Florida Senate - 2019 SB 90 By Senator Book 32-00069A-19 201990__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to early childhood courts; creating s. 3 39.01304, F.S.; providing legislative intent; 4 authorizing circuit courts to create early childhood 5 court programs; requiring that early childhood court 6 programs have certain components present; providing 7 requirements and guidelines for the Office of the 8 State Courts Administrator when hiring community 9 coordinators and a statewide training specialist; 10 authorizing the office to provide funding to circuit 11 courts that choose to establish a coordination system 12 in lieu of creating a community coordinator position; 13 requiring the office to contract with certain 14 university-based centers; requiring the university 15 based centers to hire a clinical director; requiring 16 the Florida Institute for Child Welfare to submit 17 certain status reports to the Governor and the 18 Legislature by specified dates; requiring the 19 institute, in consultation with the Department of 20 Children and Families, the office, and the contracted 21 university-based centers, to conduct an evaluation of 22 the court programs’ impact; requiring the evaluation 23 to include the analysis of certain data and 24 recommendations; requiring the institute to submit the 25 results of its evaluation to the Governor and the 26 Legislature by a specified date; providing an 27 effective date. 28 29 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 30 31 Section 1. Section 39.01304, Florida Statutes, is created 32 to read: 33 39.01304 Early childhood court programs.— 34 (1) It is the intent of the Legislature to encourage the 35 department, the Department of Health, the Association of Early 36 Learning Coalitions, and other such agencies, local governments, 37 interested public or private entities, and individuals to 38 support the creation and establishment of early childhood court 39 programs. The purpose of an early childhood court program is to 40 address the root cause of court involvement through specialized 41 dockets, multidisciplinary teams, evidence-based treatment, and 42 the use of a nonadversarial approach. Such programs depend on 43 the leadership of a judge or magistrate who is educated about 44 the science of early childhood development and who requires 45 rigorous efforts to heal children physically and emotionally in 46 the context of a broad collaboration among professionals from 47 different systems working directly in the court as a team, 48 recognizing that the parent-child relationship is the foundation 49 of child well-being. 50 (2) A circuit court may create an early childhood court 51 program to serve the needs of infants and toddlers in dependency 52 court. An early childhood court program must have all of the 53 following components present: 54 (a) Therapeutic jurisprudence, which must drive every 55 aspect of judicial practice. The judge or magistrate must 56 support the therapeutic needs of the parent and child in a 57 nonadversarial manner. As used in this paragraph, the term 58 “therapeutic jurisprudence” means the study of how the law may 59 be used as a therapeutic agent and focuses on how laws impact 60 emotional and psychological well-being. 61 (b) A procedure for coordinating services and resources for 62 families who have a case on the court docket. To meet this 63 requirement, the court may create and fill at least one 64 community coordinator position pursuant to paragraph (3)(a) or 65 the court may use a coordination system that implements a 66 progression of services. 67 (c) A multidisciplinary team made up of key community 68 stakeholders who commit to work with the judge or magistrate to 69 restructure the way the community responds to the needs of 70 maltreated children. The team may include, but is not limited 71 to, early intervention specialists; mental health and infant 72 mental health professionals; attorneys representing children, 73 parents, and the child welfare system; children’s advocates; 74 early learning coalitions and child care providers; substance 75 abuse program providers; primary health care providers; and 76 guardians ad litem. The multidisciplinary team must address the 77 need for children in an early childhood court program to receive 78 medical care in a medical home, a screening for developmental 79 delays conducted by the local agency responsible for complying 80 with part C of the federal Individuals with Disabilities 81 Education Act, and quality child care. 82 (d) A continuum of mental health services that include a 83 focus on the parent-child relationship and that must be 84 appropriate for each child and family served. 85 (3) Contingent upon an annual appropriation by the 86 Legislature, and subject to available resources: 87 (a) The Office of the State Courts Administrator shall 88 coordinate with each participating circuit court to create and 89 fill at least one community coordinator position for the 90 circuit’s early childhood court program unless the court chooses 91 to establish a coordination system in lieu of creating a 92 community coordinator position. Each community coordinator shall 93 provide direct support to the program by providing coordination 94 between the multidisciplinary team and the judiciary, 95 coordinating the responsibilities of the participating agencies 96 and service providers, and managing the collection of data for 97 program evaluation and accountability. If a circuit court 98 establishes a coordination system in lieu of creating a 99 community coordinator position, the Office of the State Courts 100 Administrator may provide funding equivalent in value to a 101 community coordinator position to the court for case 102 coordination functions. 103 (b) The Office of the State Courts Administrator shall 104 contract with one or more university-based centers that have 105 expertise in infant mental health, and such university-based 106 centers shall hire a clinical director charged with ensuring the 107 quality, accountability, and fidelity of the program’s evidence 108 based treatment and ensuring that each center under contract 109 receives training and technical assistance related to clinical 110 services, clinical consultation and guidance for difficult 111 cases, and ongoing clinical training for court teams. In 112 partnership with each center, the Office of the State Courts 113 Administrator may hire a statewide training specialist to 114 provide training to each multidisciplinary team. 115 (c) By December 1 of 2020 and 2021, the Florida Institute 116 for Child Welfare shall provide a status report on 117 implementation of the programs to the Governor, the President of 118 the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. 119 (d) In consultation with the department, the Office of the 120 State Courts Administrator, and each center, the Florida 121 Institute for Child Welfare shall evaluate the impact of the 122 early childhood court programs on children and families in the 123 state’s child welfare system. The evaluation must include the 124 analysis of data collected by the Office of the State Courts 125 Administrator and measurable outcomes, including, but not 126 limited to, the impact of the early childhood court program on 127 the future incidence of maltreatment of children, timely 128 permanency, reunification of families, and incidents of children 129 reentering the child welfare system. The evaluation must provide 130 recommendations as to whether and how the programs should be 131 expanded, the projected costs of any such expansion, and the 132 projected savings to the state resulting from the programs. 133 After providing the status reports pursuant to paragraph (c), 134 and by October 1, 2022, the institute shall provide a report on 135 the results of the evaluation to the Governor, the President of 136 the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. 137 Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2019.