Florida Senate - 2020 CS for SB 236 By the Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs; and Senator Book 586-00882-20 2020236c1 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 providing a purpose; authorizing circuit courts to 5 create early childhood court programs; requiring that 6 early childhood court programs have certain 7 components; defining the term “therapeutic 8 jurisprudence”; providing requirements and guidelines 9 for the Office of the State Courts Administrator when 10 hiring community coordinators and a statewide training 11 specialist; authorizing the Trial Court Budget 12 Commission to provide funding to circuit courts that 13 choose to establish a coordination system in lieu of 14 creating a community coordinator position; requiring 15 the Department of Children and Families to contract 16 with certain university-based centers; requiring the 17 university-based centers to hire a clinical director; 18 providing an effective date. 19 20 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 21 22 Section 1. Section 39.01304, Florida Statutes, is created 23 to read: 24 39.01304 Early childhood court programs.— 25 (1) It is the intent of the Legislature to encourage the 26 department, the Department of Health, the Association of Early 27 Learning Coalitions, and other such agencies, local governments, 28 interested public or private entities, and individuals to 29 support the creation and establishment of early childhood court 30 programs. The purpose of an early childhood court program is to 31 address the root cause of court involvement through specialized 32 dockets, multidisciplinary teams, evidence-based treatment, and 33 the use of a nonadversarial approach. Such programs depend on 34 the leadership of a judge or magistrate who is educated about 35 the science of early childhood development and who requires 36 rigorous efforts to heal children physically and emotionally in 37 the context of a broad collaboration among professionals from 38 different systems working directly in the court as a team, 39 recognizing that the parent-child relationship is the foundation 40 of child well-being. 41 (2) A circuit court may create an early childhood court 42 program to serve the needs of infants and toddlers in dependency 43 court. An early childhood court program must have all of the 44 following components: 45 (a) Therapeutic jurisprudence, which must drive every 46 aspect of judicial practice. The judge or magistrate must 47 support the therapeutic needs of the parent and child in a 48 nonadversarial manner. As used in this paragraph, the term 49 “therapeutic jurisprudence” means the study of how the law may 50 be used as a therapeutic agent and focuses on how laws impact 51 emotional and psychological well-being. 52 (b) A procedure for coordinating services and resources for 53 families who have a case on the court docket. To meet this 54 requirement, the court may create and fill at least one 55 community coordinator position pursuant to paragraph (3)(a) or 56 the court may use a coordination system that implements a 57 progression of services. 58 (c) A multidisciplinary team made up of key community 59 stakeholders who commit to work with the judge or magistrate to 60 restructure the way the community responds to the needs of 61 maltreated children. The team may include, but is not limited 62 to, early intervention specialists; mental health and infant 63 mental health professionals; attorneys representing children, 64 parents, and the child welfare system; children’s advocates; 65 early learning coalitions and child care providers; substance 66 abuse program providers; primary health care providers; domestic 67 violence advocates; and guardians ad litem. The 68 multidisciplinary team must address the need for children in an 69 early childhood court program to receive medical care in a 70 medical home, a screening for developmental delays conducted by 71 the local agency responsible for complying with part C of the 72 federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and quality 73 child care. 74 (d) A continuum of mental health services that includes a 75 focus on the parent-child relationship and that must be 76 appropriate for each child and family served. 77 (3) Contingent upon an annual appropriation by the 78 Legislature, and subject to available resources: 79 (a) The Office of the State Courts Administrator shall 80 coordinate with each participating circuit court to create and 81 fill at least one community coordinator position for the 82 circuit’s early childhood court program unless the court chooses 83 to establish a coordination system in lieu of creating a 84 community coordinator position. Each community coordinator shall 85 provide direct support to the program by providing coordination 86 between the multidisciplinary team and the judiciary, 87 coordinating the responsibilities of the participating agencies 88 and service providers, and managing the collection of data for 89 program evaluation and accountability. If a circuit court 90 establishes a coordination system in lieu of creating a 91 community coordinator position, the Trial Court Budget 92 Commission may provide funding equivalent in value to a 93 community coordinator position to the court for case 94 coordination functions. The Office of State Courts Administrator 95 may hire a statewide training specialist to provide training to 96 the participating court teams. 97 (b) The department shall contract with one or more 98 university-based centers that have expertise in infant mental 99 health, and such university-based centers shall hire a clinical 100 director charged with ensuring the quality, accountability, and 101 fidelity of the program’s evidence-based treatment, including, 102 but not limited to, training and technical assistance related to 103 clinical services, clinical consultation and guidance for 104 difficult cases, and ongoing clinical training for court teams. 105 Section 2. This act shall take effect January 1, 2020.