Florida Senate - 2020                                     SB 496
       By Senator Book
       32-00121B-20                                           2020496__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to child welfare; amending s. 39.4085,
    3         F.S.; providing legislative findings and intent;
    4         specifying the rights of children and young adults in
    5         out-of-home care; providing roles and responsibilities
    6         for the Department of Children and Families,
    7         community-based care lead agencies, and other agency
    8         staff; providing roles and responsibilities for
    9         caregivers; requiring the department to adopt certain
   10         rules; providing applicability; creating s. 39.4088,
   11         F.S.; requiring the Florida Children’s Ombudsman to
   12         serve as an autonomous entity within the department
   13         for certain purposes; providing general roles and
   14         responsibilities for the ombudsman; requiring the
   15         ombudsman to collect certain data; requiring the
   16         ombudsman, in consultation with the department and
   17         other specified entities and by a specified date, to
   18         develop standardized information explaining the rights
   19         of children and young adults placed in out-of-home
   20         care; requiring the department, community-based care
   21         lead agencies, and agency staff to use the information
   22         provided by the ombudsman in carrying out specified
   23         responsibilities; requiring the department to
   24         establish a statewide toll-free telephone number for
   25         the ombudsman; requiring the department to adopt
   26         certain rules; amending s. 39.6011, F.S.; requiring
   27         that a case plan be developed in a face-to-face
   28         conference with a caregiver of a child under certain
   29         circumstances; providing additional requirements for
   30         the content of a case plan; providing additional
   31         requirements for a case plan when a child is 14 years
   32         of age or older or is of an appropriate age and
   33         capacity; requiring the department to provide a copy
   34         of the case plan to the caregiver of a child placed in
   35         a licensed foster home; amending s. 39.604, F.S.;
   36         requiring a caseworker to provide specified
   37         information relating to subsidies that early learning
   38         coalitions provide to caregivers of certain children;
   39         amending s. 39.701, F.S.; providing additional
   40         requirements for social study reports for judicial
   41         review; amending s. 409.145, F.S.; providing
   42         additional requirements for caregivers; providing
   43         additional requirements for records and information
   44         the department and any additional providers are
   45         required to make available to caregivers; amending s.
   46         409.175, F.S.; providing additional requirements for
   47         the licensure and operation of family foster homes,
   48         residential child-caring agencies, and child-placing
   49         agencies; amending s. 409.1753, F.S.; requiring a lead
   50         agency, rather than the department, to provide
   51         caregivers with a contact when the caseworker is
   52         unavailable; amending s. 409.988, F.S.; requiring lead
   53         agencies to recruit and retain foster homes; amending
   54         s. 39.6013, F.S.; conforming a cross-reference;
   55         providing an effective date.
   57  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   59         Section 1. Section 39.4085, Florida Statutes, is amended to
   60  read:
   61         (Substantial rewording of section. See
   62         s. 39.4085, F.S., for present text.)
   63         39.4085Foster Children’s Bill of Rights.—
   65         (a) The Legislature finds that children in, and young
   66  adults leaving, out-of-home care face more developmental,
   67  psychosocial, and economic challenges than their peers outside
   68  of the child welfare system and are more likely to be
   69  unemployed, undereducated, homeless, and dependent on public
   70  assistance; and to experience early parenthood and to suffer
   71  from substance abuse and mental health disorders.
   72         (b)The Legislature also finds that emotional trauma,
   73  separation from family, frequent changes in placement, and
   74  frequent changes in school enrollment, as well as being
   75  dependent on the state to make decisions regarding current and
   76  future life options, may contribute to feelings of limited
   77  control over life circumstances for children and young adults in
   78  out-of-home care.
   79         (c)The Legislature also recognizes that there are basic
   80  human rights guaranteed to everyone by the United States
   81  Constitution, but children and young adults in out-of-home care
   82  have additional rights that they should be aware of in order to
   83  better advocate for themselves.
   84         (d) Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature to
   85  empower these children and young adults by helping them become
   86  better informed of their rights so they can become stronger
   87  self-advocates.
   88         (2) BILL OF RIGHTS.—The department’s child welfare system
   89  shall operate with the understanding that the rights of children
   90  and young adults in out-of-home care are critical to their
   91  safety, permanence, and well-being and shall work with all
   92  stakeholders to help such children and young adults become
   93  knowledgeable about their rights and the resources available to
   94  them. A child should be able to remain in the custody of his or
   95  her parents or legal custodians unless a qualified person
   96  exercising competent professional judgment determines that
   97  removal is necessary to protect the child’s physical, mental, or
   98  emotional health or safety. Except as otherwise provided in this
   99  chapter, the rights of a child placed in out-of-home care are:
  100         (a) To live in a safe, healthful, and comfortable home
  101  where he or she is treated with respect and provided with
  102  healthful food, appropriate clothing, and adequate storage space
  103  for personal use and where the caregiver is aware of and
  104  understands the child’s history, needs, and risk factors and
  105  respects the child’s preferences for attending religious
  106  services and activities.
  107         (b)To be free from physical, sexual, emotional, or other
  108  abuse or corporal punishment. This includes the right to be
  109  placed away from other children or young adults who are known to
  110  pose a threat of harm to him or her because of his or her own
  111  risk factors or those of the other child or young adult.
  112         (c)To receive medical, dental, vision, and mental health
  113  services, as needed; to be free of the administration of
  114  psychotropic medication or chemical substances unless authorized
  115  by a parent or the court; and to not be locked in any room,
  116  building, or facility unless placed in a residential treatment
  117  center by court order.
  118         (d)To be able to have contact and visitation with his or
  119  her parents, other family members, and fictive kin and to be
  120  placed with his or her siblings and, if not placed together with
  121  his or her siblings, to have frequent visitation and ongoing
  122  contact with his or her siblings, unless prohibited by court
  123  order.
  124         (e)To be able to contact the Florida Children’s Ombudsman,
  125  as described in s. 39.4088, regarding violations of rights; to
  126  speak to the ombudsman confidentially; and to be free from
  127  threats or punishment for making complaints.
  128         (f)To maintain a bank account and manage personal income,
  129  consistent with his or her age and developmental level, unless
  130  prohibited by the case plan, and to be informed about any funds
  131  being held in the master trust on behalf of the child.
  132         (g)To attend school and participate in extracurricular,
  133  cultural, and personal enrichment activities consistent with his
  134  or her age and developmental level and to have social contact
  135  with people outside of the foster care system, such as teachers,
  136  church members, mentors, and friends.
  137         (h)To attend independent living program classes and
  138  activities if he or she meets the age requirements and to work
  139  and develop job skills at an age-appropriate level that is
  140  consistent with state law.
  141         (i) To attend all court hearings and address the court.
  142         (j)To have fair and equal access to all available
  143  services, placement, care, treatment, and benefits, and to not
  144  be subjected to discrimination on the basis of race, national
  145  origin, color, religion, sex, mental or physical disability,
  146  age, or pregnancy.
  147         (k)If he or she is 14 years of age or older or, if
  148  younger, is of an appropriate age and capacity, to participate
  149  in creating and reviewing his or her case plan, to receive
  150  information about his or her out-of-home placement and case
  151  plan, including being told of changes to the plan, and to have
  152  the ability to object to provisions of the case plan.
  153         (l) If he or she is 16 years of age or older, to have
  154  access to existing information regarding the educational and
  155  financial assistance options available to him or her, including,
  156  but not limited to, the coursework necessary for vocational and
  157  postsecondary educational programs, postsecondary educational
  158  services and support, the Keys to Independence program, and the
  159  tuition waiver available under s. 1009.25.
  160         (m) To not be removed from an out-of-home placement by the
  161  department or a community-based care lead agency unless the
  162  caregiver becomes unable to care for the child, the child
  163  achieves permanency, or the move is otherwise in the child’s
  164  best interest and, if moved, the right to a transition that
  165  respects his or her relationships and personal belongings under
  166  s. 409.145.
  167         (n) To have a guardian ad litem appointed to represent his
  168  or her best interests and, if appropriate, an attorney appointed
  169  to represent his or her legal interests.
  172         (a)The department shall develop training related to the
  173  rights of children and young adults in out-of-home care under
  174  this section. All child protective investigators, case managers,
  175  and other appropriate staff must complete annual training
  176  relating to these rights.
  177         (b) The department shall provide a copy of this bill of
  178  rights to all children and young adults entering out-of-home
  179  care, and the department shall explain the bill of rights to the
  180  child or young adult in a manner the child or young adult can
  181  understand. Such explanation must occur in a manner that is the
  182  most effective for each individual and must use words and
  183  terminology that make sense to the child or young adult. If a
  184  child or young adult has cognitive, physical, or behavioral
  185  challenges that would prevent him or her from fully
  186  comprehending the bill of rights as presented, such information
  187  must be documented in the case record.
  188         (c)The caseworker or other appropriate agency staff shall
  189  document in court reports and case notes the date he or she
  190  reviewed the bill of rights in age-appropriate language with the
  191  foster child or young adult.
  192         (d)The bill of rights must be reviewed with the child or
  193  young adult by appropriate staff upon entry into out-of-home
  194  care and must be subsequently reviewed with the child or young
  195  adult every 6 months until the child leaves care and upon every
  196  change in placement. Each child or young adult must be given the
  197  opportunity to ask questions about any of the rights that he or
  198  she does not clearly understand.
  199         (e) Facilities licensed to care for six or more children
  200  and young adults in out-of-home care must post information about
  201  the rights of these individuals in a prominent place in the
  202  facility.
  204  caregivers must ensure that a child or young adult in their care
  205  is aware of and understands his or her rights under this section
  206  and must assist the child or young adult in contacting the
  207  Florida Children’s Ombudsman, if necessary.
  208         (5) RULEMAKING.The department shall adopt rules to
  209  implement this section.
  210         (6)APPLICABILITY.—This section may not be used for any
  211  purpose in any civil or administrative action and does not
  212  expand or limit any rights or remedies provided under any other
  213  law.
  214         Section 2. Section 39.4088, Florida Statutes, is created to
  215  read:
  216         39.4088Florida Children’s Ombudsman.—The Florida
  217  Children’s Ombudsman shall serve as an autonomous entity within
  218  the department for the purpose of providing children and young
  219  adults who are placed in out-of-home care with a means to
  220  resolve issues related to their care, placement, or services
  221  without fear of retribution. The ombudsman shall have access to
  222  any record of a state or local agency which is necessary to
  223  carry out his or her responsibilities and may meet or
  224  communicate with any child or young adult in the child or young
  225  adult’s placement or elsewhere.
  227  The ombudsman shall:
  228         (a)Disseminate information on the rights of children and
  229  young adults in out-of-home care under s. 39.4085 and the
  230  services provided by the ombudsman.
  231         (b)Attempt to resolve a complaint informally.
  232         (c)Conduct whatever investigation he or she determines is
  233  necessary to resolve a complaint.
  234         (d)Update the complainant on the progress of the
  235  investigation and notify the complainant of the final outcome.
  237  The ombudsman may not investigate, challenge, or overturn court
  238  ordered decisions.
  239         (2) DATA COLLECTION.The ombudsman shall:
  240         (a)Document the number, source, origin, location, and
  241  nature of all complaints.
  242         (b)Compile all data collected over the course of the year,
  243  including, but not limited to, the number of contacts to the
  244  toll-free telephone number; the number of complaints made,
  245  including the type and source of those complaints; the number of
  246  investigations performed by the ombudsman; the trends and issues
  247  that arose in the course of investigating complaints; the number
  248  of referrals made; and the number of pending complaints.
  249         (c)Post the compiled data on the department’s website.
  251         (a) By January 1, 2021, the ombudsman, in consultation with
  252  the department, children’s advocacy and support groups, and
  253  current or former children and young adults in out-of-home care,
  254  shall develop standardized information explaining the rights
  255  granted under s. 39.4085. The information must be age
  256  appropriate, reviewed and updated by the ombudsman annually, and
  257  made available through a variety of formats.
  258         (b)The department, community-based care lead agencies, and
  259  other agency staff must use the information provided by the
  260  ombudsman to carry out their responsibilities to inform children
  261  and young adults in out-of-home care of their rights pursuant to
  262  the duties established under s. 409.145.
  263         (c)The department shall establish a statewide toll-free
  264  telephone number for the ombudsman and post the number on the
  265  homepage of the department’s website.
  266         (4) RULEMAKING.The department shall adopt rules to
  267  implement this section.
  268         Section 3. Present subsections (4) through (9) of section
  269  39.6011, Florida Statutes, are redesignated as subsections (5)
  270  through (10), respectively, paragraph (a) of subsection (1) and
  271  paragraph (c) of present subsection (7) of that section are
  272  amended, paragraph (f) is added to subsection (2) of that
  273  section, and a new subsection (4) is added to that section, to
  274  read:
  275         39.6011 Case plan development.—
  276         (1) The department shall prepare a draft of the case plan
  277  for each child receiving services under this chapter. A parent
  278  of a child may not be threatened or coerced with the loss of
  279  custody or parental rights for failing to admit in the case plan
  280  of abusing, neglecting, or abandoning a child. Participating in
  281  the development of a case plan is not an admission to any
  282  allegation of abuse, abandonment, or neglect, and it is not a
  283  consent to a finding of dependency or termination of parental
  284  rights. The case plan shall be developed subject to the
  285  following requirements:
  286         (a) The case plan must be developed in a face-to-face
  287  conference with the parent of the child, any court-appointed
  288  guardian ad litem, and, if appropriate, the child and the
  289  temporary custodian or caregiver of the child.
  290         (2) The case plan must be written simply and clearly in
  291  English and, if English is not the principal language of the
  292  child’s parent, to the extent possible in the parent’s principal
  293  language. Each case plan must contain:
  294         (f) If the child has attained 14 years of age or is
  295  otherwise of an appropriate age and capacity:
  296         1. A document that describes the rights of the child under
  297  s. 39.4085 and the right to be provided with the documents
  298  pursuant to s. 39.701.
  299         2.A signed acknowledgment by the child or young adult, or
  300  the caregiver if the child is too young or otherwise unable to
  301  sign, that the child has been provided with a copy of the
  302  document and that the rights contained in the document have been
  303  explained to the child in a way that the child understands.
  304         3. Documentation that a consumer credit report for the
  305  child was requested from all three credit reporting agencies
  306  pursuant to federal law at no charge to the child and that any
  307  results were provided to the child. The case plan must include
  308  documentation of any barriers to obtaining the credit reports.
  309  If the consumer credit report reveals any accounts, the case
  310  plan must detail how the department ensured the child received
  311  assistance with interpreting the credit report and resolving any
  312  inaccuracies, including any referrals made for such assistance.
  313         (4)If the child has attained 14 years of age or, if
  314  younger, is of an appropriate age and capacity, the child must:
  315         (a) Be consulted on the development of the case plan; have
  316  the opportunity to attend a face-to-face conference, if
  317  appropriate; have the opportunity to express a placement
  318  preference; and have the option to choose two members for the
  319  case planning team who are not a foster parent or caseworker for
  320  the child.
  321         1.An individual selected by a child to be a member of the
  322  case planning team may be rejected at any time if there is good
  323  cause to believe that the individual would not act in the best
  324  interest of the child. One individual selected by a child to be
  325  a member of the child’s case planning team may be designated to
  326  act as the child’s advisor and, as necessary, advocate with
  327  respect to the application of the reasonable and prudent parent
  328  standard to the child.
  329         2.The child may not be included in any aspect of case plan
  330  development if information could be revealed or discussed which
  331  is of a nature that would best be presented to the child in a
  332  therapeutic setting.
  333         (b) Sign the case plan, unless there is reason to waive the
  334  child’s signature.
  335         (c) Receive an explanation of the provisions of the case
  336  plan from the department.
  337         (d) After the case plan is agreed on and signed by all
  338  parties, and after jurisdiction attaches and the case plan is
  339  filed with the court, be provided a copy of the case plan within
  340  72 hours before the disposition hearing.
  341         (8)(7) After the case plan has been developed, the
  342  department shall adhere to the following procedural
  343  requirements:
  344         (c) After the case plan has been agreed upon and signed by
  345  the parties, a copy of the plan must be given immediately to the
  346  parties, including the child if appropriate, the caregiver if
  347  the child is placed in a licensed foster home, and to other
  348  persons as directed by the court.
  349         1. A case plan must be prepared, but need not be submitted
  350  to the court, for a child who will be in care no longer than 30
  351  days unless that child is placed in out-of-home care a second
  352  time within a 12-month period.
  353         2. In each case in which a child has been placed in out-of
  354  home care, a case plan must be prepared within 60 days after the
  355  department removes the child from the home and shall be
  356  submitted to the court before the disposition hearing for the
  357  court to review and approve.
  358         3. After jurisdiction attaches, all case plans must be
  359  filed with the court, and a copy provided to all the parties
  360  whose whereabouts are known, not less than 3 business days
  361  before the disposition hearing. The department shall file with
  362  the court, and provide copies to the parties, all case plans
  363  prepared before jurisdiction of the court attached.
  364         Section 4. Paragraph (c) is added to subsection (3) of
  365  section 39.604, Florida Statutes, to read:
  366         39.604 Rilya Wilson Act; short title; legislative intent;
  367  child care; early education; preschool.—
  368         (3) REQUIREMENTS.—
  369         (c) For children placed in a licensed foster home and who
  370  are required to be enrolled in an early education or a child
  371  care program under this section, the caseworker shall inform the
  372  caregiver of the amount of the subsidy provided by an early
  373  learning coalition, that this amount may not be sufficient to
  374  pay the full cost of the services, and that the caregiver will
  375  be responsible for paying the difference between the subsidy and
  376  the full cost charged by the early education or child care
  377  program.
  378         Section 5. Paragraph (a) of subsection (2) and paragraph
  379  (a) of subsection (3) of section 39.701, Florida Statutes, are
  380  amended to read:
  381         39.701 Judicial review.—
  383  AGE.—
  384         (a) Social study report for judicial review.—Before every
  385  judicial review hearing or citizen review panel hearing, the
  386  social service agency shall make an investigation and social
  387  study concerning all pertinent details relating to the child and
  388  shall furnish to the court or citizen review panel a written
  389  report that includes, but is not limited to:
  390         1. A description of the type of placement the child is in
  391  at the time of the hearing, including the safety of the child
  392  and the continuing necessity for and appropriateness of the
  393  placement.
  394         2. Documentation of the diligent efforts made by all
  395  parties to the case plan to comply with each applicable
  396  provision of the plan.
  397         3. The amount of fees assessed and collected during the
  398  period of time being reported.
  399         4. The services provided to the foster family or legal
  400  custodian in an effort to address the needs of the child as
  401  indicated in the case plan.
  402         5. A statement that either:
  403         a. The parent, though able to do so, did not comply
  404  substantially with the case plan, and the agency
  405  recommendations;
  406         b. The parent did substantially comply with the case plan;
  407  or
  408         c. The parent has partially complied with the case plan,
  409  with a summary of additional progress needed and the agency
  410  recommendations.
  411         6. A statement from the foster parent or legal custodian
  412  providing any material evidence concerning the return of the
  413  child to the parent or parents.
  414         7. A statement concerning the frequency, duration, and
  415  results of the parent-child visitation, if any, and the agency
  416  recommendations for an expansion or restriction of future
  417  visitation.
  418         8. The number of times a child has been removed from his or
  419  her home and placed elsewhere, the number and types of
  420  placements that have occurred, and the reason for the changes in
  421  placement.
  422         9. The number of times a child’s educational placement has
  423  been changed, the number and types of educational placements
  424  which have occurred, and the reason for any change in placement.
  425         10. If the child has reached 13 years of age but is not yet
  426  18 years of age, a statement from the caregiver on the progress
  427  the child has made in acquiring independent living skills.
  428         11. Copies of all medical, psychological, and educational
  429  records that support the terms of the case plan and that have
  430  been produced concerning the parents or any caregiver since the
  431  last judicial review hearing.
  432         12. Copies of the child’s current health, mental health,
  433  and education records as identified in s. 39.6012.
  434         13. Documentation that the Foster Children’s Bill of
  435  Rights, as described in s. 39.4085, has been provided to and
  436  reviewed with the child.
  437         14. A signed acknowledgment by the child, or the caregiver
  438  if the child is too young or otherwise unable to sign, stating
  439  that the child has been provided an explanation of the rights
  440  under s. 39.4085.
  442         (a) In addition to the review and report required under
  443  paragraphs (1)(a) and (2)(a), respectively, the court shall hold
  444  a judicial review hearing within 90 days after a child’s 17th
  445  birthday. The court shall also issue an order, separate from the
  446  order on judicial review, that the disability of nonage of the
  447  child has been removed pursuant to ss. 743.044, 743.045,
  448  743.046, and 743.047, and for any of these disabilities that the
  449  court finds is in the child’s best interest to remove. The court
  450  shall continue to hold timely judicial review hearings. If
  451  necessary, the court may review the status of the child more
  452  frequently during the year before the child’s 18th birthday. At
  453  each review hearing held under this subsection, in addition to
  454  any information or report provided to the court by the foster
  455  parent, legal custodian, or guardian ad litem, the child shall
  456  be given the opportunity to address the court with any
  457  information relevant to the child’s best interest, particularly
  458  in relation to independent living transition services. The
  459  department shall include in the social study report for judicial
  460  review written verification that the child has:
  461         1. A current Medicaid card and all necessary information
  462  concerning the Medicaid program sufficient to prepare the child
  463  to apply for coverage upon reaching the age of 18, if such
  464  application is appropriate.
  465         2. A certified copy of the child’s birth certificate and,
  466  if the child does not have a valid driver license, a Florida
  467  identification card issued under s. 322.051.
  468         3. A social security card and information relating to
  469  social security insurance benefits if the child is eligible for
  470  those benefits. If the child has received such benefits and they
  471  are being held in trust for the child, a full accounting of
  472  these funds must be provided and the child must be informed as
  473  to how to access those funds.
  474         4. All relevant information related to the Road-to
  475  Independence Program, including, but not limited to, eligibility
  476  requirements, information on participation, and assistance in
  477  gaining admission to the program. If the child is eligible for
  478  the Road-to-Independence Program, he or she must be advised that
  479  he or she may continue to reside with the licensed family home
  480  or group care provider with whom the child was residing at the
  481  time the child attained his or her 18th birthday, in another
  482  licensed family home, or with a group care provider arranged by
  483  the department.
  484         5. An open bank account or the identification necessary to
  485  open a bank account and to acquire essential banking and
  486  budgeting skills.
  487         6. Information on public assistance and how to apply for
  488  public assistance.
  489         7. A clear understanding of where he or she will be living
  490  on his or her 18th birthday, how living expenses will be paid,
  491  and the educational program or school in which he or she will be
  492  enrolled.
  493         8. Information related to the ability of the child to
  494  remain in care until he or she reaches 21 years of age under s.
  495  39.013.
  496         9. A letter providing the dates that the child is under the
  497  jurisdiction of the court.
  498         10. A letter stating that the child is in compliance with
  499  financial aid documentation requirements.
  500         11. The child’s educational records.
  501         12. The child’s entire health and mental health records.
  502         13. The process for accessing his or her case file.
  503         14. A statement encouraging the child to attend all
  504  judicial review hearings occurring after the child’s 17th
  505  birthday.
  506         15. Information on how to obtain a driver license or
  507  learner’s driver license.
  508         16.Been provided with the Foster Children’s Bill of
  509  Rights, as described in s. 39.0485, and that the rights have
  510  been reviewed with the child.
  511         17.Signed an acknowledgment stating that he or she has
  512  been provided an explanation of the rights or, if the child is
  513  too young or otherwise unable to sign, that such acknowledgment
  514  has been signed by the child’s caregiver.
  515         Section 6. Paragraphs (a) and (d) of subsection (2) of
  516  section 409.145, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
  517         409.145 Care of children; quality parenting; “reasonable
  518  and prudent parent” standard.—The child welfare system of the
  519  department shall operate as a coordinated community-based system
  520  of care which empowers all caregivers for children in foster
  521  care to provide quality parenting, including approving or
  522  disapproving a child’s participation in activities based on the
  523  caregiver’s assessment using the “reasonable and prudent parent”
  524  standard.
  525         (2) QUALITY PARENTING.—A child in foster care shall be
  526  placed only with a caregiver who has the ability to care for the
  527  child, is willing to accept responsibility for providing care,
  528  and is willing and able to learn about and be respectful of the
  529  child’s culture, religion and ethnicity, special physical or
  530  psychological needs, any circumstances unique to the child, and
  531  family relationships. The department, the community-based care
  532  lead agency, and other agencies shall provide such caregiver
  533  with all available information necessary to assist the caregiver
  534  in determining whether he or she is able to appropriately care
  535  for a particular child.
  536         (a) Roles and responsibilities of caregivers.—A caregiver
  537  shall:
  538         1. Participate in developing the case plan for the child
  539  and his or her family and work with others involved in his or
  540  her care to implement this plan. This participation includes the
  541  caregiver’s involvement in all team meetings or court hearings
  542  related to the child’s care.
  543         2. Complete all training needed to improve skills in
  544  parenting a child who has experienced trauma due to neglect,
  545  abuse, or separation from home, to meet the child’s special
  546  needs, and to work effectively with child welfare agencies, the
  547  court, the schools, and other community and governmental
  548  agencies.
  549         3. Respect and support the child’s ties to members of his
  550  or her biological family and assist the child in maintaining
  551  allowable visitation and other forms of communication.
  552         4. Effectively advocate for the child in the caregiver’s
  553  care with the child welfare system, the court, and community
  554  agencies, including the school, child care, health and mental
  555  health providers, and employers.
  556         5. Participate fully in the child’s medical, psychological,
  557  and dental care as the caregiver would for his or her biological
  558  child.
  559         6. Support the child’s educational success by participating
  560  in activities and meetings associated with the child’s school or
  561  other educational setting, including Individual Education Plan
  562  meetings and meetings with an educational surrogate if one has
  563  been appointed, assisting with assignments, supporting tutoring
  564  programs, and encouraging the child’s participation in
  565  extracurricular activities.
  566         a. Maintaining educational stability for a child while in
  567  out-of-home care by allowing the child to remain in the school
  568  or educational setting that he or she attended before entry into
  569  out-of-home care is the first priority, unless not in the best
  570  interest of the child.
  571         b. If it is not in the best interest of the child to remain
  572  in his or her school or educational setting upon entry into out
  573  of-home care, the caregiver must work with the case manager,
  574  guardian ad litem, teachers and guidance counselors, and
  575  educational surrogate if one has been appointed to determine the
  576  best educational setting for the child. Such setting may include
  577  a public school that is not the school of origin, a private
  578  school pursuant to s. 1002.42, a virtual instruction program
  579  pursuant to s. 1002.45, or a home education program pursuant to
  580  s. 1002.41.
  581         7. Work in partnership with other stakeholders to obtain
  582  and maintain records that are important to the child’s well
  583  being, including child resource records, medical records, school
  584  records, photographs, and records of special events and
  585  achievements.
  586         8. Ensure that the child in the caregiver’s care who is
  587  between 13 and 17 years of age learns and masters independent
  588  living skills.
  589         9. Ensure that the child in the caregiver’s care is aware
  590  of the requirements and benefits of the Road-to-Independence
  591  Program.
  592         10. Work to enable the child in the caregiver’s care to
  593  establish and maintain naturally occurring mentoring
  594  relationships.
  595         11. Pay the difference between the subsidy from an early
  596  learning coalition and the full cost charged by an early
  597  education or child care program.
  598         12. Ensure that the child in the caregiver’s care is aware
  599  of and understands his or her rights under s. 39.4085.
  600         13. Assist the child in contacting the Florida Children’s
  601  Ombudsman, if necessary.
  602         (d) Information sharing.—Whenever a foster home or
  603  residential group home assumes responsibility for the care of a
  604  child, the department and any additional providers shall make
  605  available to the caregiver as soon as is practicable all
  606  relevant information concerning the child. Records and
  607  information that are required to be shared with caregivers
  608  include, but are not limited to:
  609         1. Medical, dental, psychological, psychiatric, and
  610  behavioral history, as well as ongoing evaluation or treatment
  611  needs or treatment plans and information on how the caregiver
  612  can support any treatment plan within the foster home;
  613         2. School records;
  614         3. Copies of his or her birth certificate and, if
  615  appropriate, immigration status documents;
  616         4. Consents signed by parents;
  617         5. Comprehensive behavioral assessments and other social
  618  assessments and information on how the caregiver can manage any
  619  behavioral issues;
  620         6. Court orders;
  621         7. Visitation and case plans;
  622         8. Guardian ad litem reports;
  623         9. Staffing forms; and
  624         10. Judicial or citizen review panel reports and
  625  attachments filed with the court, except confidential medical,
  626  psychiatric, and psychological information regarding any party
  627  or participant other than the child.
  628         Section 7. Paragraph (b) of subsection (5) of section
  629  409.175, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  630         409.175 Licensure of family foster homes, residential
  631  child-caring agencies, and child-placing agencies; public
  632  records exemption.—
  633         (5) The department shall adopt and amend rules for the
  634  levels of licensed care associated with the licensure of family
  635  foster homes, residential child-caring agencies, and child
  636  placing agencies. The rules may include criteria to approve
  637  waivers to licensing requirements when applying for a child
  638  specific license.
  639         (b) The requirements for licensure and operation of family
  640  foster homes, residential child-caring agencies, and child
  641  placing agencies shall include:
  642         1. The operation, conduct, and maintenance of these homes
  643  and agencies and the responsibility which they assume for
  644  children served and the evidence of need for that service.
  645         2. The provision of food, clothing, educational
  646  opportunities, services, equipment, and individual supplies to
  647  assure the healthy physical, emotional, and mental development
  648  of the children served.
  649         3. The appropriateness, safety, cleanliness, and general
  650  adequacy of the premises, including fire prevention and health
  651  standards, to provide for the physical comfort, care, and well
  652  being of the children served.
  653         4. The ratio of staff to children required to provide
  654  adequate care and supervision of the children served and, in the
  655  case of family foster homes, the maximum number of children in
  656  the home.
  657         5. The good moral character based upon screening,
  658  education, training, and experience requirements for personnel
  659  and family foster homes.
  660         6. The department may grant exemptions from
  661  disqualification from working with children or the
  662  developmentally disabled as provided in s. 435.07.
  663         7. The provision of preservice and inservice training for
  664  all foster parents and agency staff.
  665         8. Satisfactory evidence of financial ability to provide
  666  care for the children in compliance with licensing requirements.
  667         9. The maintenance by the agency of records pertaining to
  668  admission, progress, health, and discharge of children served,
  669  including written case plans and reports to the department.
  670         10. The provision for parental involvement to encourage
  671  preservation and strengthening of a child’s relationship with
  672  the family.
  673         11. The transportation safety of children served.
  674         12. The provisions for safeguarding the cultural,
  675  religious, and ethnic values of a child.
  676         13. Provisions to safeguard the legal rights of children
  677  served, as well as rights of children established under s.
  678  39.4085.
  679         Section 8. Section 409.1753, Florida Statutes, is amended
  680  to read:
  681         409.1753 Foster care; duties.—The department shall ensure
  682  that each lead agency provides, within each district, each
  683  foster home with is given a telephone number for the foster
  684  parent to call during normal working hours whenever immediate
  685  assistance is needed and the child’s caseworker is unavailable.
  686  This number must be staffed and answered by individuals
  687  possessing the knowledge and authority necessary to assist
  688  foster parents.
  689         Section 9. Paragraph (l) is added to subsection (1) of
  690  section 409.988, Florida Statutes, to read:
  691         409.988 Lead agency duties; general provisions.—
  692         (1) DUTIES.—A lead agency:
  693         (l) Shall recruit and retain foster homes. In performing
  694  such duty, a lead agency shall:
  695         1. Develop a plan to recruit and retain foster homes using
  696  best practices identified by the department and specify how the
  697  lead agency complies with s. 409.1753.
  698         2. Annually submit such plan to the department for
  699  approval.
  700         3. Provide to the department a quarterly report detailing
  701  the number of licensed foster homes and beds and occupancy rate.
  702         4. Conduct exit interviews with foster parents who
  703  voluntarily give up their license to determine the reasons for
  704  giving up their license and identify suggestions for how to
  705  better recruit and retain foster homes, and provide a quarterly
  706  summary of such interviews to the department.
  707         Section 10. Subsection (8) of section 39.6013, Florida
  708  Statutes, is amended to read:
  709         39.6013 Case plan amendments.—
  710         (8) Amendments must include service interventions that are
  711  the least intrusive into the life of the parent and child, must
  712  focus on clearly defined objectives, and must provide the most
  713  efficient path to quick reunification or permanent placement
  714  given the circumstances of the case and the child’s need for
  715  safe and proper care. A copy of the amended plan must be
  716  immediately given to the persons identified in s. 39.6011(8)(c)
  717  s. 39.6011(7)(c).
  718         Section 11. This act shall take effect October 1, 2020.