriation, effective
340 January 1, 2019, each community-based care lead agency shall
341 establish a kinship navigator program. In order to meet the
342 requirements of a kinship navigator program, the program must:
343 1. Be coordinated with other state or local agencies that
344 promote service coordination or provide information and referral
345 services, including any entities that participate in the Florida
346 211 Network, to avoid duplication or fragmentation of services
347 to kinship care families;
348 2. Be planned and operated in consultation with kinship
349 caregivers and organizations representing them, youth raised by
350 kinship caregivers, relevant governmental agencies, and relevant
351 community-based or faith-based organizations;
352 3. Establish a toll-free telephone hotline to provide
353 information to link kinship caregivers, kinship support group
354 facilitators, and kinship service providers to:
355 a. One another;
356 b. Eligibility and enrollment information for federal,
357 state, and local benefits;
358 c. Relevant training to assist kinship caregivers in
359 caregiving and in obtaining benefits and services; and
360 d. Relevant knowledge related to legal options available
361 for child custody, other legal assistance, and help in obtaining
362 legal services.
363 4. Provide outreach to kinship care families, including by
364 establishing, distributing, and updating a kinship care website,
365 or other relevant guides or outreach materials; and
366 5. Promote partnerships between public and private
367 agencies, including schools, community-based or faith-based
368 organizations, and relevant governmental agencies, to increase
369 their knowledge of the needs of kinship care families to promote
370 better services for those families.
371 (4) RULEMAKING.—The department shall adopt rules to
372 implement this section.
373 Section 6. Paragraph (e) of subsection (1) of section
374 39.521, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
375 39.521 Disposition hearings; powers of disposition.—
376 (1) A disposition hearing shall be conducted by the court,
377 if the court finds that the facts alleged in the petition for
378 dependency were proven in the adjudicatory hearing, or if the
379 parents or legal custodians have consented to the finding of
380 dependency or admitted the allegations in the petition, have
381 failed to appear for the arraignment hearing after proper
382 notice, or have not been located despite a diligent search
383 having been conducted.
384 (e) The court shall, in its written order of disposition,
385 include all of the following:
386 1. The placement or custody of the child.
387 2. Special conditions of placement and visitation.
388 3. Evaluation, counseling, treatment activities, and other
389 actions to be taken by the parties, if ordered.
390 4. The persons or entities responsible for supervising or
391 monitoring services to the child and parent.
392 5. Continuation or discharge of the guardian ad litem, as
394 6. The date, time, and location of the next scheduled
395 review hearing, which must occur within the earlier of:
396 a. Ninety days after the disposition hearing;
397 b. Ninety days after the court accepts the case plan;
398 c. Six months after the date of the last review hearing; or
399 d. Six months after the date of the child’s removal from
400 his or her home, if no review hearing has been held since the
401 child’s removal from the home.
402 7. If the child is in an out-of-home placement, child
403 support to be paid by the parents, or the guardian of the
404 child’s estate if possessed of assets which under law may be
405 disbursed for the care, support, and maintenance of the child.
406 The court may exercise jurisdiction over all child support
407 matters, shall adjudicate the financial obligation, including
408 health insurance, of the child’s parents or guardian, and shall
409 enforce the financial obligation as provided in chapter 61. The
410 state’s child support enforcement agency shall enforce child
411 support orders under this section in the same manner as child
412 support orders under chapter 61. Placement of the child shall
413 not be contingent upon issuance of a support order.
414 8.a. If the court does not commit the child to the
415 temporary legal custody of an adult relative, legal custodian,
416 or other adult approved by the court, the disposition order must
417 shall include the reasons for such a decision and, upon
418 implementation of the program authorized under s. 39.4015, shall
419 include a written determination as to whether diligent efforts
420 were made by the department and the community-based care lead
421 agency reasonably engaged in family finding in attempting to
422 locate an adult relative, legal custodian, or other adult
423 willing to care for the child in order to present that placement
424 option to the court instead of placement with the department.
425 The level of reasonableness is determined by the length of the
426 case and amount of time the department or community-based care
427 lead agency has had to begin or continue the process.
428 b. If no suitable relative is found and the child is placed
429 with the department or a legal custodian or other adult approved
430 by the court, both the department and the court shall consider
431 transferring temporary legal custody to an adult relative
432 approved by the court at a later date, but neither the
433 department nor the court is obligated to so place the child if
434 it is in the child’s best interest to remain in the current
437 For the purposes of this section, “diligent efforts to locate an
438 adult relative” means a search similar to the diligent search
439 for a parent, but without the continuing obligation to search
440 after an initial adequate search is completed.
441 9. Other requirements necessary to protect the health,
442 safety, and well-being of the child, to preserve the stability
443 of the child’s child care, early education program, or any other
444 educational placement, and to promote family preservation or
445 reunification whenever possible.
446 Section 7. Paragraph (b) of subsection (2) and paragraph
447 (a) of subsection (3) of section 39.6012, Florida Statutes, are
448 amended to read:
449 39.6012 Case plan tasks; services.—
450 (2) The case plan must include all available information
451 that is relevant to the child’s care including, at a minimum:
452 (b) A description of the plan for ensuring that the child
453 receives safe and proper care and that services are provided to
454 the child in order to address the child’s needs. To the extent
455 available and accessible, the following health, mental health,
456 and education information and records of the child must be
457 attached to the case plan and updated throughout the judicial
458 review process:
459 1. The names and addresses of the child’s health, mental
460 health, and educational providers;
461 2. The child’s grade level performance;
462 3. The child’s school record or, if the child is under the
463 age of school entry, any records from a child care program,
464 early education program, or preschool program;
465 4. Documentation of compliance or noncompliance with the
466 attendance requirements under s. 39.604, if the child is
467 enrolled in a child care program, early education program, or
468 preschool program;
469 5. 4. Assurances that the child’s placement takes into
470 account proximity to the school in which the child is enrolled
471 at the time of placement;
472 6. 5. A record of The child’s immunizations;
473 7. 6. The child’s known medical history, including any known
474 health problems;
475 8. 7. The child’s medications, if any; and
476 9. 8. Any other relevant health, mental health, and
477 education information concerning the child.
478 (3) In addition to any other requirement, if the child is
479 in an out-of-home placement, the case plan must include:
480 (a) A description of the type of placement in which the
481 child is to be living and, if the child has been placed with the
482 department and the program as authorized under s. 39.4015 has
483 been implemented, whether the department and the community-based
484 care lead agency have reasonably engaged in family finding to
485 locate an adult relative, legal custodian, or other adult
486 willing to care for the child in order to present that placement
487 option to the court instead of placement with the department.
488 Section 8. Section 39.604, Florida Statutes, is amended to
490 39.604 Rilya Wilson Act; short title; legislative intent;
491 requirements; attendance; stability and transitions reporting
493 (1) SHORT TITLE.—This section may be cited as the “Rilya
494 Wilson Act.”
495 (2) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND INTENT.—
496 (a) The Legislature finds that children from birth to age 5
497 years are particularly vulnerable to maltreatment and that they
498 enter out-of-home care in disproportionately high numbers.
499 (b) The Legislature also finds that children who are abused
500 or neglected are at high risk of experiencing physical and
501 mental health problems and problems with language and
502 communication, cognitive development, and social and emotional
504 (c) The Legislature also finds that providing early
505 intervention and services, as well as quality child care and
506 early education programs to support the healthy development of
507 these young children, can have positive effects that last
508 throughout childhood and into adulthood.
509 (d) The Legislature also finds that the needs of each of
510 these children are unique, and while some children may be best
511 served by a quality child care or early education program,
512 others may need more attention and nurturing that can best be
513 provided by a stay-at-home caregiver The Legislature recognizes
514 that children who are in the care of the state due to abuse,
515 neglect, or abandonment are at increased risk of poor school
516 performance and other behavioral and social problems.
517 (e) It is the intent of the Legislature that children who
518 are currently in out-of-home the care of the state be provided
519 with an age-appropriate developmental child care or early
520 education arrangement that is in the best interest of the child
521 education program to help ameliorate the negative consequences
522 of abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
523 (3) REQUIREMENTS.—
524 (a) A child from birth to the age of school entry, who is
525 under court-ordered protective supervision or in out-of-home
526 care and is the custody of the Family Safety Program Office of
527 the Department of Children and Families or a community-based
528 lead agency, and enrolled in an a licensed early education or
529 child care program must attend the program 5 days a week unless
530 the court grants an exception due to the court determining it is
531 in the best interest of a child from birth to age 3 years:
532 1. With a stay-at-home caregiver to remain at home.
533 2. With a caregiver who works less than full time to attend
534 an early education or child care program fewer than 5 days a
536 (b) Notwithstanding s. 39.202, the department of Children
537 and Families must notify operators of an the licensed early
538 education or child care program, subject to the reporting
539 requirements of this act, of the enrollment of any child from
540 birth to the age of school entry, under court-ordered protective
541 supervision or in out-of-home care. If the custody of the Family
542 Safety Program Office of the Department of Children and Families
543 or a community-based lead agency. When a child is enrolled in an
544 early education or child care program regulated by the
545 department, the child’s attendance in the program must be a
546 required task action in the safety plan or the case plan
547 developed for the child pursuant to this chapter. An exemption
548 to participating in the licensed early education or child care
549 program 5 days a week may be granted by the court.
550 (4) ATTENDANCE AND REPORTING REQUIREMENTS.—
551 (a) A child enrolled in an a licensed early education or
552 child care program who meets the requirements of subsection (3)
553 may not be withdrawn from the program without the prior written
554 approval of the department Family Safety Program Office of the
555 Department of Children and Families or the community-based care
556 lead agency.
557 (b)1. If a child covered by this section is absent from the
558 program on a day when he or she is supposed to be present, the
559 person with whom the child resides must report the absence to
560 the program by the end of the business day. If the person with
561 whom the child resides, whether the parent or caregiver, fails
562 to timely report the absence, the absence is considered to be
563 unexcused. The program shall report any unexcused absence or
564 seven consecutive excused absences of a child who is enrolled in
565 the program and covered by this act to the local designated
566 staff of the Family Safety Program Office of the department of
567 Children and Families or the community-based care lead agency by
568 the end of the business day following the unexcused absence or
569 seventh consecutive excused absence.
570 2. The department or community-based care lead agency shall
571 conduct a site visit to the residence of the child upon
572 receiving a report of two consecutive unexcused absences or
573 seven consecutive excused absences.
574 3. If the site visit results in a determination that the
575 child is missing, the department or community-based care lead
576 agency shall follow the procedure set forth in s. 39.0141 report
577 the child as missing to a law enforcement agency and proceed
578 with the necessary actions to locate the child pursuant to
579 procedures for locating missing children.
580 4. If the site visit results in a determination that the
581 child is not missing, the parent or caregiver shall be notified
582 that failure to ensure that the child attends the licensed early
583 education or child care program is a violation of the safety
584 plan or the case plan. If more than two site visits are
585 conducted pursuant to this subsection, staff shall initiate
586 action to notify the court of the parent or caregiver’s
587 noncompliance with the case plan.
588 (5) EDUCATIONAL STABILITY.—Just as educational stability is
589 important for school-age children, it is also important to
590 minimize disruptions to secure attachments and stable
591 relationships with supportive caregivers of children from birth
592 to school age and to ensure that these attachments are not
593 disrupted due to placement in out-of-home care or subsequent
594 changes in out-of-home placement.
595 (a) A child must be allowed to remain in the child care or
596 early educational setting that he or she attended before entry
597 into out-of-home care, unless the program is not in the best
598 interest of the child.
599 (b) If it is not in the best interest of the child for him
600 or her to remain in his or her child care or early education
601 setting upon entry into out-of-home care, the caregiver must
602 work with the case manager, guardian ad litem, child care and
603 educational staff, and educational surrogate, if one has been
604 appointed, to determine the best setting for the child. Such
605 setting may be a child care provider that receives a Gold Seal
606 Quality Care designation pursuant to s. 402.281, a provider
607 participating in a quality rating system, a licensed child care
608 provider, a public school provider, or a license-exempt child
609 care provider, including religious-exempt and registered
610 providers, and non-public schools.
611 (c) The department and providers of early care and
612 education shall develop protocols to ensure continuity if
613 children are required to leave a program because of a change in
614 out-of-home placement.
615 (6) TRANSITIONS.—In the absence of an emergency, if a child
616 from birth to school age leaves a child care or early education
617 program, the transition must be pursuant to a plan that involves
618 cooperation and sharing of information among all persons
619 involved, that respects the child’s developmental stage and
620 associated psychological needs, and that allows for a gradual
621 transition from one setting to another.
622 Section 9. Paragraph (b) of subsection (6) and subsection
623 (7) of section 39.6251, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
624 39.6251 Continuing care for young adults.—
625 (6) A young adult who is between the ages of 18 and 21 and
626 who has left care may return to care by applying to the
627 community-based care lead agency for readmission. The community
628 based care lead agency shall readmit the young adult if he or
629 she continues to meet the eligibility requirements in this
631 (b) Within 30 days after the young adult has been
632 readmitted to care, the community-based care lead agency shall
633 assign a case manager to update the case plan and the transition
634 plan and to arrange for the required services. Updates to the
635 case plan and the transition plan and arrangements for the
636 required services Such activities shall be undertaken in
637 consultation with the young adult. The department shall petition
638 the court to reinstate jurisdiction over the young adult.
639 Notwithstanding s. 39.013(2), the court shall resume
640 jurisdiction over the young adult if the department establishes
641 that he or she continues to meet the eligibility requirements in
642 this section.
643 (7) During each period of time that a young adult is in
644 care, the community-based lead agency shall provide regular case
645 management reviews that must include at least monthly contact
646 with the case manager. If a young adult lives outside the
647 service area of his or her community-based care lead agency,
648 monthly contact may occur by telephone.
649 Section 10. Paragraph (c) of subsection (2) of section
650 39.701, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
651 39.701 Judicial review.—
652 (2) REVIEW HEARINGS FOR CHILDREN YOUNGER THAN 18 YEARS OF
654 (c) Review determinations.—The court and any citizen review
655 panel shall take into consideration the information contained in
656 the social services study and investigation and all medical,
657 psychological, and educational records that support the terms of
658 the case plan; testimony by the social services agency, the
659 parent, the foster parent or legal custodian, the guardian ad
660 litem or surrogate parent for educational decisionmaking if one
661 has been appointed for the child, and any other person deemed
662 appropriate; and any relevant and material evidence submitted to
663 the court, including written and oral reports to the extent of
664 their probative value. These reports and evidence may be
665 received by the court in its effort to determine the action to
666 be taken with regard to the child and may be relied upon to the
667 extent of their probative value, even though not competent in an
668 adjudicatory hearing. In its deliberations, the court and any
669 citizen review panel shall seek to determine:
670 1. If the parent was advised of the right to receive
671 assistance from any person or social service agency in the
672 preparation of the case plan.
673 2. If the parent has been advised of the right to have
674 counsel present at the judicial review or citizen review
675 hearings. If not so advised, the court or citizen review panel
676 shall advise the parent of such right.
677 3. If a guardian ad litem needs to be appointed for the
678 child in a case in which a guardian ad litem has not previously
679 been appointed or if there is a need to continue a guardian ad
680 litem in a case in which a guardian ad litem has been appointed.
681 4. Who holds the rights to make educational decisions for
682 the child. If appropriate, the court may refer the child to the
683 district school superintendent for appointment of a surrogate
684 parent or may itself appoint a surrogate parent under the
685 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and s. 39.0016. If
686 the child is under the age of school entry, the court must make
687 the appointment.
688 5. The compliance or lack of compliance of all parties with
689 applicable items of the case plan, including the parents’
690 compliance with child support orders.
691 6. The compliance or lack of compliance with a visitation
692 contract between the parent and the social service agency for
693 contact with the child, including the frequency, duration, and
694 results of the parent-child visitation and the reason for any
696 7. The frequency, kind, and duration of contacts among
697 siblings who have been separated during placement, as well as
698 any efforts undertaken to reunite separated siblings if doing so
699 is in the best interest of the child.
700 8. The compliance or lack of compliance of the parent in
701 meeting specified financial obligations pertaining to the care
702 of the child, including the reason for failure to comply, if
704 9. Whether the child is receiving safe and proper care
705 according to s. 39.6012, including, but not limited to, the
706 appropriateness of the child’s current placement, including
707 whether the child is in a setting that is as family-like and as
708 close to the parent’s home as possible, consistent with the
709 child’s best interests and special needs, and including
710 maintaining stability in the child’s educational placement, as
711 documented by assurances from the community-based care provider
713 a. The placement of the child takes into account the
714 appropriateness of the current educational setting and the
715 proximity to the school in which the child is enrolled at the
716 time of placement.
717 b. The community-based care agency has coordinated with
718 appropriate local educational agencies to ensure that the child
719 remains in the school in which the child is enrolled at the time
720 of placement.
721 10. Upon implementation of the program authorized under s.
722 39.4015, whether the department or community-based care lead
723 agency continues to reasonably engage in family finding. The
724 level of reasonableness is determined by the length of the case
725 and amount of time the department or community-based care lead
726 agency has had to continue the process.
727 11. 10. A projected date likely for the child’s return home
728 or other permanent placement.
729 12. 11. When appropriate, the basis for the unwillingness or
730 inability of the parent to become a party to a case plan. The
731 court and the citizen review panel shall determine if the
732 efforts of the social service agency to secure party
733 participation in a case plan were sufficient.
734 13. 12. For a child who has reached 13 years of age but is
735 not yet 18 years of age, the adequacy of the child’s preparation
736 for adulthood and independent living. For a child who is 15
737 years of age or older, the court shall determine if appropriate
738 steps are being taken for the child to obtain a driver license
739 or learner’s driver license.
740 14. 13. If amendments to the case plan are required.
741 Amendments to the case plan must be made as provided in under s.
743 Section 11. Subsections (4) and (5) of section 409.166,
744 Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
745 409.166 Children within the child welfare system; adoption
746 assistance program.—
747 (4) ADOPTION ASSISTANCE.—
748 (a) For purposes of administering payments under paragraph
749 (d), the term:
750 1. “Child” means an individual who has not attained 21
751 years of age.
752 2. “Young adult” means an individual who has attained 18
753 years of age but who has not attained 21 years of age.
754 (b) (a) A maintenance subsidy shall be granted only when all
755 other resources available to a child have been thoroughly
756 explored and it can be clearly established that this is the most
757 acceptable plan for providing permanent placement for the child.
758 The maintenance subsidy may not be used as a substitute for
759 adoptive parent recruitment or as an inducement to adopt a child
760 who might be placed without providing a subsidy. However, it
761 shall be the policy of the department that no child be denied
762 adoption if providing a maintenance subsidy would make adoption
763 possible. The best interest of the child shall be the deciding
764 factor in every case. This section does not prohibit foster
765 parents from applying to adopt a child placed in their care.
766 Foster parents or relative caregivers must be asked if they
767 would adopt without a maintenance subsidy.
768 (c) (b) The department shall provide adoption assistance to
769 the adoptive parents, subject to specific appropriation, in the
770 amount of $5,000 annually, paid on a monthly basis, for the
771 support and maintenance of a child until the 18th birthday of
772 such child or in an amount other than $5,000 annually as
773 determined by the adoptive parents and the department and
774 memorialized in a written agreement between the adoptive parents
775 and the department. The agreement shall take into consideration
776 the circumstances of the adoptive parents and the needs of the
777 child being adopted. The amount of subsidy may be adjusted based
778 upon changes in the needs of the child or circumstances of the
779 adoptive parents. Changes may shall not be made without the
780 concurrence of the adoptive parents. However, in no case shall
781 the amount of the monthly payment exceed the foster care
782 maintenance payment that would have been paid during the same
783 period if the child had been in a foster family home.
784 (d) Contingent upon a specific appropriation, adoption
785 assistance payments may be made for a child up to 21 years of
786 age whose adoptive parent entered into an initial adoption
787 assistance agreement after the child reached 16 years of age but
788 before the child reached 18 years of age if the child is:
789 1. Completing secondary education or a program leading to
790 an equivalent credential;
791 2. Enrolled in an institution that provides postsecondary
792 or vocational education;
793 3. Participating in a program or activity designed to
794 promote or eliminate barriers to employment;
795 4. Employed for at least 80 hours per month; or
796 5. Unable to participate in programs or activities listed
797 in subparagraphs 1.-4. full time due to a physical,
798 intellectual, emotional, or psychiatric condition that limits
799 participation. Any such barrier to participation must be
800 supported by documentation in the child’s case file or school or
801 medical records.
802 (e) A child or young adult receiving benefits through the
803 adoption assistance program is not eligible to simultaneously
804 receive relative caregiver benefits under s. 39.5085 or
805 postsecondary education services and support under s. 409.1451.
806 (f) (c) The department may provide adoption assistance to
807 the adoptive parents, subject to specific appropriation, for
808 medical assistance initiated after the adoption of the child for
809 medical, surgical, hospital, and related services needed as a
810 result of a physical or mental condition of the child which
811 existed before the adoption and is not covered by Medicaid,
812 Children’s Medical Services, or Children’s Mental Health
813 Services. Such assistance may be initiated at any time but shall
814 terminate on or before the child’s 18th birthday.
815 (5) ELIGIBILITY FOR SERVICES.—
816 (a) As a condition of providing adoption assistance under
817 this section and before the adoption is finalized, the adoptive
818 parents must have an approved adoption home study and must enter
819 into an adoption-assistance agreement with the department which
820 specifies the financial assistance and other services to be
822 (b) A child who is handicapped at the time of adoption is
823 shall be eligible for services through the Children’s Medical
824 Services network established under part I of chapter 391 if the
825 child was eligible for such services before prior to the
827 Section 12. (1) Contingent upon a specific appropriation,
828 effective August 1, 2018, the Department of Children and
829 Families shall establish and operate a pilot Title IV-E
830 Guardianship Assistance Program in two circuits in this state.
831 The program will provide payments at a rate of $333 per month
832 for persons who meet the Title IV-E eligibility requirements as
833 outlined in s. 473(d)(1)(A) of the Social Security Act.
834 (2) For purposes of administering this program, the term:
835 (a) “Child” means an individual who has not attained 21
836 years of age.
837 (b) “Young adult” means an individual who has attained 18
838 years of age but who has not attained 21 years of age.
839 (c) “Fictive kin” means a person unrelated by birth,
840 marriage, or adoption who has an emotionally significant
841 relationship, which possesses the characteristics of a family
842 relationship, to a child.
843 (3) Caregivers enrolled in the Relative Caregiver or
844 Nonrelative Caregiver Program prior to August 1, 2018, are not
845 eligible to participate in the Title IV-E Guardianship
846 Assistance Program pilot. Effective August 1, 2018, eligible
847 caregivers enrolled in the pilot may not simultaneously have
848 payments made on the child’s behalf through the Relative
849 Caregiver Program under s. 39.5085, postsecondary education
850 services and supports under s. 409.1451, or child-only cash
851 assistance under chapter 414.
852 (4) Notwithstanding s. 409.145(4), in the two circuits
853 where the Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance Program pilot is
854 established, the room and board rate for guardians who are
855 eligible for the program will be $333 per month.
856 (5) Notwithstanding s. 409.175(11)(a), in the two circuits
857 where the Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance Program pilot is
858 established, an exception of licensing standards may be provided
859 for those standards where a waiver has been granted.
860 Section 13. Except as otherwise expressly provided in this
861 act, this act shall take effect July 1, 2018.