Florida Senate - 2023          (Corrected Copy)    CS for SB 272
       By the Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs; and
       Senators Garcia, Osgood, Perry, and Book
       586-03513-23                                           2023272c1
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to education for children and young
    3         adults in out-of-home care; amending s. 39.4085, F.S.;
    4         requiring a case manager or other staff to provide a
    5         child with verbal and written information about
    6         certain topics; deleting limitations on the type of
    7         questions a child may ask; establishing the Office of
    8         the Children’s Ombudsman within the Department of
    9         Children and Families; specifying responsibilities of
   10         the office; requiring the department to consult with
   11         specified children and young adults when creating or
   12         revising certain print or digital written information;
   13         conforming provisions to changes made by the act;
   14         providing an effective date.
   16  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   18         Section 1. Paragraph (a) of subsection (3) of section
   19  39.4085, Florida Statutes, is amended, and subsections (4) and
   20  (5) are added to that section, to read:
   21         39.4085 Goals for dependent children; responsibilities;
   22  education; Office of the Children’s Ombudsman.—
   23         (3)(a) The case manager or other staff shall, at a minimum,
   24  provide verbal and written:
   25         1. Instructions to a child entering shelter or foster care
   26  to educate the child on identifying and reporting abuse,
   27  abandonment, or neglect.
   28         2.Information to a child about laws and requirements
   29  relating to the topic of normalcy and what that means for a
   30  child in out-of-home care; education; participation in court
   31  proceedings; participation in permanency planning, transition
   32  planning, and other case planning; placement, visitation, and
   33  contact with siblings, family, and other individuals who are
   34  important to the child; and access to food, clothing, shelter,
   35  and health care.
   37  The verbal and written instructions and information must use
   38  words and phrasing that each child can understand and must occur
   39  in a manner that is most effective for each child. The written
   40  instructions and information are only required if the child is
   41  of a sufficient age and understanding to receive such
   42  instructions and information. The case manager or other staff
   43  shall must give each child the opportunity to ask questions and
   44  about his or her rights and how to identify and report abuse,
   45  abandonment, or neglect. The case manager or other staff shall
   46  document in court reports and case notes the date the
   47  instructions and information were was provided to the child. The
   48  case manager or other staff shall must review the instructions
   49  and information with the child every 6 months and upon every
   50  placement change until the child leaves shelter or foster care.
   51         (4)The Office of the Children’s Ombudsman is established
   52  within the department. To the extent permitted by available
   53  resources, the office shall, at a minimum:
   54         (a)Receive complaints from children and young adults about
   55  placement, care, and services and assist in mediating such
   56  concerns.
   57         (b)Be a resource to identify and explain relevant polices
   58  or procedures to children, young adults, and their caregivers.
   59         (c)Provide recommendations to the department to address
   60  systemic problems that are leading to complaints from children
   61  and young adults.
   62         (5)The department shall consult with children and young
   63  adults who are currently or have formerly been in out-of-home
   64  care when creating or revising any print or digital written
   65  information used in implementing this section and shall use any
   66  responses or feedback to ensure that such print or digital
   67  written information is understandable by and appropriate and
   68  useful for the children and young adults of the ages for which
   69  such print or digital written information is intended.
   70         Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2023.