Florida Senate - 2019                                    SB 1396
       By Senator Albritton
       26-01313A-19                                          20191396__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to child welfare; amending s. 39.01,
    3         F.S.; providing a definition; conforming cross
    4         references; amending s. 39.6011, F.S.; requiring a
    5         case plan to include conditions for return of a child
    6         that has been sheltered; requiring that the case plan
    7         describe the responsibility of certain persons to
    8         communicate effectively; requiring the court to be
    9         notified if ineffective communication takes place;
   10         amending s. 39.621, F.S.; providing additional factors
   11         for a court to consider when deciding certain motions;
   12         amending s. 39.701, F.S.; requiring a foster parent or
   13         legal custodian to disclose to the court any
   14         communication not in compliance with the case plan;
   15         requiring a court and citizen review panel to
   16         determine whether communications between certain
   17         parties are effective; providing an additional
   18         requirement for when a court must return a child to
   19         the custody of the child’s parents; amending ss.
   20         39.302, 39.521, 39.6012, 322.09, 394.495, 627.746,
   21         934.255, and 960.065, F.S.; conforming cross
   22         references; providing an effective date.
   24  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   26         Section 1. Present subsections (20) through (87) of section
   27  39.01, Florida Statutes, are redesignated as subsections (21)
   28  through (88) respectively, subsection (10) and present
   29  subsection (37) are amended, and a new subsection (20) is added
   30  to that section, to read:
   31         39.01 Definitions.—When used in this chapter, unless the
   32  context otherwise requires:
   33         (10) “Caregiver” means the parent, legal custodian,
   34  permanent guardian, adult household member, or other person
   35  responsible for a child’s welfare as defined in this section
   36  subsection (54).
   37         (20)“Conditions for return” means the minimum conditions
   38  that must exist with respect to a specific family’s
   39  circumstances, including, but not limited to, the home
   40  environment and a caregiver’s perception, behavior, protective
   41  capacity, and safety resources, to allow for reunification to
   42  occur with the use of an in-home safety plan.
   43         (38)(37) “Institutional child abuse or neglect” means
   44  situations of known or suspected child abuse or neglect in which
   45  the person allegedly perpetrating the child abuse or neglect is
   46  an employee of a private school, public or private day care
   47  center, residential home, institution, facility, or agency or
   48  any other person at such institution responsible for the child’s
   49  care as defined in this section subsection (54).
   50         Section 2. Present paragraphs (b) through (e) of subsection
   51  (2) of section 39.6011, Florida Statutes, are redesignated as
   52  paragraphs (c) through (f), respectively, present paragraphs (b)
   53  through (d) of subsection (4) are redesignated as paragraphs (c)
   54  through and (e), respectively, a new paragraph (b) is added to
   55  subsection (2) of that section, and a new paragraph (b) is added
   56  to subsection (4) of that section, to read:
   57         39.6011 Case plan development.—
   58         (2) The case plan must be written simply and clearly in
   59  English and, if English is not the principal language of the
   60  child’s parent, to the extent possible in the parent’s principal
   61  language. Each case plan must contain:
   62         (b)A description of the conditions for return if a child
   63  has been sheltered.
   64         (4) The case plan must describe:
   65         (b)The responsibility of the parents, foster parents, or
   66  legal custodians to communicate effectively, which includes, but
   67  is not limited to, refraining from harassing or inappropriate
   68  communication, to promote the safety, well-being, and physical,
   69  mental, and emotional health of the child. A parent, foster
   70  parent, or legal custodian shall notify the court if ineffective
   71  communication takes place;
   72         Section 3. Subsection (11) of section 39.621, Florida
   73  Statutes, is amended to read:
   74         39.621 Permanency determination by the court.—
   75         (11) The court shall base its decision concerning any
   76  motion by a parent for reunification or increased contact with a
   77  child on the effect of the decision on the safety, well-being,
   78  and physical, mental, and emotional health of the child. Factors
   79  that must be considered and addressed in the findings of fact of
   80  the order on the motion must include:
   81         (a) The compliance or noncompliance of the parent with the
   82  case plan and the likelihood that the parent will complete the
   83  case plan in a reasonable amount of time;
   84         (b) Whether a parent has met the conditions for return in
   85  the case plan, including, but not limited to, demonstrating
   86  necessary changes in protective capacity so that the child’s
   87  safety, well-being, and physical, mental, and emotional health
   88  are not endangered if reunification is ordered by the court;
   89         (c) The circumstances which caused the child’s dependency
   90  and whether those circumstances have been resolved;
   91         (d)(c) The stability and longevity of the child’s
   92  placement;
   93         (e)(d) The preferences of the child, if the child is of
   94  sufficient age and understanding to express a preference;
   95         (f)(e) The recommendation of the current custodian; and
   96         (g)(f) The recommendation of the guardian ad litem, if one
   97  has been appointed.
   98         Section 4. Paragraphs (a), (c), and (d) of subsection (2)
   99  of section 39.701, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
  100         39.701 Judicial review.—
  102  AGE.—
  103         (a) Social study report for judicial review.—Before every
  104  judicial review hearing or citizen review panel hearing, the
  105  social service agency shall make an investigation and social
  106  study concerning all pertinent details relating to the child and
  107  shall furnish to the court or citizen review panel a written
  108  report that includes, but is not limited to:
  109         1. A description of the type of placement the child is in
  110  at the time of the hearing, including the safety of the child
  111  and the continuing necessity for and appropriateness of the
  112  placement.
  113         2. Documentation of the diligent efforts made by all
  114  parties to the case plan to comply with each applicable
  115  provision of the plan.
  116         3. The amount of fees assessed and collected during the
  117  period of time being reported.
  118         4. The services provided to the foster family or legal
  119  custodian in an effort to address the needs of the child as
  120  indicated in the case plan.
  121         5. A statement that either:
  122         a. The parent, though able to do so, did not comply
  123  substantially with the case plan, and the agency
  124  recommendations;
  125         b. The parent did substantially comply with the case plan;
  126  or
  127         c. The parent has partially complied with the case plan,
  128  with a summary of additional progress needed and the agency
  129  recommendations.
  130         6. A statement from the foster parent or legal custodian
  131  providing any material evidence concerning the return of the
  132  child to the parent or parents, including, but not limited to,
  133  any communication that is not in compliance with the case plan.
  134         7. A statement concerning the frequency, duration, and
  135  results of the parent-child visitation, if any, and the agency
  136  recommendations for an expansion or restriction of future
  137  visitation.
  138         8. The number of times a child has been removed from his or
  139  her home and placed elsewhere, the number and types of
  140  placements that have occurred, and the reason for the changes in
  141  placement.
  142         9. The number of times a child’s educational placement has
  143  been changed, the number and types of educational placements
  144  which have occurred, and the reason for any change in placement.
  145         10. If the child has reached 13 years of age but is not yet
  146  18 years of age, a statement from the caregiver on the progress
  147  the child has made in acquiring independent living skills.
  148         11. Copies of all medical, psychological, and educational
  149  records that support the terms of the case plan and that have
  150  been produced concerning the parents or any caregiver since the
  151  last judicial review hearing.
  152         12. Copies of the child’s current health, mental health,
  153  and education records as identified in s. 39.6012.
  154         (c) Review determinations.—The court and any citizen review
  155  panel shall take into consideration the information contained in
  156  the social services study and investigation and all medical,
  157  psychological, and educational records that support the terms of
  158  the case plan; testimony by the social services agency, the
  159  parent, the foster parent or legal custodian, the guardian ad
  160  litem or surrogate parent for educational decisionmaking if one
  161  has been appointed for the child, and any other person deemed
  162  appropriate; and any relevant and material evidence submitted to
  163  the court, including written and oral reports to the extent of
  164  their probative value. These reports and evidence may be
  165  received by the court in its effort to determine the action to
  166  be taken with regard to the child and may be relied upon to the
  167  extent of their probative value, even though not competent in an
  168  adjudicatory hearing. In its deliberations, the court and any
  169  citizen review panel shall seek to determine:
  170         1. If the parent was advised of the right to receive
  171  assistance from any person or social service agency in the
  172  preparation of the case plan.
  173         2. If the parent has been advised of the right to have
  174  counsel present at the judicial review or citizen review
  175  hearings. If not so advised, the court or citizen review panel
  176  shall advise the parent of such right.
  177         3. If a guardian ad litem needs to be appointed for the
  178  child in a case in which a guardian ad litem has not previously
  179  been appointed or if there is a need to continue a guardian ad
  180  litem in a case in which a guardian ad litem has been appointed.
  181         4. Who holds the rights to make educational decisions for
  182  the child. If appropriate, the court may refer the child to the
  183  district school superintendent for appointment of a surrogate
  184  parent or may itself appoint a surrogate parent under the
  185  Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and s. 39.0016.
  186         5. The compliance or lack of compliance of all parties with
  187  applicable items of the case plan, including the parents’
  188  compliance with child support orders.
  189         6. The compliance or lack of compliance with a visitation
  190  contract between the parent and the social service agency for
  191  contact with the child, including the frequency, duration, and
  192  results of the parent-child visitation and the reason for any
  193  noncompliance.
  194         7. The frequency, kind, and duration of contacts among
  195  siblings who have been separated during placement, as well as
  196  any efforts undertaken to reunite separated siblings if doing so
  197  is in the best interest of the child.
  198         8. The compliance or lack of compliance of the parent in
  199  meeting specified financial obligations pertaining to the care
  200  of the child, including the reason for failure to comply, if
  201  applicable.
  202         9. Whether the child is receiving safe and proper care
  203  according to s. 39.6012, including, but not limited to, the
  204  appropriateness of the child’s current placement, including
  205  whether the child is in a setting that is as family-like and as
  206  close to the parent’s home as possible, consistent with the
  207  child’s best interests and special needs, and including
  208  maintaining stability in the child’s educational placement, as
  209  documented by assurances from the community-based care provider
  210  that:
  211         a. The placement of the child takes into account the
  212  appropriateness of the current educational setting and the
  213  proximity to the school in which the child is enrolled at the
  214  time of placement.
  215         b. The community-based care agency has coordinated with
  216  appropriate local educational agencies to ensure that the child
  217  remains in the school in which the child is enrolled at the time
  218  of placement.
  219         10. A projected date likely for the child’s return home or
  220  other permanent placement.
  221         11. When appropriate, the basis for the unwillingness or
  222  inability of the parent to become a party to a case plan. The
  223  court and the citizen review panel shall determine if the
  224  efforts of the social service agency to secure party
  225  participation in a case plan were sufficient.
  226         12. For a child who has reached 13 years of age but is not
  227  yet 18 years of age, the adequacy of the child’s preparation for
  228  adulthood and independent living. For a child who is 15 years of
  229  age or older, the court shall determine if appropriate steps are
  230  being taken for the child to obtain a driver license or
  231  learner’s driver license.
  232         13. If amendments to the case plan are required. Amendments
  233  to the case plan must be made under s. 39.6013.
  234         14.Whether the parent and foster parent or legal custodian
  235  communicate effectively to promote the safety, well-being, and
  236  physical, mental, and emotional health of the child, which
  237  includes, but is not limited to, refraining from harassing or
  238  inappropriate communication.
  239         (d) Orders.—
  240         1. Based upon the criteria set forth in paragraph (c) and
  241  the recommended order of the citizen review panel, if any, the
  242  court shall determine whether or not the social service agency
  243  shall initiate proceedings to have a child declared a dependent
  244  child, return the child to the parent, continue the child in
  245  out-of-home care for a specified period of time, or initiate
  246  termination of parental rights proceedings for subsequent
  247  placement in an adoptive home. Amendments to the case plan must
  248  be prepared as prescribed in s. 39.6013. If the court finds that
  249  the prevention or reunification efforts of the department will
  250  allow the child to remain safely at home or be safely returned
  251  to the home, the court shall allow the child to remain in or
  252  return to the home after making a specific finding of fact that
  253  the reasons for the creation of the case plan have been remedied
  254  to the extent that the child’s safety, well-being, and physical,
  255  mental, and emotional health will not be endangered.
  256         2. The court shall return the child to the custody of the
  257  parents at any time it determines that:
  258         a.The parents have provided evidence that conditions for
  259  return have been met, including, but not limited to, a
  260  demonstrated change in their protective capacity;
  261         b.The parents they have substantially complied with the
  262  case plan and are likely to complete it in a reasonable amount
  263  of time; and
  264         c., if The court is satisfied that reunification will not
  265  be detrimental to the child’s safety, well-being, and physical,
  266  mental, and emotional health.
  267         3. If, in the opinion of the court, the social service
  268  agency has not complied with its obligations as specified in the
  269  written case plan, the court may find the social service agency
  270  in contempt, shall order the social service agency to submit its
  271  plans for compliance with the agreement, and shall require the
  272  social service agency to show why the child could not safely be
  273  returned to the home of the parents.
  274         4. If, at any judicial review, the court finds that the
  275  parents have failed to substantially comply with the case plan
  276  to the degree that further reunification efforts are without
  277  merit and not in the best interest of the child, on its own
  278  motion, the court may order the filing of a petition for
  279  termination of parental rights, whether or not the time period
  280  as contained in the case plan for substantial compliance has
  281  expired.
  282         5. Within 6 months after the date that the child was placed
  283  in shelter care, the court shall conduct a judicial review
  284  hearing to review the child’s permanency goal as identified in
  285  the case plan. At the hearing the court shall make findings
  286  regarding the likelihood of the child’s reunification with the
  287  parent or legal custodian. In making such findings, the court
  288  shall consider the level of the parent or legal custodian’s
  289  compliance with the case plan and demonstrated change in
  290  protective capacities compared to that necessary to achieve
  291  timely reunification within 12 months after the removal of the
  292  child from the home. The court shall also consider the
  293  frequency, duration, manner, and level of engagement of the
  294  parent or legal custodian’s visitation with the child in
  295  compliance with the case plan. If the court makes a written
  296  finding that it is not likely that the child will be reunified
  297  with the parent or legal custodian within 12 months after the
  298  child was removed from the home, the department must file with
  299  the court, and serve on all parties, a motion to amend the case
  300  plan under s. 39.6013 and declare that it will use concurrent
  301  planning for the case plan. The department must file the motion
  302  within 10 business days after receiving the written finding of
  303  the court. The department must attach the proposed amended case
  304  plan to the motion. If concurrent planning is already being
  305  used, the case plan must document the efforts the department is
  306  taking to complete the concurrent goal.
  307         6. The court may issue a protective order in assistance, or
  308  as a condition, of any other order made under this part. In
  309  addition to the requirements included in the case plan, the
  310  protective order may set forth requirements relating to
  311  reasonable conditions of behavior to be observed for a specified
  312  period of time by a person or agency who is before the court;
  313  and the order may require any person or agency to make periodic
  314  reports to the court containing such information as the court in
  315  its discretion may prescribe.
  316         Section 5. Subsection (1) of section 39.302, Florida
  317  Statutes, is amended to read:
  318         39.302 Protective investigations of institutional child
  319  abuse, abandonment, or neglect.—
  320         (1) The department shall conduct a child protective
  321  investigation of each report of institutional child abuse,
  322  abandonment, or neglect. Upon receipt of a report that alleges
  323  that an employee or agent of the department, or any other entity
  324  or person covered by s. 39.01 s. 39.01(37) or (54), acting in an
  325  official capacity, has committed an act of child abuse,
  326  abandonment, or neglect, the department shall initiate a child
  327  protective investigation within the timeframe established under
  328  s. 39.201(5) and notify the appropriate state attorney, law
  329  enforcement agency, and licensing agency, which shall
  330  immediately conduct a joint investigation, unless independent
  331  investigations are more feasible. When conducting investigations
  332  or having face-to-face interviews with the child, investigation
  333  visits shall be unannounced unless it is determined by the
  334  department or its agent that unannounced visits threaten the
  335  safety of the child. If a facility is exempt from licensing, the
  336  department shall inform the owner or operator of the facility of
  337  the report. Each agency conducting a joint investigation is
  338  entitled to full access to the information gathered by the
  339  department in the course of the investigation. A protective
  340  investigation must include an interview with the child’s parent
  341  or legal guardian. The department shall make a full written
  342  report to the state attorney within 3 working days after making
  343  the oral report. A criminal investigation shall be coordinated,
  344  whenever possible, with the child protective investigation of
  345  the department. Any interested person who has information
  346  regarding the offenses described in this subsection may forward
  347  a statement to the state attorney as to whether prosecution is
  348  warranted and appropriate. Within 15 days after the completion
  349  of the investigation, the state attorney shall report the
  350  findings to the department and shall include in the report a
  351  determination of whether or not prosecution is justified and
  352  appropriate in view of the circumstances of the specific case.
  353         Section 6. Paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of section
  354  39.521, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  355         39.521 Disposition hearings; powers of disposition.—
  356         (1) A disposition hearing shall be conducted by the court,
  357  if the court finds that the facts alleged in the petition for
  358  dependency were proven in the adjudicatory hearing, or if the
  359  parents or legal custodians have consented to the finding of
  360  dependency or admitted the allegations in the petition, have
  361  failed to appear for the arraignment hearing after proper
  362  notice, or have not been located despite a diligent search
  363  having been conducted.
  364         (c) When any child is adjudicated by a court to be
  365  dependent, the court having jurisdiction of the child has the
  366  power by order to:
  367         1. Require the parent and, when appropriate, the legal
  368  guardian or the child to participate in treatment and services
  369  identified as necessary. The court may require the person who
  370  has custody or who is requesting custody of the child to submit
  371  to a mental health or substance abuse disorder assessment or
  372  evaluation. The order may be made only upon good cause shown and
  373  pursuant to notice and procedural requirements provided under
  374  the Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure. The mental health
  375  assessment or evaluation must be administered by a qualified
  376  professional as defined in s. 39.01, and the substance abuse
  377  assessment or evaluation must be administered by a qualified
  378  professional as defined in s. 397.311. The court may also
  379  require such person to participate in and comply with treatment
  380  and services identified as necessary, including, when
  381  appropriate and available, participation in and compliance with
  382  a mental health court program established under chapter 394 or a
  383  treatment-based drug court program established under s. 397.334.
  384  Adjudication of a child as dependent based upon evidence of harm
  385  as defined in s. 39.01 s. 39.01(35)(g) demonstrates good cause,
  386  and the court shall require the parent whose actions caused the
  387  harm to submit to a substance abuse disorder assessment or
  388  evaluation and to participate and comply with treatment and
  389  services identified in the assessment or evaluation as being
  390  necessary. In addition to supervision by the department, the
  391  court, including the mental health court program or the
  392  treatment-based drug court program, may oversee the progress and
  393  compliance with treatment by a person who has custody or is
  394  requesting custody of the child. The court may impose
  395  appropriate available sanctions for noncompliance upon a person
  396  who has custody or is requesting custody of the child or make a
  397  finding of noncompliance for consideration in determining
  398  whether an alternative placement of the child is in the child’s
  399  best interests. Any order entered under this subparagraph may be
  400  made only upon good cause shown. This subparagraph does not
  401  authorize placement of a child with a person seeking custody of
  402  the child, other than the child’s parent or legal custodian, who
  403  requires mental health or substance abuse disorder treatment.
  404         2. Require, if the court deems necessary, the parties to
  405  participate in dependency mediation.
  406         3. Require placement of the child either under the
  407  protective supervision of an authorized agent of the department
  408  in the home of one or both of the child’s parents or in the home
  409  of a relative of the child or another adult approved by the
  410  court, or in the custody of the department. Protective
  411  supervision continues until the court terminates it or until the
  412  child reaches the age of 18, whichever date is first. Protective
  413  supervision shall be terminated by the court whenever the court
  414  determines that permanency has been achieved for the child,
  415  whether with a parent, another relative, or a legal custodian,
  416  and that protective supervision is no longer needed. The
  417  termination of supervision may be with or without retaining
  418  jurisdiction, at the court’s discretion, and shall in either
  419  case be considered a permanency option for the child. The order
  420  terminating supervision by the department must set forth the
  421  powers of the custodian of the child and include the powers
  422  ordinarily granted to a guardian of the person of a minor unless
  423  otherwise specified. Upon the court’s termination of supervision
  424  by the department, further judicial reviews are not required if
  425  permanency has been established for the child.
  426         4. Determine whether the child has a strong attachment to
  427  the prospective permanent guardian and whether such guardian has
  428  a strong commitment to permanently caring for the child.
  429         Section 7. Paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of section
  430  39.6012, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  431         39.6012 Case plan tasks; services.—
  432         (1) The services to be provided to the parent and the tasks
  433  that must be completed are subject to the following:
  434         (c) If there is evidence of harm as defined in s. 39.01 s.
  435  39.01(35)(g), the case plan must include as a required task for
  436  the parent whose actions caused the harm that the parent submit
  437  to a substance abuse disorder assessment or evaluation and
  438  participate and comply with treatment and services identified in
  439  the assessment or evaluation as being necessary.
  440         Section 8. Subsection (4) of section 322.09, Florida
  441  Statutes, is amended to read:
  442         322.09 Application of minors; responsibility for negligence
  443  or misconduct of minor.—
  444         (4) Notwithstanding subsections (1) and (2), if a caregiver
  445  of a minor who is under the age of 18 years and is in out-of
  446  home care as defined in s. 39.01 s. 39.01(49), an authorized
  447  representative of a residential group home at which such a minor
  448  resides, the caseworker at the agency at which the state has
  449  placed the minor, or a guardian ad litem specifically authorized
  450  by the minor’s caregiver to sign for a learner’s driver license
  451  signs the minor’s application for a learner’s driver license,
  452  that caregiver, group home representative, caseworker, or
  453  guardian ad litem does not assume any obligation or become
  454  liable for any damages caused by the negligence or willful
  455  misconduct of the minor by reason of having signed the
  456  application. Before signing the application, the caseworker,
  457  authorized group home representative, or guardian ad litem shall
  458  notify the caregiver or other responsible party of his or her
  459  intent to sign and verify the application.
  460         Section 9. Paragraph (p) of subsection (4) of section
  461  394.495, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  462         394.495 Child and adolescent mental health system of care;
  463  programs and services.—
  464         (4) The array of services may include, but is not limited
  465  to:
  466         (p) Trauma-informed services for children who have suffered
  467  sexual exploitation as defined in s. 39.01 s. 39.01(77)(g).
  468         Section 10. Section 627.746, Florida Statutes, is amended
  469  to read:
  470         627.746 Coverage for minors who have a learner’s driver
  471  license; additional premium prohibited.—An insurer that issues
  472  an insurance policy on a private passenger motor vehicle to a
  473  named insured who is a caregiver of a minor who is under the age
  474  of 18 years and is in out-of-home care as defined in s. 39.01 s.
  475  39.01(49) may not charge an additional premium for coverage of
  476  the minor while the minor is operating the insured vehicle, for
  477  the period of time that the minor has a learner’s driver
  478  license, until such time as the minor obtains a driver license.
  479         Section 11. Paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of section
  480  934.255, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  481         934.255 Subpoenas in investigations of sexual offenses.—
  482         (1) As used in this section, the term:
  483         (c) “Sexual abuse of a child” means a criminal offense
  484  based on any conduct described in s. 39.01 s. 39.01(71).
  485         Section 12. Subsection (5) of section 960.065, Florida
  486  Statutes, is amended to read:
  487         960.065 Eligibility for awards.—
  488         (5) A person is not ineligible for an award pursuant to
  489  paragraph (2)(a), paragraph (2)(b), or paragraph (2)(c) if that
  490  person is a victim of sexual exploitation of a child as defined
  491  in s. 39.01 s. 39.01(77)(g).
  492         Section 13. This act shall take effect October 1, 2019.