(1) There is established the Florida Institute for Child Welfare within the Florida State University College of Social Work. The purpose of the institute is to advance the well-being of children and families by improving the performance of child protection and child welfare services through research, policy analysis, evaluation, and leadership development. The institute shall consist of a consortium of public and private universities offering degrees in social work and shall be housed within the Florida State University College of Social Work.
(2) Using such resources as authorized in the General Appropriations Act, the Department of Children and Families shall contract with the institute for performance of the duties described in subsection (4) using state appropriations, public and private grants, and other resources obtained by the institute.
(3) The institute shall work with the department, sheriffs providing child protective investigative services, community-based care lead agencies, community-based care provider organizations, the court system, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and other partners who contribute to and participate in providing child protection and child welfare services.
(4) The institute shall:
(a) Maintain a program of research which contributes to scientific knowledge and informs both policy and practice related to child safety, permanency, and child and family well-being.
(b) Advise the department and other organizations participating in the child protection and child welfare system regarding scientific evidence on policy and practice related to child safety, permanency, and child and family well-being.
(c) Provide advice regarding management practices and administrative processes used by the department and other organizations participating in the child protection and child welfare system and recommend improvements that reduce burdensome, ineffective requirements for frontline staff and their supervisors while enhancing their ability to effectively investigate, analyze, problem solve, and supervise.
(d) Assess the performance of child protection and child welfare services based on specific outcome measures.
(e) Evaluate the scope and effectiveness of preservice and inservice training for child protection and child welfare employees and advise and assist the department in efforts to improve such training.
(f) Assess the readiness of social work graduates to assume job responsibilities in the child protection and child welfare system and identify gaps in education which can be addressed through the modification of curricula or the establishment of industry certifications.
(g) Develop and maintain a program of professional support including training courses and consulting services that assist both individuals and organizations in implementing adaptive and resilient responses to workplace stress.
(h) Participate in the department’s critical incident response team, assist in the preparation of reports about such incidents, and support the committee review of reports and development of recommendations.
(i) Identify effective policies and promising practices, including, but not limited to, innovations in coordination between entities participating in the child protection and child welfare system, data analytics, working with the local community, and management of human service organizations, and communicate these findings to the department and other organizations participating in the child protection and child welfare system.
(j) Develop a definition of a child or family at high risk of abuse or neglect. Such a definition must consider characteristics associated with a greater probability of abuse and neglect.
(5) The President of the Florida State University shall appoint a director of the institute. The director must be a child welfare professional with a degree in social work who holds a faculty appointment in the Florida State University College of Social Work. The institute shall be administered by the director, and the director’s office shall be located at the Florida State University. The director is responsible for overall management of the institute and for developing and executing the work of the institute consistent with the responsibilities in subsection (4). The director shall engage individuals in other state universities with accredited colleges of social work to participate in the institute. Individuals from other university programs relevant to the institute’s work, including, but not limited to, economics, management, law, medicine, and education, may also be invited by the director to contribute to the institute. The universities participating in the institute shall provide facilities, staff, and other resources to the institute to establish statewide access to institute programs and services.
(6) By October 1 of each year, the institute shall provide a written report to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives which outlines its activities in the preceding year, reports significant research findings, as well as results of other programs, and provides specific recommendations for improving child protection and child welfare services.
(a) The institute shall include an evaluation of the results of the educational and training requirements for child protection and child welfare personnel established under this act and recommendations for application of the results to child protection personnel employed by sheriff’s offices providing child protection services in its report due October 1, 2017.
(b) The institute shall include an evaluation of the effects of the other provisions of this act and recommendations for improvements in child protection and child welfare services in its report due October 1, 2018.
(7) The institute shall submit a report with recommendations for improving the state’s child welfare system. The report shall address topics including, but not limited to, enhancing working relationships between the entities involved in the child protection and child welfare system, identification of and replication of best practices, reducing paperwork, increasing the retention of child protective investigators and case managers, and caring for medically complex children within the child welfare system, with the goal of allowing the child to remain in the least restrictive and most nurturing environment. The institute shall submit an interim report by February 1, 2015, and final report by October 1, 2015, to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.