(1) SHORT TITLE.—This section may be cited as the “Rilya Wilson Act.”
(2) LEGISLATIVE INTENT.—The Legislature recognizes that children who are in the care of the state due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment are at increased risk of poor school performance and other behavioral and social problems. It is the intent of the Legislature that children who are currently in the care of the state be provided with an age-appropriate education program to help ameliorate the negative consequences of abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
(3) REQUIREMENTS.— (a) A child from birth to the age of school entry, who is under court-ordered protective supervision or in out-of-home care and is enrolled in an early education or child care program must attend the program 5 days a week unless the court grants an exception due to the court determining it is in the best interest of a child from birth to age 3 years:
1. With a stay-at-home caregiver to remain at home.
2. With a caregiver who works less than full time to attend an early education or child care program fewer than 5 days a week.
(b) Notwithstanding s. 39.202, the department must notify operators of an early education or child care program, subject to the reporting requirements of this act, of the enrollment of any child from birth to the age of school entry, under court-ordered protective supervision or in out-of-home care. If a child is enrolled in an early education or child care program, the child’s attendance in the program must be a required task in the safety plan or the case plan developed for the child pursuant to this chapter. (4) ATTENDANCE.—
(a) A child enrolled in an early education or child care program who meets the requirements of subsection (3) may not be withdrawn from the program without the prior written approval of the department or the community-based care lead agency.
(b)1. If a child covered by this section is absent from the program on a day when he or she is supposed to be present, the person with whom the child resides must report the absence to the program by the end of the business day. If the person with whom the child resides, whether the parent or caregiver, fails to timely report the absence, the absence is considered to be unexcused. The program shall report any unexcused absence or seven consecutive excused absences of a child who is enrolled in the program and covered by this act to the department or the community-based care lead agency by the end of the business day following the unexcused absence or seventh consecutive excused absence.
2. The department or community-based care lead agency shall conduct a site visit to the residence of the child upon receiving a report of two consecutive unexcused absences or seven consecutive excused absences.
3. If the site visit results in a determination that the child is missing, the department or community-based care lead agency shall follow the procedure set forth in s. 39.0141.
4. If the site visit results in a determination that the child is not missing, the parent or caregiver shall be notified that failure to ensure that the child attends the early education or child care program is a violation of the safety plan or the case plan. If more than two site visits are conducted pursuant to this paragraph, staff shall notify the court of the parent or caregiver’s noncompliance with the case plan.
(5) EDUCATIONAL STABILITY.—Just as educational stability is important for school-age children, it is also important to minimize disruptions to secure attachments and stable relationships with supportive caregivers of children from birth to school age and to ensure that these attachments are not disrupted due to placement in out-of-home care or subsequent changes in out-of-home placement.
(a) A child must be allowed to remain in the child care or early education setting that he or she attended before entry into out-of-home care, unless the program is not in the best interest of the child.
(b) If it is not in the best interest of the child for him or her to remain in his or her child care or early education setting upon entry into out-of-home care, the caregiver must work with the case manager, guardian ad litem, child care and educational staff, and educational surrogate, if one has been appointed, to determine the best setting for the child. Such setting may be a child care provider that receives a Gold Seal Quality Care designation pursuant to s. 402.281, a provider participating in a quality rating system, a licensed child care provider, a public school provider, or a license-exempt child care provider, including religious-exempt and registered providers, and nonpublic schools.
(c) The department and providers of child care and early education shall develop protocols to ensure continuity if children are required to leave a program because of a change in out-of-home placement.
(6) TRANSITIONS.—In the absence of an emergency, if a child from birth to school age leaves a child care or early education program, the transition must be pursuant to a plan that involves cooperation and sharing of information among all persons involved, that respects the child’s developmental stage and associated psychological needs, and that allows for a gradual transition from one setting to another.