Florida Senate - 2013                                     SB 164
       By Senator Detert
       28-00364-13                                            2013164__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to children in foster care; creating
    3         the “Quality-Parenting for Children in Foster Care
    4         Act”; creating s. 39.409, F.S.; providing legislative
    5         findings and intent; providing definitions;
    6         establishing and providing for the application of a
    7         “reasonable and prudent parent” standard; directing
    8         the Department of Children and Families to adopt
    9         rules; amending s. 39.522, F.S.; specifying that the
   10         standard for reunification from “endangerment” to “the
   11         best interest of the child” in certain circumstances;
   12         amending s. 409.1451, F.S.; providing for the
   13         application of the reasonable and prudent parent
   14         standard to independent living transition services;
   15         specifying that department rules must reflect the
   16         considerations of the reasonable and prudent parent
   17         standard; directing the department to adopt rules;
   18         providing an effective date.
   20  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   22         Section 1. This act may be cited as the “Quality Parenting
   23  for Children in Foster Care Act.
   24         Section 2. Section 39.409, Florida Statutes, is created to
   25  read:
   26         39.409Participation in childhood activities.-
   27         (1)FINDINGS AND INTENT.—
   28         (a)The Legislature finds that parents make important
   29  decisions every day regarding their child’s participation in
   30  activities and that caregivers of children in out-of-home care
   31  are faced with making the same decisions for a child in their
   32  care.
   33         (b)The Legislature also finds that when a caregiver makes
   34  decisions, he or she must consider applicable laws and rules to
   35  safeguard the health and safety of a child in his or her care
   36  and that those laws and rules have been interpreted to prohibit
   37  children in care from participating in extracurricular
   38  activities.
   39         (c)The Legislature further finds that participation in
   40  extracurricular activities is important to the child’s well
   41  being, both emotionally and in terms of developing valuable
   42  life-coping skills.
   43         (d)It is the intent of the Legislature to recognize the
   44  importance of normalizing the lives of children in out-of-home
   45  care and to empower caregivers to approve or disapprove a
   46  child’s participation in activities without prior approval of
   47  the department, the caseworker, or the court.
   48         (2)DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:
   49         (a)“Age-appropriate” means an activity or item that is
   50  generally accepted as suitable for a child of the same
   51  chronological age or level of maturity. Age appropriateness is
   52  based on the development of cognitive, emotional, physical, and
   53  behavioral capacity which is typical for an age or age group.
   54         (b)“Caregiver” means a person with whom the child is
   55  placed in out-of-home care, or a designated official for a group
   56  care facility licensed by the Department of Children and
   57  Families pursuant to Rule 65C-14, Florida Administrative Code.
   58         (c)“Reasonable and prudent parent standard” means the
   59  standard of care used by a caregiver in determining whether to
   60  allow a child in his or her care to participate in
   61  extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities. This
   62  standard is characterized by careful and thoughtful parental
   63  decisionmaking that is intended to maintain a child’s health,
   64  safety, and best interest while encouraging the child’s
   65  emotional and developmental growth.
   67         (a)Every child who comes into out-of-home care pursuant to
   68  this chapter is entitled to participate in age-appropriate
   69  extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities.
   70         (b)Each caregiver shall use the reasonable and prudent
   71  parent standard in determining whether to give permission for a
   72  child living in out-of-home care to participate in
   73  extracurricular, enrichment, or social activities. When using
   74  the reasonable and prudent parent standard, the caregiver must
   75  consider:
   76         1.The child’s age, maturity, and developmental level to
   77  maintain the overall health and safety of the child.
   78         2.The potential risk factors and the appropriateness of
   79  the extracurricular, enrichment, or social activity.
   80         3.The best interest of the child, based on information
   81  known by the caregiver.
   82         4.The importance of encouraging the child’s emotional and
   83  developmental growth.
   84         5.The importance of providing the child with the most
   85  family-like living experience possible.
   86         6.The behavioral history of the child and the child’s
   87  ability to safely participate in the proposed activity.
   88         (c)The department and each community-based care lead
   89  agency is required to verify that private agencies providing
   90  out-of-home care services to dependent children have policies in
   91  place that are consistent with this section and that these
   92  agencies promote and protect the ability of dependent children
   93  to participate in age-appropriate extracurricular, enrichment,
   94  and social activities.
   95         (d)A caregiver is not liable for harm caused to a child
   96  who participates in an activity approved by the caregiver,
   97  provided that the caregiver has acted in accordance with the
   98  reasonable and prudent parent standard. This paragraph may not
   99  be interpreted as removing or limiting any existing liability
  100  protection afforded by law.
  101         (4)RULEMAKING.—The department shall adopt rules to
  102  administer this section.
  103         Section 3. Section 39.522, Florida Statutes, is amended to
  104  read:
  105         39.522 Postdisposition relief; postdisposition change of
  106  custody.—The court may change the temporary legal custody or the
  107  conditions of protective supervision at a postdisposition
  108  hearing, without the necessity of another adjudicatory hearing.
  109         (1) A child who has been placed in the child’s own home
  110  under the protective supervision of an authorized agent of the
  111  department, in the home of a relative, in the home of a legal
  112  custodian, or in some other place may be brought before the
  113  court by the department or by any other interested person, upon
  114  the filing of a petition alleging a need for a change in the
  115  conditions of protective supervision or the placement. If the
  116  parents or other legal custodians deny the need for a change,
  117  the court must shall hear all parties in person or by counsel,
  118  or both. Upon the admission of a need for a change or after such
  119  hearing, the court must shall enter an order changing the
  120  placement, modifying the conditions of protective supervision,
  121  or continuing the conditions of protective supervision as
  122  ordered. The standard for changing custody of the child is shall
  123  be the best interest of the child. When applying this standard,
  124  the court must shall consider the continuity of the child’s
  125  placement in the same out-of-home residence as a factor when
  126  determining the best interests of the child. If the child is not
  127  placed in foster care, then the new placement for the child must
  128  meet the home study criteria and court approval pursuant to this
  129  chapter.
  130         (2) In cases where the issue before the court is whether a
  131  child should be reunited with a parent, the court must shall
  132  determine whether the parent has substantially complied with the
  133  terms of the case plan to the extent that the safety, well
  134  being, and physical, mental, and emotional health of the child
  135  is not endangered by the return of the child to the home.
  136         (3)In cases in which the issue before the court is whether
  137  a child who has been placed in the custody of a parent should be
  138  reunited with the other parent upon a finding of substantial
  139  compliance with the terms of the case plan, the applicable
  140  standard is not endangerment, but the best interest of the
  141  child.
  142         Section 4. Paragraph (a) of subsection (3) and subsection
  143  (10) of section 409.1451, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
  144         409.1451 Independent living transition services.—
  146         (a) It is the intent of the Legislature that for the
  147  Department of Children and Families Family Services to assist
  148  older children in foster care and young adults who exit foster
  149  care at age 18 in making the transition to independent living
  150  and self-sufficiency as adults. The department shall provide
  151  such children and young adults with opportunities to participate
  152  in life skills activities in their foster families and
  153  communities which are reasonable and appropriate for their
  154  respective ages or for any special needs they may have and shall
  155  provide them with services to build life skills and increase
  156  their ability to live independently and become self-sufficient.
  157  To support the provision of opportunities for participation in
  158  age-appropriate life skills activities, the department shall:
  159         1. Develop a list of age-appropriate activities and
  160  responsibilities to be offered to all children involved in
  161  independent living transition services and their foster parents.
  162         2. Provide training for staff and foster parents to address
  163  the issues of older children in foster care in transitioning to
  164  adulthood, which includes shall include information on high
  165  school completion, grant applications, vocational school
  166  opportunities, supporting education and employment
  167  opportunities, and opportunities to participate in appropriate
  168  daily activities.
  169         3. Establish Develop procedures to maximize the authority
  170  of foster parents, family foster homes, residential child-caring
  171  agencies, or other authorized caregivers to approve
  172  participation in age-appropriate activities of children in their
  173  care in accordance with the reasonable and prudent parent
  174  standard established in s. 39.409. The age-appropriate
  175  activities and the authority of the foster parent, family foster
  176  home, residential child-caring agency, or caregiver shall be
  177  developed into a written plan that the foster parent, family
  178  foster home, residential child-caring agency, or caregiver, the
  179  child, and the case manager all develop together, sign, and
  180  follow. This plan must include specific goals and objectives and
  181  be reviewed and updated no less than quarterly. Foster parents,
  182  family foster homes, residential child-caring agencies, or other
  183  authorized caregivers who use the reasonable and prudent parent
  184  standard in their decisionmaking are who have developed a
  185  written plan as described in this subparagraph shall not be held
  186  responsible under administrative rules or laws pertaining to
  187  state licensure and or have their licensure status may not be in
  188  any manner jeopardized as a result of the actions of a child
  189  engaged in the approved age-appropriate activities specified in
  190  the written plan. Goals and objectives for participation in
  191  extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities, as well as
  192  specific information on the child’s progress toward meeting
  193  those objectives, must be incorporated into the agency’s written
  194  judicial social study report and must be reviewed by the court
  195  at each hearing conducted pursuant to s. 39.701.
  196         4. Provide opportunities for older children in foster care
  197  to interact with mentors.
  198         5. Develop and implement procedures for older children to
  199  directly access and manage the personal allowance they receive
  200  from the department in order to learn responsibility and
  201  participate in age-appropriate life skills activities to the
  202  extent feasible.
  203         6. Make a good faith effort to fully explain, before prior
  204  to execution of any signature, if required, any document,
  205  report, form, or other record, whether written or electronic,
  206  presented to a child or young adult pursuant to this chapter and
  207  allow for the recipient to ask any appropriate questions
  208  necessary to fully understand the document. It is shall be the
  209  responsibility of the person presenting the document to the
  210  child or young adult to comply with this subparagraph.
  211         (10) RULEMAKING.—The department shall adopt rules to by
  212  rule procedures to administer this section. The rules must
  213  provide, including balancing the goals of normalcy and safety
  214  for the youth and providing the caregivers with as much
  215  flexibility as possible to enable children in their care the
  216  youth to participate in normal life experiences and must reflect
  217  the considerations cited in s. 39.409(3)(b) in connection with
  218  the reasonable and prudent parent standard established in that
  219  section. The department shall engage in appropriate planning to
  220  prevent, to the extent possible, a reduction in awards after
  221  issuance. The department shall adopt rules to govern the
  222  payments and conditions related to payments for services to
  223  youth or young adults provided under this section.
  224         Section 5. This act shall take effect July 1, 2013.