Florida Senate - 2019                                    SB 1432
       By Senator Baxley
       12-01102-19                                           20191432__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to foster parents; creating s.
    3         39.4087, F.S.; establishing certain rights for foster
    4         parents; providing requirements for the Department of
    5         Children and Families relating to foster parents;
    6         specifying that child abuse, abandonment, or neglect
    7         investigations involving a foster parent must be
    8         conducted according to certain specifications;
    9         authorizing an accused foster parent to select a
   10         member of a local agency to advocate for the foster
   11         parent during such investigation; authorizing the
   12         foster parent to contact certain persons or the
   13         department when he or she believes there has been a
   14         violation of the act; requiring the department to
   15         review and respond to a foster parent’s contact in
   16         order to resolve disputes; authorizing the department
   17         to request a background screening of a foster parent
   18         during certain emergency situations; prohibiting the
   19         placement of a child in, or requiring the immediate
   20         removal of a child from, a home if the foster parent
   21         refuses such screening; providing an effective date.
   23  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   25         Section 1. Section 39.4087, Florida Statutes, is created to
   26  read:
   27         39.4087 Rights of foster parents; department requirements;
   28  background screenings during emergency situations.—
   29         (1) A foster parent is entitled to certain rights,
   30  including, but not limited to, all of the following:
   31         (a) The right to maintain his or her family values or
   32  routines without interruption.
   33         (b) The right to timely and adequate payment for providing
   34  foster care services.
   35         (c) The right to full disclosure of any medical,
   36  psychological, or behavioral issues of a child in his or her
   37  care.
   38         (d) The right to submit factually based written statements
   39  to the court, as provided by law.
   40         (e) The right to receive a traveling file for a child
   41  placed in his or her care and written copies of updated
   42  documents, including the treatment plan and any subsequent
   43  revisions to a document, on a timely basis.
   44         (f) The right to intervene in a termination of parental
   45  rights proceeding, as provided by law.
   46         (2) The department shall do all of the following:
   47         (a) Treat a foster parent with dignity, respect, and trust.
   48         (b) Provide a foster parent with a clear explanation of the
   49  role of the department and the role of the foster child’s
   50  biological family as it relates to the delivery of child welfare
   51  services.
   52         (c) Provide a foster parent with training and support for
   53  the purposes of improving skills in providing daily care and
   54  meeting any special needs of a foster child.
   55         (d) Disclose to a foster parent any issues relating to a
   56  child which may jeopardize the health and safety of the foster
   57  parent or the foster parent’s family or alter the manner in
   58  which the foster parent would normally provide foster care. The
   59  department must also disclose any delinquency or criminal record
   60  of the child and any instances where the child has been
   61  hospitalized due to mental or physical illness.
   62         (e) Provide a means by which a foster parent may contact
   63  the department, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for the purposes
   64  of receiving assistance from the department.
   65         (f) Provide a clear and written explanation to a foster
   66  parent of any plan concerning the placement of a child in the
   67  foster parent’s home. If a plan was not developed before the
   68  placement, the department must provide a clear and written
   69  explanation to the foster parent once the plan is developed.
   70         (g) Allow a foster parent to review information about a
   71  child and assist with the determination of whether the child
   72  should be placed with the foster parent. During an emergency
   73  situation that requires immediate care, the department must
   74  provide such information to the foster parent when it becomes
   75  available.
   76         (h) Allow a foster parent to refuse placement or, upon
   77  reasonable notice to the department, to request the removal of a
   78  foster child from the foster parent’s home, without retaliation,
   79  unless otherwise provided for by contract.
   80         (i) Inform a foster parent of any decision made by a court
   81  or child care agency which concerns a child in the foster
   82  parent’s care.
   83         (j) Solicit and consider input from a foster parent on a
   84  foster child’s case plan.
   85         (k) Allow a foster parent to communicate with professionals
   86  who work with the foster child, including, but not limited to,
   87  therapists, physicians, and teachers.
   88         (l) Provide, in a timely manner, all information regarding
   89  a child and the child’s family’s background and health history.
   90  The department shall also provide any additional information
   91  known by the department which is relevant to the care of the
   92  child. A foster parent must maintain the confidentiality of any
   93  confidential information that is shared unless sharing it is
   94  necessary to promote or protect the health and welfare of the
   95  child.
   96         (m) Give a foster parent at least 7 days’ notice of any
   97  meeting or court hearing relating to a child in his or her care.
   98  The notice must include, but need not be limited to, the name of
   99  the judge or hearing officer, the location of the hearing, and
  100  the docket number. If the department is also providing such
  101  information to a child’s biological parent, the foster parent
  102  must receive notice at the same time as the biological parent.
  103  The foster parent may attend such hearings.
  104         (n) Upon request by a foster parent, provide information
  105  known to the department relating to a child’s progress after the
  106  child has left the foster parent’s home.
  107         (o) Provide training to foster parents relating to
  108  obtaining support and understanding the rights and
  109  responsibilities of a foster parent.
  110         (p) Consider a foster parent as the first choice for
  111  permanent placement of a child if the child was placed with the
  112  foster parent for at least 1 year.
  113         (q) Consider a foster parent as a placement option if a
  114  child who was formerly placed with the foster parent re-enters
  115  foster care.
  116         (r) Upon reasonable notice from a foster parent, and as
  117  determined by department rule, allow a foster parent a period of
  118  respite that is free from placement of foster children in the
  119  foster parent’s home. The department must follow up with the
  120  foster parent a minimum of every two months during such period.
  121         (s) Upon request, provide a foster parent with copies of
  122  all information relating to the foster parent in the
  123  department’s records.
  124         (t) Advise a foster parent of mediation services available
  125  to him or her by publishing information on such services in
  126  departmental policy manuals and on the department’s website.
  127         (u) No later than at the time the foster care contract is
  128  signed, inform the foster parent in writing of all information
  129  that is available to the department regarding any:
  130         1. Pending petitions or adjudications of delinquency when
  131  the conduct constituting the delinquent act, if committed by an
  132  adult, would constitute murder in the first degree, murder in
  133  the second degree, rape, robbery, or kidnapping;
  134         2. Behavioral issues that may affect the care and
  135  supervision of the child;
  136         3. History of physical or sexual abuse;
  137         4. Special medical or psychological needs of the child; and
  138         5. Current infectious diseases the child has.
  139         (3) Child abuse, abandonment, or neglect investigations
  140  involving a foster parent or parents shall be conducted pursuant
  141  to part III of this chapter. A foster parent under investigation
  142  may select a member of an appropriate local agency to act as an
  143  advocate for the foster parent. The advocate must be allowed to
  144  be present at all portions of the investigation where the
  145  accused foster parent is also present. The advocate must
  146  maintain the confidentiality of any confidential information
  147  received.
  148         (4)(a)If a foster parent believes that the department, an
  149  employee of the department, an agency under contract with the
  150  department, or an employee of such agency has violated this
  151  section, and that the violation has harmed or could harm a child
  152  who is or was in the custody of the department or that the
  153  violation inhibited the foster parent’s ability to meet the
  154  child’s needs as set forth in the case plan, the foster parent
  155  may notify the child’s case manager and the case manager must
  156  make every attempt to resolve the dispute.
  157         (b) If a foster parent believes the dispute has not been
  158  adequately resolved by the case manager, the foster parent may
  159  contact the case manager’s supervisor. If the contact is in
  160  writing, the foster parent may copy the department on the
  161  communication and the department shall maintain a record of any
  162  such communication received.
  163         (c) If a foster parent believes that the case manager’s
  164  supervisor did not adequately resolve the dispute, the foster
  165  parent may contact the department and the department must
  166  conduct a review and respond to the foster parent in writing no
  167  later than 30 days after being contacted.
  168         (5) During an emergency situation that requires immediate
  169  placement, the department may request each adult in a foster
  170  home under consideration for placement to undergo a level 2
  171  background screening as described in s. 435.04. If such
  172  background screening request is refused, the child may not be
  173  placed in the home or, if already placed in the home, must be
  174  removed immediately.
  175         Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2019.