Florida Senate - 2014                CS for CS for CS for SB 972
       By the Committees on Appropriations; Judiciary; and Children,
       Families, and Elder Affairs; and Senators Galvano and Bradley
       576-04708-14                                           2014972c3
    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.
   25  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   27         Section 1. (1) The Legislature finds that:
   28         (a) 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         (b) 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         (2) 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 $1,000 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.