Florida Senate - 2012 CS for CS for SB 370 By the Committees on Judiciary; and Children, Families, and Elder Affairs; and Senators Wise and Lynn 590-03219-12 2012370c2 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 requiring each program to annually affirm compliance 6 with the standards to the court; providing that after 7 a specified date only those programs that adhere to 8 the state standards may receive state funding; 9 creating s. 753.07, F.S.; providing factors for the 10 court or child-placing agency to consider when 11 referring cases for supervised visitation or exchange 12 monitoring; specifying training requirements for 13 persons providing such services; authorizing 14 supervised visitation programs to alert the court to 15 problems with referred cases; creating s. 753.08, 16 F.S.; requiring supervised visitation programs to 17 conduct security background checks of employees and 18 volunteers; providing requirements for such checks; 19 requiring that an employer furnish a copy of the 20 personnel record for the employee or former employee 21 upon request; providing immunity to employers who 22 provide information for purposes of a background 23 check; requiring that all applicants hired or 24 certified by a program after a specified date undergo 25 a level 2 background screening; delegating 26 responsibility for screening criminal history 27 information and for costs; authorizing a supervised 28 visitation program to participate in the Volunteer and 29 Employee Criminal History System in order to obtain 30 criminal history information; providing that certain 31 persons providing services at a supervised visitation 32 program are presumed to act in good faith; providing 33 that such persons acting in good faith are immune from 34 civil and criminal liability; providing an effective 35 date. 36 37 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 38 39 Section 1. Section 753.06, Florida Statutes, is created to 40 read: 41 753.06 Standards; funding limitations.— 42 (1) The standards provided in the final report submitted to 43 the Legislature pursuant to s. 753.03(4) shall be the state’s 44 standards for supervised visitation and exchange monitoring. 45 (2) Each supervised visitation program must annually affirm 46 in a written agreement with the court that it abides by the 47 standards. If the program has a contract with a child-placing 48 agency, that contract must include an affirmation that the 49 program complies with the standards. A copy of the agreement or 50 contract must be made available to any party upon request. 51 (3) On or after January 1, 2013, only a supervised 52 visitation program that has affirmed in a written agreement with 53 the court that it abides by and is in compliance with the state 54 standards may receive state funding for supervised visitation or 55 exchange monitoring services. 56 Section 2. Section 753.07, Florida Statutes, is created to 57 read: 58 753.07 Referrals.— 59 (1) Courts and referring child-placing agencies must adhere 60 to the following priorities when determining where to refer 61 cases for supervised visitation or exchange monitoring: 62 (a) For cases that are filed under chapter 61 or chapter 63 741 in which the courts are the primary source of referrals, the 64 court shall direct referrals as follows: 65 1. The order must refer the parties to a supervised 66 visitation program that has a written agreement with the court 67 as provided in s. 753.06(2) if such a program exists in the 68 community. 69 2. If a program does not exist, or if the existing program 70 is not able to accept the referral for any reason, the court may 71 refer the case to a local licensed mental health professional. 72 Such professional is not required to abide by the state 73 standards established in s. 753.06; however, the professional 74 must affirm to the court in writing that he or she has completed 75 the clearinghouse’s free, online supervised visitation training 76 program and has read and understands the state standards. 77 (b) In cases governed by chapter 39, the referring child 78 placing agency must adhere to the following: 79 1. The agency that has primary responsibility for the case 80 must ensure that each family is assessed for problems that could 81 present safety risks during parent-child contact. If risks are 82 found, agency staff shall consider referring the parties to a 83 local supervised visitation program that has affirmed in writing 84 that it adheres to the state standards if such a program exists 85 in the community. 86 2. If agency staff determines that there is no need for a 87 supervised visitation, such program does not exist, or the 88 existing program is unable to accept the referral for any 89 reason, the child protective investigator or case manager who 90 has primary responsibility for the case may: 91 a. Supervise the parent-child contact himself or herself. 92 However, before a child protective investigator or case manager 93 may supervise visits, he or she must review or receive training 94 on the online training manual for the state’s supervised 95 visitation programs and affirm in writing to his or her own 96 agency that he or she has received training on, or has reviewed 97 and understands, the state standards. 98 b. Designate a foster parent or relative to supervise the 99 parent-child visits in those cases that do not warrant the 100 supervision of the child protective investigator or case 101 manager. However, the designated foster parent or relative must 102 first be apprised that the case manager conducted a safety 103 assessment described in subparagraph 1., and must be provided 104 access to free training material on the foster parent’s or 105 relative’s role in supervised visitation. Such materials may be 106 created by the clearinghouse using existing or new material and 107 must be approved by the department. Such training may be 108 included in any preservice foster parent training conducted by 109 the agency. 110 3. If a program does not exist, or if the existing program 111 is unable to accept the referral and the child protective 112 investigator or case manager is unable to supervise the parent 113 child contact or designate a foster parent or relative to 114 supervise the visits as described in subparagraph 2., the agency 115 that has primary responsibility for the case may refer the case 116 to other qualified staff within that agency to supervise the 117 contact. However, before such staff member may supervise any 118 visits, he or she must review or receive training on the online 119 training manual for supervised visitation programs and affirm in 120 writing to his or her own agency that he or she has received 121 training on, or has reviewed and understands, the training 122 manual and the state standards. 123 4. The agency that has primary responsibility for the case 124 may not refer the case to a subcontractor or other agency to 125 perform the supervised visitation unless that subcontractor’s or 126 other agency’s child protective investigators or case managers 127 who supervise onsite or offsite visits have reviewed or received 128 training on the clearinghouse’s online training manual for 129 supervised visitation programs and affirm to their own agency 130 that they have received training on, or have reviewed and 131 understand, the training manual and the state standards. 132 (2) This section does not prohibit the court from allowing 133 a litigant’s relatives or friends to supervise visits if the 134 court determines that such supervision is safe. However, such 135 informal supervisors must be made aware of the free online 136 clearinghouse materials that they may voluntarily choose to 137 review. These materials must provide information that helps 138 educate the informal supervisors about the inherent risks and 139 complicated dynamics of supervised visitation. 140 (3) Supervised visitation programs may alert the court in 141 writing if there are problems with referred cases and the court 142 may set a hearing to address these problems. 143 Section 3. Section 753.08, Florida Statutes, is created to 144 read: 145 753.08 Security background checks; immunity.— 146 (1) Because of the special trust or responsibility placed 147 on volunteers and employees of supervised visitation programs, 148 such program must conduct a security background investigation 149 before hiring an employee or certifying a volunteer. 150 (a) A security background investigation must include, but 151 need not be limited to, employment history checks, reference 152 checks, local criminal history records checks through local law 153 enforcement agencies, and statewide criminal history records 154 checks through the Department of Law Enforcement. 155 (b) Upon request, an employer shall furnish a copy of the 156 personnel record for the employee or former employee who is the 157 subject of a security background investigation. The information 158 contained in the record may include, but need not be limited to, 159 disciplinary matters and the reason the employee was terminated 160 from employment, if applicable. An employer who releases a 161 personnel record for purposes of a security background 162 investigation is presumed to have acted in good faith and is not 163 liable for information contained in the record without a showing 164 that the employer maliciously falsified the record. 165 (c) All employees hired or volunteers certified on or after 166 October 1, 2012, must undergo a state and national criminal 167 history record check. Supervised visitation programs shall 168 contract with the department, the court administrator, or the 169 clerk of court to conduct level 2 background checks under 170 chapter 435. The cost for the fingerprint processing may be 171 borne by the program or the person subject to the background 172 check. The department, court administrator, or clerk of court 173 shall screen the criminal history results to determine if an 174 applicant meets the minimum requirements and is responsible for 175 payment to the Department of Law Enforcement by invoice to the 176 department, the court administrator, or the clerk of court or 177 via payment from a credit card by the applicant or a vendor on 178 behalf of the applicant. If the department, court administrator, 179 or clerk of court is unable to conduct the background check, the 180 supervised visitation program may participate in the Volunteer 181 and Employee Criminal History System, as authorized by the 182 National Child Protection Act of 1993 and s. 943.0542, to obtain 183 criminal history information. 184 (d) The security background investigation must ensure that 185 a person is not hired as an employee or certified as a volunteer 186 if the person has an arrest awaiting final disposition for, has 187 been convicted of, regardless of adjudication, has entered a 188 plea of nolo contendere or guilty to, or has been adjudicated 189 delinquent and the record has not been sealed or expunged for, 190 any offense prohibited under s. 435.04(2). 191 (e) In analyzing and evaluating the information obtained in 192 the security background investigation, the program must give 193 particular emphasis to past activities involving children, 194 including, but not limited to, child-related criminal offenses 195 or child abuse. The program has sole discretion in determining 196 whether to hire or certify a person based on his or her security 197 background investigation. 198 (2) Any person who is providing supervised visitation or 199 exchange monitoring services through a supervised visitation 200 program and who affirms to the court in writing that he or she 201 abides by the state standards described in s. 753.06 is 202 presumed, prima facie, to be acting in good faith. Such persons 203 acting in good faith are immune from civil and criminal 204 liability with regard to the provision of the services. 205 Section 4. This act shall take effect October 1, 2012.