2004 Florida Statutes
Case plan requirements.
(1) The department or agent of the department shall develop a case plan for each child receiving services pursuant to this chapter. A parent of a child may not be required nor coerced through threat of loss of custody or parental rights to admit in the case plan to abusing, neglecting, or abandoning a child. Where dependency mediation services are available and appropriate to the best interests of the child, the court may refer the case to mediation for development of a case plan. This section does not change the provisions of s. 39.807
(a) The case plan must be developed in conference with the parent of the child and any court-appointed guardian ad litem and, if appropriate, the child.
(b) The case plan must be written simply and clearly in English and, if English is not the principal language of the child's parent, to the extent possible in such principal language.
(c) The case plan must describe the minimum number of face-to-face meetings to be held each month between the parents and the department's caseworkers to review progress of the plan, to eliminate barriers to progress, and to resolve conflicts or disagreements.
(d) The case plan must be subject to modification based on changing circumstances.
(e) The case plan must be signed by all parties.
(f) The case plan must be reasonable, accurate, and in compliance with the requirements of other court orders.
(2) When the child or parent is receiving services, the case plan shall be filed with the court, for approval by the court, at least 72 hours prior to the disposition hearing. The case plan must be served on all parties whose whereabouts are known at least 72 hours prior to the disposition hearing and must include, in addition to the requirements in subsection (1), at a minimum:
(a) A description of the problem being addressed that includes the behavior or act of a parent resulting in risk to the child and the reason for the department's intervention.
(b) A description of the tasks with which the parent must comply and the services to be provided to the parent and child specifically addressing the identified problem, including:
1. Type of services or treatment.
2. Frequency of services or treatment.
3. Location of the delivery of the services.
4. The accountable department staff or service provider.
(c) A description of the measurable objectives, including timeframes for achieving objectives, addressing the identified problem.
(3) When the child is receiving services in an out-of-home placement, the case plan must be filed with the court, for approval by the court, at least 72 hours prior to the disposition hearing. The case plan must be served on all parties whose whereabouts are known at least 72 hours prior to the disposition hearing and must include, in addition to the requirements in subsections (1) and (2), at a minimum:
(a) A description of the permanency goal for the child, including the type of placement. Reasonable efforts to place a child in a home that will serve as an adoptive placement if reunification is not successful, or with a legal custodian, may be made concurrently with reasonable efforts to prevent removal of the child from the home or make it possible for the child to return safely home.
(b) A description of the type of home or institution in which the child is to be placed.
(c) A description of the financial support obligation to the child, including health insurance, of the child's parents.
(d) A description of the visitation rights and obligations of the parents during the period the child is in care.
(e) A discussion of the safety and appropriateness of the child's placement, which placement is intended to be safe, the least restrictive and most family-like setting available consistent with the best interest and special needs of the child, and in as close proximity as possible to the child's home. The plan must also establish the role for the foster parents or legal custodians in the development of the services which are to be provided to the child, foster parents, or legal custodians. It must also address the child's need for services while under the jurisdiction of the court and implementation of these services in the case plan.
(f) A description of the efforts to be undertaken to maintain the stability of the child's educational placement.
(g) A discussion of the department's plans to carry out the judicial determination made by the court, with respect to the child, in accordance with this chapter and applicable federal regulations.
(h) A description of the plan for assuring that services outlined in the case plan are provided to the child and the child's parent or parents, to improve the conditions in the home and facilitate either the safe return of the child to the home or the permanent placement of the child.
(i) A description of the plan for assuring that services as outlined in the case plan are provided to the child, the child's parents, and the child's legal custodians, to address the needs of the child, and a discussion of the appropriateness of the services.
(j) A description of the plan for assuring that services are provided to the child and the child's legal custodians or foster parents to address the needs of the child while in an out-of-home placement, which shall include an itemized list of costs to be borne by the parent associated with any services or treatment that the parent and child are expected to receive.
(k) A written notice to the parent that failure of the parent to substantially comply with the case plan may result in the termination of parental rights, and that a material failure to substantially comply may result in the filing of a petition for termination of parental rights sooner than the compliance periods set forth in the case plan itself. The case staffing committee shall coordinate its efforts with the child protection team of the Department of Health.
(l) In the case of a child for whom the permanency plan is adoption or placement in another permanent home, documentation of the steps the agency is taking to find an adoptive family or other permanent living arrangement for the child, to place the child with an adoptive family, with a fit and willing relative, with a legal custodian, or in another planned permanent living arrangement, and to finalize the adoption, legal guardianship, or long-term custodial relationship. At a minimum, such documentation shall include child-specific recruitment efforts such as the use of state, regional, and national adoption exchanges, including electronic exchange systems.
(4) In the event that the parents are unwilling or unable to participate in the development of a case plan, the department shall document that unwillingness or inability to participate. Such documentation must be provided in writing to the parent when available for the court record, and then the department shall prepare a case plan conforming as nearly as possible with the requirements set forth in this section. The unwillingness or inability of the parents to participate in the development of a case plan shall not in itself bar the filing of a petition for dependency or for termination of parental rights. The parents, if available, must be provided a copy of the case plan and be advised that they may, at any time prior to the filing of a petition for termination of parental rights, enter into a case plan and that they may request judicial review of any provision of the case plan with which they disagree at any court review hearing set for the child.
(5) The services delineated in the case plan must be designed either to improve the conditions in the home and aid in maintaining the child in the home, to facilitate the safe return of the child to the home, or to facilitate the permanent placement of the child. The service intervention must be the least intrusive possible into the life of the parent and child, must focus on clearly defined objectives, and must provide the most efficient path to quick reunification or permanent placement, with the child's health and safety being paramount. To the extent possible, the service intervention must be grounded in outcome evaluation results that demonstrate success in the reunification or permanent placement process. In designing service interventions, generally recognized standards of the professions involved in the process must be taken into consideration.
(6) After jurisdiction attaches, all case plans must be filed with the court and a copy provided to all the parties whose whereabouts are known, not less than 72 hours before the disposition hearing. The department shall also file with the court all case plans prepared before jurisdiction of the court attached. If, after review of the case plan, the court does not approve the case plan, the court shall require the parties to make necessary modifications to the plan. An amended plan must be submitted to the court for review and approval within 30 days after the hearing on the case plan. This amended plan must be served on all parties whose whereabouts are known, at least 72 hours prior to filing with the court.
(7) The case plan must be limited to as short a period as possible for the accomplishment of its provisions. Unless extended, the plan expires no later than 12 months after the date the child was initially removed from the home or the date the case plan was accepted by the court, whichever comes first.
(8) The case plan must meet applicable federal and state requirements.
(9)(a) In each case in which the custody of a child has been vested, either voluntarily or involuntarily, in the department and the child has been placed in out-of-home care, a case plan must be prepared within 60 days after the department removes the child from the home, and shall be submitted to the court before the disposition hearing, for the court to review and approve. If the preparation of a case plan, in conference with the parents and other pertinent parties, cannot be completed before the disposition hearing, for good cause shown, the court may grant an extension not to exceed 30 days and set a hearing to review and approve the case plan.
(b) The parent or parents may receive assistance from any person or social service agency in the preparation of the case plan.
(c) The social service agency, the department, and the court, when applicable, shall inform the parent or parents of the right to receive such assistance, including the right to assistance of counsel.
(d) Before the signing of the case plan, the authorized agent of the department shall explain it to all persons involved in its implementation, including, when appropriate, the child.
(e) After the case plan has been agreed upon and signed by the parties involved, a copy of the plan must be given immediately to the parents, the department or agency, the foster parents, the legal custodian, the representative of the guardian ad litem program if the program is appointed, and any other parties identified by the court, including the child, if appropriate.
(f) The case plan may be amended at any time if all parties are in agreement regarding the revisions to the plan and the plan is submitted to the court with a memorandum of explanation, if the court approves such amendment. The case plan may also be amended by the court or upon motion of any party at a hearing, based on competent evidence demonstrating the need for the amendment. A copy of the amended plan must be immediately given to the persons specified in paragraph (e).
(10) A case plan must be prepared, but need not be submitted to the court, for a child who will be in care no longer than 30 days unless that child is placed in out-of-home care a second time within a 12-month period.
History.--s. 9, ch. 87-289; ss. 5, 25, ch. 94-164; ss. 8, 16, ch. 95-228; s. 4, ch. 98-137; s. 74, ch. 98-403; s. 35, ch. 99-193; s. 26, ch. 2000-139.
Note.--Former ss. 39.4031, 39.451.