Florida Senate - 2014                              CS for SB 972
       By the Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs; and
       Senators Galvano and Bradley
       586-02751-14                                           2014972c1
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to attorneys for dependent children
    3         with disabilities; creating s. 39.01305, F.S.;
    4         providing legislative findings and intent; requiring
    5         appointment of an attorney to represent a dependent
    6         child who meets one or more specified criteria;
    7         requiring the appointment to be in writing; requiring
    8         that the appointment continue in effect until the
    9         attorney is allowed to withdraw or is discharged by
   10         the court or until the case is dismissed; requiring
   11         that an attorney not acting in a pro bono capacity be
   12         adequately compensated for his or her services and
   13         have access to funding for certain costs; providing
   14         for financial oversight by the Justice Administrative
   15         Commission; providing a limit on attorney fees;
   16         providing applicability; providing an effective date.
   18  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   20         Section 1. Section 39.01305, Florida Statutes, is created
   21  to read:
   22         39.01305 Appointment of an attorney for a dependent child
   23  with disabilities.—
   24         (1)(a) The Legislature finds that:
   25         1. All children in proceedings under this chapter have
   26  important interests at stake, such as health, safety, and well
   27  being and the need to obtain permanency.
   28         2. A dependent child who has a suspected or known
   29  disability has a particular need for an attorney to represent
   30  the dependent child in proceedings under this chapter, as well
   31  as in fair hearings and appellate proceedings, so that the
   32  attorney may address the child’s medical and related needs and
   33  the services and supports necessary for the child to live
   34  successfully in the community.
   35         (b) The Legislature recognizes the existence of
   36  organizations that provide attorney representation to children
   37  in certain jurisdictions throughout the state. The Legislature
   38  finds that some of these organizations have proven effective,
   39  through independent rigorous evaluation, in producing
   40  significantly improved outcomes for children and that many have
   41  been embraced by their local jurisdictions. The Legislature,
   42  therefore, does not intend that funding provided for
   43  representation under this section supplant proven and existing
   44  organizations representing children. Instead, the Legislature
   45  intends that funding provided for representation under this
   46  section be an additional resource for the representation of more
   47  children in these jurisdictions, to the extent necessary to meet
   48  the requirements of this chapter, with the cooperation of
   49  existing local organizations or through the expansion of such
   50  organizations. The Legislature encourages the expansion of pro
   51  bono representation for children. This section is not intended
   52  to limit the ability of a pro bono attorney to appear on behalf
   53  of a child.
   54         (2) An attorney shall be appointed for a dependent child
   55  who has a disability and meets one or more of the following
   56  criteria:
   57         (a) A dependent child who resides in a skilled nursing
   58  facility or is being considered for placement in a skilled
   59  nursing home;
   60         (b) A dependent child who is prescribed a psychotropic
   61  medication but does not want to take the psychotropic
   62  medication;
   63         (c) A dependent child who has a suspected or known
   64  diagnosis of developmental disability as defined in s. 393.063;
   65         (d) A dependent child being placed in a residential
   66  treatment center or being considered for placement in a
   67  residential treatment center; or
   68         (e) A dependent child who has been a victim of human
   69  trafficking.
   70         (3) A court order appointing an attorney under this section
   71  must be in writing. The appointment continues in effect until
   72  the attorney is allowed to withdraw or is discharged by the
   73  court or until the case is dismissed. An attorney who is
   74  appointed to represent the child shall provide the complete
   75  range of legal services, from the removal from home or from the
   76  initial appointment through all available appellate proceedings.
   77  With the permission of the court, the attorney for the dependent
   78  child may arrange for supplemental or separate counsel to handle
   79  proceedings at an appellate hearing.
   80         (4) Except if the attorney has agreed to provide pro bono
   81  services, an appointed attorney must be adequately compensated
   82  and provided with access to funding for expert witnesses,
   83  depositions, and other costs of litigation. Payment to an
   84  attorney is subject to appropriations and subject to review by
   85  the Justice Administrative Commission for reasonableness. The
   86  Justice Administrative Commission may contract with attorneys
   87  selected by the guardian ad litem program. Attorney fees may not
   88  exceed $3,000 per child per year.
   89         (5) This section does not limit the authority of the court
   90  to appoint an attorney for a dependent child in a proceeding
   91  under this chapter.
   92         (6) Implementation of this section is subject to
   93  appropriations expressly made for that purpose.
   94         Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2014.