Florida Senate - 2013          (Corrected Copy)    CS for SB 164
       By the Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs; and
       Senator Detert
       586-01562A-13                                          2013164c1
    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 under s.409.175.
   57         (c)“Reasonable and prudent parent standard” means the
   58  standard of care used by a caregiver in determining whether to
   59  allow a child in his or her care to participate in
   60  extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities. This
   61  standard is characterized by careful and thoughtful parental
   62  decisionmaking that is intended to maintain a child’s health,
   63  safety, and best interest while encouraging the child’s
   64  emotional and developmental growth.
   66         (a)Every child who comes into out-of-home care pursuant to
   67  this chapter is entitled to participate in age-appropriate
   68  extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities.
   69         (b)Each caregiver shall use the reasonable and prudent
   70  parent standard in determining whether to give permission for a
   71  child living in out-of-home care to participate in
   72  extracurricular, enrichment, or social activities. When using
   73  the reasonable and prudent parent standard, the caregiver must
   74  consider:
   75         1.The child’s age, maturity, and developmental level to
   76  maintain the overall health and safety of the child.
   77         2.The potential risk factors and the appropriateness of
   78  the extracurricular, enrichment, or social activity.
   79         3.The best interest of the child, based on information
   80  known by the caregiver.
   81         4.The importance of encouraging the child’s emotional and
   82  developmental growth.
   83         5.The importance of providing the child with the most
   84  family-like living experience possible.
   85         6.The behavioral history of the child and the child’s
   86  ability to safely participate in the proposed activity.
   87         (c)The department and each community-based care lead
   88  agency is required to verify that private agencies providing
   89  out-of-home care services to dependent children have policies in
   90  place that are consistent with this section and that these
   91  agencies promote and protect the ability of dependent children
   92  to participate in age-appropriate extracurricular, enrichment,
   93  and social activities.
   94         (d)A caregiver is not liable for harm caused to a child
   95  who participates in an activity approved by the caregiver,
   96  provided that the caregiver has acted in accordance with the
   97  reasonable and prudent parent standard. This paragraph may not
   98  be interpreted as removing or limiting any existing liability
   99  protection afforded by law.
  100         (4)RULEMAKING.—The department shall adopt rules to
  101  administer this section. 
  102         Section 3. Section 39.522, Florida Statutes, is amended to
  103  read:
  104         39.522 Postdisposition relief; postdisposition change of
  105  custody.—The court may change the temporary legal custody or the
  106  conditions of protective supervision at a postdisposition
  107  hearing, without the necessity of another adjudicatory hearing.
  108         (1) A child who has been placed in the child’s own home
  109  under the protective supervision of an authorized agent of the
  110  department, in the home of a relative, in the home of a legal
  111  custodian, or in some other place may be brought before the
  112  court by the department or by any other interested person, upon
  113  the filing of a petition alleging a need for a change in the
  114  conditions of protective supervision or the placement. If the
  115  parents or other legal custodians deny the need for a change,
  116  the court must shall hear all parties in person or by counsel,
  117  or both. Upon the admission of a need for a change or after such
  118  hearing, the court must shall enter an order changing the
  119  placement, modifying the conditions of protective supervision,
  120  or continuing the conditions of protective supervision as
  121  ordered. The standard for changing custody of the child is shall
  122  be the best interest of the child. When applying this standard,
  123  the court must shall consider the continuity of the child’s
  124  placement in the same out-of-home residence as a factor when
  125  determining the best interests of the child. If the child is not
  126  placed in foster care, then the new placement for the child must
  127  meet the home study criteria and court approval pursuant to this
  128  chapter.
  129         (2) In cases where the issue before the court is whether a
  130  child should be reunited with a parent, and the child is
  131  currently placed with someone other than a parent, the court
  132  must shall determine whether the parent has substantially
  133  complied with the terms of the case plan to the extent that the
  134  safety, well-being, and physical, mental, and emotional health
  135  of the child is not endangered by the return of the child to the
  136  home.
  137         (3)In cases in which the issue before the court is whether
  138  a child who has been placed in the custody of a parent from whom
  139  the child was not removed should be reunited with the other
  140  parent upon a finding of substantial compliance with the terms
  141  of the case plan, the applicable standard is not endangerment,
  142  but the best interest of the child.
  143         Section 4. Paragraph (a) of subsection (3) and subsection
  144  (10) of section 409.1451, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
  145         409.1451 Independent living transition services.—
  147         (a) It is the intent of the Legislature that for the
  148  Department of Children and Families Family Services to assist
  149  older children in foster care and young adults who exit foster
  150  care at age 18 in making the transition to independent living
  151  and self-sufficiency as adults. The department shall provide
  152  such children and young adults with opportunities to participate
  153  in life skills activities in their foster families and
  154  communities which are reasonable and appropriate for their
  155  respective ages or for any special needs they may have and shall
  156  provide them with services to build life skills and increase
  157  their ability to live independently and become self-sufficient.
  158  To support the provision of opportunities for participation in
  159  age-appropriate life skills activities, the department shall:
  160         1. Develop a list of age-appropriate activities and
  161  responsibilities to be offered to all children involved in
  162  independent living transition services and their foster parents.
  163         2. Provide training for staff and foster parents to address
  164  the issues of older children in foster care in transitioning to
  165  adulthood, which includes shall include information on high
  166  school completion, grant applications, vocational school
  167  opportunities, supporting education and employment
  168  opportunities, and opportunities to participate in appropriate
  169  daily activities.
  170         3. Establish Develop procedures to maximize the authority
  171  of foster parents, family foster homes, residential child-caring
  172  agencies, or other authorized caregivers to approve
  173  participation in age-appropriate activities of children in their
  174  care in accordance with the reasonable and prudent parent
  175  standard established in s. 39.409. The age-appropriate
  176  activities and the authority of the foster parent, family foster
  177  home, residential child-caring agency, or caregiver shall be
  178  developed into a written plan that the foster parent, family
  179  foster home, residential child-caring agency, or caregiver, the
  180  child, and the case manager all develop together, sign, and
  181  follow. This plan must include specific goals and objectives and
  182  be reviewed and updated no less than quarterly. Foster parents,
  183  family foster homes, residential child-caring agencies, or other
  184  authorized caregivers who use the reasonable and prudent parent
  185  standard in their decisionmaking are who have developed a
  186  written plan as described in this subparagraph shall not be held
  187  responsible under administrative rules or laws pertaining to
  188  state licensure and or have their licensure status may not be in
  189  any manner jeopardized as a result of the actions of a child
  190  engaged in the approved age-appropriate activities specified in
  191  the written plan. Goals and objectives for participation in
  192  extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities, as well as
  193  specific information on the child’s progress toward meeting
  194  those objectives, must be incorporated into the agency’s written
  195  judicial social study report and must be reviewed by the court
  196  at each hearing conducted pursuant to s. 39.701.
  197         4. Provide opportunities for older children in foster care
  198  to interact with mentors.
  199         5. Develop and implement procedures for older children to
  200  directly access and manage the personal allowance they receive
  201  from the department in order to learn responsibility and
  202  participate in age-appropriate life skills activities to the
  203  extent feasible.
  204         6. Make a good faith effort to fully explain, before prior
  205  to execution of any signature, if required, any document,
  206  report, form, or other record, whether written or electronic,
  207  presented to a child or young adult pursuant to this chapter and
  208  allow for the recipient to ask any appropriate questions
  209  necessary to fully understand the document. It is shall be the
  210  responsibility of the person presenting the document to the
  211  child or young adult to comply with this subparagraph.
  212         (10) RULEMAKING.—The department shall adopt rules to by
  213  rule procedures to administer this section. The rules must
  214  provide, including balancing the goals of normalcy and safety
  215  for the youth and providing the caregivers with as much
  216  flexibility as possible to enable children in their care the
  217  youth to participate in normal life experiences and must reflect
  218  the considerations cited in s. 39.409(3)(b) in connection with
  219  the reasonable and prudent parent standard established in that
  220  section. The department shall engage in appropriate planning to
  221  prevent, to the extent possible, a reduction in awards after
  222  issuance. The department shall adopt rules to govern the
  223  payments and conditions related to payments for services to
  224  youth or young adults provided under this section.
  225         Section 5. This act shall take effect July 1, 2013.