Florida Senate - 2019                                      SB 90
       By Senator Book
       32-00069A-19                                            201990__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to early childhood courts; creating s.
    3         39.01304, F.S.; providing legislative intent;
    4         authorizing circuit courts to create early childhood
    5         court programs; requiring that early childhood court
    6         programs have certain components present; providing
    7         requirements and guidelines for the Office of the
    8         State Courts Administrator when hiring community
    9         coordinators and a statewide training specialist;
   10         authorizing the office to provide funding to circuit
   11         courts that choose to establish a coordination system
   12         in lieu of creating a community coordinator position;
   13         requiring the office to contract with certain
   14         university-based centers; requiring the university
   15         based centers to hire a clinical director; requiring
   16         the Florida Institute for Child Welfare to submit
   17         certain status reports to the Governor and the
   18         Legislature by specified dates; requiring the
   19         institute, in consultation with the Department of
   20         Children and Families, the office, and the contracted
   21         university-based centers, to conduct an evaluation of
   22         the court programs’ impact; requiring the evaluation
   23         to include the analysis of certain data and
   24         recommendations; requiring the institute to submit the
   25         results of its evaluation to the Governor and the
   26         Legislature by a specified date; providing an
   27         effective date.
   29  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   31         Section 1. Section 39.01304, Florida Statutes, is created
   32  to read:
   33         39.01304 Early childhood court programs.—
   34         (1) It is the intent of the Legislature to encourage the
   35  department, the Department of Health, the Association of Early
   36  Learning Coalitions, and other such agencies, local governments,
   37  interested public or private entities, and individuals to
   38  support the creation and establishment of early childhood court
   39  programs. The purpose of an early childhood court program is to
   40  address the root cause of court involvement through specialized
   41  dockets, multidisciplinary teams, evidence-based treatment, and
   42  the use of a nonadversarial approach. Such programs depend on
   43  the leadership of a judge or magistrate who is educated about
   44  the science of early childhood development and who requires
   45  rigorous efforts to heal children physically and emotionally in
   46  the context of a broad collaboration among professionals from
   47  different systems working directly in the court as a team,
   48  recognizing that the parent-child relationship is the foundation
   49  of child well-being.
   50         (2) A circuit court may create an early childhood court
   51  program to serve the needs of infants and toddlers in dependency
   52  court. An early childhood court program must have all of the
   53  following components present:
   54         (a) Therapeutic jurisprudence, which must drive every
   55  aspect of judicial practice. The judge or magistrate must
   56  support the therapeutic needs of the parent and child in a
   57  nonadversarial manner. As used in this paragraph, the term
   58  “therapeutic jurisprudence” means the study of how the law may
   59  be used as a therapeutic agent and focuses on how laws impact
   60  emotional and psychological well-being.
   61         (b)A procedure for coordinating services and resources for
   62  families who have a case on the court docket. To meet this
   63  requirement, the court may create and fill at least one
   64  community coordinator position pursuant to paragraph (3)(a) or
   65  the court may use a coordination system that implements a
   66  progression of services.
   67         (c) A multidisciplinary team made up of key community
   68  stakeholders who commit to work with the judge or magistrate to
   69  restructure the way the community responds to the needs of
   70  maltreated children. The team may include, but is not limited
   71  to, early intervention specialists; mental health and infant
   72  mental health professionals; attorneys representing children,
   73  parents, and the child welfare system; children’s advocates;
   74  early learning coalitions and child care providers; substance
   75  abuse program providers; primary health care providers; and
   76  guardians ad litem. The multidisciplinary team must address the
   77  need for children in an early childhood court program to receive
   78  medical care in a medical home, a screening for developmental
   79  delays conducted by the local agency responsible for complying
   80  with part C of the federal Individuals with Disabilities
   81  Education Act, and quality child care.
   82         (d)A continuum of mental health services that include a
   83  focus on the parent-child relationship and that must be
   84  appropriate for each child and family served.
   85         (3) Contingent upon an annual appropriation by the
   86  Legislature, and subject to available resources:
   87         (a) The Office of the State Courts Administrator shall
   88  coordinate with each participating circuit court to create and
   89  fill at least one community coordinator position for the
   90  circuit’s early childhood court program unless the court chooses
   91  to establish a coordination system in lieu of creating a
   92  community coordinator position. Each community coordinator shall
   93  provide direct support to the program by providing coordination
   94  between the multidisciplinary team and the judiciary,
   95  coordinating the responsibilities of the participating agencies
   96  and service providers, and managing the collection of data for
   97  program evaluation and accountability. If a circuit court
   98  establishes a coordination system in lieu of creating a
   99  community coordinator position, the Office of the State Courts
  100  Administrator may provide funding equivalent in value to a
  101  community coordinator position to the court for case
  102  coordination functions.
  103         (b) The Office of the State Courts Administrator shall
  104  contract with one or more university-based centers that have
  105  expertise in infant mental health, and such university-based
  106  centers shall hire a clinical director charged with ensuring the
  107  quality, accountability, and fidelity of the program’s evidence
  108  based treatment and ensuring that each center under contract
  109  receives training and technical assistance related to clinical
  110  services, clinical consultation and guidance for difficult
  111  cases, and ongoing clinical training for court teams. In
  112  partnership with each center, the Office of the State Courts
  113  Administrator may hire a statewide training specialist to
  114  provide training to each multidisciplinary team.
  115         (c) By December 1 of 2020 and 2021, the Florida Institute
  116  for Child Welfare shall provide a status report on
  117  implementation of the programs to the Governor, the President of
  118  the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
  119         (d) In consultation with the department, the Office of the
  120  State Courts Administrator, and each center, the Florida
  121  Institute for Child Welfare shall evaluate the impact of the
  122  early childhood court programs on children and families in the
  123  state’s child welfare system. The evaluation must include the
  124  analysis of data collected by the Office of the State Courts
  125  Administrator and measurable outcomes, including, but not
  126  limited to, the impact of the early childhood court program on
  127  the future incidence of maltreatment of children, timely
  128  permanency, reunification of families, and incidents of children
  129  reentering the child welfare system. The evaluation must provide
  130  recommendations as to whether and how the programs should be
  131  expanded, the projected costs of any such expansion, and the
  132  projected savings to the state resulting from the programs.
  133  After providing the status reports pursuant to paragraph (c),
  134  and by October 1, 2022, the institute shall provide a report on
  135  the results of the evaluation to the Governor, the President of
  136  the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
  137         Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2019.