Florida Senate - 2014                                    SB 1666
       By the Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs; and
       Senator Sobel
       586-02450-14                                          20141666__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to child abuse and child welfare
    3         services; amending s. 20.19, F.S.; requiring the
    4         secretary of the Department of Children and Families
    5         to appoint an Assistant Secretary for Child Welfare;
    6         providing requirements for such position; amending s.
    7         402.40, F.S.; providing requirements for persons
    8         providing child welfare services; creating s. 402.402,
    9         F.S.; providing education requirements for child
   10         protective investigators and child protective
   11         investigation supervisors; providing for
   12         implementation of such requirements; providing for
   13         exemptions; requiring a report to the Governor and the
   14         Legislature by a specified date; creating s. 402.403,
   15         F.S.; establishing a tuition exemption program for
   16         child protective investigators and supervisors;
   17         providing eligibility requirements; creating s.
   18         402.404, F.S.; establishing a student loan forgiveness
   19         program for child protective investigators and
   20         supervisors; providing eligibility requirements;
   21         providing requirements for the program; creating s.
   22         827.10, F.S.; defining terms; establishing the
   23         criminal offense of unlawful abandonment of a child;
   24         providing criminal penalties; providing exceptions;
   25         creating s. 1004.615, F.S.; establishing the Florida
   26         Institute for Child Welfare; providing the purpose of
   27         the institute; requiring the department to contract
   28         with the institute for the performance of specified
   29         duties; requiring the institute to contract and work
   30         with specified entities; providing duties and
   31         responsibilities of the institute; providing for the
   32         administration of the institute; requiring a report to
   33         the Governor and the Legislature by a specified date;
   34         amending s. 1009.25, F.S.; exempting tuition and fees
   35         for specified child protective investigators and child
   36         protective investigation supervisors; repealing s.
   37         402.401, F.S., relating to the Florida Child Welfare
   38         Student Loan Forgiveness Program; repealing s.
   39         1004.61, F.S., relating to partnerships to develop
   40         child protective investigation workers; amending s.
   41         39.01, F.S.; conforming a cross-reference; providing
   42         an effective date.
   44  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   46         Section 1. Present subsections (3) through (5) of section
   47  20.19, Florida Statutes, are redesignated as subsections (4)
   48  through (6), respectively, a new subsection (3) is added to that
   49  section, and subsection (2) of that section is amended, to read:
   50         20.19 Department of Children and Families.—There is created
   51  a Department of Children and Families.
   53         (a) The head of the department is the Secretary of Children
   54  and Families. The secretary is appointed by the Governor,
   55  subject to confirmation by the Senate. The secretary serves at
   56  the pleasure of the Governor.
   57         (b) The secretary shall appoint a deputy secretary who
   58  shall act in the absence of the secretary. The deputy secretary
   59  is directly responsible to the secretary, performs such duties
   60  as are assigned by the secretary, and serves at the pleasure of
   61  the secretary.
   62         (3) ASSISTANT SECRETARIES.—
   63         (a) Child Welfare.
   64         1. The secretary shall appoint an Assistant Secretary for
   65  Child Welfare to lead the department in carrying out its duties
   66  and responsibilities for child protection and child welfare. The
   67  individual appointed to this position shall serve at the
   68  pleasure of the secretary.
   69         2. The assistant secretary must have a degree in social
   70  work or at least 7 years of experience working in organizations
   71  delivering child protective or child welfare services.
   72         (b)Substance Abuse and Mental Health.
   73         (c)1. The secretary shall appoint an Assistant Secretary
   74  for Substance Abuse and Mental Health. The assistant secretary
   75  shall serve at the pleasure of the secretary and must have
   76  expertise in both areas of responsibility.
   77         2. The secretary shall appoint a Director for Substance
   78  Abuse and Mental Health who has the requisite expertise and
   79  experience to head the state’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health
   80  Program Office.
   81         Section 2. Section 402.40, Florida Statutes, is amended to
   82  read:
   83         402.40 Child welfare training and certification.—
   84         (1) LEGISLATIVE INTENT.—In order to enable the state to
   85  provide a systematic approach to staff development and training
   86  for persons providing child welfare services which that will
   87  meet the needs of such staff in their discharge of duties, it is
   88  the intent of the Legislature that the Department of Children
   89  and Families Family Services work in collaboration with the
   90  child welfare stakeholder community, including department
   91  approved third-party credentialing entities, to ensure that
   92  staff have the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to
   93  competently provide child welfare services. It is the intent of
   94  the Legislature that each person providing child welfare
   95  services in this state earns and maintains a professional
   96  certification from a professional credentialing entity that is
   97  approved by the Department of Children and Families Family
   98  Services. The Legislature further intends that certification and
   99  training programs will aid in the reduction of poor staff morale
  100  and of staff turnover, will positively impact on the quality of
  101  decisions made regarding children and families who require
  102  assistance from programs providing child welfare services, and
  103  will afford better quality care of children who must be removed
  104  from their families.
  106  SERVICES.–Each person providing child welfare services who is
  107  employed by the department, a sheriff’s office, or a community
  108  based care lead agency or subcontractor is required to earn and
  109  maintain a professional certification from a professional
  110  credentialing entity that is approved by the department.
  111         (3)(2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:
  112         (a) “Child welfare certification” means a professional
  113  credential awarded by a department-approved third-party
  114  credentialing entity to individuals demonstrating core
  115  competency in any child welfare practice area.
  116         (b) “Child welfare services” means any intake, protective
  117  investigations, preprotective services, protective services,
  118  foster care, shelter and group care, and adoption and related
  119  services program, including supportive services and supervision
  120  provided to children who are alleged to have been abused,
  121  abandoned, or neglected or who are at risk of becoming, are
  122  alleged to be, or have been found dependent pursuant to chapter
  123  39.
  124         (c) “Core competency” means the minimum knowledge, skills,
  125  and abilities necessary to carry out work responsibilities.
  126         (d) “Person providing child welfare services” means a
  127  person who has a responsibility for supervisory, direct care, or
  128  support-related work in the provision of child welfare services
  129  pursuant to chapter 39.
  130         (e) “Preservice curriculum” means the minimum statewide
  131  training content based upon the core competencies which is made
  132  available to all persons providing child welfare services.
  133         (f) “Third-party credentialing entity” means a department
  134  approved nonprofit organization that has met nationally
  135  recognized standards for developing and administering
  136  professional certification programs.
  137         (4)(3) THIRD-PARTY CREDENTIALING ENTITIES.—The department
  138  shall approve one or more third-party credentialing entities for
  139  the purpose of developing and administering child welfare
  140  certification programs for persons who provide child welfare
  141  services. A third-party credentialing entity shall request such
  142  approval in writing from the department. In order to obtain
  143  approval, the third-party credentialing entity must:
  144         (a) Establish professional requirements and standards that
  145  applicants must achieve in order to obtain a child welfare
  146  certification and to maintain such certification.
  147         (b) Develop and apply core competencies and examination
  148  instruments according to nationally recognized certification and
  149  psychometric standards.
  150         (c) Maintain a professional code of ethics and a
  151  disciplinary process that apply to all persons holding child
  152  welfare certification.
  153         (d) Maintain a database, accessible to the public, of all
  154  persons holding child welfare certification, including any
  155  history of ethical violations.
  156         (e) Require annual continuing education for persons holding
  157  child welfare certification.
  158         (f) Administer a continuing education provider program to
  159  ensure that only qualified providers offer continuing education
  160  opportunities for certificateholders.
  162         (a) There is created within the State Treasury a Child
  163  Welfare Training Trust Fund to be used by the department of
  164  Children and Family Services for the purpose of funding the
  165  professional development of persons providing child welfare
  166  services.
  167         (b) One dollar from every noncriminal traffic infraction
  168  collected pursuant to s. 318.14(10)(b) or s. 318.18 shall be
  169  deposited into the Child Welfare Training Trust Fund.
  170         (c) In addition to the funds generated by paragraph (b),
  171  the trust fund shall receive funds generated from an additional
  172  fee on birth certificates and dissolution of marriage filings,
  173  as specified in ss. 382.0255 and 28.101, respectively, and may
  174  receive funds from any other public or private source.
  175         (d) Funds that are not expended by the end of the budget
  176  cycle or through a supplemental budget approved by the
  177  department shall revert to the trust fund.
  178         (6)(5) CORE COMPETENCIES.—
  179         (a) The department of Children and Family Services shall
  180  approve the core competencies and related preservice curricula
  181  that ensures that each person delivering child welfare services
  182  obtains the knowledge, skills, and abilities to competently
  183  carry out his or her work responsibilities.
  184         (b) The identification of these core competencies and
  185  development of preservice curricula shall be a collaborative
  186  effort that includes professionals who have expertise in child
  187  welfare services, department-approved third-party credentialing
  188  entities, and providers that will be affected by the curriculum,
  189  including, but not limited to, representatives from the
  190  community-based care lead agencies, sheriffs’ offices conducting
  191  child protective protection investigations, and child welfare
  192  legal services providers.
  193         (c) Community-based care agencies, sheriffs’ offices, and
  194  the department may contract for the delivery of preservice and
  195  any additional training for persons delivering child welfare
  196  services if the curriculum satisfies the department-approved
  197  core competencies.
  198         (d) Department-approved credentialing entities shall, for a
  199  period of at least 12 months after implementation of the third
  200  party child welfare certification programs, grant reciprocity
  201  and award a child welfare certification to individuals who hold
  202  current department-issued child welfare certification in good
  203  standing, at no cost to the department or the certificateholder.
  204         (7)(6) ADOPTION OF RULES.—The department of Children and
  205  Family Services shall adopt rules necessary to administer carry
  206  out the provisions of this section.
  207         Section 3. Section 402.402, Florida Statutes, is created to
  208  read:
  209         402.402 Child protective investigators; child protective
  210  investigation supervisors.–
  212         (a)On an annual and statewide basis, 80 percent of child
  213  protective investigators and child protective investigation
  214  supervisors hired on or after July 1, 2014, by the department or
  215  a sheriff’s office must have a bachelor’s degree or a master’s
  216  degree in social work from a college or university social work
  217  program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
  218         (b) Child protective investigators and child protective
  219  investigation supervisors employed by the department or a
  220  sheriff’s office before July 1, 2014, are exempt from the
  221  requirements in paragraph (a).
  222         (2)REPORT.—By October 1, 2014, and annually thereafter,
  223  the secretary of the department shall report to the Governor,
  224  the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of
  225  Representatives on compliance with the requirements of
  226  subsection (1). A sheriff who provides child protection services
  227  shall report to the secretary of the department information
  228  regarding the progress of his or her office in meeting the
  229  requirements of subsection (1).
  230         Section 4. Section 402.403, Florida Statutes, is created to
  231  read:
  232         402.403 Child Protective Investigator and Supervisor
  233  Tuition Exemption Program.—
  234         (1)There is established within the department the Child
  235  Protective Investigator and Supervisor Tuition Exemption Program
  236  for the purpose of recruiting and retaining high-performing
  237  individuals who are employed as child protective investigators
  238  or child protective investigation supervisors with the
  239  department or sheriff’s office and who do not have a bachelor’s
  240  degree or master’s degree in social work. The department or
  241  sheriff’s office may exempt tuition and fees to a state
  242  university for an employee who is:
  243         (a)Employed as a child protective investigator or child
  244  protective investigation supervisor by the department or
  245  sheriff’s office and who receives personnel evaluations
  246  indicating a high level of performance; and
  247         (b)Accepted in an upper-division undergraduate or graduate
  248  level college or university social work program accredited by
  249  the Council on Social Work Education which leads to either a
  250  bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in social work.
  251         (2) To the greatest extent possible, the college or
  252  university social work program shall consider the training
  253  completed and experience of the child protective investigator or
  254  child protective investigation supervisor in granting credit
  255  towards the degree.
  256         Section 5. Section 402.404, Florida Statutes, is created to
  257  read:
  258         402.404 Child Protective Investigator and Supervisor
  259  Student Loan Forgiveness Program.—
  260         (1)There is established within the department the Florida
  261  Child Protective Investigator and Supervisor Student Loan
  262  Forgiveness Program. The purpose of the program is to increase
  263  employment and retention of high-performing individuals who have
  264  either a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in social work
  265  as child protective investigators or child protective
  266  investigation supervisors with the department or sheriff’s
  267  office by making payments toward loans received by students from
  268  federal or state programs or commercial lending institutions for
  269  the support of prior postsecondary study in accredited social
  270  work programs.
  271         (2)In order to be eligible for the program, a candidate
  272  must be employed as a child protective investigator or child
  273  protective investigation supervisor by the department or a
  274  sheriff’s office, must receive a personnel evaluation indicating
  275  a high level of performance, and must have graduated from an
  276  accredited social work program with either a bachelor’s degree
  277  or a master’s degree in social work.
  278         (3)Only loans to pay the costs of tuition, books, fees,
  279  and living expenses shall be covered.
  280         (4)The department may make loan payments of up to $3,000
  281  each year for up to 4 years on behalf of selected graduates of
  282  an accredited social work program from the funds appropriated
  283  for this purpose. All payments are contingent upon continued
  284  proof of employment as a child protective investigator or a
  285  child protective investigation supervisor with the department or
  286  sheriff’s office and made directly to the holder of the loan.
  287         (5)A student who receives a tuition exemption pursuant to
  288  s. 402.403 is not eligible to participate in the Child
  289  Protective Investigator Student Loan Forgiveness Program.
  290         Section 6. Section 827.10, Florida Statutes, is created to
  291  read:
  292         827.10 Unlawful abandonment of a child.—
  293         (1)As used in this section, the term:
  294         (a)“Abandons” or “abandonment” means to leave a child in a
  295  place or with a person other than a relative with the intent not
  296  to return to the child and with the intent not to provide for
  297  the care of the child.
  298         (b)“Care” means support and services necessary to maintain
  299  the child’s physical and mental health, including, but not
  300  limited to, food, nutrition, clothing, shelter, supervision,
  301  medicine, and medical services that a prudent person would
  302  consider essential for the well-being of the child.
  303         (c)“Caregiver” has the same meaning as provided in s.
  304  39.01(10).
  305         (d)“Child” means a child for whose care the caregiver is
  306  legally responsible.
  307         (e)“Relative” has the same meaning as provided in s.
  308  39.01(64).
  309         (2)A caregiver who abandons a child under circumstances in
  310  which the caregiver knew or should have known that the
  311  abandonment exposes the child to unreasonable risk of harm
  312  commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in
  313  s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
  314         (3)This section does not apply to a person who surrenders
  315  a newborn infant in compliance with s. 383.50.
  316         (4)This section does not preclude prosecution for a
  317  criminal act under any other law, including, but not limited to,
  318  prosecution of child abuse or neglect of a child under s.
  319  827.03.
  320         Section 7. Section 1004.615, Florida Statutes, is created
  321  to read:
  322         1004.615 Florida Institute for Child Welfare.–
  323         (1) There is established the Florida Institute for Child
  324  Welfare. The purpose of the institute is to advance the well
  325  being of children and families by improving the performance of
  326  child protection and child welfare services through research,
  327  policy analysis, evaluation, and leadership development. The
  328  institute shall consist of a consortium of public and private
  329  universities offering degrees in social work and shall be housed
  330  within the College of Social Work of the Florida State
  331  University.
  332         (2) Using such resources as authorized in the General
  333  Appropriations Act, the Department of Children and Families
  334  shall contract with the institute for performance of the duties
  335  described in subsection (4).
  336         (3) The institute shall work with the department, sheriffs,
  337  community-based care lead agencies, community-based care
  338  provider organizations, and other partners who contribute to and
  339  participate in providing child protection and child welfare
  340  services.
  341         (4) The duties and responsibilities of the institute
  342  include the following:
  343         (a) Maintain a program of research that contributes to
  344  scientific knowledge and informs both policy and practice
  345  related to child safety, permanency, and child and family well
  346  being.
  347         (b) Advise the department and other organizations
  348  participating in the child protection and child welfare process
  349  regarding scientific evidence on policy and practice related to
  350  child safety, permanency, and child and family well-being.
  351         (c) Assess the performance of child protection and child
  352  welfare services based on specific outcome measures.
  353         (d) Evaluate the scope and effectiveness of preservice and
  354  inservice training for child protection and child welfare
  355  workers.
  356         (e) Advise and assist the department in efforts to improve
  357  preservice and inservice training for child protection and child
  358  welfare workers.
  359         (f) Assess the readiness of social work graduates to assume
  360  job responsibilities in the child protection and child welfare
  361  system and identify gaps in education that can be addressed
  362  through the modification of curricula or the establishment of
  363  industry certifications.
  364         (g) Develop and maintain a program of professional support,
  365  including training to facilitate internships and transitions to
  366  the workforce and training courses and consulting services that
  367  assist both individuals and organizations in implementing
  368  adaptive and resilient responses to workplace stress.
  369         (h) Participate in the department’s critical incident
  370  response team and assist in the preparation of reports about
  371  such incidents.
  372         (i) Identify effective policies and best practices,
  373  including innovations in management of human service
  374  organizations and communicate these findings to the department
  375  and other organizations participating in the child protection
  376  and child welfare process.
  377         (5)The institute shall be administered by a director who
  378  is appointed by the President of the Florida State University.
  379  The director’s office shall be located at the Florida State
  380  University. Other universities participating in the consortium
  381  shall also provide facilities, staff, and other resources to the
  382  institute to establish statewide access to institute programs
  383  and services. The director must be a child welfare professional
  384  and must hold a faculty appointment in the College of Social
  385  Work. The director is responsible for overall management of the
  386  institute and for developing and executing the work plan
  387  consistent with the responsibilities in subsection (4).
  388         (6) By October 1 of each year, the institute shall provide
  389  a written report to the Governor, the President of the Senate,
  390  and the Speaker of the House of Representatives which outlines
  391  its activities in the preceding state fiscal year, reports
  392  significant research findings as well as results of other
  393  programs, and provides specific recommendations for improving
  394  child protection and child welfare services.
  395         Section 8. Paragraph (h) is added to subsection (1) of
  396  section 1009.25, Florida Statutes, to read:
  397         1009.25 Fee exemptions.—
  398         (1) The following students are exempt from the payment of
  399  tuition and fees, including lab fees, at a school district that
  400  provides workforce education programs, Florida College System
  401  institution, or state university:
  402         (h) A child protective investigator or a child protective
  403  investigation supervisor employed by the Department of Children
  404  and Families or a sheriff’s office who is enrolled in an
  405  accredited bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in social work
  406  program pursuant to s. 402.403.
  407         Section 9. Section 402.401, Florida Statutes, is repealed.
  408         Section 10. Section 1004.61, Florida Statutes, is repealed.
  409         Section 11. Subsection (27) of section 39.01, Florida
  410  Statutes, is amended to read:
  411         39.01 Definitions.—When used in this chapter, unless the
  412  context otherwise requires:
  413         (27) “District administrator” means the chief operating
  414  officer of each service district of the department as defined in
  415  s. 20.19(5) and, where appropriate, includes any district
  416  administrator whose service district falls within the boundaries
  417  of a judicial circuit.
  418         Section 12. This act shall take effect July 1, 2014.