Florida Senate - 2019                                     SB 646
       By Senator Book
       32-00847-19                                            2019646__
    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; creating s. 39.4088, F.S.; requiring the
   11         Florida Children’s Ombudsman to serve as an autonomous
   12         entity within the department for certain purposes;
   13         providing general roles and responsibilities for the
   14         ombudsman; requiring the ombudsman to collect certain
   15         data; requiring the ombudsman, in consultation with
   16         the department and other specified entities and by a
   17         specified date, to develop standardized information
   18         explaining the rights of children and young adults
   19         placed in out-of-home care; requiring the department,
   20         community-based care lead agencies, and agency staff
   21         to use the information provided by the ombudsman in
   22         carrying out specified responsibilities; requiring the
   23         department to establish a statewide toll-free
   24         telephone number for the ombudsman; requiring the
   25         department to adopt certain rules; amending s.
   26         39.6011, F.S.; requiring that a case plan be developed
   27         in a face-to-face conference with a caregiver of a
   28         child under certain circumstances; providing
   29         additional requirements for the content of a case
   30         plan; providing additional requirements for a case
   31         plan when a child is 14 years of age or older or is of
   32         an appropriate age and capacity; requiring the
   33         department to provide a copy of the case plan to the
   34         caregiver of a child placed in a licensed foster home;
   35         amending s. 39.604, F.S.; requiring a caseworker to
   36         provide information about subsidies provided by early
   37         learning coalitions to caregivers of certain children;
   38         amending s. 39.701, F.S.; providing additional
   39         requirements for social study reports for judicial
   40         review; amending s. 409.145, F.S.; providing
   41         additional requirements for caregivers; providing
   42         additional requirements for records and information
   43         the department and any additional providers are
   44         required to make available to caregivers; amending s.
   45         409.175, F.S.; providing additional requirements for
   46         the licensure and operation of family foster homes,
   47         residential child-caring agencies, and child-placing
   48         agencies; amending s. 409.1753, F.S.; requiring a lead
   49         agency, rather than the department, to provide
   50         caregivers with a contact when the caseworker is
   51         unavailable; amending s. 409.988, F.S.; requiring lead
   52         agencies to recruit and retain foster homes; amending
   53         s. 39.6013, F.S.; conforming a cross-reference;
   54         providing an effective date.
   56  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   58         Section 1. Section 39.4085, Florida Statutes, is amended to
   59  read:
   60         (Substantial rewording of section. See
   61         s. 39.4085, F.S., for present text.)
   62         39.4085Foster Children’s Bill of Rights.—
   64         (a) The Legislature finds that children in, and young
   65  adults leaving, out-of-home care face more developmental,
   66  psychosocial, and economic challenges than their peers outside
   67  of the child welfare system and are more likely to be
   68  unemployed, undereducated, homeless, and dependent on public
   69  assistance; and to experience early parenthood and to suffer
   70  from substance abuse and mental health disorders.
   71         (b)The Legislature also finds that emotional trauma,
   72  separation from family, frequent changes in placement, and
   73  frequent changes in school enrollment, as well as being
   74  dependent on the state to make decisions regarding current and
   75  future life options, may contribute to feelings of limited
   76  control over life circumstances for children and young adults in
   77  out-of-home care.
   78         (c)The Legislature also recognizes that there are basic
   79  human rights guaranteed to everyone, but children and young
   80  adults in out-of-home care have additional rights that they
   81  should be aware of in order to better advocate for themselves.
   82         (d) Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature to
   83  empower these children and young adults by helping them become
   84  better informed of their rights so they can become stronger
   85  self-advocates.
   86         (2) BILL OF RIGHTS.The department’s child welfare system
   87  shall operate with the understanding that the rights of children
   88  and young adults in out-of-home care are critical to their
   89  safety, permanence, and well-being and shall work with all
   90  stakeholders to help such children and young adults become
   91  knowledgeable about their rights and the resources available to
   92  them. A child should be able to remain in the custody of his or
   93  her parents or legal custodians unless a qualified person
   94  exercising competent professional judgment determines that
   95  removal is necessary to protect the child’s physical, mental, or
   96  emotional health or safety. The rights of a child or young adult
   97  placed in out-of-home care are:
   98         (a) To live in a safe, healthy, and comfortable home where
   99  he or she is treated with respect and where the caregiver is
  100  aware of and understands the child’s history, needs, and risk
  101  factors.
  102         (b)To be free from physical, sexual, emotional, or other
  103  abuse, or corporal punishment. This includes the right to be
  104  placed away from other children or young adults who are known to
  105  pose a threat of harm to him or her because of his or her own
  106  risk factors or those of the other child or young adult.
  107         (c)To receive adequate and healthful food, adequate
  108  clothing, and an allowance.
  109         (d)To receive medical, dental, vision, and mental health
  110  services, as needed.
  111         (e)To be free of the administration of medication or
  112  chemical substances, unless authorized by a parent or the court.
  113         (f)To be able to contact and visit his or her family
  114  members and fictive kin at least once per month, unless
  115  prohibited by court order.
  116         (g)To be placed together with his or her siblings, or to
  117  maintain contact with and visit his or her siblings at least
  118  once per week, unless prohibited by court order.
  119         (h)To be able to contact the Florida Children’s Ombudsman,
  120  as described in s. 39.4086, regarding violations of rights; to
  121  speak to the ombudsman confidentially; and to be free from
  122  threats or punishment for making complaints.
  123         (i)To make and receive confidential telephone calls and to
  124  send and receive unopened mail, unless prohibited by court
  125  order.
  126         (j)To attend the religious services and activities of his
  127  or her choice, and to not be compelled to unwillingly attend
  128  religious services or activities.
  129         (k)To maintain a bank account and manage personal income,
  130  consistent with his or her age and developmental level, unless
  131  prohibited by the case plan.
  132         (l) To not be locked in any room, building, or facility
  133  premises, unless placed in a residential treatment center by
  134  court order.
  135         (m)To attend school and participate in extracurricular,
  136  cultural, and personal enrichment activities consistent with his
  137  or her age and developmental level.
  138         (n)To work and develop job skills at an age-appropriate
  139  level that is consistent with state law.
  140         (o)To have social contact with people outside of the
  141  foster care system such as teachers, church members, mentors,
  142  and friends.
  143         (p)To attend independent living program classes and
  144  activities if he or she meets the age requirements.
  145         (q)To attend all court hearings and speak with the judge.
  146         (r) To have storage space for private use.
  147         (s)To participate in creating and reviewing his or her
  148  case plan if he or she is 14 years of age or older or, if
  149  younger, is of an appropriate age and capacity 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         (t)To be free from unreasonable searches of his or her
  154  personal belongings.
  155         (u)To the confidentiality of all juvenile court records
  156  consistent with state law.
  157         (v)To have fair and equal access to all available
  158  services, placement, care, treatment, and benefits, and to not
  159  be subjected to discrimination or harassment on the basis of
  160  actual or perceived race, ethnic group identification, ancestry,
  161  national origin, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation,
  162  gender identity, mental or physical disability, or HIV status.
  163         (w)If he or she is 16 years of age or older, to have
  164  access to existing information regarding the educational and
  165  financial assistance options available to him or her, including,
  166  but not limited to, the coursework necessary for vocational and
  167  postsecondary educational programs, postsecondary educational
  168  services and support, the Keys to Independence program, and the
  169  tuition waiver available under s. 1009.25.
  170         (x) To not be moved by the department or a community-based
  171  care lead agency to another out-of-home placement unless the
  172  current home is unsafe or the change is court-ordered and, if
  173  moved, the right to a transition that respects his or her
  174  relationships and property pursuant to s. 409.145.
  175         (y)To have a guardian ad litem appointed to represent his
  176  or her best interests and, if appropriate, an attorney ad litem
  177  appointed to represent his or her legal interests. The guardian
  178  ad litem and attorney ad litem shall have immediate and
  179  unlimited access to the children they represent.
  182         (a)The department shall develop training related to the
  183  rights of children and young adults in out-of-home care under
  184  this section. All child protective investigators, case managers,
  185  and other appropriate staff must complete annual training
  186  relating to these rights.
  187         (b) The department shall provide a copy of this bill of
  188  rights to all children and young adults entering out-of-home
  189  care, and the department shall explain the bill of rights to the
  190  child or young adult in a manner the child or young adult can
  191  understand. Such explanation must occur in a manner that is the
  192  most effective for each individual and must use words and
  193  terminology that make sense to the child or young adult. If a
  194  child or young adult has cognitive, physical, or behavioral
  195  challenges that would prevent him or her from fully
  196  comprehending the bill of rights as presented, such information
  197  must be documented in the case record.
  198         (c)The caseworker or other appropriate agency staff shall
  199  document in court reports and case notes the date he or she
  200  reviewed the bill of rights in age-appropriate language with the
  201  foster child or young adult.
  202         (d)The bill of rights must be reviewed with the child or
  203  young adult by appropriate staff upon entry into out-of-home
  204  care and must be subsequently reviewed with the child or young
  205  adult every 6 months until the child leaves care and upon every
  206  change in placement. Each child or young adult must be given the
  207  opportunity to ask questions about any of the rights that he or
  208  she does not clearly understand.
  209         (e) Facilities licensed to care for six or more children
  210  and young adults in out-of-home care must post information about
  211  the rights of these individuals in a prominent place in the
  212  facility.
  214  caregivers must ensure that a child or young adult in their care
  215  is aware of and understands his or her rights under this section
  216  and must assist the child or young adult in contacting the
  217  Florida Children’s Ombudsman, if necessary.
  218         (5) RULEMAKING.The department shall adopt rules to
  219  implement this section.
  220         Section 2. Section 39.4088, Florida Statutes, is created to
  221  read:
  222         39.4088Florida Children’s Ombudsman.—The Florida
  223  Children’s Ombudsman shall serve as an autonomous entity within
  224  the department for the purpose of providing children and young
  225  adults who are placed in out-of-home care with a means to
  226  resolve issues related to their care, placement, or services
  227  without fear of retribution. The ombudsman shall have access to
  228  any record of a state or local agency which is necessary to
  229  carry out his or her responsibilities and may meet or
  230  communicate with any child or young adult in the child or young
  231  adult’s placement or elsewhere.
  233  The ombudsman shall:
  234         (a)Disseminate information on the rights of children and
  235  young adults in out-of-home care under s. 39.4085 and the
  236  services provided by the ombudsman.
  237         (b)Attempt to resolve a complaint informally.
  238         (c)Conduct whatever investigation he or she determines is
  239  necessary to resolve a complaint.
  240         (d)Update the complainant on the progress of the
  241  investigation and notify the complainant of the final outcome.
  243  The ombudsman may not investigate, challenge, or overturn court
  244  ordered decisions.
  245         (2) DATA COLLECTION.The ombudsman shall:
  246         (a)Document the number, source, origin, location, and
  247  nature of all complaints.
  248         (b)Compile all data collected over the course of the year
  249  including, but not limited to, the number of contacts to the
  250  toll-free telephone number; the number of complaints made,
  251  including the type and source of those complaints; the number of
  252  investigations performed by the ombudsman; the trends and issues
  253  that arose in the course of investigating complaints; the number
  254  of referrals made; and the number of pending complaints.
  255         (c)Post the compiled data on the department’s website.
  257         (a) By January 1, 2020, the ombudsman, in consultation with
  258  the department, children’s advocacy and support groups, and
  259  current or former children and young adults in out-of-home care,
  260  shall develop standardized information explaining the rights
  261  granted under s. 39.4085. The information must be age
  262  appropriate, reviewed and updated by the ombudsman annually, and
  263  made available through a variety of formats.
  264         (b)The department, community-based care lead agencies, and
  265  other agency staff must use the information provided by the
  266  ombudsman to carry out their responsibilities to inform children
  267  and young adults in out-of-home care of their rights pursuant to
  268  the duties established under s. 409.145.
  269         (c)The department shall establish a statewide toll-free
  270  telephone number for the ombudsman and post the number on the
  271  homepage of the department’s website.
  272         (4) RULEMAKING.The department shall adopt rules to
  273  implement this section.
  274         Section 3. Subsections (4) through (8) of section 39.6011,
  275  Florida Statutes, are redesignated as subsections (5) through
  276  (9), respectively, paragraph (a) of subsection (1) and paragraph
  277  (b) of present subsection (6) of that section are amended,
  278  paragraph (f) is added to subsection (2) of that section, and a
  279  new subsection (4) is added to that section, to read:
  280         39.6011 Case plan development.—
  281         (1) The department shall prepare a draft of the case plan
  282  for each child receiving services under this chapter. A parent
  283  of a child may not be threatened or coerced with the loss of
  284  custody or parental rights for failing to admit in the case plan
  285  of abusing, neglecting, or abandoning a child. Participating in
  286  the development of a case plan is not an admission to any
  287  allegation of abuse, abandonment, or neglect, and it is not a
  288  consent to a finding of dependency or termination of parental
  289  rights. The case plan shall be developed subject to the
  290  following requirements:
  291         (a) The case plan must be developed in a face-to-face
  292  conference with the parent of the child, any court-appointed
  293  guardian ad litem, and, if appropriate, the child and the
  294  temporary custodian or caregiver of the child.
  295         (2) The case plan must be written simply and clearly in
  296  English and, if English is not the principal language of the
  297  child’s parent, to the extent possible in the parent’s principal
  298  language. Each case plan must contain:
  299         (f) If the child has attained 14 years of age or is
  300  otherwise of an appropriate age and capacity:
  301         1. A document that describes the rights of the child under
  302  s. 39.4085 and the right to be provided with the documents
  303  pursuant to s. 39.701.
  304         2.A signed acknowledgement by the child or young adult, or
  305  the caregiver if the child is too young or otherwise unable to
  306  sign, that the child has been provided with a copy of the
  307  document and that the rights contained in the document have been
  308  explained to the child in a way that the child understands.
  309         3. Documentation that a consumer credit report for the
  310  child was requested from at least one reputable credit reporting
  311  agency at no charge to the child and that any results were
  312  provided to the child. The case plan must include documentation
  313  of any barriers to obtaining the credit reports. If the consumer
  314  credit report reveals any accounts, the case plan must detail
  315  how the department ensured the child received assistance with
  316  interpreting the credit report and resolving any inaccuracies,
  317  including any referrals made for such assistance.
  318         (4)If the child has attained 14 years of age or, if
  319  younger, is of an appropriate age and capacity, the child must:
  320         (a) Be consulted on the development of the case plan; have
  321  the opportunity to attend a face-to-face conference, if
  322  appropriate; have the opportunity to express a placement
  323  preference; and have the option to choose two members for the
  324  case planning team who are not a foster parent or caseworker for
  325  the child.
  326         1.An individual selected by a child to be a member of the
  327  case planning team may be rejected at any time if there is good
  328  cause to believe that the individual would not act in the best
  329  interest of the child. One individual selected by a child to be
  330  a member of the child’s case planning team may be designated to
  331  act as the child’s advisor and, as necessary, advocate with
  332  respect to the application of the reasonable and prudent parent
  333  standard to the child.
  334         2.The child may not be included in any aspect of case plan
  335  development if information could be revealed or discussed which
  336  is of a nature that would best be presented to the child in a
  337  therapeutic setting.
  338         (b) Sign the case plan, unless there is reason to waive the
  339  child’s signature.
  340         (c) Receive an explanation of the provisions of the case
  341  plan from the department.
  342         (d) After the case plan is agreed on and signed by all
  343  parties, and after jurisdiction attaches and the case plan is
  344  filed with the court, be provided a copy of the case plan within
  345  72 hours before the disposition hearing.
  346         (7)(6) After the case plan has been developed, the
  347  department shall adhere to the following procedural
  348  requirements:
  349         (b) After the case plan has been agreed upon and signed by
  350  the parties, a copy of the plan must be given immediately to the
  351  parties, including the child if appropriate, the caregiver if
  352  the child is placed in a licensed foster home, and to other
  353  persons as directed by the court.
  354         1. A case plan must be prepared, but need not be submitted
  355  to the court, for a child who will be in care no longer than 30
  356  days unless that child is placed in out-of-home care a second
  357  time within a 12-month period.
  358         2. In each case in which a child has been placed in out-of
  359  home care, a case plan must be prepared within 60 days after the
  360  department removes the child from the home and shall be
  361  submitted to the court before the disposition hearing for the
  362  court to review and approve.
  363         3. After jurisdiction attaches, all case plans must be
  364  filed with the court, and a copy provided to all the parties
  365  whose whereabouts are known, not less than 3 business days
  366  before the disposition hearing. The department shall file with
  367  the court, and provide copies to the parties, all case plans
  368  prepared before jurisdiction of the court attached.
  369         Section 4. Paragraph (c) is added to subsection (3) of
  370  section 39.604, Florida Statutes, to read:
  371         39.604 Rilya Wilson Act; short title; legislative intent;
  372  child care; early education; preschool.—
  373         (3) REQUIREMENTS.—
  374         (c) For children placed in a licensed foster home and who
  375  are required to be enrolled in an early education or child care
  376  program under this section, the caseworker shall inform the
  377  caregiver of the amount of the subsidy provided by an early
  378  learning coalition, that this amount may not be sufficient to
  379  pay the full cost of the services, and that the caregiver will
  380  be responsible for paying the difference between the subsidy and
  381  the full cost charged by the early education or child care
  382  program.
  383         Section 5. Paragraph (a) of subsection (2) and paragraph
  384  (a) of subsection (3) of section 39.701, Florida Statutes, are
  385  amended to read:
  386         39.701 Judicial review.—
  388  AGE.—
  389         (a) Social study report for judicial review.—Before every
  390  judicial review hearing or citizen review panel hearing, the
  391  social service agency shall make an investigation and social
  392  study concerning all pertinent details relating to the child and
  393  shall furnish to the court or citizen review panel a written
  394  report that includes, but is not limited to:
  395         1. A description of the type of placement the child is in
  396  at the time of the hearing, including the safety of the child
  397  and the continuing necessity for and appropriateness of the
  398  placement.
  399         2. Documentation of the diligent efforts made by all
  400  parties to the case plan to comply with each applicable
  401  provision of the plan.
  402         3. The amount of fees assessed and collected during the
  403  period of time being reported.
  404         4. The services provided to the foster family or legal
  405  custodian in an effort to address the needs of the child as
  406  indicated in the case plan.
  407         5. A statement that either:
  408         a. The parent, though able to do so, did not comply
  409  substantially with the case plan, and the agency
  410  recommendations;
  411         b. The parent did substantially comply with the case plan;
  412  or
  413         c. The parent has partially complied with the case plan,
  414  with a summary of additional progress needed and the agency
  415  recommendations.
  416         6. A statement from the foster parent or legal custodian
  417  providing any material evidence concerning the return of the
  418  child to the parent or parents.
  419         7. A statement concerning the frequency, duration, and
  420  results of the parent-child visitation, if any, and the agency
  421  recommendations for an expansion or restriction of future
  422  visitation.
  423         8. The number of times a child has been removed from his or
  424  her home and placed elsewhere, the number and types of
  425  placements that have occurred, and the reason for the changes in
  426  placement.
  427         9. The number of times a child’s educational placement has
  428  been changed, the number and types of educational placements
  429  which have occurred, and the reason for any change in placement.
  430         10. If the child has reached 13 years of age but is not yet
  431  18 years of age, a statement from the caregiver on the progress
  432  the child has made in acquiring independent living skills.
  433         11. Copies of all medical, psychological, and educational
  434  records that support the terms of the case plan and that have
  435  been produced concerning the parents or any caregiver since the
  436  last judicial review hearing.
  437         12. Copies of the child’s current health, mental health,
  438  and education records as identified in s. 39.6012.
  439         13. Documentation that the Foster Children’s Bill of
  440  Rights, as described in s. 39.4085, has been provided to and
  441  reviewed with the child.
  442         14. A signed acknowledgement by the child, or the caregiver
  443  if the child is too young or otherwise unable to sign, stating
  444  that the child has been provided an explanation of the rights
  445  under s. 39.4085.
  447         (a) In addition to the review and report required under
  448  paragraphs (1)(a) and (2)(a), respectively, the court shall hold
  449  a judicial review hearing within 90 days after a child’s 17th
  450  birthday. The court shall also issue an order, separate from the
  451  order on judicial review, that the disability of nonage of the
  452  child has been removed pursuant to ss. 743.044, 743.045,
  453  743.046, and 743.047, and for any of these disabilities that the
  454  court finds is in the child’s best interest to remove. The court
  455  shall continue to hold timely judicial review hearings. If
  456  necessary, the court may review the status of the child more
  457  frequently during the year before the child’s 18th birthday. At
  458  each review hearing held under this subsection, in addition to
  459  any information or report provided to the court by the foster
  460  parent, legal custodian, or guardian ad litem, the child shall
  461  be given the opportunity to address the court with any
  462  information relevant to the child’s best interest, particularly
  463  in relation to independent living transition services. The
  464  department shall include in the social study report for judicial
  465  review written verification that the child has:
  466         1. A current Medicaid card and all necessary information
  467  concerning the Medicaid program sufficient to prepare the child
  468  to apply for coverage upon reaching the age of 18, if such
  469  application is appropriate.
  470         2. A certified copy of the child’s birth certificate and,
  471  if the child does not have a valid driver license, a Florida
  472  identification card issued under s. 322.051.
  473         3. A social security card and information relating to
  474  social security insurance benefits if the child is eligible for
  475  those benefits. If the child has received such benefits and they
  476  are being held in trust for the child, a full accounting of
  477  these funds must be provided and the child must be informed as
  478  to how to access those funds.
  479         4. All relevant information related to the Road-to
  480  Independence Program, including, but not limited to, eligibility
  481  requirements, information on participation, and assistance in
  482  gaining admission to the program. If the child is eligible for
  483  the Road-to-Independence Program, he or she must be advised that
  484  he or she may continue to reside with the licensed family home
  485  or group care provider with whom the child was residing at the
  486  time the child attained his or her 18th birthday, in another
  487  licensed family home, or with a group care provider arranged by
  488  the department.
  489         5. An open bank account or the identification necessary to
  490  open a bank account and to acquire essential banking and
  491  budgeting skills.
  492         6. Information on public assistance and how to apply for
  493  public assistance.
  494         7. A clear understanding of where he or she will be living
  495  on his or her 18th birthday, how living expenses will be paid,
  496  and the educational program or school in which he or she will be
  497  enrolled.
  498         8. Information related to the ability of the child to
  499  remain in care until he or she reaches 21 years of age under s.
  500  39.013.
  501         9. A letter providing the dates that the child is under the
  502  jurisdiction of the court.
  503         10. A letter stating that the child is in compliance with
  504  financial aid documentation requirements.
  505         11. The child’s educational records.
  506         12. The child’s entire health and mental health records.
  507         13. The process for accessing his or her case file.
  508         14. A statement encouraging the child to attend all
  509  judicial review hearings occurring after the child’s 17th
  510  birthday.
  511         15. Information on how to obtain a driver license or
  512  learner’s driver license.
  513         16.Been provided with the Foster Children’s Bill of
  514  Rights, as described in s. 39.0485, and that the rights have
  515  been reviewed with the child.
  516         17.Signed an acknowledgement stating that he or she has
  517  been provided an explanation of the rights or, if the child is
  518  too young or otherwise unable to sign, that such acknowledgment
  519  has been signed by the child’s caregiver.
  520         Section 6. Paragraphs (a) and (d) of subsection (2) of
  521  section 409.145, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
  522         409.145 Care of children; quality parenting; “reasonable
  523  and prudent parent” standard.—The child welfare system of the
  524  department shall operate as a coordinated community-based system
  525  of care which empowers all caregivers for children in foster
  526  care to provide quality parenting, including approving or
  527  disapproving a child’s participation in activities based on the
  528  caregiver’s assessment using the “reasonable and prudent parent”
  529  standard.
  530         (2) QUALITY PARENTING.—A child in foster care shall be
  531  placed only with a caregiver who has the ability to care for the
  532  child, is willing to accept responsibility for providing care,
  533  and is willing and able to learn about and be respectful of the
  534  child’s culture, religion and ethnicity, special physical or
  535  psychological needs, any circumstances unique to the child, and
  536  family relationships. The department, the community-based care
  537  lead agency, and other agencies shall provide such caregiver
  538  with all available information necessary to assist the caregiver
  539  in determining whether he or she is able to appropriately care
  540  for a particular child.
  541         (a) Roles and responsibilities of caregivers.—A caregiver
  542  shall:
  543         1. Participate in developing the case plan for the child
  544  and his or her family and work with others involved in his or
  545  her care to implement this plan. This participation includes the
  546  caregiver’s involvement in all team meetings or court hearings
  547  related to the child’s care.
  548         2. Complete all training needed to improve skills in
  549  parenting a child who has experienced trauma due to neglect,
  550  abuse, or separation from home, to meet the child’s special
  551  needs, and to work effectively with child welfare agencies, the
  552  court, the schools, and other community and governmental
  553  agencies.
  554         3. Respect and support the child’s ties to members of his
  555  or her biological family and assist the child in maintaining
  556  allowable visitation and other forms of communication.
  557         4. Effectively advocate for the child in the caregiver’s
  558  care with the child welfare system, the court, and community
  559  agencies, including the school, child care, health and mental
  560  health providers, and employers.
  561         5. Participate fully in the child’s medical, psychological,
  562  and dental care as the caregiver would for his or her biological
  563  child.
  564         6. Support the child’s educational success by participating
  565  in activities and meetings associated with the child’s school or
  566  other educational setting, including Individual Education Plan
  567  meetings and meetings with an educational surrogate if one has
  568  been appointed, assisting with assignments, supporting tutoring
  569  programs, and encouraging the child’s participation in
  570  extracurricular activities.
  571         a. Maintaining educational stability for a child while in
  572  out-of-home care by allowing the child to remain in the school
  573  or educational setting that he or she attended before entry into
  574  out-of-home care is the first priority, unless not in the best
  575  interest of the child.
  576         b. If it is not in the best interest of the child to remain
  577  in his or her school or educational setting upon entry into out
  578  of-home care, the caregiver must work with the case manager,
  579  guardian ad litem, teachers and guidance counselors, and
  580  educational surrogate if one has been appointed to determine the
  581  best educational setting for the child. Such setting may include
  582  a public school that is not the school of origin, a private
  583  school pursuant to s. 1002.42, a virtual instruction program
  584  pursuant to s. 1002.45, or a home education program pursuant to
  585  s. 1002.41.
  586         7. Work in partnership with other stakeholders to obtain
  587  and maintain records that are important to the child’s well
  588  being, including child resource records, medical records, school
  589  records, photographs, and records of special events and
  590  achievements.
  591         8. Ensure that the child in the caregiver’s care who is
  592  between 13 and 17 years of age learns and masters independent
  593  living skills.
  594         9. Ensure that the child in the caregiver’s care is aware
  595  of the requirements and benefits of the Road-to-Independence
  596  Program.
  597         10. Work to enable the child in the caregiver’s care to
  598  establish and maintain naturally occurring mentoring
  599  relationships.
  600         11. Pay the difference between the subsidy from an early
  601  learning coalition and the full cost charged by an early
  602  education or child care program.
  603         12. Ensure that the child in the caregiver’s care is aware
  604  of and understands his or her rights under s. 309.4085.
  605         13. Assist the child in contacting the Florida Children’s
  606  Ombudsman, if necessary.
  607         (d) Information sharing.—Whenever a foster home or
  608  residential group home assumes responsibility for the care of a
  609  child, the department and any additional providers shall make
  610  available to the caregiver as soon as is practicable all
  611  relevant information concerning the child. Records and
  612  information that are required to be shared with caregivers
  613  include, but are not limited to:
  614         1. Medical, dental, psychological, psychiatric, and
  615  behavioral history, as well as ongoing evaluation or treatment
  616  needs or treatment plans and information on how the caregiver
  617  can support any treatment plan within the foster home;
  618         2. School records;
  619         3. Copies of his or her birth certificate and, if
  620  appropriate, immigration status documents;
  621         4. Consents signed by parents;
  622         5. Comprehensive behavioral assessments and other social
  623  assessments and information on how the caregiver can manage any
  624  behavioral issues;
  625         6. Court orders;
  626         7. Visitation and case plans;
  627         8. Guardian ad litem reports;
  628         9. Staffing forms; and
  629         10. Judicial or citizen review panel reports and
  630  attachments filed with the court, except confidential medical,
  631  psychiatric, and psychological information regarding any party
  632  or participant other than the child.
  633         Section 7. Paragraph (b) of subsection (5) of section
  634  409.175, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  635         409.175 Licensure of family foster homes, residential
  636  child-caring agencies, and child-placing agencies; public
  637  records exemption.—
  638         (5) The department shall adopt and amend rules for the
  639  levels of licensed care associated with the licensure of family
  640  foster homes, residential child-caring agencies, and child
  641  placing agencies. The rules may include criteria to approve
  642  waivers to licensing requirements when applying for a child
  643  specific license.
  644         (b) The requirements for licensure and operation of family
  645  foster homes, residential child-caring agencies, and child
  646  placing agencies shall include:
  647         1. The operation, conduct, and maintenance of these homes
  648  and agencies and the responsibility which they assume for
  649  children served and the evidence of need for that service.
  650         2. The provision of food, clothing, educational
  651  opportunities, services, equipment, and individual supplies to
  652  assure the healthy physical, emotional, and mental development
  653  of the children served.
  654         3. The appropriateness, safety, cleanliness, and general
  655  adequacy of the premises, including fire prevention and health
  656  standards, to provide for the physical comfort, care, and well
  657  being of the children served.
  658         4. The ratio of staff to children required to provide
  659  adequate care and supervision of the children served and, in the
  660  case of foster homes, the maximum number of children in the
  661  home.
  662         5. The good moral character based upon screening,
  663  education, training, and experience requirements for personnel.
  664         6. The department may grant exemptions from
  665  disqualification from working with children or the
  666  developmentally disabled as provided in s. 435.07.
  667         7. The provision of preservice and inservice training for
  668  all foster parents and agency staff.
  669         8. Satisfactory evidence of financial ability to provide
  670  care for the children in compliance with licensing requirements.
  671         9. The maintenance by the agency of records pertaining to
  672  admission, progress, health, and discharge of children served,
  673  including written case plans and reports to the department.
  674         10. The provision for parental involvement to encourage
  675  preservation and strengthening of a child’s relationship with
  676  the family.
  677         11. The transportation safety of children served.
  678         12. The provisions for safeguarding the cultural,
  679  religious, and ethnic values of a child.
  680         13. Provisions to safeguard the legal rights of children
  681  served, as well as rights of children established under s.
  682  39.4085.
  683         Section 8. Section 409.1753, Florida Statutes, is amended
  684  to read:
  685         409.1753 Foster care; duties.—The department shall ensure
  686  that each lead agency provides, within each district, each
  687  foster home with is given a telephone number for the foster
  688  parent to call during normal working hours whenever immediate
  689  assistance is needed and the child’s caseworker is unavailable.
  690  This number must be staffed and answered by individuals
  691  possessing the knowledge and authority necessary to assist
  692  foster parents.
  693         Section 9. Paragraph (l) is added to subsection (1) of
  694  section 409.988, Florida Statutes, to read:
  695         409.988 Lead agency duties; general provisions.—
  696         (1) DUTIES.—A lead agency:
  697         (l) Shall recruit and retain foster homes. In performing
  698  such duty, a lead agency shall:
  699         1. Develop a plan to recruit and retain foster homes using
  700  best practices identified by the department and specify how the
  701  lead agency complies with s. 409.1753.
  702         2. Annually submit such plan to the department for
  703  approval.
  704         3. Provide to the department a quarterly report detailing
  705  the number of licensed foster homes and beds and occupancy rate.
  706         4. Conduct exit interviews with foster parents who
  707  voluntarily give up their license to determine the reasons for
  708  giving up their license and identify suggestions for how to
  709  better recruit and retain foster homes, and provide a quarterly
  710  summary of such interviews to the department.
  711         Section 10. Subsection (8) of section 39.6013, Florida
  712  Statutes, is amended to read:
  713         39.6013 Case plan amendments.—
  714         (8) Amendments must include service interventions that are
  715  the least intrusive into the life of the parent and child, must
  716  focus on clearly defined objectives, and must provide the most
  717  efficient path to quick reunification or permanent placement
  718  given the circumstances of the case and the child’s need for
  719  safe and proper care. A copy of the amended plan must be
  720  immediately given to the persons identified in s. 39.6011(7)(b)
  721  s. 39.6011(6)(b).
  722         Section 11. This act shall take effect October 1, 2019.