Florida Senate - 2014 CS for CS for SB 972 By the Committees on Judiciary; and Children, Families, and Elder Affairs; and Senators Galvano and Bradley 590-03522-14 2014972c2 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to attorneys for dependent children 3 with special needs; providing legislative findings and 4 intent; creating s. 39.01305, F.S.; requiring 5 appointment of an attorney to represent a dependent 6 child who meets one or more specified criteria; 7 requiring that, if one is available, an attorney who 8 is willing to represent a child without additional 9 compensation be appointed; requiring that the 10 appointment be in writing; requiring that the 11 appointment continue in effect until the attorney is 12 allowed to withdraw or is discharged by the court or 13 until the case is dismissed; requiring that an 14 attorney not acting in a pro bono capacity be 15 adequately compensated for his or her services and 16 have access to funding for certain costs; providing 17 for financial oversight by the Justice Administrative 18 Commission; providing a limit on attorney fees; 19 requiring the Department of Children and Families to 20 develop procedures to identify dependent children who 21 qualify for an attorney; authorizing the department to 22 adopt rules; providing applicability; providing an 23 effective date. 24 25 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 26 27 Section 1. (1)(a) The Legislature finds that: 28 1. All children in proceedings under chapter 39, Florida 29 Statutes, have important interests at stake, such as health, 30 safety, and well-being and the need to obtain permanency. 31 2. A dependent child who has certain special needs has a 32 particular need for an attorney to represent the dependent child 33 in proceedings under chapter 39, Florida Statutes, as well as in 34 fair hearings and appellate proceedings, so that the attorney 35 may address the child’s medical and related needs and the 36 services and supports necessary for the child to live 37 successfully in the community. 38 (b) The Legislature recognizes the existence of 39 organizations that provide attorney representation to children 40 in certain jurisdictions throughout the state. Further, the 41 statewide guardian ad litem program provides best interest 42 representation for dependent children in every jurisdiction in 43 accordance with state and federal law. The Legislature, 44 therefore, does not intend that funding provided for 45 representation under this act supplant proven and existing 46 organizations representing children. Instead, the Legislature 47 intends that funding provided for representation under this act 48 be an additional resource for the representation of more 49 children in these jurisdictions, to the extent necessary to meet 50 the requirements of chapter 39, Florida Statutes, with the 51 cooperation of existing local organizations or through the 52 expansion of those organizations. The Legislature encourages the 53 expansion of pro bono representation for children. This act is 54 not intended to limit the ability of a pro bono attorney to 55 appear on behalf of a child. 56 Section 2. Section 39.01305, Florida Statutes, is created 57 to read: 58 39.01305 Appointment of an attorney for a dependent child 59 with certain special needs.— 60 (1) An attorney shall be appointed for a dependent child 61 who: 62 (a) Resides in a skilled nursing facility or is being 63 considered for placement in a skilled nursing home; 64 (b) Is prescribed a psychotropic medication but declines to 65 assent to the psychotropic medication; 66 (c) Has a diagnosis of developmental disability as defined 67 in s. 393.063; 68 (d) Is being placed in a residential treatment center or 69 being considered for placement in a residential treatment 70 center; or 71 (e) Is a victim of human trafficking as defined in s. 72 787.06(2)(d). 73 (2)(a) Before a court may appoint an attorney who may be 74 compensated pursuant to this section, the court must request a 75 recommendation from the statewide guardian ad litem office for 76 an attorney who is willing to represent a child without 77 additional compensation. If such an attorney is available within 78 15 days after the court’s request, the court must appoint that 79 attorney. However, the court may appoint a compensated attorney 80 within the 15-day period if the statewide guardian ad litem 81 office informs the court that it will not be able to recommend 82 an attorney in that time period. 83 (b) After an attorney is appointed, the appointment 84 continues in effect until the attorney is allowed to withdraw or 85 is discharged by the court or until the case is dismissed. An 86 attorney who is appointed under this section to represent the 87 child shall provide the complete range of legal services, from 88 the removal from home or from the initial appointment through 89 all available appellate proceedings. With the permission of the 90 court, the attorney for the dependent child may arrange for 91 supplemental or separate counsel to represent the child in 92 appellate proceedings. A court order appointing an attorney 93 under this section must be in writing. 94 (3) Except if the attorney has agreed to provide pro bono 95 services, an appointed attorney or organization must be 96 adequately compensated and provided with access to funding for 97 expert witnesses, depositions, and other costs of litigation. 98 Payment to an attorney is subject to appropriations and subject 99 to review by the Justice Administrative Commission for 100 reasonableness. The Justice Administrative Commission shall 101 contract with attorneys appointed by the court. Attorney fees 102 may not exceed $3,000 per child per year. 103 (4) The department shall develop procedures to identify a 104 dependent child who has a special need specified under 105 subsection (1) and to request that a court appoint an attorney 106 for the child. The department may adopt rules to administer this 107 section. 108 (5) This section does not limit the authority of the court 109 to appoint an attorney for a dependent child in a proceeding 110 under this chapter. 111 (6) Implementation of this section is subject to 112 appropriations expressly made for that purpose. 113 Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2014.