Florida Senate - 2017                                    SB 1680
       By Senator Baxley
       12-01344B-17                                          20171680__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to child welfare; amending s. 39.01,
    3         F.S.; redefining the term “permanency goal”; amending
    4         s. 39.013, F.S.; extending court jurisdiction to age
    5         22 for young adults with disabilities in foster care;
    6         amending s. 39.6035, F.S.; requiring a transition plan
    7         to be approved before a child reaches 18 years of age;
    8         amending s. 39.621, F.S.; specifying the circumstances
    9         under which the permanency goal of maintaining and
   10         strengthening the placement with a parent may be used;
   11         amending s. 409.996, F.S.; requiring the Department of
   12         Children and Families, in collaboration with certain
   13         entities, to develop a statewide quality rating system
   14         for residential group care providers and foster homes;
   15         requiring the system to be implemented by a specified
   16         date; providing requirements for the system; requiring
   17         the department to submit a report to the Governor and
   18         the Legislature by a specified date and annually
   19         thereafter; providing requirements for the report;
   20         providing an effective date.
   22  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   24         Section 1. Subsection (52) of section 39.01, Florida
   25  Statutes, is amended to read:
   26         39.01 Definitions.—When used in this chapter, unless the
   27  context otherwise requires:
   28         (52) “Permanency goal” means the living arrangement
   29  identified for the child to return to or identified as the
   30  permanent living arrangement of the child. Permanency goals
   31  applicable under this chapter, listed in order of preference,
   32  are:
   33         (a) Reunification;
   34         (b) Adoption when a petition for termination of parental
   35  rights has been or will be filed;
   36         (c) Permanent guardianship of a dependent child under s.
   37  39.6221;
   38         (d) Permanent placement with a fit and willing relative
   39  under s. 39.6231; or
   40         (e) Placement in another planned permanent living
   41  arrangement under s. 39.6241.
   43  The permanency goal is also the case plan goal. If concurrent
   44  case planning is being used, reunification may be pursued at the
   45  same time that another permanency goal is pursued.
   46         Section 2. Subsection (2) of section 39.013, Florida
   47  Statutes, is amended to read:
   48         39.013 Procedures and jurisdiction; right to counsel.—
   49         (2) The circuit court has exclusive original jurisdiction
   50  of all proceedings under this chapter, of a child voluntarily
   51  placed with a licensed child-caring agency, a licensed child
   52  placing agency, or the department, and of the adoption of
   53  children whose parental rights have been terminated under this
   54  chapter. Jurisdiction attaches when the initial shelter
   55  petition, dependency petition, or termination of parental rights
   56  petition, or a petition for an injunction to prevent child abuse
   57  issued pursuant to s. 39.504, is filed or when a child is taken
   58  into the custody of the department. The circuit court may assume
   59  jurisdiction over any such proceeding regardless of whether the
   60  child was in the physical custody of both parents, was in the
   61  sole legal or physical custody of only one parent, caregiver, or
   62  some other person, or was not in the physical or legal custody
   63  of any person when the event or condition occurred that brought
   64  the child to the attention of the court. When the court obtains
   65  jurisdiction of any child who has been found to be dependent,
   66  the court shall retain jurisdiction, unless relinquished by its
   67  order, until the child reaches 21 years of age, or 22 years of
   68  age if the child has a disability, with the following
   69  exceptions:
   70         (a) If a young adult chooses to leave foster care upon
   71  reaching 18 years of age.
   72         (b) If a young adult does not meet the eligibility
   73  requirements to remain in foster care under s. 39.6251 or
   74  chooses to leave care under that section.
   75         (c) If a young adult petitions the court at any time before
   76  his or her 19th birthday requesting the court’s continued
   77  jurisdiction, the juvenile court may retain jurisdiction under
   78  this chapter for a period not to exceed 1 year following the
   79  young adult’s 18th birthday for the purpose of determining
   80  whether appropriate services that were required to be provided
   81  to the young adult before reaching 18 years of age have been
   82  provided.
   83         (d) If a petition for special immigrant juvenile status and
   84  an application for adjustment of status have been filed on
   85  behalf of a foster child and the petition and application have
   86  not been granted by the time the child reaches 18 years of age,
   87  the court may retain jurisdiction over the dependency case
   88  solely for the purpose of allowing the continued consideration
   89  of the petition and application by federal authorities. Review
   90  hearings for the child shall be set solely for the purpose of
   91  determining the status of the petition and application. The
   92  court’s jurisdiction terminates upon the final decision of the
   93  federal authorities. Retention of jurisdiction in this instance
   94  does not affect the services available to a young adult under s.
   95  409.1451. The court may not retain jurisdiction of the case
   96  after the immigrant child’s 22nd birthday.
   97         Section 3. Subsection (4) of section 39.6035, Florida
   98  Statutes, is amended to read:
   99         39.6035 Transition plan.—
  100         (4) If a child is planning to leave care upon reaching 18
  101  years of age, The transition plan must be approved by the court
  102  before the child’s 18th birthday and must be attached to the
  103  case plan and updated before each judicial review child leaves
  104  care and the court terminates jurisdiction.
  105         Section 4. Present subsections (2) through (11) of section
  106  39.621, Florida Statutes, are redesignated as subsections (3)
  107  through (12), respectively, and a new subsection (2) is added to
  108  that section, to read:
  109         39.621 Permanency determination by the court.—
  110         (2) The permanency goal of maintaining and strengthening
  111  the placement with a parent may be used in all of the following
  112  circumstances:
  113         (a) If a child has not been removed from a parent, even if
  114  adjudication of dependency is withheld, the court may leave the
  115  child in the current placement with maintaining and
  116  strengthening the placement as a permanency option.
  117         (b) If a child has been removed from a parent and is placed
  118  with the parent from whom the child was not removed, the court
  119  may leave the child in the placement with the parent from whom
  120  the child was not removed with maintaining and strengthening the
  121  placement as a permanency option.
  122         (c) If a child has been removed from a parent and is
  123  subsequently reunified with that parent, the court may leave the
  124  child with that parent with maintaining and strengthening the
  125  placement as a permanency option.
  126         Section 5. Section 409.996, Florida Statutes, is amended to
  127  read:
  128         409.996 Duties of the Department of Children and Families.
  129  The department shall contract for the delivery, administration,
  130  or management of care for children in the child protection and
  131  child welfare system. In doing so, the department retains
  132  responsibility to ensure for the quality of contracted services
  133  and programs and shall ensure that an adequate array of services
  134  is available to be are delivered in accordance with applicable
  135  federal and state statutes and regulations.
  136         (1) The department shall enter into contracts with lead
  137  agencies for the performance of the duties by the lead agencies
  138  pursuant to s. 409.988. At a minimum, the contracts must:
  139         (a) Provide for the services needed to accomplish the
  140  duties established in s. 409.988 and provide information to the
  141  department which is necessary to meet the requirements for a
  142  quality assurance program pursuant to subsection (18) and the
  143  child welfare results-oriented accountability system pursuant to
  144  s. 409.997.
  145         (b) Provide for graduated penalties for failure to comply
  146  with contract terms. Such penalties may include financial
  147  penalties, enhanced monitoring and reporting, corrective action
  148  plans, and early termination of contracts or other appropriate
  149  action to ensure contract compliance. The financial penalties
  150  shall require a lead agency to reallocate funds from
  151  administrative costs to direct care for children.
  152         (c) Ensure that the lead agency shall furnish current and
  153  accurate information on its activities in all cases in client
  154  case records in the state’s statewide automated child welfare
  155  information system.
  156         (d) Specify the procedures to be used by the parties to
  157  resolve differences in interpreting the contract or to resolve
  158  disputes as to the adequacy of the parties’ compliance with
  159  their respective obligations under the contract.
  160         (2) The department must adopt written policies and
  161  procedures for monitoring the contract for delivery of services
  162  by lead agencies which must be posted on the department’s
  163  website. These policies and procedures must, at a minimum,
  164  address the evaluation of fiscal accountability and program
  165  operations, including provider achievement of performance
  166  standards, provider monitoring of subcontractors, and timely
  167  followup of corrective actions for significant monitoring
  168  findings related to providers and subcontractors. These policies
  169  and procedures must also include provisions for reducing the
  170  duplication of the department’s program monitoring activities
  171  both internally and with other agencies, to the extent possible.
  172  The department’s written procedures must ensure that the written
  173  findings, conclusions, and recommendations from monitoring the
  174  contract for services of lead agencies are communicated to the
  175  director of the provider agency and the community alliance as
  176  expeditiously as possible.
  177         (3) The department shall receive federal and state funds as
  178  appropriated for the operation of the child welfare system,
  179  transmit these funds to the lead agencies as agreed to in the
  180  contract, and provide information on its website of the
  181  distribution of the federal funds. The department retains
  182  responsibility for the appropriate spending of these funds. The
  183  department shall monitor lead agencies to assess compliance with
  184  the financial guidelines established pursuant to s. 409.992 and
  185  other applicable state and federal laws.
  186         (4) The department shall provide technical assistance and
  187  consultation to lead agencies in the provision of care to
  188  children in the child protection and child welfare system.
  189         (5) The department retains the responsibility for the
  190  review, approval or denial, and issuances of all foster home
  191  licenses.
  192         (6) The department shall process all applications submitted
  193  by lead agencies for the Interstate Compact on the Placement of
  194  Children and the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical
  195  Assistance.
  196         (7) The department shall assist lead agencies with access
  197  to and coordination with other service programs within the
  198  department.
  199         (8) The department shall determine Medicaid eligibility for
  200  all referred children and shall coordinate services with the
  201  Agency for Health Care Administration.
  202         (9) The department shall develop, in cooperation with the
  203  lead agencies, a third-party credentialing entity approved
  204  pursuant to s. 402.40(3), and the Florida Institute for Child
  205  Welfare established pursuant to s. 1004.615, a standardized
  206  competency-based curriculum for certification training for child
  207  protection staff.
  208         (10) The department shall maintain the statewide adoptions
  209  website and provide information and training to the lead
  210  agencies relating to the website.
  211         (11) The department shall provide training and assistance
  212  to lead agencies regarding the responsibility of lead agencies
  213  relating to children receiving supplemental security income,
  214  social security, railroad retirement, or veterans’ benefits.
  215         (12) With the assistance of a lead agency, the department
  216  shall develop and implement statewide and local interagency
  217  agreements needed to coordinate services for children and
  218  parents involved in the child welfare system who are also
  219  involved with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the
  220  Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Education, the
  221  Department of Health, and other governmental organizations that
  222  share responsibilities for children or parents in the child
  223  welfare system.
  224         (13) With the assistance of a lead agency, the department
  225  shall develop and implement a working agreement between the lead
  226  agency and the substance abuse and mental health managing entity
  227  to integrate services and supports for children and parents
  228  serviced in the child welfare system.
  229         (14) The department shall work with the Agency for Health
  230  Care Administration to provide each Medicaid-eligible child with
  231  early and periodic screening, diagnosis, and treatment,
  232  including 72-hour screening, periodic child health checkups, and
  233  prescribed followup for ordered services, including, but not
  234  limited to, medical, dental, and vision care.
  235         (15) The department shall assist lead agencies in
  236  developing an array of services in compliance with the Title IV
  237  E waiver and shall monitor the provision of such services.
  238         (16) The department shall provide a mechanism to allow lead
  239  agencies to request a waiver of department policies and
  240  procedures that create inefficiencies or inhibit the performance
  241  of the lead agency’s duties.
  242         (17) The department shall directly or through contract
  243  provide attorneys to prepare and present cases in dependency
  244  court and shall ensure that the court is provided with adequate
  245  information for informed decisionmaking in dependency cases,
  246  including a face sheet for each case which lists the names and
  247  contact information for any child protective investigator, child
  248  protective investigation supervisor, case manager, and case
  249  manager supervisor, and the regional department official
  250  responsible for the lead agency contract. The department shall
  251  provide to the court the case information and recommendations
  252  provided by the lead agency or subcontractor. For the Sixth
  253  Judicial Circuit, the department shall contract with the state
  254  attorney for the provision of these services.
  255         (18) The department, in consultation with lead agencies,
  256  shall establish a quality assurance program for contracted
  257  services to dependent children. The quality assurance program
  258  shall be based on standards established by federal and state law
  259  and national accrediting organizations.
  260         (a) The department must evaluate each lead agency under
  261  contract at least annually. These evaluations shall cover the
  262  programmatic, operational, and fiscal operations of the lead
  263  agency and must be consistent with the child welfare results
  264  oriented accountability system required by s. 409.997. The
  265  department must consult with dependency judges in the circuit or
  266  circuits served by the lead agency on the performance of the
  267  lead agency.
  268         (b) The department and each lead agency shall monitor out
  269  of-home placements, including the extent to which sibling groups
  270  are placed together or provisions to provide visitation and
  271  other contacts if siblings are separated. The data shall
  272  identify reasons for sibling separation. Information related to
  273  sibling placement shall be incorporated into the results
  274  oriented accountability system required pursuant to s. 409.997
  275  and into the evaluation of the outcome specified in s.
  276  409.986(2)(e). The information related to sibling placement
  277  shall also be made available to the institute established
  278  pursuant s. 1004.615 for use in assessing the performance of
  279  child welfare services in relation to the outcome specified in
  280  s. 409.986(2)(e).
  281         (c) The department shall, to the extent possible, use
  282  independent financial audits provided by the lead agency to
  283  eliminate or reduce the ongoing contract and administrative
  284  reviews conducted by the department. If the department
  285  determines that such independent financial audits are
  286  inadequate, other audits, as necessary, may be conducted by the
  287  department. This paragraph does not abrogate the requirements of
  288  s. 215.97.
  289         (d) The department may suggest additional items to be
  290  included in such independent financial audits to meet the
  291  department’s needs.
  292         (e) The department may outsource programmatic,
  293  administrative, or fiscal monitoring oversight of lead agencies.
  294         (f) A lead agency must assure that all subcontractors are
  295  subject to the same quality assurance activities as the lead
  296  agency.
  297         (19) The department and its attorneys have the
  298  responsibility to ensure that the court is fully informed about
  299  issues before it, to make recommendations to the court, and to
  300  present competent evidence, including testimony by the
  301  department’s employees, contractors, and subcontractors, as well
  302  as other individuals, to support all recommendations made to the
  303  court. The department’s attorneys shall coordinate lead agency
  304  or subcontractor staff to ensure that dependency cases are
  305  presented appropriately to the court, giving consideration to
  306  the information developed by the case manager and direction to
  307  the case manager if more information is needed.
  308         (20) The department, in consultation with lead agencies,
  309  shall develop a dispute resolution process so that disagreements
  310  between legal staff, investigators, and case management staff
  311  can be resolved in the best interest of the child in question
  312  before court appearances regarding that child.
  313         (21) The department shall periodically, and before
  314  procuring a lead agency, solicit comments and recommendations
  315  from the community alliance established in s. 20.19(5), any
  316  other community groups, or public hearings. The recommendations
  317  must include, but are not limited to:
  318         (a) The current and past performance of a lead agency.
  319         (b) The relationship between a lead agency and its
  320  community partners.
  321         (c) Any local conditions or service needs in child
  322  protection and child welfare.
  323         (22) The department shall develop, in collaboration with
  324  lead agencies, service providers, current and former foster
  325  children, and other community stakeholders, a statewide quality
  326  rating system for residential group care providers and foster
  327  homes. This system must promote high quality in services and
  328  accommodations by creating measurable minimum quality standards
  329  that providers must meet to contract with the lead agencies and
  330  that foster homes must meet to receive placements. Domains
  331  addressed by a quality rating system for residential group care
  332  providers may include, but need not be limited to, admissions,
  333  service planning and treatment planning, living environment, and
  334  program and service requirements. The quality rating system must
  335  be implemented by July 1, 2019.
  336         (a) The rating system must include:
  337         1. Delineated levels of quality that are clearly and
  338  concisely defined, the domains measured, and criteria which must
  339  be met to be placed in each level. The quality rating system
  340  must differentiate between shift and family-style models while
  341  encouraging a high level of quality in both;
  342         2. The number of residential group care staff and foster
  343  parents who have received child welfare certification pursuant
  344  to s. 402.40 through certification programs developed
  345  specifically for residential group care staff and foster
  346  parents. Such certification programs shall be developed in
  347  collaboration with, at a minimum, current and former foster
  348  children, foster parents, and residential group care providers;
  349         3. Contractual incentives for achieving and maintaining
  350  high levels of quality; and
  351         4. A well-defined process for notice, inspection,
  352  remediation, appeal, and enforcement.
  353         (b) The department shall submit a report to the Governor,
  354  the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of
  355  Representatives by October 1 of each year, with the first report
  356  due October 1, 2017. The report must, at a minimum, include an
  357  update on the development of a statewide quality rating system
  358  for residential group care providers and foster homes and a plan
  359  for department oversight of the implementation of the statewide
  360  quality rating system for residential group care providers and
  361  foster homes by the community-based care lead agencies.
  362  Beginning in 2019 and in subsequent years, the report must also
  363  contain a list of residential group care providers meeting
  364  minimum quality standards and their quality ratings; the
  365  percentage of children placed in residential group care with
  366  highly rated providers; any negative action taken against
  367  contracted providers for not meeting minimum quality standards;
  368  the percentages of highly rated foster homes by lead agency; and
  369  the percentage of children placed in highly rated foster homes.
  370         Section 6. This act shall take effect July 1, 2017.