Florida Senate - 2012 SB 370 By Senator Wise 5-00157-12 2012370__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to supervised visitation and exchange 3 monitoring; creating s. 753.06, F.S.; adopting state 4 standards for supervised visitation programs; 5 providing for modification; requiring the standards to 6 be published on the website of the Clearinghouse on 7 Supervised Visitation; requiring each program to 8 annually affirm compliance with the standards to the 9 court; providing that after a specified date only 10 those programs that adhere to the state standards may 11 receive state funding; creating s. 753.07, F.S.; 12 providing factors for the court or child-placing 13 agency to consider when referring cases for supervised 14 visitation or exchange monitoring; specifying training 15 requirements for persons providing such services; 16 authorizing supervised visitation programs to alert 17 the court to problems with referred cases; creating s. 18 753.08, F.S.; requiring supervised visitation programs 19 to conduct security background checks of employees and 20 volunteers; providing requirements for such checks; 21 requiring that an employer furnish a copy of the 22 personnel record for the employee or former employee 23 upon request; providing immunity to employers who 24 provide information for purposes of a background 25 check; requiring that all applicants hired or 26 certified by a program after a specified date undergo 27 a level 2 background screening; delegating 28 responsibility for screening criminal history 29 information and for costs; authorizing a supervised 30 visitation program to participate in the Volunteer and 31 Employee Criminal History System in order to obtain 32 criminal history information; providing that certain 33 persons providing services at a supervised visitation 34 program are presumed to act in good faith and are 35 immune from civil or criminal liability; providing an 36 effective date. 37 38 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 39 40 Section 1. Section 753.06, Florida Statutes, is created to 41 read: 42 753.06 Standards; funding limitations.— 43 (1) The standards announced in the final report submitted 44 to the Legislature pursuant to s. 753.03(4) shall be the basis 45 for the state’s standards for supervised visitation and exchange 46 monitoring, and may be modified only by the advisory board 47 created under s. 753.03(2) after reasonable notice to the 48 programs, but not more often than annually. The clearinghouse 49 shall publish the standards, as modified, on its website. The 50 published standards shall be the state standards for supervised 51 visitation programs. 52 (2) Each supervised visitation program must annually affirm 53 in a written agreement with the court that it abides by the 54 standards. If the program has a contract with a child-placing 55 agency, that contract must include an affirmation that the 56 program complies with the standards. A copy of the agreement or 57 contract must be made available to any party upon request. 58 (3) On or after January 1, 2013, only a supervised 59 visitation program that has affirmed in a written agreement with 60 the court that it abides by and is in compliance with the state 61 standards may receive state funding for supervised visitation or 62 exchange monitoring services. 63 Section 2. Section 753.07, Florida Statutes, is created to 64 read: 65 753.07 Referrals.— 66 (1) Courts and referring child-placing agencies must adhere 67 to the following priorities when determining where to refer 68 cases for supervised visitation or exchange monitoring: 69 (a) For cases that are filed under chapter 61 or chapter 70 741 in which the courts are the primary source of referrals, the 71 court shall direct referrals as follows: 72 1. The order must refer the parties to a supervised 73 visitation program that has a written agreement with the court 74 as provided in s. 753.06(2) if such a program exists in the 75 community. 76 2. If a program does not exist, or if the existing program 77 is not able to accept the referral for any reason, the court may 78 refer the case to a local mental health professional. Such 79 professional is not required to abide by the state standards 80 established in s. 753.06; however, the professional must affirm 81 to the court in writing that he or she has completed the 82 clearinghouse’s free, online supervised visitation training 83 program and has read and understands the state standards. 84 (b) In cases governed by chapter 39, the referring child 85 placing agency must adhere to the following: 86 1. The agency that has primary responsibility for the case 87 must ensure that each family is assessed for problems that could 88 present safety risks during parent-child contact. If risks are 89 found, agency staff shall consider referring the parties to a 90 local supervised visitation program that has affirmed in writing 91 that it adheres to the state standards if such a program exists 92 in the community. 93 2. If agency staff determines that there is no need for a 94 supervised visitation, such program does not exist, or the 95 existing program is unable to accept the referral for any 96 reason, the child protective investigator or case manager who 97 has primary responsibility for the case may: 98 a. Supervise the parent-child contact himself or herself. 99 However, before a child protective investigator or case manager 100 may supervise visits, he or she must review or receive training 101 on the online training manual for the state’s supervised 102 visitation programs and affirm in writing to his or her own 103 agency that he or she has received training on, or has reviewed 104 and understands, the state standards. 105 b. Designate a foster parent or relative to supervise the 106 parent-child visits in those cases that do not warrant the 107 supervision of the child protective investigator or case 108 manager. However, the designated foster parent or relative must 109 first be apprised that the case manager conducted a safety 110 assessment described in subparagraph 1., and must be provided 111 access to free training material on the foster parent’s or 112 relative’s role in supervised visitation. Such materials may be 113 created by the clearinghouse using existing or new material and 114 must be approved by the department. Such training may be 115 included in any preservice foster parent training conducted by 116 the agency. 117 3. If a program does not exist, or if the existing program 118 is unable to accept the referral and the child protective 119 investigator or case manager is unable to supervise the parent 120 child contact or designate a foster parent or relative to 121 supervise the visits as described in subparagraph 2., the agency 122 that has primary responsibility for the case may refer the case 123 to other qualified staff within that agency to supervise the 124 contact. However, before such staff member may supervise any 125 visits, he or she must review or receive training on the online 126 training manual for supervised visitation programs and affirm in 127 writing to his or her own agency that he or she has received 128 training on, or has reviewed and understands, the training 129 manual and the state standards. 130 4. The agency that has primary responsibility for the case 131 may not refer the case to a subcontractor or other agency to 132 perform the supervised visitation unless that subcontractor’s or 133 other agency’s child protective investigators or case managers 134 who supervise onsite or offsite visits have reviewed or received 135 training on the clearinghouse’s online training manual for 136 supervised visitation programs and affirm to their own agency 137 that they have received training on, or have reviewed and 138 understand, the training manual and the state standards. 139 (2) This section does not prohibit the court from allowing 140 a litigant’s relatives or friends to supervise visits if the 141 court determines that such supervision is safe. However, such 142 informal supervisors must be made aware of the free online 143 clearinghouse materials that they may voluntarily choose to 144 review. These materials must provide information that helps 145 educate the informal supervisors about the inherent risks and 146 complicated dynamics of supervised visitation. 147 (3) Supervised visitation programs may alert the court in 148 writing if there are problems with referred cases and the court 149 may set a hearing to address these problems. 150 Section 3. Section 753.08, Florida Statutes, is created to 151 read: 152 753.08 Security background checks; immunity.— 153 (1) Because of the special trust or responsibility placed 154 on volunteers and employees of supervised visitation programs, 155 such program must conduct a security background investigation 156 before hiring an employee or certifying a volunteer. 157 (a) A security background investigation must include, but 158 need not be limited to, employment history checks, reference 159 checks, local criminal history records checks through local law 160 enforcement agencies, and statewide criminal history records 161 checks through the Department of Law Enforcement. 162 (b) Upon request, an employer shall furnish a copy of the 163 personnel record for the employee or former employee who is the 164 subject of a security background investigation. The information 165 contained in the record may include, but need not be limited to, 166 disciplinary matters and the reason the employee was terminated 167 from employment, if applicable. An employer who releases a 168 personnel record for purposes of a security background 169 investigation is presumed to have acted in good faith and is not 170 liable for information contained in the record without a showing 171 that the employer maliciously falsified the record. 172 (c) All employees hired or volunteers certified on or after 173 October 1, 2012, must undergo a state and national criminal 174 history record check. Supervised visitation programs shall 175 contract with the department, the court administrator, or the 176 clerk of court to conduct level 2 background checks under 177 chapter 435. The cost for the fingerprint processing may be 178 borne by the program or the person subject to the background 179 check. The department, court administrator, or clerk of court 180 shall screen the criminal history results to determine if an 181 applicant meets the minimum requirements and is responsible for 182 payment to the Department of Law Enforcement by invoice to the 183 department, the court administrator, or the clerk of court or 184 via payment from a credit card by the applicant or a vendor on 185 behalf of the applicant. If the department, court administrator, 186 or clerk of court is unable to conduct the background check, the 187 supervised visitation program may participate in the Volunteer 188 and Employee Criminal History System, as authorized by the 189 National Child Protection Act of 1993 and s. 943.0542, to obtain 190 criminal history information. 191 (d) The security background investigation must ensure that 192 a person is not hired as an employee or certified as a volunteer 193 if the person has an arrest awaiting final disposition for, has 194 been convicted of, regardless of adjudication, has entered a 195 plea of nolo contendere or guilty to, or has been adjudicated 196 delinquent and the record has not been sealed or expunged for, 197 any offense prohibited under s. 435.04(2). 198 (e) In analyzing and evaluating the information obtained in 199 the security background investigation, the program must give 200 particular emphasis to past activities involving children, 201 including, but not limited to, child-related criminal offenses 202 or child abuse. The program has sole discretion in determining 203 whether to hire or certify a person based on his or her security 204 background investigation. 205 (2) Any person who is providing supervised visitation or 206 exchange monitoring services through a supervised visitation 207 program and who affirms to the court in writing that he or she 208 abides by the state standards described in s. 753.06 is 209 presumed, prima facie, to be acting in good faith and is immune 210 from any liability, civil or criminal, which otherwise might be 211 incurred or imposed with regard to the provision of such 212 services. 213 Section 4. This act shall take effect October 1, 2012.