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The Florida Senate

2007 Florida Statutes

Legislative findings; alternate care plans.
Section 409.1673, Florida Statutes 2007

409.1673  Legislative findings; alternate care plans.--

(1)  LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS.--The Legislature finds that:

(a)1.  The traditional foster care system often fails to meet the needs of children in the legal custody of the department.

2.  Increasingly, the shelter care, foster care, and residential group care populations include a high proportion of children who are difficult to serve, including a large number of adolescents, emotionally and behaviorally disturbed children, children with delinquency or substance abuse histories, and younger children with serious medical and developmental disabilities.

3.  The foster care system includes a larger pool of older children who have more complicated problems and who have been in care for long periods of time and are not faring well in care.

4.  Alternate care placements for adolescents are often inadequate or inappropriate, and services are inadequate to prepare them for independent living.

5.  There is a lack of permanent adoptive homes for older and disabled children.

(b)  Adolescents are often inappropriately and repeatedly placed in the foster care system, typically spend long periods in alternate care, lack a stable environment, and exhibit behavior problems such as truancy, delinquency, and physical or sexual abuse.

(c)  The placement of some dependent children in inpatient residential psychiatric treatment and the juvenile justice system could be avoided if comprehensive residential and therapeutic services options were available.

(d)  The child welfare system consists of a disjointed array of independent assessment, protection, and treatment services within each district, which makes it difficult to systematically assess, plan, and provide for the needs of dependent children who require alternate care.

(e)  A lack of collaboration exists among programs of the department and other agencies regarding the assessment, case planning, and provision of services to dependent children who may require removal or who have been removed from their homes.

(f)  It is necessary to promote the design and operation of an objective assessment and case planning process; to develop a community continuum of service for children in the custody of the department who require alternate care under chapter 39 or this chapter by ensuring that alternate care placements are based on the needs of the child and the family; and to encourage innovation in significantly restructuring local alternate care systems to be more flexible and efficient in providing protection and treatment services for dependent children.


(a)  The department must, in a collaborative partnership with community service providers, annually develop and administer an objective plan with respect to services for dependent children. The district's community service providers must annually develop and submit to the district administrator by March 31, 1995, and by March 31 of each succeeding year, an alternate care plan that specifies the assessment and case planning process and prescribes the services needed to ensure the most appropriate alternate care placement for dependent children who must be placed outside their homes. As used in this section, the term "assessment" means the evaluation of a child's physical, psychological, educational, vocational, and social condition and the child's family environment as they relate to the child's need for rehabilitative and treatment services, including substance abuse treatment services, mental health services, developmental services, educational and remedial literacy services, medical services, family services, and other specialized services.

(b)  The plan must be developed by the department in collaboration with community service providers, foster parent providers, licensed residential child care providers, mental health providers, parents and guardians, child care providers, school system representatives, juvenile justice council members, and other community representatives, and must be approved by the district administrator. The plan must be approved prior to the beginning of each fiscal year for use in preparing the legislative budget request for the following fiscal year.

(c)  By September 1995, the department must develop a uniform statewide reimbursement schedule for providers, which must be based on the range, complexity, and quality of services provided and the assessed needs of the children.

(3)  PLAN REQUIREMENTS.--Each district's alternate care plan for assessment, case planning, and placement must include:

(a)  An objective process for determining the most appropriate type of alternate placement for dependent children which specifies the goals for the child and family and objectives and procedures for assessment, case planning, service plan monitoring, case management services, client advocacy, family involvement, discharge planning, and cost-sharing strategies.

(b)  A defined range of services, from the least expensive, least restrictive setting to the most costly, most restrictive inpatient setting, including, but not limited to, family preservation services; family foster homes; therapeutic and medical foster homes; outpatient day programs and specialized treatment programs; residential child care programs; inpatient residential treatment facilities; and psychiatric hospitals.

(c)  A protocol for ensuring interagency collaboration and appropriate service delivery based on the needs of dependent children and their families, including a review of existing assessments and services within the department and among other agencies to avoid unnecessary examinations.

(d)  An analysis of existing alternate care placement options and evidence of planned activities to ensure that a full array of settings is available, including written agreements with providers that specify their capacity and entrance and exit criteria.

(e)  A means of diverting children, where appropriate, from costly restrictive institutional placements into care and treatment programs within the community which includes plans for differentiated levels of treatment services.

(f)  A compilation of data on the characteristics of dependent children within the district, an analysis of anticipated alternate care services and placements which delineates the ages and profiles of the children, a description of service and placement alternatives needed, a determination of the number and type of placements available, and a method for identifying gaps in services.

(g)  Procedures for training and quality assurance.

(h)  The identification of flexible funding opportunities and methods of maximizing resources within the department as well as community agencies.

(i)  The delineation of budget expenditures for alternate care services.

(j)  Any recommendations for proposed changes to fiscal and substantive policies at the local, district, and state delivery levels.

(4)  PLAN OUTCOMES.--The findings and recommendations of the plan will be used to identify the appropriate intervention services, to determine alternate care placement decisions best suited to the needs of the child and family, and to prepare reports. The plan must include provisions for reviewing cases in which the resulting placement of the child or the services provided are ineffective.

History.--s. 51, ch. 94-164; s. 45, ch. 99-5; s. 63, ch. 2000-139.