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The Florida Senate

2020 Florida Statutes

F.S. 39.523
39.523 Placement in out-of-home care.
(a) The Legislature finds that it is a basic tenet of child welfare practice and the law that a child be placed in the least restrictive, most family-like setting available in close proximity to the home of his or her parents which meets the needs of the child, and that a child be placed in a permanent home in a timely manner.
(b) The Legislature also finds that there is an association between placements that do not meet the needs of the child and adverse outcomes for the child, that mismatching placements to children’s needs has been identified as a factor that negatively impacts placement stability, and that identifying the right placement for each child requires effective assessment.
(c) It is the intent of the Legislature that whenever a child is unable to safely remain at home with a parent, the most appropriate available out-of-home placement shall be chosen after an assessment of the child’s needs and the availability of caregivers qualified to meet the child’s needs.
(2) ASSESSMENT AND PLACEMENT.When any child is removed from a home and placed into out-of-home care, a comprehensive placement assessment process shall be completed to determine the level of care needed by the child and match the child with the most appropriate placement.
(a) The community-based care lead agency or subcontracted agency with the responsibility for assessment and placement must coordinate a multidisciplinary team staffing with any available individual currently involved with the child including, but not limited to, a representative from the department and the case manager for the child; a therapist, attorney ad litem, guardian ad litem, teachers, coaches, Children’s Medical Services; and other community providers of services to the child or stakeholders as applicable. The team may also include clergy, relatives, and fictive kin if appropriate. Team participants must gather data and information on the child which is known at the time including, but not limited to:
1. Mental, medical, behavioral health, and medication history;
2. Community ties and school placement;
3. Current placement decisions relating to any siblings;
4. Alleged type of abuse or neglect including sexual abuse and trafficking history; and
5. The child’s age, maturity, strengths, hobbies or activities, and the child’s preference for placement.
(b) The comprehensive placement assessment process may also include the use of an assessment instrument or tool that is best suited for the individual child.
(c) The most appropriate available out-of-home placement shall be chosen after consideration by all members of the multidisciplinary team of all of the information and data gathered, including the results and recommendations of any evaluations conducted.
(d) Placement decisions for each child in out-of-home placement shall be reviewed as often as necessary to ensure permanency for that child and address special issues related to this population of children.
(e) The department, a sheriff’s office acting under s. 39.3065, a community-based care lead agency, or a case management organization must document all placement assessments and placement decisions in the Florida Safe Families Network.
(f) If it is determined during the comprehensive placement assessment process that residential treatment as defined in s. 39.407 would be suitable for the child, the procedures in that section must be followed.
(3) JUDICIAL REVIEW.At each judicial review, the court shall consider the results of the assessment, the placement decision made for the child, and services provided to the child as required under s. 39.701.
(4) DATA COLLECTION.The department shall collect the following information by community-based care lead agencies and post it on the Department of Children and Families’ website. The information is to be updated on January 1 and July 1 of each year.
(a) The number of children placed with relatives and nonrelatives, in family foster homes, and in residential group care.
(b) An inventory of available services that are necessary to maintain children in the least restrictive setting that meets the needs of the child and a plan for filling any identified gap in those services.
(c) The number of children who were placed based upon the assessment.
(d) An inventory of existing placements for children by type and by community-based care lead agency.
(e) The strategies being used by community-based care lead agencies to recruit, train, and support an adequate number of families to provide home-based family care.
(5) RULEMAKING.The department may adopt rules to implement this section.
History.s. 2, ch. 2002-219; s. 14, ch. 2017-151.