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.
   20  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   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.