Florida Senate - 2020                        COMMITTEE AMENDMENT
       Bill No. SB 1324
                              LEGISLATIVE ACTION                        
                    Senate             .             House              

       The Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs (Simpson)
       recommended the following:
    1         Senate Amendment (with title amendment)
    3         Delete everything after the enacting clause
    4  and insert:
    5         Section 1 Section 25.385, Florida Statutes, is amended to
    6  read:
    7         25.385 Standards for instruction of circuit and county
    8  court judges in handling domestic violence cases.—
    9         (1) The Florida Court Educational Council shall establish
   10  standards for instruction of circuit and county court judges who
   11  have responsibility for domestic violence cases, and the council
   12  shall provide such instruction on a periodic and timely basis.
   13         (2) As used in this subsection, section:
   14         (a) the term “domestic violence” has the meaning set forth
   15  in s. 741.28.
   16         (b) “Family or household member” has the meaning set forth
   17  in s. 741.28.
   18         (2) The Florida Court Educational Council shall establish
   19  standards for instruction of circuit and county court judges who
   20  have responsibility for dependency cases regarding the benefits
   21  of a secure attachment with a primary caregiver, the importance
   22  of a stable placement, and the impact of trauma on child
   23  development. The council shall provide such instruction to the
   24  circuit and county court judges handling dependency cases on a
   25  periodic and timely basis.
   26         Section 1. Section 39.01304, Florida Statutes, is created
   27  to read:
   28         39.01304 Early childhood court programs.—
   29         (1) It is the intent of the Legislature to encourage the
   30  department, the Department of Health, the Association of Early
   31  Learning Coalitions, and other such agencies; local governments;
   32  interested public or private entities; and individuals to
   33  support the creation and establishment of early childhood court
   34  programs. The purpose of an early childhood court program is to
   35  address the root cause of court involvement through specialized
   36  dockets, multidisciplinary teams, evidence-based treatment, and
   37  the use of a nonadversarial approach. Such programs depend on
   38  the leadership of a judge or magistrate who is educated about
   39  the science of early childhood development and who requires
   40  rigorous efforts to heal children physically and emotionally in
   41  the context of a broad collaboration among professionals from
   42  different systems working directly in the court as a team,
   43  recognizing that the parent-child relationship is the foundation
   44  of child well-being.
   45         (2) A circuit court may create an early childhood court
   46  program to serve the needs of infants and toddlers in dependency
   47  court. An early childhood court program must have all of the
   48  following components:
   49         (a) Therapeutic jurisprudence, which must drive every
   50  aspect of judicial practice. The judge or magistrate must
   51  support the therapeutic needs of the parent and child in a
   52  nonadversarial manner. As used in this paragraph, the term
   53  “therapeutic jurisprudence” means the study of how the law may
   54  be used as a therapeutic agent and focuses on how laws impact
   55  emotional and psychological well-being.
   56         (b)A procedure for coordinating services and resources for
   57  families who have a case on the court docket. To meet this
   58  requirement, the court may create and fill at least one
   59  community coordinator position pursuant to paragraph (3)(a).
   60         (c) A multidisciplinary team made up of key community
   61  stakeholders who commit to work with the judge or magistrate to
   62  restructure the way the community responds to the needs of
   63  maltreated children. The team may include, but is not limited
   64  to, early intervention specialists; mental health and infant
   65  mental health professionals; attorneys representing children,
   66  parents, and the child welfare system; children’s advocates;
   67  early learning coalitions and child care providers; substance
   68  abuse program providers; primary health care providers; domestic
   69  violence advocates; and guardians ad litem. The
   70  multidisciplinary team must address the need for children in an
   71  early childhood court program to receive medical care in a
   72  medical home, a screening for developmental delays conducted by
   73  the local agency responsible for complying with part C of the
   74  federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and quality
   75  child care.
   76         (d)A continuum of mental health services which includes a
   77  focus on the parent-child relationship and is appropriate for
   78  each child and family served.
   79         (3) Contingent upon an annual appropriation by the
   80  Legislature, and subject to available resources:
   81         (a) The Office of the State Courts Administrator shall
   82  coordinate with each participating circuit court to create and
   83  fill at least one community coordinator position for the
   84  circuit’s early childhood court program. Each community
   85  coordinator shall provide direct support to the program by
   86  providing coordination between the multidisciplinary team and
   87  the judiciary, coordinating the responsibilities of the
   88  participating agencies and service providers, and managing the
   89  collection of data for program evaluation and accountability.
   90  The Office of State Courts Administrator may hire a statewide
   91  training specialist to provide training to the participating
   92  court teams.
   93         (b) The department shall contract with one or more
   94  university-based centers that have expertise in infant mental
   95  health, and such university-based centers shall hire a clinical
   96  director charged with ensuring the quality, accountability, and
   97  fidelity of the program’s evidence-based treatment, including,
   98  but not limited to, training and technical assistance related to
   99  clinical services, clinical consultation and guidance for
  100  difficult cases, and ongoing clinical training for court teams.
  101         Section 2. Subsection (1) of section 39.0138, Florida
  102  Statutes, is amended to read
  103         39.0138 Criminal history and other records checks; limit on
  104  placement of a child.—
  105         (1) The department shall conduct a records check through
  106  the State Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS)
  107  and a local and statewide criminal history records check on all
  108  persons, including parents, being considered by the department
  109  for placement of a child under this chapter, including all
  110  nonrelative placement decisions, and all members of the
  111  household, 12 years of age and older, of the person being
  112  considered. For purposes of this section, a criminal history
  113  records check may include, but is not limited to, submission of
  114  fingerprints to the Department of Law Enforcement for processing
  115  and forwarding to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for state
  116  and national criminal history information, and local criminal
  117  records checks through local law enforcement agencies of all
  118  household members 18 years of age and older and other visitors
  119  to the home. Background screenings must be completed within 14
  120  business days after criminal history results are received by the
  121  department, unless additional information regarding the criminal
  122  history is required to complete processing. An out-of-state
  123  criminal history records check must be initiated for any person
  124  18 years of age or older who resided in another state if that
  125  state allows the release of such records. The department shall
  126  establish by rule standards for evaluating any information
  127  contained in the automated system relating to a person who must
  128  be screened for purposes of making a placement decision.
  129         Section 3. Subsection (1) and paragraph (a) of subsection
  130  (9) of section 39.301, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
  131         39.301 Initiation of protective investigations.—
  132         (1)(a) Upon receiving a report of known or suspected child
  133  abuse, abandonment, or neglect, or that a child is in need of
  134  supervision and care and has no parent, legal custodian, or
  135  responsible adult relative immediately known and available to
  136  provide supervision and care, the central abuse hotline shall
  137  determine if the report requires an immediate onsite protective
  138  investigation. For reports requiring an immediate onsite
  139  protective investigation, the central abuse hotline shall
  140  immediately notify the department’s designated district staff
  141  responsible for protective investigations to ensure that an
  142  onsite investigation is promptly initiated. For reports not
  143  requiring an immediate onsite protective investigation, the
  144  central abuse hotline shall notify the department’s designated
  145  district staff responsible for protective investigations in
  146  sufficient time to allow for an investigation. At the time of
  147  notification, the central abuse hotline shall also provide
  148  information to district staff on any previous report concerning
  149  a subject of the present report or any pertinent information
  150  relative to the present report or any noted earlier reports.
  151         (b) The department shall promptly notify the court of any
  152  report to the central abuse hotline that is accepted for a
  153  protective investigation and involves a child over whom the
  154  court has jurisdiction.
  155         (9)(a) For each report received from the central abuse
  156  hotline and accepted for investigation, the department or the
  157  sheriff providing child protective investigative services under
  158  s. 39.3065, shall perform the following child protective
  159  investigation activities to determine child safety:
  160         1. Conduct a review of all relevant, available information
  161  specific to the child and family and alleged maltreatment;
  162  family child welfare history; local, state, and federal criminal
  163  records checks; and requests for law enforcement assistance
  164  provided by the abuse hotline. Based on a review of available
  165  information, including the allegations in the current report, a
  166  determination shall be made as to whether immediate consultation
  167  should occur with law enforcement, the Child Protection Team, a
  168  domestic violence shelter or advocate, or a substance abuse or
  169  mental health professional. Such consultations should include
  170  discussion as to whether a joint response is necessary and
  171  feasible. A determination shall be made as to whether the person
  172  making the report should be contacted before the face-to-face
  173  interviews with the child and family members.
  174         2. Conduct face-to-face interviews with the child; other
  175  siblings, if any; and the parents, legal custodians, or
  176  caregivers.
  177         3. Assess the child’s residence, including a determination
  178  of the composition of the family and household, including the
  179  name, address, date of birth, social security number, sex, and
  180  race of each child named in the report; any siblings or other
  181  children in the same household or in the care of the same
  182  adults; the parents, legal custodians, or caregivers; and any
  183  other adults in the same household.
  184         4. Determine whether there is any indication that any child
  185  in the family or household has been abused, abandoned, or
  186  neglected; the nature and extent of present or prior injuries,
  187  abuse, or neglect, and any evidence thereof; and a determination
  188  as to the person or persons apparently responsible for the
  189  abuse, abandonment, or neglect, including the name, address,
  190  date of birth, social security number, sex, and race of each
  191  such person.
  192         5. Complete assessment of immediate child safety for each
  193  child based on available records, interviews, and observations
  194  with all persons named in subparagraph 2. and appropriate
  195  collateral contacts, which may include other professionals. The
  196  department’s child protection investigators are hereby
  197  designated a criminal justice agency for the purpose of
  198  accessing criminal justice information to be used for enforcing
  199  this state’s laws concerning the crimes of child abuse,
  200  abandonment, and neglect. This information shall be used solely
  201  for purposes supporting the detection, apprehension,
  202  prosecution, pretrial release, posttrial release, or
  203  rehabilitation of criminal offenders or persons accused of the
  204  crimes of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect and may not be
  205  further disseminated or used for any other purpose.
  206         6. Document the present and impending dangers to each child
  207  based on the identification of inadequate protective capacity
  208  through utilization of a standardized safety assessment
  209  instrument. If present or impending danger is identified, the
  210  child protective investigator must implement a safety plan or
  211  take the child into custody. If present danger is identified and
  212  the child is not removed, the child protective investigator
  213  shall create and implement a safety plan before leaving the home
  214  or the location where there is present danger. If impending
  215  danger is identified, the child protective investigator shall
  216  create and implement a safety plan as soon as necessary to
  217  protect the safety of the child. The child protective
  218  investigator may modify the safety plan if he or she identifies
  219  additional impending danger.
  220         a. If the child protective investigator implements a safety
  221  plan, the plan must be specific, sufficient, feasible, and
  222  sustainable in response to the realities of the present or
  223  impending danger. A safety plan may be an in-home plan or an
  224  out-of-home plan, or a combination of both. A safety plan may
  225  include tasks or responsibilities for a parent, caregiver, or
  226  legal custodian. However, a safety plan may not rely on
  227  promissory commitments by the parent, caregiver, or legal
  228  custodian who is currently not able to protect the child or on
  229  services that are not available or will not result in the safety
  230  of the child. A safety plan may not be implemented if for any
  231  reason the parents, guardian, or legal custodian lacks the
  232  capacity or ability to comply with the plan. If the department
  233  is not able to develop a plan that is specific, sufficient,
  234  feasible, and sustainable, the department shall file a shelter
  235  petition. A child protective investigator shall implement
  236  separate safety plans for the perpetrator of domestic violence,
  237  if the investigator, using reasonable efforts, can locate the
  238  perpetrator to implement a safety plan, and for the parent who
  239  is a victim of domestic violence as defined in s. 741.28.
  240  Reasonable efforts to locate a perpetrator include, but are not
  241  limited to, a diligent search pursuant to the same requirements
  242  as in s. 39.503. If the perpetrator of domestic violence is not
  243  the parent, guardian, or legal custodian of any child in the
  244  home and if the department does not intend to file a shelter
  245  petition or dependency petition that will assert allegations
  246  against the perpetrator as a parent of a child in the home, the
  247  child protective investigator shall seek issuance of an
  248  injunction authorized by s. 39.504 to implement a safety plan
  249  for the perpetrator and impose any other conditions to protect
  250  the child. The safety plan for the parent who is a victim of
  251  domestic violence may not be shared with the perpetrator. If any
  252  party to a safety plan fails to comply with the safety plan
  253  resulting in the child being unsafe, the department shall file a
  254  shelter petition.
  255         b. The child protective investigator shall collaborate with
  256  the community-based care lead agency in the development of the
  257  safety plan as necessary to ensure that the safety plan is
  258  specific, sufficient, feasible, and sustainable. The child
  259  protective investigator shall identify services necessary for
  260  the successful implementation of the safety plan. The child
  261  protective investigator and the community-based care lead agency
  262  shall mobilize service resources to assist all parties in
  263  complying with the safety plan. The community-based care lead
  264  agency shall prioritize safety plan services to families who
  265  have multiple risk factors, including, but not limited to, two
  266  or more of the following:
  267         (I) The parent or legal custodian is of young age;
  268         (II) The parent or legal custodian, or an adult currently
  269  living in or frequently visiting the home, has a history of
  270  substance abuse, mental illness, or domestic violence;
  271         (III) The parent or legal custodian, or an adult currently
  272  living in or frequently visiting the home, has been previously
  273  found to have physically or sexually abused a child;
  274         (IV) The parent or legal custodian or an adult currently
  275  living in or frequently visiting the home has been the subject
  276  of multiple allegations by reputable reports of abuse or
  277  neglect;
  278         (V) The child is physically or developmentally disabled; or
  279         (VI) The child is 3 years of age or younger.
  280         c. The child protective investigator shall monitor the
  281  implementation of the plan to ensure the child’s safety until
  282  the case is transferred to the lead agency at which time the
  283  lead agency shall monitor the implementation.
  284         d. The department may file a petition for shelter or
  285  dependency without a new child protective investigation or the
  286  concurrence of the child protective investigator if the child is
  287  unsafe but for the use of a safety plan and the parent or
  288  caregiver has not sufficiently increased protective capacities
  289  within 90 days after the transfer of the safety plan to the lead
  290  agency.
  291         Section 4. Subsection (1) of section 39.522, Florida
  292  Statutes, is amended, and subsection (4) is added to that
  293  section, to read:
  294         39.522 Postdisposition change of custody.—The court may
  295  change the temporary legal custody or the conditions of
  296  protective supervision at a postdisposition hearing, without the
  297  necessity of another adjudicatory hearing.
  298         (1)(a) At any time before a child is residing in the
  299  permanent placement approved at the permanency hearing, a child
  300  who has been placed in the child’s own home under the protective
  301  supervision of an authorized agent of the department, in the
  302  home of a relative, in the home of a legal custodian, or in some
  303  other place may be brought before the court by the department or
  304  by any other interested person, upon the filing of a motion
  305  alleging a need for a change in the conditions of protective
  306  supervision or the placement. If the parents or other legal
  307  custodians deny the need for a change, the court shall hear all
  308  parties in person or by counsel, or both. Upon the admission of
  309  a need for a change or after such hearing, the court shall enter
  310  an order changing the placement, modifying the conditions of
  311  protective supervision, or continuing the conditions of
  312  protective supervision as ordered. The standard for changing
  313  custody of the child shall be the best interests interest of the
  314  child. When determining whether a change of legal custody or
  315  placement is in applying this standard, the court shall consider
  316  the continuity of the child’s placement in the same out-of-home
  317  residence as a factor when determining the best interests of the
  318  child, the court shall consider:
  319         1. The child’s age.
  320         2. The physical, mental, and emotional health benefits to
  321  the child by remaining in his or her current placement or moving
  322  to the proposed placement.
  323         3. The stability and longevity of the child’s current
  324  placement.
  325         4. The established bonded relationship between the child
  326  and the current or proposed caregiver.
  327         5. The reasonable preference of the child, if the court has
  328  found that the child is of sufficient intelligence,
  329  understanding, and experience to express a preference.
  330         6. The recommendation of the child’s current caregiver.
  331         7. The recommendation of the child’s guardian ad litem, if
  332  one has been appointed.
  333         8. The child’s previous and current relationship with a
  334  sibling, if the change of legal custody or placement will
  335  separate or reunite siblings.
  336         9. The likelihood of the child attaining permanency in the
  337  current or proposed placement.
  338         10. Any other relevant factors.
  339         (b) If the child is not placed in foster care, then the new
  340  placement for the child must meet the home study criteria and
  341  court approval under pursuant to this chapter.
  342         (4)(a) The court or any party to the case may file a
  343  petition to place a child in out-of-home care after the child
  344  was placed in the child’s own home with an in-home safety plan
  345  or the child was reunified with a parent or caregiver with an
  346  in-home safety plan if:
  347         1. The child has again been abused, neglected, or abandoned
  348  by the parent or caregiver, or is suffering from or is in
  349  imminent danger of illness or injury as a result of abuse,
  350  neglect, or abandonment that has reoccurred; or
  351         2. The parent or caregiver has materially violated a
  352  condition of placement imposed by the court, including, but not
  353  limited to, not complying with the in-home safety plan or case
  354  plan.
  355         (b) If a child meets the criteria in paragraph (a) to be
  356  removed and placed in out-of-home care, the court must consider,
  357  at a minimum, the following in making its determination to
  358  remove the child and place the child in out-of-home care:
  359         1. The circumstances that caused the child’s dependency and
  360  other subsequently identified issues.
  361         2. The length of time the child has been placed in the home
  362  with an in-home safety plan.
  363         3. The parent’s or caregiver’s current level of protective
  364  capacities.
  365         4. The level of increase, if any, in the parent’s or
  366  caregiver’s protective capacities since the child’s placement in
  367  the home based on the length of time the child has been placed
  368  in the home.
  369         (c) The court shall evaluate the child’s permanency goal
  370  and change the permanency goal as needed if doing so would be in
  371  the best interests of the child.
  372         Section 5. Subsection (5) of section 39.6011, Florida
  373  Statutes, is amended to read:
  374         39.6011 Case plan development.—
  375         (5) The case plan must describe all of the following:
  376         (a) The role of the foster parents or caregivers legal
  377  custodians when developing the services that are to be provided
  378  to the child, foster parents, or caregivers. legal custodians;
  379         (b) The responsibility of the parents and caregivers to
  380  work together to successfully implement the case plan, how the
  381  case manager will assist the parents and caregivers in
  382  developing a productive relationship that includes meaningful
  383  communication and mutual support, and the ability of the parents
  384  or caregivers to notify the court or the case manager if
  385  ineffective communication takes place that negatively impacts
  386  the child.
  387         (c)(b) The responsibility of the case manager to forward a
  388  relative’s request to receive notification of all proceedings
  389  and hearings submitted under pursuant to s. 39.301(14)(b) to the
  390  attorney for the department.;
  391         (d)(c) The minimum number of face-to-face meetings to be
  392  held each month between the parents and the department’s family
  393  services counselors to review the progress of the plan, to
  394  eliminate barriers to progress, and to resolve conflicts or
  395  disagreements between parents and caregivers, service providers,
  396  or any other professional assisting the parents in the
  397  completion of the case plan.; and
  398         (e)(d) The parent’s responsibility for financial support of
  399  the child, including, but not limited to, health insurance and
  400  child support. The case plan must list the costs associated with
  401  any services or treatment that the parent and child are expected
  402  to receive which are the financial responsibility of the parent.
  403  The determination of child support and other financial support
  404  shall be made independently of any determination of indigency
  405  under s. 39.013.
  406         Section 6. Paragraph (b) of subsection (1) and paragraphs
  407  (a) and (c) of subsection (2) of section 39.701, Florida
  408  Statutes, are amended to read:
  409         39.701 Judicial review.—
  410         (1) GENERAL PROVISIONS.—
  411         (b)1. The court shall retain jurisdiction over a child
  412  returned to his or her parents for a minimum period of 6 months
  413  following the reunification, but, at that time, based on a
  414  report of the social service agency and the guardian ad litem,
  415  if one has been appointed, and any other relevant factors, the
  416  court shall make a determination as to whether supervision by
  417  the department and the court’s jurisdiction shall continue or be
  418  terminated.
  419         2. Notwithstanding subparagraph 1., the court must retain
  420  jurisdiction over a child if the child is placed in the home
  421  with a parent or caregiver with an in-home safety plan and such
  422  safety plan remains necessary for the child to reside safely in
  423  the home.
  425  AGE.—
  426         (a) Social study report for judicial review.—Before every
  427  judicial review hearing or citizen review panel hearing, the
  428  social service agency shall make an investigation and social
  429  study concerning all pertinent details relating to the child and
  430  shall furnish to the court or citizen review panel a written
  431  report that includes, but is not limited to:
  432         1. A description of the type of placement the child is in
  433  at the time of the hearing, including the safety of the child
  434  and the continuing necessity for and appropriateness of the
  435  placement.
  436         2. Documentation of the diligent efforts made by all
  437  parties to the case plan to comply with each applicable
  438  provision of the plan.
  439         3. The amount of fees assessed and collected during the
  440  period of time being reported.
  441         4. The services provided to the foster family or caregiver
  442  legal custodian in an effort to address the needs of the child
  443  as indicated in the case plan.
  444         5. A statement that either:
  445         a. The parent, though able to do so, did not comply
  446  substantially with the case plan, and the agency
  447  recommendations;
  448         b. The parent did substantially comply with the case plan;
  449  or
  450         c. The parent has partially complied with the case plan,
  451  with a summary of additional progress needed and the agency
  452  recommendations.
  453         6. A statement from the foster parent or caregiver legal
  454  custodian providing any material evidence concerning the well
  455  being of the child, the impact of any services provided to the
  456  child, the working relationship between the parents and
  457  caregivers, and the return of the child to the parent or
  458  parents.
  459         7. A statement concerning the frequency, duration, and
  460  results of the parent-child visitation, if any, and the agency
  461  and caregiver recommendations for an expansion or restriction of
  462  future visitation.
  463         8. The number of times a child has been removed from his or
  464  her home and placed elsewhere, the number and types of
  465  placements that have occurred, and the reason for the changes in
  466  placement.
  467         9. The number of times a child’s educational placement has
  468  been changed, the number and types of educational placements
  469  which have occurred, and the reason for any change in placement.
  470         10. If the child has reached 13 years of age but is not yet
  471  18 years of age, a statement from the caregiver on the progress
  472  the child has made in acquiring independent living skills.
  473         11. Copies of all medical, psychological, and educational
  474  records that support the terms of the case plan and that have
  475  been produced concerning the parents or any caregiver since the
  476  last judicial review hearing.
  477         12. Copies of the child’s current health, mental health,
  478  and education records as identified in s. 39.6012.
  479         (c) Review determinations.—The court and any citizen review
  480  panel shall take into consideration the information contained in
  481  the social services study and investigation and all medical,
  482  psychological, and educational records that support the terms of
  483  the case plan; testimony by the social services agency, the
  484  parent, the foster parent or caregiver legal custodian, the
  485  guardian ad litem or surrogate parent for educational
  486  decisionmaking if one has been appointed for the child, and any
  487  other person deemed appropriate; and any relevant and material
  488  evidence submitted to the court, including written and oral
  489  reports to the extent of their probative value. These reports
  490  and evidence may be received by the court in its effort to
  491  determine the action to be taken with regard to the child and
  492  may be relied upon to the extent of their probative value, even
  493  though not competent in an adjudicatory hearing. In its
  494  deliberations, the court and any citizen review panel shall seek
  495  to determine:
  496         1. If the parent was advised of the right to receive
  497  assistance from any person or social service agency in the
  498  preparation of the case plan.
  499         2. If the parent has been advised of the right to have
  500  counsel present at the judicial review or citizen review
  501  hearings. If not so advised, the court or citizen review panel
  502  shall advise the parent of such right.
  503         3. If a guardian ad litem needs to be appointed for the
  504  child in a case in which a guardian ad litem has not previously
  505  been appointed or if there is a need to continue a guardian ad
  506  litem in a case in which a guardian ad litem has been appointed.
  507         4. Who holds the rights to make educational decisions for
  508  the child. If appropriate, the court may refer the child to the
  509  district school superintendent for appointment of a surrogate
  510  parent or may itself appoint a surrogate parent under the
  511  Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and s. 39.0016.
  512         5. The compliance or lack of compliance of all parties with
  513  applicable items of the case plan, including the parents’
  514  compliance with child support orders.
  515         6. The compliance or lack of compliance with a visitation
  516  contract between the parent and the social service agency for
  517  contact with the child, including the frequency, duration, and
  518  results of the parent-child visitation and the reason for any
  519  noncompliance.
  520         7. The frequency, kind, and duration of contacts among
  521  siblings who have been separated during placement, as well as
  522  any efforts undertaken to reunite separated siblings if doing so
  523  is in the best interests interest of the child.
  524         8. The compliance or lack of compliance of the parent in
  525  meeting specified financial obligations pertaining to the care
  526  of the child, including the reason for failure to comply, if
  527  applicable.
  528         9. Whether the child is receiving safe and proper care
  529  according to s. 39.6012, including, but not limited to, the
  530  appropriateness of the child’s current placement, including
  531  whether the child is in a setting that is as family-like and as
  532  close to the parent’s home as possible, consistent with the
  533  child’s best interests and special needs, and including
  534  maintaining stability in the child’s educational placement, as
  535  documented by assurances from the community-based care lead
  536  agency provider that:
  537         a. The placement of the child takes into account the
  538  appropriateness of the current educational setting and the
  539  proximity to the school in which the child is enrolled at the
  540  time of placement.
  541         b. The community-based care lead agency has coordinated
  542  with appropriate local educational agencies to ensure that the
  543  child remains in the school in which the child is enrolled at
  544  the time of placement.
  545         10. A projected date likely for the child’s return home or
  546  other permanent placement.
  547         11. When appropriate, the basis for the unwillingness or
  548  inability of the parent to become a party to a case plan. The
  549  court and the citizen review panel shall determine if the
  550  efforts of the social service agency to secure party
  551  participation in a case plan were sufficient.
  552         12. For a child who has reached 13 years of age but is not
  553  yet 18 years of age, the adequacy of the child’s preparation for
  554  adulthood and independent living. For a child who is 15 years of
  555  age or older, the court shall determine if appropriate steps are
  556  being taken for the child to obtain a driver license or
  557  learner’s driver license.
  558         13. If amendments to the case plan are required. Amendments
  559  to the case plan must be made under s. 39.6013.
  560         14. If the parents and caregivers have developed a
  561  productive relationship that includes meaningful communication
  562  and mutual support.
  563         Section 7. Section 63.090, F.S., is created to read:
  564         63.090 Adoption of a child from the child welfare system.—
  565  The adoption of a child from Florida’s foster care system is a
  566  process that typically includes an orientation session, an in
  567  depth training program to help prospective parents determine if
  568  adoption is right for the family, a home study and a background
  569  check. Once the process has been completed, prospective parents
  570  are ready to be matched with a child available for adoption.
  571         (1) The prospective adoptive parents’ initial inquiry to
  572  the department or to the community-based care lead agency or
  573  subcontractor staff, whether written or verbal, shall receive a
  574  written response or a telephone call within 7 business days.
  575  Prospective adoptive parents who indicate an interest in
  576  adopting children in the custody of the department must be
  577  referred to a department approved adoptive parent training
  578  program as prescribed in rule.
  579         (2) An application to adopt must be made on the “Adoptive
  580  Home Application.”
  581         (3) An adoptive home study which includes observation,
  582  screening and evaluation of the child and adoptive applicants
  583  shall be completed by a staff person with the community-based
  584  care lead agency, subcontractor agency, or other licensed child
  585  placing agency prior to the adoptive placement of the child. The
  586  aim of this evaluation is to select families who will be able to
  587  meet the physical, emotional, social, educational and financial
  588  needs of a child, while safeguarding the child from further loss
  589  and separation from siblings and significant adults. The
  590  adoptive home study is valid for 12 months from the approval
  591  date.
  592         (4) In addition to other required documentation, an
  593  adoptive parent application file shall include the adoptive home
  594  study and verification that all background screening
  595  requirements have been met.
  596         (5) The department approved adoptive parent training must
  597  be provided to and successfully completed by all prospective
  598  adoptive parents except licensed foster parents and relative and
  599  non-relative caregivers who previously attended the training
  600  within the last 5 years, as prescribed in rule or have the child
  601  currently placed in their home for 6 months or longer and been
  602  determined to understand the challenges and parenting skills
  603  needed to successfully parent the children available for
  604  adoption from foster care.
  605         (6) At the conclusion of the preparation and study process,
  606  the counselor and supervisor will make a decision about the
  607  family’s appropriateness to adopt. The decision to approve or
  608  not to approve will be reflected in the final recommendation
  609  included in the home study. If the recommendation is for
  610  approval, the adoptive parent application file will be submitted
  611  to the community-based lead agency or subcontractor agency for
  612  approval which must be made within 14 business days.
  613         Section 8. Subsection (3) of section 63.092, Florida
  614  Statutes, is amended to read:
  615         63.092 Report to the court of intended placement by an
  616  adoption entity; at-risk placement; preliminary study.—
  617         (3) PRELIMINARY HOME STUDY.—Before placing the minor in the
  618  intended adoptive home, a preliminary home study must be
  619  performed by a licensed child-placing agency, a child-caring
  620  agency registered under s. 409.176, a licensed professional, or
  621  an agency described in s. 61.20(2), unless the adoptee is an
  622  adult or the petitioner is a stepparent or a relative. If the
  623  adoptee is an adult or the petitioner is a stepparent or a
  624  relative, a preliminary home study may be required by the court
  625  for good cause shown. The department is required to perform the
  626  preliminary home study only if there is no licensed child
  627  placing agency, child-caring agency registered under s. 409.176,
  628  licensed professional, or agency described in s. 61.20(2), in
  629  the county where the prospective adoptive parents reside. The
  630  preliminary home study must be made to determine the suitability
  631  of the intended adoptive parents and may be completed prior to
  632  identification of a prospective adoptive minor. Preliminary home
  633  studies initiated for identified prospective adoptive minors
  634  that are in the custody of the department must be completed
  635  within 30 days of initiation. A favorable preliminary home study
  636  is valid for 1 year after the date of its completion. Upon its
  637  completion, a signed copy of the home study must be provided to
  638  the intended adoptive parents who were the subject of the home
  639  study. A minor may not be placed in an intended adoptive home
  640  before a favorable preliminary home study is completed unless
  641  the adoptive home is also a licensed foster home under s.
  642  409.175. The preliminary home study must include, at a minimum:
  643         (a) An interview with the intended adoptive parents;
  644         (b) Records checks of the department’s central abuse
  645  registry, which the department shall provide to the entity
  646  conducting the preliminary home study, and criminal records
  647  correspondence checks under s. 39.0138 through the Department of
  648  Law Enforcement on the intended adoptive parents;
  649         (c) An assessment of the physical environment of the home;
  650         (d) A determination of the financial security of the
  651  intended adoptive parents;
  652         (e) Documentation of counseling and education of the
  653  intended adoptive parents on adoptive parenting, as determined
  654  by the entity conducting the preliminary home study. The
  655  training specified in s. 409.175(14) shall only be required for
  656  persons who adopt children from the department;
  657         (f) Documentation that information on adoption and the
  658  adoption process has been provided to the intended adoptive
  659  parents;
  660         (g) Documentation that information on support services
  661  available in the community has been provided to the intended
  662  adoptive parents; and
  663         (h) A copy of each signed acknowledgment of receipt of
  664  disclosure required by s. 63.085.
  666         If the preliminary home study is favorable, a minor may be
  667  placed in the home pending entry of the judgment of adoption. A
  668  minor may not be placed in the home if the preliminary home
  669  study is unfavorable. If the preliminary home study is
  670  unfavorable, the adoption entity may, within 20 days after
  671  receipt of a copy of the written recommendation, petition the
  672  court to determine the suitability of the intended adoptive
  673  home. A determination as to suitability under this subsection
  674  does not act as a presumption of suitability at the final
  675  hearing. In determining the suitability of the intended adoptive
  676  home, the court must consider the totality of the circumstances
  677  in the home. A minor may not be placed in a home in which there
  678  resides any person determined by the court to be a sexual
  679  predator as defined in s. 775.21 or to have been convicted of an
  680  offense listed in s. 63.089(4)(b)2.
  681         Section 9. Section 409.1415, Florida Statutes, is created
  682  to read:
  683         409.1415 Parenting partnerships for children in out-of-home
  684  care.—
  686         (a)The Legislature finds that reunification is the most
  687  common outcome for children in out-of-home care and that foster
  688  parents are one of the most important resources to help children
  689  reunify with their families.
  690         (b)The Legislature further finds that the most successful
  691  foster parents understand that their role goes beyond supporting
  692  the children in their care to supporting the children’s
  693  families, as a whole, and that children and their families
  694  benefit when foster and birth parents are supported by an agency
  695  culture that encourages a meaningful partnership between them
  696  and provides quality support.
  697         (c)Therefore, in keeping with national trends, it is the
  698  intent of the Legislature to bring birth parents and foster
  699  parents together in order to build strong relationships that
  700  lead to more successful reunifications and more stability for
  701  children being fostered in out-of-home care.
  703         (a)General provisions.—In order to ensure that children in
  704  out-of-home care achieve legal permanency as soon as possible,
  705  to reduce the likelihood that they will re-enter care or that
  706  other children in the family are abused or neglected or enter
  707  out-of-home care, and to ensure that families are fully prepared
  708  to resume custody of their children, the department and
  709  community-based care lead agencies shall develop and support
  710  relationships between foster families and the legal parents of
  711  children in out-of-home care to the extent that it is safe and
  712  in the child’s best interest, by:
  713         1. Facilitating telephone communication between the foster
  714  parent and the birth or legal parent as soon as possible after
  715  the child is placed in the home.
  716         2. Facilitating and attending an in-person meeting between
  717  the foster parent and the birth or legal parent within 2 weeks
  718  after placement.
  719         3. Developing and supporting a plan for birth or legal
  720  parents to participate in medical appointments, educational and
  721  extra-curricular activities, and other events involving the
  722  child.
  723         4.Facilitating participation by the foster parent in
  724  visitation between the birth parent and child.
  725         5.Involving the foster parent in planning meetings with
  726  the birth parent.
  727         6.Developing and implementing effective transition plans
  728  for the child’s return home or placement in any other living
  729  environment.
  730         7.Supporting continued contact between the foster family
  731  and the child after the child returns home or moves to another
  732  permanent living arrangement.
  733         8. Supporting continued connection with the birth parent
  734  after adoption.
  735         (b)Responsibilities.—To ensure that a child in out-of-home
  736  care receives support for healthy development which gives him or
  737  her the best possible opportunity for success, foster parents,
  738  birth parents, the department, community-based care lead agency
  739  staff, and other agency staff, as applicable, shall work
  740  cooperatively in a respectful partnership by adhering to the
  741  following requirements:
  742         1. All members of the partnership must interact and
  743  communicate professionally with one another, must share all
  744  relevant information promptly, and must respect the
  745  confidentiality of all information related to a child and his or
  746  her family.
  747         2.Caregivers, the family, the department, community-based
  748  care lead agency staff, and other agency staff must participate
  749  in developing a case plan for the child and family, and all
  750  members of the team must work together to implement the plan.
  751  Caregivers must participate in all team meetings or court
  752  hearings related to the child’s care and future plans. The
  753  department, community-based care lead agency staff, and other
  754  agency staff must support and facilitate caregiver participation
  755  through timely notification of such meetings and hearings and an
  756  inclusive process, and by providing alternative methods for
  757  participation for caregivers who cannot be physically present at
  758  a meeting or hearing.
  759         3.Excellent parenting is a reasonable expectation of
  760  caregivers. Caregivers must provide, and the department,
  761  community-based care lead agency staff, and other agency staff
  762  must support, excellent parenting. “Excellent parenting” means a
  763  loving commitment to the child and the child’s safety and well
  764  being; appropriate supervision and positive methods of
  765  discipline; encouragement of the child’s strengths; respect for
  766  the child’s individuality and likes and dislikes; providing
  767  opportunities to develop the child’s interests and skills; being
  768  aware of the impact of trauma on behavior; facilitating equal
  769  participation of the child in family life; involving the child
  770  within his or her community; and a commitment to enable the
  771  child to lead a normal life.
  772         4.Children in out-of-home care may be placed only with a
  773  caregiver who has the ability to care for the child, is willing
  774  to accept responsibility for providing care, and is willing and
  775  able to learn about and be respectful of the child’s culture,
  776  religion, and ethnicity; special physical or psychological
  777  needs; any circumstances unique to the child; and family
  778  relationships. The department, the community-based care lead
  779  agency, and other agencies must provide a caregiver with all
  780  available information necessary to assist the caregiver in
  781  determining whether he or she is able to appropriately care for
  782  a particular child.
  783         5.A caregiver must have access to and take advantage of
  784  all training that he or she needs to improve his or her skills
  785  in parenting a child who has experienced trauma due to neglect,
  786  abuse, or separation from home; to meet the child’s special
  787  needs; and to work effectively with child welfare agencies, the
  788  courts, the schools, and other community and governmental
  789  agencies.
  790         6.The department, community-based care lead agency staff,
  791  and other agency staff must provide caregivers with the services
  792  and support they need to enable them to provide quality care for
  793  the child.
  794         7.Once a family accepts the responsibility of caring for a
  795  child, the child may be removed from that family only if the
  796  family is clearly unable to care for him or her safely or
  797  legally, when the child and his or her biological family are
  798  reunified, when the child is being placed in a legally permanent
  799  home in accordance with a case plan or court order, or when the
  800  removal is demonstrably in the best interests of the child.
  801         8.If a child must leave the caregiver’s home for one of
  802  the reasons stated in subparagraph 7., and in the absence of an
  803  unforeseeable emergency, the transition must be accomplished
  804  according to a plan that involves cooperation and sharing of
  805  information among all persons involved, respects the child’s
  806  developmental stage and psychological needs, ensures the child
  807  has all of his or her belongings, allows for a gradual
  808  transition from the caregiver’s home, and, if possible, allows
  809  for continued contact with the caregiver after the child leaves.
  810         9.When the plan for a child includes reunification,
  811  caregivers and agency staff must work together to assist the
  812  biological parents in improving their ability to care for and
  813  protect their children and to provide continuity for the child.
  814         10.A caregiver must respect and support the child’s ties
  815  to his or her biological family including parents, siblings, and
  816  extended family members and must assist the child in visitation
  817  and other forms of communication. The department, community
  818  based care lead agency staff, and other agency staff must
  819  provide caregivers with the information, guidance, training, and
  820  support necessary for fulfilling this responsibility.
  821         11.A caregiver must work in partnership with the
  822  department, community-based care lead agency staff, and other
  823  agency staff to obtain and maintain records that are important
  824  to the child’s well-being including, but not limited to, child
  825  resource records, medical records, school records, photographs,
  826  and records of special events and achievements.
  827         12.A caregiver must effectively advocate for a child in
  828  his or her care with the child welfare system, the court, and
  829  community agencies, including schools, child care providers,
  830  health and mental health providers, and employers. The
  831  department, community-based care lead agency staff, and other
  832  agency staff must support a caregiver in effectively advocating
  833  for a child and may not retaliate against the caregiver as a
  834  result of this advocacy.
  835         13.A caregiver must be as fully involved in the child’s
  836  medical, psychological, and dental care as he or she would be
  837  for his or her biological child. Agency staff must support and
  838  facilitate such participation. Caregivers, the department,
  839  community-based care lead agency staff, and other agency staff
  840  must share information with each other about the child’s health
  841  and well-being.
  842         14.A caregiver must support a child’s school success,
  843  including, when possible, maintaining school stability by
  844  participating in school activities and meetings, including
  845  individual education plan meetings; assisting with school
  846  assignments; supporting tutoring programs; meeting with teachers
  847  and working with an educational surrogate, if one has been
  848  appointed; and encouraging the child’s participation in
  849  extracurricular activities. Agency staff must facilitate this
  850  participation and must be kept informed of the child’s progress
  851  and needs.
  852         15.Caseworkers and caseworker supervisors must mediate
  853  disagreements that occur between foster parents and birth
  854  parents.
  855         (c)Residential group homes.—All caregivers employed by
  856  residential group homes must meet the same education, training,
  857  and background and other screening requirements as foster
  858  parents and must adhere to the requirements in paragraph (b).
  859         (3)RULEMAKING.—The department shall adopt by rule
  860  procedures to administer this section.
  861         Section 10. Section 409.145, Florida Statutes, is amended
  862  to read:
  863         409.145 Care of children; quality parenting; “reasonable
  864  and prudent parent” standard.—The child welfare system of the
  865  department shall operate as a coordinated community-based system
  866  of care which empowers all caregivers for children in foster
  867  care to provide quality parenting, including approving or
  868  disapproving a child’s participation in activities based on the
  869  caregiver’s assessment using the “reasonable and prudent parent”
  870  standard.
  871         (1) SYSTEM OF CARE.—The department shall develop,
  872  implement, and administer a coordinated community-based system
  873  of care for children who are found to be dependent and their
  874  families. This system of care must be directed toward the
  875  following goals:
  876         (a) Prevention of separation of children from their
  877  families.
  878         (b) Intervention to allow children to remain safely in
  879  their own homes.
  880         (c) Reunification of families who have had children removed
  881  from their care.
  882         (d) Safety for children who are separated from their
  883  families by providing alternative emergency or longer-term
  884  parenting arrangements.
  885         (e) Focus on the well-being of children through emphasis on
  886  maintaining educational stability and providing timely health
  887  care.
  888         (f) Permanency for children for whom reunification with
  889  their families is not possible or is not in the best interest of
  890  the child.
  891         (g) The transition to independence and self-sufficiency for
  892  older children who remain in foster care through adolescence.
  893         (2) QUALITY PARENTING.—A child in foster care shall be
  894  placed only with a caregiver who has the ability to care for the
  895  child, is willing to accept responsibility for providing care,
  896  and is willing and able to learn about and be respectful of the
  897  child’s culture, religion and ethnicity, special physical or
  898  psychological needs, any circumstances unique to the child, and
  899  family relationships. The department, the community-based care
  900  lead agency, and other agencies shall provide such caregiver
  901  with all available information necessary to assist the caregiver
  902  in determining whether he or she is able to appropriately care
  903  for a particular child.
  904         (a) Roles and responsibilities of caregivers.—A caregiver
  905  shall:
  906         1. Participate in developing the case plan for the child
  907  and his or her family and work with others involved in his or
  908  her care to implement this plan. This participation includes the
  909  caregiver’s involvement in all team meetings or court hearings
  910  related to the child’s care.
  911         2. Complete all training needed to improve skills in
  912  parenting a child who has experienced trauma due to neglect,
  913  abuse, or separation from home, to meet the child’s special
  914  needs, and to work effectively with child welfare agencies, the
  915  court, the schools, and other community and governmental
  916  agencies.
  917         3. Respect and support the child’s ties to members of his
  918  or her biological family and assist the child in maintaining
  919  allowable visitation and other forms of communication.
  920         4. Effectively advocate for the child in the caregiver’s
  921  care with the child welfare system, the court, and community
  922  agencies, including the school, child care, health and mental
  923  health providers, and employers.
  924         5. Participate fully in the child’s medical, psychological,
  925  and dental care as the caregiver would for his or her biological
  926  child.
  927         6. Support the child’s educational success by participating
  928  in activities and meetings associated with the child’s school or
  929  other educational setting, including Individual Education Plan
  930  meetings and meetings with an educational surrogate if one has
  931  been appointed, assisting with assignments, supporting tutoring
  932  programs, and encouraging the child’s participation in
  933  extracurricular activities.
  934         a. Maintaining educational stability for a child while in
  935  out-of-home care by allowing the child to remain in the school
  936  or educational setting that he or she attended before entry into
  937  out-of-home care is the first priority, unless not in the best
  938  interest of the child.
  939         b. If it is not in the best interest of the child to remain
  940  in his or her school or educational setting upon entry into out
  941  of-home care, the caregiver must work with the case manager,
  942  guardian ad litem, teachers and guidance counselors, and
  943  educational surrogate if one has been appointed to determine the
  944  best educational setting for the child. Such setting may include
  945  a public school that is not the school of origin, a private
  946  school pursuant to s. 1002.42, a virtual instruction program
  947  pursuant to s. 1002.45, or a home education program pursuant to
  948  s. 1002.41.
  949         7. Work in partnership with other stakeholders to obtain
  950  and maintain records that are important to the child’s well
  951  being, including child resource records, medical records, school
  952  records, photographs, and records of special events and
  953  achievements.
  954         8. Ensure that the child in the caregiver’s care who is
  955  between 13 and 17 years of age learns and masters independent
  956  living skills.
  957         9. Ensure that the child in the caregiver’s care is aware
  958  of the requirements and benefits of the Road-to-Independence
  959  Program.
  960         10. Work to enable the child in the caregiver’s care to
  961  establish and maintain naturally occurring mentoring
  962  relationships.
  963         (b) Roles and responsibilities of the department, the
  964  community-based care lead agency, and other agency staff.—The
  965  department, the community-based care lead agency, and other
  966  agency staff shall:
  967         1. Include a caregiver in the development and
  968  implementation of the case plan for the child and his or her
  969  family. The caregiver shall be authorized to participate in all
  970  team meetings or court hearings related to the child’s care and
  971  future plans. The caregiver’s participation shall be facilitated
  972  through timely notification, an inclusive process, and
  973  alternative methods for participation for a caregiver who cannot
  974  be physically present.
  975         2. Develop and make available to the caregiver the
  976  information, services, training, and support that the caregiver
  977  needs to improve his or her skills in parenting children who
  978  have experienced trauma due to neglect, abuse, or separation
  979  from home, to meet these children’s special needs, and to
  980  advocate effectively with child welfare agencies, the courts,
  981  schools, and other community and governmental agencies.
  982         3. Provide the caregiver with all information related to
  983  services and other benefits that are available to the child.
  984         4. Show no prejudice against a caregiver who desires to
  985  educate at home a child placed in his or her home through the
  986  child welfare system.
  987         (c) Transitions.
  988         1. Once a caregiver accepts the responsibility of caring
  989  for a child, the child will be removed from the home of that
  990  caregiver only if:
  991         a. The caregiver is clearly unable to safely or legally
  992  care for the child;
  993         b. The child and his or her biological family are
  994  reunified;
  995         c. The child is being placed in a legally permanent home
  996  pursuant to the case plan or a court order; or
  997         d. The removal is demonstrably in the child’s best
  998  interest.
  999         2. In the absence of an emergency, if a child leaves the
 1000  caregiver’s home for a reason provided under subparagraph 1.,
 1001  the transition must be accomplished according to a plan that
 1002  involves cooperation and sharing of information among all
 1003  persons involved, respects the child’s developmental stage and
 1004  psychological needs, ensures the child has all of his or her
 1005  belongings, allows for a gradual transition from the caregiver’s
 1006  home and, if possible, for continued contact with the caregiver
 1007  after the child leaves.
 1008         (d) Information sharing.—Whenever a foster home or
 1009  residential group home assumes responsibility for the care of a
 1010  child, the department and any additional providers shall make
 1011  available to the caregiver as soon as is practicable all
 1012  relevant information concerning the child. Records and
 1013  information that are required to be shared with caregivers
 1014  include, but are not limited to:
 1015         1. Medical, dental, psychological, psychiatric, and
 1016  behavioral history, as well as ongoing evaluation or treatment
 1017  needs;
 1018         2. School records;
 1019         3. Copies of his or her birth certificate and, if
 1020  appropriate, immigration status documents;
 1021         4. Consents signed by parents;
 1022         5. Comprehensive behavioral assessments and other social
 1023  assessments;
 1024         6. Court orders;
 1025         7. Visitation and case plans;
 1026         8. Guardian ad litem reports;
 1027         9. Staffing forms; and
 1028         10. Judicial or citizen review panel reports and
 1029  attachments filed with the court, except confidential medical,
 1030  psychiatric, and psychological information regarding any party
 1031  or participant other than the child.
 1032         (e) Caregivers employed by residential group homes.—All
 1033  caregivers in residential group homes shall meet the same
 1034  education, training, and background and other screening
 1035  requirements as foster parents.
 1037         (a) Definitions.—As used in this subsection, the term:
 1038         1. “Age-appropriate” means an activity or item that is
 1039  generally accepted as suitable for a child of the same
 1040  chronological age or level of maturity. Age appropriateness is
 1041  based on the development of cognitive, emotional, physical, and
 1042  behavioral capacity which is typical for an age or age group.
 1043         2. “Caregiver” means a person with whom the child is placed
 1044  in out-of-home care, or a designated official for a group care
 1045  facility licensed by the department under s. 409.175.
 1046         3. “Reasonable and prudent parent” standard means the
 1047  standard of care used by a caregiver in determining whether to
 1048  allow a child in his or her care to participate in
 1049  extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities. This
 1050  standard is characterized by careful and thoughtful parental
 1051  decisionmaking that is intended to maintain a child’s health,
 1052  safety, and best interest while encouraging the child’s
 1053  emotional and developmental growth.
 1054         (b) Application of standard of care.—
 1055         1. Every child who comes into out-of-home care pursuant to
 1056  this chapter is entitled to participate in age-appropriate
 1057  extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities.
 1058         2. Each caregiver shall use the reasonable and prudent
 1059  parent standard in determining whether to give permission for a
 1060  child living in out-of-home care to participate in
 1061  extracurricular, enrichment, or social activities. When using
 1062  the reasonable and prudent parent standard, the caregiver must
 1063  consider:
 1064         a. The child’s age, maturity, and developmental level to
 1065  maintain the overall health and safety of the child.
 1066         b. The potential risk factors and the appropriateness of
 1067  the extracurricular, enrichment, or social activity.
 1068         c. The best interest of the child, based on information
 1069  known by the caregiver.
 1070         d. The importance of encouraging the child’s emotional and
 1071  developmental growth.
 1072         e. The importance of providing the child with the most
 1073  family-like living experience possible.
 1074         f. The behavioral history of the child and the child’s
 1075  ability to safely participate in the proposed activity.
 1076         (c) Verification of services delivered.—The department and
 1077  each community-based care lead agency shall verify that private
 1078  agencies providing out-of-home care services to dependent
 1079  children have policies in place which are consistent with this
 1080  section and that these agencies promote and protect the ability
 1081  of dependent children to participate in age-appropriate
 1082  extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities.
 1083         (d) Limitation of liability.—A caregiver is not liable for
 1084  harm caused to a child who participates in an activity approved
 1085  by the caregiver, provided that the caregiver has acted in
 1086  accordance with the reasonable and prudent parent standard. This
 1087  paragraph may not be interpreted as removing or limiting any
 1088  existing liability protection afforded by law.
 1089         (3)(4) FOSTER CARE ROOM AND BOARD RATES.—
 1090         (a) Effective July 1, 2018, room and board rates shall be
 1091  paid to foster parents as follows:
 1092                       Monthly Foster Care Rate                      
 1093       0-5 YearsAge         6-12 YearsAge         13-21 YearsAge    
 1094         $457.95               $469.68               $549.74        
 1095         Section 1 Section 25.385, Florida Statutes, is amended to
 1096  read:
 1097         Section 1 Section 25.385, Florida Statutes, is amended to
 1098  read:
 1099         Section 1 Section 25.385, Florida Statutes, is amended to
 1100  read:
 1101         Section 1 Section 25.385, Florida Statutes, is amended to
 1102  read:
 1104         (b) Each January, foster parents shall receive an annual
 1105  cost of living increase. The department shall calculate the new
 1106  room and board rate increase equal to the percentage change in
 1107  the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, U.S. City
 1108  Average, All Items, not seasonally adjusted, or successor
 1109  reports, for the preceding December compared to the prior
 1110  December as initially reported by the United States Department
 1111  of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. The department shall make
 1112  available the adjusted room and board rates annually.
 1113         (c) Effective July 1, 2019, foster parents of level I
 1114  family foster homes, as defined in s. 409.175(5)(a) shall
 1115  receive a room and board rate of $333.
 1116         (d) Effective July 1, 2019, the foster care room and board
 1117  rate for level II family foster homes as defined in s.
 1118  409.175(5)(a) shall be the same as the new rate established for
 1119  family foster homes as of January 1, 2019.
 1120         (e) Effective January 1, 2020, paragraph (b) shall only
 1121  apply to level II through level V family foster homes, as
 1122  defined in s. 409.175(5)(a).
 1123         (f) The amount of the monthly foster care room and board
 1124  rate may be increased upon agreement among the department, the
 1125  community-based care lead agency, and the foster parent.
 1126         (g) From July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019, community
 1127  based care lead agencies providing care under contract with the
 1128  department shall pay a supplemental room and board payment to
 1129  foster care parents of all family foster homes, on a per-child
 1130  basis, for providing independent life skills and normalcy
 1131  supports to children who are 13 through 17 years of age placed
 1132  in their care. The supplemental payment shall be paid monthly to
 1133  the foster care parents in addition to the current monthly room
 1134  and board rate payment. The supplemental monthly payment shall
 1135  be based on 10 percent of the monthly room and board rate for
 1136  children 13 through 21 years of age as provided under this
 1137  section and adjusted annually. Effective July 1, 2019, such
 1138  supplemental payments shall only be paid to foster parents of
 1139  level II through level V family foster homes.
 1140         (4)(5) RULEMAKING.—The department shall adopt by rule
 1141  procedures to administer this section.
 1142         Section 11. Paragraph (b)of subsection(6)of section
 1143  409.175, Florida Statutes, is amended and new paragraph(d)is
 1144  added, to read:
 1145         409.175 Licensure of family foster homes, residential
 1146  child-caring agencies, and child-placing agencies; public
 1147  records exemption.—
 1148         (6)
 1149         (b) Upon application for licensure, the department shall
 1150  conduct a licensing study based on its licensing rules; shall
 1151  inspect the home or the agency and the records, including
 1152  financial records, of the applicant or agency; and shall
 1153  interview the applicant. The department may authorize a licensed
 1154  child-placing agency to conduct the licensing study of a family
 1155  foster home to be used exclusively by that agency and to verify
 1156  to the department that the home meets the licensing requirements
 1157  established by the department. A licensing study of a family
 1158  foster home must be completed by the department or an authorized
 1159  licensed child-placing agency within 30 days of initiation. The
 1160  department shall post on its website a list of the agencies
 1161  authorized to conduct such studies.
 1162         1. The complete application file shall be submitted in
 1163  accordance with the traditional or attestation model for
 1164  licensure as prescribed in rule. In addition to other required
 1165  documentation a traditional licensing application file must
 1166  include a completed licensing study and verification of
 1167  background screening requirements.
 1168         2.The department regional licensing authority is
 1169  responsible for ensuring that the licensing application file is
 1170  complete and that all licensing requirements are met for the
 1171  issuance of the license. If the child-placing agency is
 1172  contracted with a community-based care lead agency, the
 1173  licensing application file shall contain documentation of a
 1174  review by the community-based care lead agency and the regional
 1175  licensing authority and a recommendation for approval or denial
 1176  by the community-based care lead agency. Upon certification by a
 1177  licensed child-placing agency that a family foster home meets
 1178  the licensing requirements and upon receipt of a letter from a
 1179  community-based care lead agency in the service area where the
 1180  home will be licensed which indicates that the family foster
 1181  home meets the criteria established by the lead agency, the
 1182  department shall issue the license. A letter from the lead
 1183  agency is not required if the lead agency where the proposed
 1184  home is located is directly supervising foster homes in the same
 1185  service area.
 1186         3. An application file must be approved or denied within 10
 1187  business days after receipt by the regional licensing authority.
 1188  If the application file is approved, a license shall be issued
 1189  to the applicant(s). The license shall include the name and
 1190  address of the caregiver(s), the name of the supervising agency,
 1191  the licensed capacity, and the dates for which the license is
 1192  valid. The department regional managing director or designee
 1193  within upper level management shall sign the license. Any
 1194  limitations shall be displayed on the license.
 1195         4. A copy of the license shall be provided by the regional
 1196  licensing authority to the community-based care lead agency or
 1197  supervising agency. The community-based care lead agency or
 1198  supervising agency is responsible for ensuring the license is
 1199  sent to the foster parent.
 1200         (d) The department must issue a determination regarding an
 1201  application for a family foster home license within 100 days of
 1202  completion of orientation as provided in s. 409.175(14)(b)1,
 1203  Florida Statutes. Licenses that require additional
 1204  certifications pursuant to 409.175(5)(a), may be given
 1205  additional time to issue a determination.
 1206         Section 12. Paragraph (j) of subsection (1) of section
 1207  409.988, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
 1208         409.988 Lead agency duties; general provisions.—
 1209         (1) DUTIES.—A lead agency:
 1210         (j) May subcontract for the provision of services required
 1211  by the contract with the lead agency and the department;
 1212  however, the subcontracts must specify how the provider will
 1213  contribute to the lead agency meeting the performance standards
 1214  established pursuant to the child welfare results-oriented
 1215  accountability system required by s. 409.997. The lead agency
 1216  shall directly provide no more than 35 percent of all child
 1217  welfare services provided unless it can demonstrate a need,
 1218  within the lead agency’s geographic service area, to exceed this
 1219  threshold. The local community alliance in the geographic
 1220  service area in which the lead agency is seeking to exceed the
 1221  threshold shall review the lead agency’s justification for need
 1222  and recommend to the department whether the department should
 1223  approve or deny the lead agency’s request for an exemption from
 1224  the services threshold. If there is not a community alliance
 1225  operating in the geographic service area in which the lead
 1226  agency is seeking to exceed the threshold, such review and
 1227  recommendation shall be made by representatives of local
 1228  stakeholders, including at least one representative from each of
 1229  the following:
 1230         1. The department.
 1231         2. The county government.
 1232         3. The school district.
 1233         4. The county United Way.
 1234         5. The county sheriff’s office.
 1235         6. The circuit court corresponding to the county.
 1236         7. The county children’s board, if one exists.
 1237         Section 13. Paragraph (b) of subsection (7) of section
 1238  39.302, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
 1239         39.302 Protective investigations of institutional child
 1240  abuse, abandonment, or neglect.—
 1241         (7) When an investigation of institutional abuse, neglect,
 1242  or abandonment is closed and a person is not identified as a
 1243  caregiver responsible for the abuse, neglect, or abandonment
 1244  alleged in the report, the fact that the person is named in some
 1245  capacity in the report may not be used in any way to adversely
 1246  affect the interests of that person. This prohibition applies to
 1247  any use of the information in employment screening, licensing,
 1248  child placement, adoption, or any other decisions by a private
 1249  adoption agency or a state agency or its contracted providers.
 1250         (b) Likewise, if a person is employed as a caregiver in a
 1251  residential group home licensed pursuant to s. 409.175 and is
 1252  named in any capacity in three or more reports within a 5-year
 1253  period, the department may review all reports for the purposes
 1254  of the employment screening required pursuant to s.
 1255  409.1415(2)(c) s. 409.145(2)(e).
 1256         Section 14. Paragraph (d) of subsection (5) of section
 1257  39.6225, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
 1258         39.6225 Guardianship Assistance Program.—
 1259         (5) A guardian with an application approved pursuant to
 1260  subsection (2) who is caring for a child placed with the
 1261  guardian by the court pursuant to this part may receive
 1262  guardianship assistance payments based on the following
 1263  criteria:
 1264         (d) The department shall provide guardianship assistance
 1265  payments in the amount of $4,000 annually, paid on a monthly
 1266  basis, or in an amount other than $4,000 annually as determined
 1267  by the guardian and the department and memorialized in a written
 1268  agreement between the guardian and the department. The agreement
 1269  shall take into consideration the circumstances of the guardian
 1270  and the needs of the child. Changes may not be made without the
 1271  concurrence of the guardian. However, in no case shall the
 1272  amount of the monthly payment exceed the foster care maintenance
 1273  payment that would have been paid during the same period if the
 1274  child had been in licensed care at his or her designated level
 1275  of care at the rate established in s. 409.145(3) s. 409.145(4).
 1276         Section 15. Paragraph (b) of subsection (5) of section
 1277  393.065, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
 1278         393.065 Application and eligibility determination.—
 1279         (5) The agency shall assign and provide priority to clients
 1280  waiting for waiver services in the following order:
 1281         (b) Category 2, which includes individuals on the waiting
 1282  list who are:
 1283         1. From the child welfare system with an open case in the
 1284  Department of Children and Families’ statewide automated child
 1285  welfare information system and who are either:
 1286         a. Transitioning out of the child welfare system at the
 1287  finalization of an adoption, a reunification with family
 1288  members, a permanent placement with a relative, or a
 1289  guardianship with a nonrelative; or
 1290         b. At least 18 years but not yet 22 years of age and who
 1291  need both waiver services and extended foster care services; or
 1292         2. At least 18 years but not yet 22 years of age and who
 1293  withdrew consent pursuant to s. 39.6251(5)(c) to remain in the
 1294  extended foster care system.
 1296         For individuals who are at least 18 years but not yet 22
 1297  years of age and who are eligible under sub-subparagraph 1.b.,
 1298  the agency shall provide waiver services, including residential
 1299  habilitation, and the community-based care lead agency shall
 1300  fund room and board at the rate established in s. 409.145(3) s.
 1301  409.145(4) and provide case management and related services as
 1302  defined in s. 409.986(3)(e). Individuals may receive both waiver
 1303  services and services under s. 39.6251. Services may not
 1304  duplicate services available through the Medicaid state plan.
 1305         Section 16. Paragraph (b) of subsection (2) of section
 1306  409.1451, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
 1307         409.1451 The Road-to-Independence Program.—
 1309         (b) The amount of the financial assistance shall be as
 1310  follows:
 1311         1. For a young adult who does not remain in foster care and
 1312  is attending a postsecondary school as provided in s. 1009.533,
 1313  the amount is $1,256 monthly.
 1314         2. For a young adult who remains in foster care, is
 1315  attending a postsecondary school, as provided in s. 1009.533,
 1316  and continues to reside in a licensed foster home, the amount is
 1317  the established room and board rate for foster parents. This
 1318  takes the place of the payment provided for in s. 409.145(3) s.
 1319  409.145(4).
 1320         3. For a young adult who remains in foster care, but
 1321  temporarily resides away from a licensed foster home for
 1322  purposes of attending a postsecondary school as provided in s.
 1323  1009.533, the amount is $1,256 monthly. This takes the place of
 1324  the payment provided for in s. 409.145(3) s. 409.145(4).
 1325         4. For a young adult who remains in foster care, is
 1326  attending a postsecondary school as provided in s. 1009.533, and
 1327  continues to reside in a licensed group home, the amount is
 1328  negotiated between the community-based care lead agency and the
 1329  licensed group home provider.
 1330         5. For a young adult who remains in foster care, but
 1331  temporarily resides away from a licensed group home for purposes
 1332  of attending a postsecondary school as provided in s. 1009.533,
 1333  the amount is $1,256 monthly. This takes the place of a
 1334  negotiated room and board rate.
 1335         6. A young adult is eligible to receive financial
 1336  assistance during the months when he or she is enrolled in a
 1337  postsecondary educational institution.
 1338         Section 17. This act shall take effect July 1, 2020.
 1340  ================= T I T L E  A M E N D M E N T ================
 1341  And the title is amended as follows:
 1342         Delete everything before the enacting clause
 1343  and insert:
 1344                        A bill to be entitled                      
 1345         An act relating to child welfare; amending s. 25.385,
 1346         F.S.; requiring the Florida Court Educational Council
 1347         to establish certain standards for instruction of
 1348         circuit and county court judges for dependency cases;
 1349         requiring the council to provide such instruction on a
 1350         periodic and timely basis; creating s. 39.01304, F.S.;
 1351         providing legislative intent; providing a purpose;
 1352         authorizing circuit courts to create early childhood
 1353         court programs; requiring that early childhood court
 1354         programs have certain components; defining the term
 1355         “therapeutic jurisprudence”; providing requirements
 1356         and guidelines for the Office of the State Courts
 1357         Administrator when hiring community coordinators and a
 1358         statewide training specialist; requiring the
 1359         Department of Children and Families to contract with
 1360         certain university-based centers; requiring the
 1361         university-based centers to hire a clinical director;
 1362         amending s. 39.0138, F.S,; providing a limitation on
 1363         the amount of time to complete background screenings;
 1364         amending s. 39.301, F.S.; requiring the Department of
 1365         Children and Families to notify the court of certain
 1366         reports; authorizing the department to file specified
 1367         petitions under certain circumstances; amending s.
 1368         39.522, F.S.; requiring the court to consider
 1369         specified factors when making a certain determination;
 1370         authorizing the court or any party to the case to file
 1371         a petition to place a child in out-of-home care under
 1372         certain circumstances; requiring the court to consider
 1373         specified factors when determining whether the child
 1374         should be placed in out-of-home care; amending s.
 1375         39.6011, F.S.; revising and providing requirements for
 1376         case plan descriptions; amending s. 39.701, F.S.;
 1377         requiring the court to retain jurisdiction over a
 1378         child under certain circumstances; requiring specified
 1379         parties to disclose certain information to the court;
 1380         providing for certain caregiver recommendations to the
 1381         court; requiring the court and citizen review panel to
 1382         determine whether certain parties have developed a
 1383         productive relationship; creating s. 63.090, F.S.;
 1384         providing requirements for the adoption of children
 1385         from the child welfare system; amending s. 63.092,
 1386         F.S.; providing a deadline for completion of a
 1387         preliminary home study; creating s. 409.1415, F.S.;
 1388         providing legislative findings and intent; requiring
 1389         the department and community-based care lead agencies
 1390         to develop and support relationships between certain
 1391         foster families and legal parents of children;
 1392         providing responsibilities for foster parents, birth
 1393         parents, the department, community-based care lead
 1394         agency staff, and other agency staff; defining the
 1395         term “excellent parenting”; requiring caregivers
 1396         employed by residential group homes to meet specified
 1397         requirements; requiring the department to adopt rules;
 1398         amending s. 409.175, F.S.; providing specified
 1399         requirements related to the licensure of foster
 1400         parents; amending s. 409.145, F.S.; conforming
 1401         provisions to changes made by the act; amending s.
 1402         409.988, F.S.; authorizing a lead agency to provide
 1403         more than 35 percent of all child welfare services
 1404         under certain conditions; requiring a specified local
 1405         community alliance, or specified representatives in
 1406         certain circumstances, to review and recommend
 1407         approval or denial of the lead agency’s request for a
 1408         specified exemption; requiring the court to evaluate
 1409         and change a child’s permanency goal under certain
 1410         circumstances; amending ss. 39.301, 39.6225, 393.065,
 1411         409.1451, F.S.; conforming cross-references; providing
 1412         an effective date.