Florida Senate - 2021 COMMITTEE AMENDMENT
Bill No. CS for SB 80
Senate . House
The Committee on Rules (Brodeur) recommended the following:
1 Senate Amendment (with title amendment)
3 Delete lines 273 - 1408
4 and insert:
5 (4) The case record face sheet must be in a uniform and
6 standardized format for use statewide and must be developed,
7 either by the department or a third party, using real-time data
8 from the state child welfare information system. The department
9 may develop a specific case record face sheet or may contract
10 with a third party to use existing software that, at a minimum,
11 meets the requirements of subsection (2). The case record face
12 sheet developed or contracted for use under this section must be
13 electronic and have the capability to be printed. The community
14 based care lead agencies shall use this uniform and standardized
15 case record face sheet to comply with this section.
16 (5) The department shall adopt rules to implement this
18 Section 2. Subsection (3) of section 39.401, Florida
19 Statutes, is amended to read:
20 39.401 Taking a child alleged to be dependent into custody;
21 law enforcement officers and authorized agents of the
23 (3) If the child is taken into custody by, or is delivered
24 to, an authorized agent of the department, the agent shall
25 review the facts supporting the removal with an attorney
26 representing the department. The purpose of the review is to
27 determine whether there is probable cause for the filing of a
28 shelter petition.
29 (a) If the facts are not sufficient, the child shall
30 immediately be returned to the custody of the parent or legal
32 (b) If the facts are sufficient and the child has not been
33 returned to the custody of the parent or legal custodian, the
34 department shall file the petition and schedule a hearing, and
35 the attorney representing the department shall request that a
36 shelter hearing be held within 24 hours after the removal of the
38 (c) While awaiting the shelter hearing, the authorized
39 agent of the department may place the child in out-of-home care,
40 and placement shall be determined based on priority of
41 placements as provided in s. 39.4021 and what is in the child’s
42 best interest based on the criteria and factors set out in s.
licensed shelter care or may release the child to a
44 parent or legal custodian or responsible adult relative or the
45 adoptive parent of the child’s sibling who shall be given
46 priority consideration over a licensed placement, or a
47 responsible adult approved by the department if this is in the
48 best interests of the child.
49 (d) Placement of a child which is not in a licensed shelter
50 must be preceded by a criminal history records check as required
51 under s. 39.0138.
52 (e) In addition, the department may authorize placement of
53 a housekeeper/homemaker in the home of a child alleged to be
54 dependent until the parent or legal custodian assumes care of
55 the child.
56 Section 3. Paragraph (h) of subsection (8) of section
57 39.402, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
58 39.402 Placement in a shelter.—
60 (h) The order for placement of a child in shelter care must
61 identify the parties present at the hearing and must contain
62 written findings:
63 1. That placement in shelter care is necessary based on the
64 criteria in subsections (1) and (2).
65 2. That placement in shelter care is in the best interest
66 of the child.
67 3. That continuation of the child in the home is contrary
68 to the welfare of the child because the home situation presents
69 a substantial and immediate danger to the child’s physical,
70 mental, or emotional health or safety which cannot be mitigated
71 by the provision of preventive services.
72 4. That based upon the allegations of the petition for
73 placement in shelter care, there is probable cause to believe
74 that the child is dependent or that the court needs additional
75 time, which may not exceed 72 hours, in which to obtain and
76 review documents pertaining to the family in order to
77 appropriately determine the risk to the child.
78 5. That the department has made reasonable efforts to
79 prevent or eliminate the need for removal of the child from the
80 home. A finding of reasonable effort by the department to
81 prevent or eliminate the need for removal may be made and the
82 department is deemed to have made reasonable efforts to prevent
83 or eliminate the need for removal if:
84 a. The first contact of the department with the family
85 occurs during an emergency;
86 b. The appraisal of the home situation by the department
87 indicates that the home situation presents a substantial and
88 immediate danger to the child’s physical, mental, or emotional
89 health or safety which cannot be mitigated by the provision of
90 preventive services;
91 c. The child cannot safely remain at home, either because
92 there are no preventive services that can ensure the health and
93 safety of the child or because, even with appropriate and
94 available services being provided, the health and safety of the
95 child cannot be ensured; or
96 d. The parent or legal custodian is alleged to have
97 committed any of the acts listed as grounds for expedited
98 termination of parental rights in s. 39.806(1)(f)-(i).
99 6. That the department has made reasonable efforts to place
100 the child in order of priority as provided in s. 39.4021 unless
101 such priority placement is not a placement option or in the best
102 interest of the child based on the criteria and factors set out
103 in s. 39.4022.
104 7. That the department has made reasonable efforts to keep
105 siblings together if they are removed and placed in out-of-home
106 care unless such placement is not in the best interest of each
107 child. It is preferred that siblings be kept together in a
108 foster home, if available. Other reasonable efforts shall
109 include short-term placement in a group home with the ability to
110 accommodate sibling groups if such a placement is available. The
111 department shall report to the court its efforts to place
112 siblings together unless the court finds that such placement is
113 not in the best interest of a child or his or her sibling.
114 8. 7. That the court notified the parents, relatives that
115 are providing out-of-home care for the child, or legal
116 custodians of the time, date, and location of the next
117 dependency hearing and of the importance of the active
118 participation of the parents, relatives that are providing out
119 of-home care for the child, or legal custodians in all
120 proceedings and hearings.
121 9. 8. That the court notified the parents or legal
122 custodians of their right to counsel to represent them at the
123 shelter hearing and at each subsequent hearing or proceeding,
124 and the right of the parents to appointed counsel, pursuant to
125 the procedures set forth in s. 39.013.
126 10. 9. That the court notified relatives who are providing
127 out-of-home care for a child as a result of the shelter petition
128 being granted that they have the right to attend all subsequent
129 hearings, to submit reports to the court, and to speak to the
130 court regarding the child, if they so desire.
131 11. 10. That the department has placement and care
132 responsibility for any child who is not placed in the care of a
133 parent at the conclusion of the shelter hearing.
134 Section 4. Section 39.4021, Florida Statutes, is created to
136 39.4021 Priority placement for out-of-home placements.—
137 (1) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND INTENT.—The Legislature finds
138 that it is a basic tenet of child welfare practice and the law
139 that a child be placed in the least restrictive, most family
140 like setting available in close proximity to the home of his or
141 her parents which meets the needs of the child, and that a child
142 be placed in a permanent home in a timely manner.
143 (2) PLACEMENT PRIORITY.—
144 (a) When a child cannot safely remain at home with a
145 parent, out-of-home placement options must be considered in the
146 following order:
147 1. Non-offending parent.
148 2. Relative caregiver.
149 3. Adoptive parent of the child’s sibling, when the
150 department or community-based care lead agency is aware of such
152 4. Fictive kin with a close existing relationship to the
154 5. Licensed foster care.
155 6. Group or congregate care.
156 (b) Except as otherwise provided for in ss. 39.4022 and
157 39.4024, sibling groups must be placed in the same placement
158 whenever possible and if placement together is in the best
159 interest of each child in the sibling group. Placement decisions
160 for sibling groups must be made pursuant to ss. 39.4022 and
162 (c) Except as otherwise provided for in this chapter, a
163 change to a child’s physical or legal placement after the child
164 has been sheltered but before the child has achieved permanency
165 must be made in compliance with this section. Placements made
166 pursuant to s. 63.082(6) are exempt from this section.
167 Section 5. Section 39.4022, Florida Statutes, is created to
169 39.4022 Multidisciplinary teams; staffings; assessments;
171 (1) LEGISLATIVE INTENT.—
172 (a) The Legislature finds that services for children and
173 families are most effective when delivered in the context of a
174 single integrated multidisciplinary team staffing that includes
175 the child, his or her family, natural and community supports,
176 and professionals who join together to empower, motivate, and
177 strengthen a family and collaboratively develop a plan of care
178 and protection to achieve child safety, child permanency, and
179 child and family well-being.
180 (b) The Legislature also finds that effective assessment
181 through an integrated multidisciplinary team is particularly
182 important for children who are vulnerable due to existing
183 histories of trauma which led to the child’s entrance into the
184 child welfare system. This assessment is especially important
185 for young children who are 3 years of age or younger, as a
186 result of the enhanced need for such children to have healthy
187 and stable attachments to assist with necessary brain
188 development. Stable and nurturing relationships in the first
189 years of life, as well as the quality of such relationships, are
190 integral to healthy brain development, providing a foundation
191 for lifelong mental health and determining well-being as an
193 (2) DEFINITIONS.—For purposes of this section, the term:
194 (a) “Change in physical custody” means a change by the
195 department or the community-based care lead agency to the
196 child’s physical residential address, regardless of whether such
197 change requires a court order changing the legal custody of the
199 (b) “Emergency situation” means that there is an imminent
200 risk to the health or safety of the child, other children, or
201 others in the home or facility if the child remains in the
203 (c) “Multidisciplinary team” means an integrated group of
204 individuals which meets to collaboratively develop and attempt
205 to reach a consensus decision on the most suitable out-of-home
206 placement, educational placement, or other specified important
207 life decision that is in the best interest of the child.
208 (3) CREATION AND GOALS.—
209 (a) Multidisciplinary teams must be established for the
210 purpose of allowing better engagement with families and a shared
211 commitment and accountability from the family and their circle
212 of support.
213 (b) The multidisciplinary teams must adhere to the
214 following goals:
215 1. Secure a child’s safety in the least restrictive and
216 intrusive placement that can meet his or her needs;
217 2. Minimize the trauma associated with separation from the
218 child’s family and help the child to maintain meaningful
219 connections with family members and others who are important to
220 him or her;
221 3. Provide input into the placement decision made by the
222 community-based care lead agency and the services to be provided
223 in order to support the child;
224 4. Provide input into the decision to preserve or maintain
225 the placement, including necessary placement preservation
227 5. Contribute to an ongoing assessment of the child and the
228 family’s strengths and needs;
229 6. Ensure that plans are monitored for progress and that
230 such plans are revised or updated as the child’s or family’s
231 circumstances change; and
232 7. Ensure that the child and family always remain the
233 primary focus of each multidisciplinary team meeting.
234 (4) PARTICIPANTS.—
235 (a) Collaboration among diverse individuals who are part of
236 the child’s network is necessary to make the most informed
237 decisions possible for the child. A diverse team is preferable
238 to ensure that the necessary combination of technical skills,
239 cultural knowledge, community resources, and personal
240 relationships is developed and maintained for the child and
241 family. The participants necessary to achieve an appropriately
242 diverse team for a child may vary by child and may include
243 extended family, friends, neighbors, coaches, clergy, coworkers,
244 or others the family identifies as potential sources of support.
245 1. Each multidisciplinary team staffing must invite the
246 following members:
247 a. The child, unless he or she is not of an age or capacity
248 to participate in the team;
249 b. The child’s family members and other individuals
250 identified by the family as being important to the child,
251 provided that a parent who has a no contact order or injunction,
252 is alleged to have sexually abused the child, or is subject to a
253 termination of parental rights may not participate;
254 c. The current caregiver;
255 d. A representative from the department other than the
256 Children’s Legal Services attorney, when the department is
257 directly involved in the goal identified by the staffing;
258 e. A representative from the community-based care lead
259 agency, when the lead agency is directly involved in the goal
260 identified by the staffing; and
261 f. The case manager for the child, or his or her case
262 manager supervisor.
263 2. The multidisciplinary team must make reasonable efforts
264 to have all mandatory invitees attend. However, the
265 multidisciplinary team staffing may not be delayed if the
266 invitees in subparagraph 1. fail to attend after being provided
267 reasonable opportunities.
268 (b) Based on the particular goal the multidisciplinary team
269 staffing identifies as the purpose of convening the staffing as
270 provided under subsection (5), the department or lead agency may
271 also invite to the meeting other professionals, including, but
272 not limited to:
273 1. A representative from Children’s Medical Services;
274 2. A guardian ad litem, if one is appointed;
275 3. A school personnel representative who has direct contact
276 with the child;
277 4. A therapist or other behavioral health professional, if
279 5. A mental health professional with expertise in sibling
280 bonding, if the department or lead agency deems such expert is
281 necessary; or
282 6. Other community providers of services to the child or
283 stakeholders, when applicable.
284 (c) Each multidisciplinary team staffing must be led by a
285 person who serves as a facilitator and whose main responsibility
286 is to help team participants use the strengths within the family
287 to develop a safe plan for the child. The person serving as the
288 facilitator must be a trained professional who is otherwise
289 required to attend the multidisciplinary team staffing under
290 this section in his or her official capacity. Further, the
291 trained professional serving as the facilitator does not need to
292 be the same person for each meeting convened in a child’s case
293 under this section or in the service area of the designated lead
294 agency handling a child’s case.
295 (5) SCOPE OF MULTIDISCIPLINARY TEAM.—
296 (a) A multidisciplinary team staffing must be held when an
297 important decision is required to be made about a child’s life,
298 including all of the following:
299 1. Initial placement decisions for a child who is placed in
300 out-of-home care. A multidisciplinary team staffing required
301 under this subparagraph may occur before the initial placement
302 or, if a staffing is not possible before the initial placement,
303 must occur as soon as possible after initial removal and
304 placement to evaluate the appropriateness of the initial
305 placement and to ensure that any adjustments to the placement,
306 if necessary, are promptly handled.
307 2. Changes in physical custody after the child is placed in
308 out-of-home care by a court and, if necessary, determination of
309 an appropriate mandatory transition plan in accordance with s.
311 3. Changes in a child’s educational placement and, if
312 necessary, determination of an appropriate mandatory transition
313 plan in accordance with s. 39.4023.
314 4. Placement decisions for a child as required by
315 subparagraph 1., subparagraph 2., or subparagraph 3. which
316 involve sibling groups that require placement in accordance with
317 s. 39.4024.
318 5. Any other important decisions in the child’s life which
319 are so complex that the department or appropriate community
320 based care lead agency determines convening a multidisciplinary
321 team staffing is necessary to ensure the best interest of the
322 child is maintained.
323 (b) This section does not apply to multidisciplinary team
324 staffings that occur for one of the decisions specified in
325 paragraph (a) and that are facilitated by a children’s advocacy
326 center in accordance with s. 39.3035. The children’s advocacy
327 center that facilitates a staffing is encouraged to include
328 family members or other persons important to the family in the
329 staffing if the children’s advocacy center determines it is safe
330 for the child to involve such persons.
331 (c) This section does not apply to placements made pursuant
332 to s. 63.082(6).
333 (6) ASSESSMENTS.—
334 (a)1. The multidisciplinary team staffing participants
335 must, before formulating a decision under this section, gather
336 and consider data and information on the child which is known at
337 the time, including, but not limited to:
338 a. The child’s age, maturity, and strengths;
339 b. Mental, medical, behavioral health, and medication
341 c. Community ties and school placement;
342 d. The stability and longevity of the child’s current
344 e. The established bonded relationship between the child
345 and the current or proposed caregiver;
346 f. The child’s previous and current relationship with a
347 sibling, if the change in physical custody or placement will
348 separate or reunite siblings, evaluated in accordance with s.
350 g. The physical, mental, and emotional health benefits to
351 the child by remaining in his or her current placement or moving
352 to the proposed placement;
353 h. The reasonable preference of the child, if the child is
354 of sufficient age and capacity to express a preference;
355 i. The recommendation of the child’s current caregiver, if
357 j. The recommendation of the child’s guardian ad litem, if
358 one has been appointed;
359 k. The likelihood of the child attaining permanency in the
360 current or proposed placement;
361 l. The likelihood that the child will have to change
362 schools or day care placement, the impact of such a change, and
363 the parties’ recommendations as to the timing of the change,
364 including an education transition plan required under s.
366 m. The disruption of continuity of care with medical,
367 mental health, behavioral health, dental, or other treatment
368 services the child is receiving at the time of the change of
369 custody decision;
370 n. The allegations of any abuse, abandonment, or neglect,
371 including sexual abuse and trafficking history, which caused the
372 child to be placed in out-of-home care and any history of
373 additional allegations of abuse, abandonment, or neglect;
374 o. The impact on activities that are important to the
375 child, including the ability of the child to continue in such
377 p. The impact on the child’s future access to education,
378 Medicaid, and independent living benefits; and
379 q. Any other relevant factors.
380 2. Multidisciplinary team staffings may not be delayed to
381 accommodate pending behavioral health screenings or assessments
382 or pending referrals for services.
383 (b) The assessment conducted by the multidisciplinary team
384 may also use an evidence-based assessment instrument or tool
385 that is best suited for determining the specific decision of the
386 staffing and the needs of that individual child and family.
387 (c) To adequately prepare for a multidisciplinary staffing
388 team meeting to consider a decision related to a child 3 years
389 of age or younger, all of the following information on the child
390 which is known at the time must be gathered and considered by
391 the team:
392 1. Identified kin and relatives who express interest in
393 caring for the child, including strategies to overcome potential
394 delays in placing the child with such persons if they are
396 2. The likelihood that the child can remain with the
397 prospective caregiver past the point of initial removal and
398 placement with, or subsequent transition to, the caregiver and
399 the willingness of the caregiver to provide care for any
400 duration deemed necessary if placement is made.
401 3. The prospective caregiver’s ability and willingness to:
402 a. Accept supports related to early childhood development
403 and services addressing any possible developmental delays;
404 b. Address the emotional needs of the child and accept
405 infant mental health supports, if needed;
406 c. Help nurture the child during the transition into out
407 of-home care;
408 d. Work with the parent to build or maintain the attachment
409 relationship between parent and child;
410 e. Effectively co-parent with the parent; and
411 f. Ensure frequent family visits and sibling visits.
412 4. Placement decisions for each child in out-of-home
413 placement which are made under this paragraph must be reviewed
414 as often as necessary to ensure permanency for that child and to
415 address special issues that may arise which are unique to
416 younger children.
417 (d)1. If the participants of a multidisciplinary team
418 staffing reach a unanimous consensus decision, it becomes the
419 official position of the community-based care lead agency
420 regarding the decision under subsection (5) for which the team
421 convened. Such decision is binding upon all department and lead
422 agency participants, who are obligated to support it.
423 2. If the participants of a multidisciplinary team staffing
424 cannot reach a unanimous consensus decision on a plan to address
425 the identified goal, the trained professional acting as the
426 facilitator shall notify the court and the department within 48
427 hours after the conclusion of the staffing. The department shall
428 then determine how to address the identified goal of the
429 staffing by what is in the child’s best interest.
430 (7) CONVENING A TEAM UPON REMOVAL.—The formation of a
431 multidisciplinary team staffing must begin as soon as possible
432 when a child is removed from a home. The multidisciplinary team
433 must convene a staffing no later than 72 hours from the date of
434 a subsequent removal in an emergency situation in accordance
435 with s. 39.4023.
436 (8) REPORT.—If a multidisciplinary team staffing fails to
437 reach a unanimous consensus decision, the facilitator must
438 prepare and submit a written report to the court within 5
439 business days after the conclusion of the staffing which details
440 the decision made at the conclusion of the multidisciplinary
441 team staffing under subsection (6) and the positions of the
442 staffing’s participants.
443 (9) CONFIDENTIALITY.—Notwithstanding any other provision of
444 law, participants representing the department and the community
445 based care lead agency may discuss confidential information
446 during a multidisciplinary team staffing in the presence of
447 individuals who participate in the staffing. Information
448 collected by any agency or entity that participates in the
449 multidisciplinary team staffing which is confidential and exempt
450 upon collection remains confidential and exempt when discussed
451 in a staffing required under this section. All individuals who
452 participate in the staffing shall maintain the confidentiality
453 of any information shared during the staffing.
454 (10) CONSTRUCTION.—This section may not be construed to
455 mean that multidisciplinary team staffings coordinated by the
456 department or the appropriate lead agency for purposes other
457 than those provided for in subsection (5) before October 1,
458 2021, are no longer required to be conducted or are required to
459 be conducted in accordance with this section. Further, this
460 section may not be construed to create a duty on the department
461 or lead agency to attend multidisciplinary staffings that the
462 department or lead agency does not attend for any purpose
463 specified in subsection (5) for which the department or lead
464 agency is not required to attend before October 1, 2021.
465 (11) RULEMAKING.—The department shall adopt rules to
466 implement this section.
467 Section 6. Section 39.4023, Florida Statutes, is created to
469 39.4023 Placement and education transitions; transition
471 (1) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND INTENT.—
472 (a) The Legislature finds that many children in out-of-home
473 care experience multiple changes in placement, and those
474 transitions often result in trauma not only for the child but
475 also for caregivers, families, siblings, and all professionals
477 (b) The Legislature further finds that poorly planned and
478 executed or improperly timed transitions may adversely impact a
479 child’s healthy development as well as the child’s continuing
480 capacity to trust, attach to others, and build relationships in
481 the future.
482 (c) The Legislature finds that the best child welfare
483 practices recognize the need to prioritize the minimization of
484 the number of placements for every child in out-of-home care.
485 Further, the Legislature finds that efforts must be made to
486 support caregivers in order to promote stability. When placement
487 changes are necessary, they must be thoughtfully planned.
488 (d) The Legislature finds that transition plans are
489 critical when moving all children, including infants, toddlers,
490 school-age children, adolescents, and young adults.
491 (e) It is the intent of the Legislature that a placement
492 change or an educational change for a child in out-of-home care
493 be achieved ideally through a period of transition that is
494 unique to each child, provides support for all individuals
495 affected by the change, and has flexible planning to allow for
496 changes necessary to meet the needs of the child.
497 (2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:
498 (a) “Educational change” means any time a child is moved
499 between schools when such move is not the result of the natural
500 transition from elementary school to middle school or middle
501 school to high school. The term also includes changes in child
502 care or early education programs for infants and toddlers.
503 (b) “Emergency situation” means that there is an imminent
504 risk to the health or safety of the child, other children, or
505 others in the home or facility if the child remains in the
507 (c) “Placement change” means any time a child is moved from
508 one caregiver to another, including moves to a foster home, a
509 group home, relatives, prospective guardians, or prospective
510 adoptive parents and reunification with parents or legal
511 custodian. A child being moved temporarily to respite care for
512 the purpose of providing the primary caregiver relief does not
513 constitute a placement change.
514 (d) “School” means any child care, early education,
515 elementary, secondary, or postsecondary educational setting.
516 (3) PLACEMENT TRANSITIONS.—
517 (a) Mandatory transition plans.—Except as otherwise
518 provided, the department or the community-based care lead agency
519 shall create and implement an individualized transition plan
520 before each placement change experienced by a child.
521 (b) Minimizing placement transitions.—Once a caregiver
522 accepts the responsibility of caring for a child, the child may
523 be removed from the home of the caregiver only if:
524 1. The caregiver is unwilling or unable to safely or
525 legally care for the child;
526 2. The child and the birth or legal parent are reunified;
527 3. The child is being placed in a legally permanent home in
528 accordance with a case plan or court order; or
529 4. The removal is demonstrably in the best interest of the
531 (c) Services to prevent disruption.—The community-based
532 care lead agency shall provide any supportive services deemed
533 necessary to a caregiver and a child if the child’s current out
534 of-home placement with the caregiver is in danger of needing
535 modification. The supportive services must be offered in an
536 effort to remedy the factors contributing to the placement being
537 considered unsuitable and therefore contributing to the need for
538 a change in placement.
539 (d) Transition planning.—
540 1. If the supportive services provided pursuant to
541 paragraph (c) have not been successful to make the maintenance
542 of the placement suitable or if there are other circumstances
543 that require the child to be moved, the department or the
544 community-based care lead agency must convene a
545 multidisciplinary team staffing as required under s. 39.4022
546 before the child’s placement is changed, or within 72 hours of
547 moving the child in an emergency situation, for the purpose of
548 developing an appropriate transition plan.
549 2. A placement change may occur immediately in an emergency
550 situation without a convening a multidisciplinary team staffing.
551 However, a multidisciplinary team staffing must be held within
552 72 hours after the emergency situation arises.
553 3. At least 14 days before moving a child from one out-of
554 home placement to another or within 72 hours after an emergency
555 situation, the department or the community-based care lead
556 agency must provide written notice of the planned move and must
557 include in the notice the reason a placement change is
558 necessary. A copy of the notice must be filed with the court and
559 be provided to:
560 a. The child, unless he or she, due to age or capacity, is
561 unable to comprehend the written notice, which will necessitate
562 the department or lead agency to provide notice in an age- and
563 capacity-appropriate alternative manner;
564 b. The child’s parents, unless prohibited by court order;
565 c. The child’s out-of-home caregiver;
566 d. The guardian ad litem, if one is appointed;
567 e. The attorney for the child, if one is appointed; and
568 f. The attorney for the department.
569 4.a. The transition plan must be developed through
570 cooperation among the persons included in subparagraph 3., and
571 such persons must share any relevant information necessary to
572 ensure that the transition plan does all of the following:
573 (I) Respects the child’s developmental stage and
574 psychological needs.
575 (II) Ensures the child has all of his or her belongings and
576 is allowed to help pack those belongings when appropriate.
577 (III) Allows for a gradual transition from the current
578 caregiver’s home with substantial overlap between the two
579 caregivers and provides time for the child to have a final
580 visitation with everyone important to the child from the current
581 placement, including pets.
582 (IV) Allows, when possible, for continued contact with the
583 previous caregiver and others in the home after the child
585 (V) Prohibits a placement change which occurs between 7
586 p.m. and 8 a.m.
587 b. However, this subparagraph is not applicable when the
588 basis for a removal necessitating the transition plan is the
589 result of an emergency situation due to direct safety concerns
590 caused by a caregiver in the current placement.
591 5. The department or the community-based care lead agency
592 shall file the transition plan with the court within 48 hours
593 after the creation of such plan and provide a copy of the plan
594 to the persons included in subparagraph 3.
595 (e) Additional considerations for transitions of infants
596 and children under school age.—Relationship patterns over the
597 first year of life are important predictors of future
598 relationships. Research demonstrates that babies begin to form a
599 strong attachment to a caregiver at approximately 7 months of
600 age. From that period of time through age 2, moving a child from
601 a caregiver who is the psychological parent is considerably more
602 damaging. Placement decisions must focus on promoting security
603 and continuity for infants and children under 5 years of age in
604 out-of-home care. Transition plans for infants and young
605 children must describe the facts that were considered when each
606 of the following were discussed and must specify what decision
607 was made as to how each of the following applies to the child:
608 1. The age of the child and the child’s current ability to
609 accomplish developmental tasks, with consideration made for
610 whether the child is:
611 a. Six months of age or younger, thereby indicating that it
612 may be in the child’s best interest to move the child sooner
613 rather than later; or
614 b. Seven months of age or older, but younger than 3 years
615 of age, thereby indicating it may not be a healthy time to move
616 the child.
617 2. The length of time the child has lived with the current
618 caregiver, the strength of attachment to the current caregiver,
619 and the harm of disrupting a healthy attachment compared to the
620 possible advantage of a change in placement.
621 3. The relationship, if any, the child has with the new
622 caregiver and whether a reciprocal agreement exists between the
623 current caregiver and the prospective caregiver to maintain the
624 child’s relationship with both caregivers.
625 4. The pace of the transition and whether flexibility
626 exists to accelerate or slow down the transition based on the
627 child’s needs and reactions.
628 (f) Preparation of prospective caregivers before
630 1. Prospective caregivers must be fully informed of the
631 child’s needs and circumstances and be willing and able to
632 accept responsibility for providing high-quality care for such
633 needs and circumstances before placement.
634 2. The community-based care lead agency shall review with
635 the prospective caregiver the caregiver’s roles and
636 responsibilities according to the parenting partnerships plan
637 for children in out-of-home care pursuant to s. 409.1415. The
638 case manager shall sign a copy of the parenting partnerships
639 plan and obtain the signature of the prospective caregiver
640 acknowledging explanation of the requirements before placement.
641 (4) EDUCATION TRANSITIONS.—
642 (a) Findings.—Children in out-of-home care frequently
643 change child care, early education programs, and schools. These
644 changes can occur when the child first enters out-of-home care,
645 when the child must move from one caregiver to another, or when
646 the child returns home upon reunification. Research shows that
647 children who change schools frequently make less academic
648 progress than their peers and fall further behind with each
649 school change. Additionally, educational instability at any
650 level makes it difficult for children to develop supportive
651 relationships with teachers or peers. State and federal law
652 contain requirements that must be adhered to in order to ensure
653 educational stability for a child in out-of-home care. A child’s
654 educational setting should only be changed when maintaining the
655 educational setting is not in the best interest of the child.
656 (b) Mandatory educational transition plans.—The department
657 or the community-based care lead agency shall create and
658 implement an individualized transition plan each time a child
659 experiences a school change.
660 (c) Minimizing school changes.—
661 1. Every effort must be made to keep a child in the school
662 of origin. Any placement decision must include thoughtful
663 consideration of which school a child will attend if a school
664 change is necessary.
665 2. A determination that it is not the child’s best interest
666 to remain in the school of origin and of which school the child
667 will attend in the future must be made in consultation with the
668 following individuals, including, but not limited to, the child;
669 the parents; the caregiver; the child welfare professional; the
670 guardian ad litem, if appointed; the educational surrogate, if
671 appointed; child care and educational staff, including teachers
672 and guidance counselors; and the school district representative
673 or foster care liaison.
674 3. If a determination is made that remaining in the school
675 or program of origin is not in the child’s best interest,
676 selection of a new school or program must consider relevant
677 factors, including, but not limited to:
678 a. The child’s desire to remain in the school or program of
680 b. The preference of the child’s parents or legal
682 c. Whether the child has siblings, close friends, or
683 mentors at the school or program of origin.
684 d. The child’s cultural and community connections in the
685 school or program of origin.
686 e. Whether the child is suspected of having a disability
687 under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or
688 s. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, or has begun receiving
689 interventions under this state’s multitiered system of supports.
690 f. Whether the child has an evaluation pending for special
691 education and related services under IDEA or s. 504 of the
692 Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
693 g. Whether the child is a student with a disability under
694 IDEA who is receiving special education and related services or
695 a student with a disability under s. 504 of the Rehabilitation
696 Act of 1973 who is receiving accommodations and services and, if
697 so, whether those required services are available in a school or
698 program other than the school or program of origin.
699 h. Whether the child is an English Language Learner student
700 and is receiving language services, and if so, whether those
701 required services are available in a school or program other
702 than the school or program of origin.
703 i. The impact a change to the school or program of origin
704 would have on academic credits and progress toward promotion.
705 j. The availability of extracurricular activities important
706 to the child.
707 k. The child’s known individualized educational plan or
708 other medical and behavioral health needs and whether such plan
709 or needs are able to be met at a school or program other than
710 the school or program of origin.
711 l. The child’s permanency goal and timeframe for achieving
713 m. The child’s history of school transfers and how such
714 transfers have impacted the child academically, emotionally, and
716 n. The length of the commute to the school or program from
717 the child’s home or placement and how such commute would impact
718 the child.
719 o. The length of time the child has attended the school or
720 program of origin.
721 4. The cost of transportation cannot be a factor in making
722 a best interest determination.
723 (d) Transitions between child care and early education
724 programs.—When a child enters out-of-home care or undergoes a
725 placement change, the child shall, if possible, remain with a
726 familiar child care provider or early education program unless
727 there is an opportunity to transition to a higher quality
728 program. If it is not possible for the child to remain with the
729 familiar child care provider or early education program or
730 transition to a higher quality program, the child’s transition
731 plan must be made with the participation of the child’s current
732 and future school or program. The plan must give the child an
733 opportunity to say goodbye to important figures in the
734 educational environment.
735 (e) Transitions between K-12 schools.—The transition plan
736 for a transition between K-12 schools must include all of the
738 1. Documentation that the department or community-based
739 care lead agency has made the decision to change the child’s
740 school in accordance with paragraph (c). The plan must include a
741 detailed discussion of all factors considered in reaching the
742 decision to change the child’s school.
743 2. Documentation that the department or community-based
744 care lead agency has coordinated with local educational agencies
745 to provide immediate and appropriate enrollment in a new school,
746 including transfer of educational records, any record of a
747 school-entry health examination, and arrangements for
748 transportation to the new school.
749 3. Discussion of the timing of the proposed school change
750 which addresses the potential impact on the child’s education
751 and extracurricular activities. This section must include, at a
752 minimum, grading periods, exam schedules, credit acquisitions,
753 sports eligibility, and extracurricular participation.
754 4. Details concerning the transportation of the child to
756 (5) TRANSITION PLAN AND DOCUMENTATION.—
757 (a) The department, in collaboration with the Quality
758 Parenting Initiative, shall develop a form to be completed and
759 updated each time a child in out-of-home care is moved from one
760 placement to another.
761 (b) A completed form must be attached to the case record
762 face sheet required to be included in the case file pursuant to
763 s. 39.00146. The form must be used statewide and, at a minimum,
764 must include all of the following information:
765 1. The membership of the multidisciplinary team staffing
766 convened under s. 39.4022 to develop a transition plan for the
767 change in placement and the dates on which the team met.
768 2. The name of the person who served as the facilitator in
769 that specific multidisciplinary team staffing.
770 3. The topics considered by the multidisciplinary team
771 staffing in order to ensure an appropriate transition.
772 4. The recommendations of the multidisciplinary team and
773 the name of each individual or entity responsible for carrying
774 out each recommendation.
775 (c) The department or the community-based care lead agency
776 shall document all multidisciplinary team staffings and
777 placement transition decisions in the Florida Safe Families
778 Network and must include the information in the social study
779 report for judicial review, as required under s. 39.701.
780 (6) EXEMPTION.—Placements made pursuant to s. 63.082(6) are
781 exempt from this section.
782 (7) RULEMAKING.—The department shall adopt rules to
783 implement this section.
784 Section 7. Section 39.4024, Florida Statutes, is created to
786 39.4024 Placement of siblings; visitation; continuing
788 (1) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS.—
789 (a) The Legislature finds that sibling relationships can
790 provide a significant source of continuity throughout a child’s
791 life and are likely to be the longest relationships that most
792 individuals experience. Further, the placement of siblings
793 together can increase the likelihood of achieving permanency and
794 is associated with a significantly higher rate of family
796 (b) The Legislature finds that it is beneficial for a child
797 who is placed in out-of-home care to be able to continue
798 existing relationships with his or her siblings, regardless of
799 age, so that they may share their strengths and association in
800 their everyday and often common experiences.
801 (c) The Legislature also finds that healthy connections
802 with siblings can serve as a protective factor for children who
803 have been placed in out-of-home care. The Legislature finds that
804 child protective investigators and caseworkers should be aware
805 of the variety of demographic and external situational factors
806 that may present challenges to placement in order to identify
807 such factors relevant to a particular group of siblings and
808 ensure that these factors are not the sole reasons that siblings
809 are not placed together.
810 (d) The Legislature also finds that it is the
811 responsibility of all entities and adults involved in a child’s
812 life, including, but not limited to, the department, community
813 based care lead agencies, parents, foster parents, guardians ad
814 litem, next of kin, and other persons important to the child to
815 seek opportunities to foster sibling relationships to promote
816 continuity and help sustain family connections.
817 (e) While there is a presumption in law and policy that it
818 is in the best interest of a child going into out-of-home care
819 to be placed with any siblings, the Legislature finds that
820 overall well-being of the child and family improves when the
821 person or team responsible for placement decisions evaluates the
822 child’s sibling and family bonds and prioritizes the bonds that
823 are unique drivers of the child’s ability to maintain and
824 develop healthy relationships. The person or team with an
825 understanding of the need to balance all attachment bonds of a
826 child and the potential need to prioritize existing and healthy
827 sibling relationships differently than a potential or unhealthy
828 sibling relationship over a healthy existing bond with a
829 caregiver will result in more stable and healthier placements
830 for all children in out-of-home care.
831 (2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:
832 (a) “Lead agency” means a community-based care lead agency
833 under contract with the department to provide care to children
834 in foster care under chapter 409.
835 (b) “Multidisciplinary team” has the same meaning as
836 provided in s. 39.4022.
837 (c) “Sibling” means:
838 1. A child who shares a birth parent or legal parent with
839 one or more other children; or
840 2. A child who has lived together in a family with one or
841 more other children whom he or she identifies as siblings.
842 (3) PLACEMENT OF SIBLINGS IN OUT-OF-HOME CARE.—
843 (a) General provisions.—
844 1. The department or lead agency shall make reasonable
845 efforts to place sibling groups that are removed from their home
846 in the same foster, kinship, adoptive, or guardianship home when
847 it is in the best interest of each sibling and when an
848 appropriate, capable, and willing joint placement for the
849 sibling group is available.
850 2. If a child enters out-of-home care after his or her
851 sibling, the department or lead agency and the multidisciplinary
852 team shall make reasonable efforts to initially place the child
853 who has entered out-of-home care with his or her siblings in the
854 sibling’s existing placement, provided it would not jeopardize
855 the stability of such placement and it is in the best interest
856 for each child.
857 3. When determining whether to move a child from a current
858 placement to a new placement when such change is initiated by a
859 sibling relationship, all relevant factors must be considered by
860 the multidisciplinary team to ensure that the child is best
861 served by the decision. A uniform policy that does not consider
862 and apply a balancing test to ensure all existing attachment
863 bonds for a child and his or her siblings are honored and
864 evaluated holistically may result in placement decisions or
865 changes of placement decisions that may result in additional
867 4. The department and the court are not required to make a
868 change in placement, whether such change is to the physical
869 residential address of the child or the legal custody of the
870 child, to develop a relationship between siblings which did not
871 exist at the time a child is placed in out-of-home care.
872 (b) Factors to consider when placing sibling groups.—
873 1. At the time a child who is a part of a sibling group is
874 removed from the home, the department or lead agency shall
875 convene a multidisciplinary team staffing in accordance with s.
876 39.4022 to determine and assess the sibling relationships from
877 the perspective of each child to ensure the best placement of
878 each child in the sibling group. The multidisciplinary team
879 shall consider all relevant factors included in s. 39.4022 and
880 this section, including, but not limited to, the existing
881 emotional ties between and among the siblings, the degree of
882 harm each child is likely to experience as a result of
883 separation, and the standard protocols established by the
884 Quality Parenting Initiative under paragraph (d).
885 2.a. If the department or the appropriate lead agency is
886 able to locate a caregiver that will accept the sibling group
887 and the multidisciplinary team determines that the placement is
888 suitable for each child, the sibling group must be placed
890 b. If the department or appropriate lead agency is not able
891 to locate a caregiver or placement option that allows the
892 sibling group to be placed together in an initial placement, the
893 department or lead agency must make all reasonable efforts to
894 ensure contact and visitation between siblings placed in
895 separate out-of-home care placements and provide reviews of the
896 placements in accordance with this section.
897 3. If all the siblings are unable to be placed in an
898 existing placement and the siblings do not have an existing
899 relationship, when determining whether to move any child who is
900 part of the sibling group from his or her current placement to a
901 new placement that will unite the sibling group, the department
902 or lead agency must consider all of the following additional
904 a. The presence and quality of current attachment
905 relationships, including:
906 (I) The quality and length of the attachment of the child
907 to both the current and prospective caregiver;
908 (II) The age of the child at placement with the current
909 caregiver and the child’s current age as well as the ages of any
911 (III) The ease with which the child formed an attachment to
912 the current family;
913 (IV) Any indications of attachment difficulty in the
914 child’s history; and
915 (V) The number of moves and number of caregivers the child
916 has experienced.
917 b. The potential of the new caregiver to be a primary
918 attachment figure to the sibling group by ensuring care for each
919 child’s physical needs and the willingness and availability to
920 meet the each child’s emotional needs.
921 c. The quality of existing sibling relationships and the
922 potential quality of sibling relationships that can be formed
923 between the children.
924 d. The consideration of any costs and benefits of
925 disrupting existing emotional attachments to a primary caregiver
926 to place children in a new placement with siblings, including:
927 (I) The length and quality of the established and current
928 primary attachment relationships between the siblings and
929 between the siblings and their current caregivers; and
930 (II) Relationships between any other siblings and whether
931 such relationships appear adequate and not stressful or harmful.
932 e. The ability to establish and maintain sibling visitation
933 and contact pursuant to this section in a manner and schedule
934 that makes sense for an infant or young child if it is
935 determined that the infant or young child is to remain with his
936 or her primary caregivers rather than be placed with his or her
938 f. The ability to establish and maintain contact with the
939 sibling and new caregiver as part of a transition plan developed
940 in accordance with paragraph (c) and s. 39.4023 before changing
941 the child’s placement to allow the child, his or her siblings,
942 and new caregiver to adjust and form bonds.
943 (c) Transitioning a child after a determination.—If after
944 considering the provisions and factors described in paragraphs
945 (a) and (b) it is determined that the child would benefit from
946 being placed with his or her siblings, the transition of the
947 child to the new home must be carried out gradually in
948 accordance with s. 39.4023.
949 (d) Standards for evaluating sibling placements.—The
950 department, in collaboration with the Quality Parenting
951 Initiative, must develop standard protocols for the department
952 and lead agency which incorporate the provisions and factors
953 described in paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) and any other factors
954 deemed relevant for use in making decisions about when placing
955 siblings together would be contrary to a child’s well-being or
956 safety or decisions providing for frequent visitation and
957 contact under subsection (4).
958 (4) MAINTAINING CONTACT WHEN SIBLINGS ARE SEPARATED.—
959 (a) Regular contact among a sibling group that cannot be
960 placed together, especially among siblings with existing
961 attachments to each other, is critical for the siblings to
962 maintain their existing bonds and relationships or to develop
963 such bonds and attachments, if appropriate. The following
964 practices must be considered in helping to maintain or
965 strengthen the relationships of separated siblings:
966 1. Respect and support the child’s ties to his or her birth
967 or legal family, including parents, siblings, and extended
968 family members, must be provided by the caregiver, and he or she
969 must assist the child in maintaining allowable visitation and
970 other forms of communication. The department and lead agency
971 shall provide a caregiver with the information, guidance,
972 training, and support necessary for fulfilling this
974 2. Provide adequate support to address any caregiver
975 concerns and to enhance the caregiver’s ability to facilitate
976 contact between siblings who are not in the same out-of-home
977 placement and promote the benefits of sibling contact.
978 3. Prioritize placements with kinship caregivers who have
979 an established personal relationship with each child so that
980 even when siblings cannot be placed together in the same home,
981 kinship caregivers are more likely to facilitate contact.
982 4. Prioritize placement of siblings geographically near
983 each other, such as in the same neighborhood or school district,
984 to make it easier for the siblings to see each other regularly.
985 5. Encourage frequent and regular visitation, if the
986 siblings choose to do so, to allow the children to be actively
987 involved in each other’s lives and to participate in
988 celebrations, including, but not limited to, birthdays,
989 graduations, holidays, school and extracurricular activities,
990 cultural customs, and other milestones.
991 6. Provide other forms of contact when regular in-person
992 meetings are not possible or are not sufficient to meet the
993 needs or desires of the siblings, such as maintaining frequent
994 contact through letters, e-mail, social media, cards, or
995 telephone calls.
996 7. Coordinate, when possible, joint outings or summer or
997 weekend camp experiences to facilitate time together, including,
998 but not limited to, activities or camps specifically designed
999 for siblings in out-of-home care.
1000 8. Encourage joint respite care to assist the caregivers
1001 who are caring for separated siblings to have needed breaks
1002 while also facilitating contact among the siblings, including,
1003 but not limited to, providing babysitting or respite care for
1004 each other. A child being moved temporarily as respite care for
1005 the purpose of providing the primary caregiver relief and
1006 encouraging and facilitating contact among the siblings does not
1007 constitute a placement change or require the convening of a
1008 multidisciplinary team.
1009 9. Prohibit the withholding communication or visitation
1010 among the siblings as a form of punishment.
1011 (b) The court may limit or restrict communication or
1012 visitation under this subsection only upon a finding by clear
1013 and convincing evidence that the communication or visitation is
1014 harmful to the child. If the court makes such a finding, it must
1015 direct the department or lead agency to immediately provide
1016 services to ameliorate the harm so that communication and
1017 visitation may be restored as soon as possible.
1018 (5) SUBSEQUENT REVIEWS.—
1019 (a) The department and the lead agency shall periodically,
1020 but at least once every 6 months, reassess sibling placement,
1021 visitation, and other sibling contact decisions in cases where
1022 siblings are separated, not visiting, or not maintaining contact
1023 to determine if a change in placement is warranted unless the
1024 decision to not place a child with his or her sibling group was
1025 made due to such placement being inappropriate, unhealthy, or
1026 unsafe for the child.
1027 (b) If a child in a sibling group who has been placed in an
1028 out-of-home care placement with his or her siblings does not
1029 adjust to the placement, the lead agency must provide services
1030 to the caregiver and sibling group in accordance with s.
1031 39.4023(3) to try to prevent the disruption of the placement. If
1032 after reasonable efforts are made under s. 39.4023(3), the child
1033 still has not adjusted to the out-of-home placement, a
1034 multidisciplinary team staffing must be convened to determine
1035 what is best for all of the children. The multidisciplinary team
1036 shall review the current placement of the sibling group and
1037 choose a plan that will be least detrimental to each child. If
1038 the team determines that the best decision is to move the child
1039 who has not adjusted to a new out-of-home placement, the team
1040 must develop a transition plan in accordance with ss. 39.4022
1041 and 39.4023 which ensures the opportunity for the siblings to
1042 maintain contact in accordance with subsection (4) of this
1044 (c) If it becomes known that a child in out-of-home care
1045 has a sibling of whom the child, department, or lead agency was
1046 previously unaware, the department or lead agency must convene a
1047 multidisciplinary team staffing within a reasonable amount of
1048 time after the discovery of such sibling to decide if the
1049 current placement or permanency plan requires modification.
1050 (6) ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS AND CONSIDERATIONS.—
1051 (a) The department shall promptly provide a child with the
1052 location of and contact information for his or her siblings. If
1053 the existence or location of or contact information for a
1054 child’s siblings is not known, the department must make
1055 reasonable efforts to ascertain such information.
1056 (b) If a child’s sibling is also in out-of-home care and
1057 such sibling leaves out-of-home care for any reason, including,
1058 but not limited to, emancipation, adoption, or reunification
1059 with his or her parent or guardian, the child has a right to
1060 continued communication with his or her sibling as provided
1061 under subsection (4) either:
1062 1. Upon consent by the legally emancipated sibling, the
1063 sibling’s adoptive parent, or the parent with whom the sibling
1064 was reunified; or
1065 2. By order of the court that is considering the adoption
1066 or reunification of the sibling who is leaving out-of-home care,
1067 provided the court determines that such communication is in the
1068 best interest of each sibling.
1069 (c) The department or the lead agency must document in
1070 writing any decision to separate siblings in the case file as
1071 required in s. 39.00146 and document the decision in the Florida
1072 Safe Families Network. The documentation must include any
1073 efforts made to keep the siblings together, an assessment of the
1074 short-term and long-term effects of separation on each child and
1075 the sibling group as a whole, and a description of the plan for
1076 communication or contact between the children if separation is
1078 (7) EXEMPTION.—Placements made pursuant to s. 63.082(6) are
1079 exempt from this section.
1080 (8) RULEMAKING AUTHORITY.—The department shall adopt rules
1081 to implement this section.
1082 Section 8. Section 39.522, Florida Statutes, is amended to
1084 39.522 Postdisposition change of custody.—
1085 (1) The court may change the temporary legal custody or the
1086 conditions of protective supervision at a postdisposition
1087 hearing, without the necessity of another adjudicatory hearing.
1088 (2)(a) (1) (a) At any time before a child is residing in the
1089 permanent placement approved at the permanency hearing, a child
1090 who has been placed in the child’s own home under the protective
1091 supervision of an authorized agent of the department, in the
1092 home of a relative, in the home of a legal custodian, or in some
1093 other place may be brought before the court by the department or
1094 by any other interested person, upon the filing of a motion
1095 alleging a need for a change in the conditions of protective
1096 supervision or the placement. If any party or the current
1097 caregiver denies the parents or other legal custodi ans deny the
1098 need for a change, the court shall hear all parties in person or
1099 by counsel, or both.
1100 (b) Upon the admission of a need for a change or after such
1101 hearing, the court shall enter an order changing the placement,
1102 modifying the conditions of protective supervision, or
1103 continuing the conditions of protective supervision as ordered.
1104 The standard for changing custody of the child shall be the best
1105 interests of the child. When determining whether a change of
1106 legal custody or placement is in the best interests of the
1107 child, the court shall consider the factors listed in s. 39.4022
1108 and the report filed by the multidisciplinary team, if
1109 applicable, unless the change of custody or placement is made
1110 pursuant to s. 63.082(6). The court shall also consider the
1111 priority of placements established under s. 39.4021 when making
1112 a decision regarding the best interest of the child in out-of
1113 home care :
1114 1. The child’s age.
1115 2. The physical, mental, and emotional health benefits to
1116 the child by remaining in his or her current placement or moving
1117 to the proposed placement.
1118 3. The stability and longevity of the child’s current
1120 4. The established bonded relationship between the child
1121 and the current or proposed caregiver.
1122 5. The reasonable preference of the child, if the court has
1123 found that the child is of sufficient intelligence,
1124 understanding, and experience to express a preference.
1125 6. The recommendation of the child’s current caregiver.
1126 7. The recommendation of the child’s guardian ad litem , if
1127 one has been appointed .
1128 8. The child’s previous and current relationship with a
1129 sibling, if the change of legal custody or placement will
1130 separate or reunite siblings.
1131 9. The likelihood of the child attaining permanency in the
1132 current or proposed placement.
1133 10. Any other relevant factors.
1134 (c) (b) If the child is not placed in foster care, the new
1135 placement for the child must meet the home study criteria and
1136 court approval under this chapter.
1137 (3)(a) For purposes of this subsection, the term “change in
1138 physical custody” means a change by the department or community
1139 based care lead agency to the child’s physical residential
1140 address, regardless of whether such change requires a court
1141 order to change the legal custody of the child. However, this
1142 term does not include a change in placement made pursuant to s.
1144 (b)1. In a hearing on the change of physical custody under
1145 this section, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that it is
1146 in the child’s best interest to remain permanently in his or her
1147 current physical placement if:
1148 a. The child has been in the same safe and stable placement
1149 for 9 consecutive months or more;
1150 b. Reunification is not a permanency option for the child;
1151 c. The caregiver is able, willing, and eligible for
1152 consideration as an adoptive parent or permanent custodian for
1153 the child;
1154 d. The caregiver is not requesting the change in physical
1155 placement; and
1156 e. The change in physical placement being sought is not to
1157 reunify the child with his or her parent or sibling or
1158 transition the child from a safe and stable nonrelative
1159 caregiver to a safe and stable relative caregiver.
1160 2. In order to rebut the presumption established in this
1161 paragraph, the court shall hold an evidentiary hearing on the
1162 change in physical custody to determine if the change in
1163 placement is in the best interest of the child. As part of the
1164 evidentiary hearing, the court must consider competent and
1165 substantial evidence and testimony related to the factors
1166 enumerated in s. 39.4022 and any other evidence deemed relevant
1167 to a determination of placement, including evidence from a
1168 court-selected neutral and independent expert in the science and
1169 research of child-parent bonding and attachment.
1170 3. This presumption may not be rebutted solely by the
1171 expressed wishes of a biological parent, a biological relative,
1172 or a caregiver of a sibling of the child.
1173 (c)1. The department or community-based care lead agency
1174 must notify a current caregiver who has been in the physical
1175 custody placement for at least 9 consecutive months and who
1176 meets all the established criteria in paragraph (b) of an intent
1177 to change the physical custody of the child, and a
1178 multidisciplinary team staffing must be held in accordance with
1179 ss. 39.4022 and 39.4023 at least 21 days before the intended
1180 date for the child’s change in physical custody. If there is not
1181 a unanimous consensus decision reached by the multidisciplinary
1182 team, the department’s official position must be provided to the
1183 parties within the designated time period as provided for in s.
1185 2. A caregiver who objects to the department’s official
1186 position on the change in physical custody must notify the court
1187 and the department or community-based care lead agency of his or
1188 her objection and the intent to request an evidentiary hearing
1189 in writing in accordance with this section within 5 days of
1190 receiving notice of the department’s official position provided
1191 under subparagraph 1. The transition of the child to the new
1192 caregiver may not begin before the expiration of the 5-day
1193 period within which the current caregiver may object.
1194 3. Upon the department or community-based care lead agency
1195 receiving written notice of the caregiver’s objection, the
1196 change to the child’s physical custody must be placed in
1197 abeyance and the child may not be transitioned to a new physical
1198 placement without a court order.
1199 4. Within 7 days after receiving written notice from the
1200 caregiver, the court must conduct an initial case status
1201 hearing, at which time the court must:
1202 a. Grant party status to the current caregiver who is
1203 seeking permanent custody and has maintained physical custody of
1204 that child for at least 9 continuous months;
1205 b. Appoint an attorney for the child who is the subject of
1206 the permanent custody proceeding, in addition to the guardian ad
1207 litem, if one is appointed;
1208 c. Advise the caregiver of his or her right to retain
1209 counsel for purposes of the evidentiary hearing; and
1210 d. Appoint a court-selected neutral and independent expert
1211 in the science and research of child-parent bonding and
1213 (d) The court must conduct the evidentiary hearing and
1214 provide a written order of its findings regarding the placement
1215 that is in the best interest of the child no later than 90 days
1216 from the date the caregiver provided written notice to the court
1217 under this subsection. The court must provide its written order
1218 to the department or community-based care lead agency, the
1219 caregiver, and the prospective caregiver. The party status
1220 granted to the current caregiver under sub-subparagraph (c)4.a.
1221 terminates upon the written order by the court, or upon the 90
1222 day time limit established in this paragraph, whichever occurs
1224 (e) If the court orders that the physical custody of the
1225 child change from the current caregiver after the evidentiary
1226 hearing, the department or community-based care lead agency must
1227 implement the appropriate transition plan developed in
1228 accordance with ss. 39.4022 and 39.4023 or as ordered by the
1231 ================= T I T L E A M E N D M E N T ================
1232 And the title is amended as follows:
1233 Delete lines 12 - 174
1234 and insert:
1235 monthly; providing requirements for the case record
1236 face sheet; authorizing the department to develop, or
1237 contract with a third party to develop, a case record
1238 face sheet; requiring community-based care lead
1239 agencies to use such face sheets; requiring the
1240 department to adopt rules; amending s. 39.401, F.S.;
1241 requiring the department to determine out-of-home
1242 placement based on priority of placements and other
1243 factors; amending s. 39.402, F.S.; requiring the
1244 department to make reasonable efforts to place a child
1245 in out-of-home care based on priority of placements;
1246 providing exceptions and other criteria; creating s.
1247 39.4021, F.S.; providing legislative findings;
1248 establishing certain placement priorities for out-of
1249 home placements; requiring the department or lead
1250 agency to place sibling groups together when possible
1251 if in the best interest of each child after
1252 considering specified factors; providing an exception;
1253 providing construction; creating s. 39.4022, F.S.;
1254 providing legislative intent; defining terms;
1255 requiring that multidisciplinary teams be established
1256 for certain purposes; providing goals for such teams;
1257 providing for membership of multidisciplinary team
1258 staffings; authorizing the department or lead agency
1259 to invite other participants to attend a team staffing
1260 under certain circumstances; providing requirements
1261 for multidisciplinary team staffings; requiring that
1262 team staffings be held when specified decisions
1263 regarding a child must be made; providing
1264 applicability; requiring team staffing participants to
1265 gather and consider data and information on the child
1266 before formulating a decision; providing for the use
1267 of an evidence-based assessment instrument or tool;
1268 requiring multidisciplinary teams to conduct
1269 supplemental assessments for certain children;
1270 requiring team participants to gather certain
1271 information related to the child for such supplemental
1272 assessments; requiring that a unanimous consensus
1273 decision reached by the team becomes the official
1274 position and that specified parties are bound by such
1275 consensus decision; providing procedures for when the
1276 team does not reach a consensus decision; requiring
1277 that the department to determine a suitable placement
1278 if the team cannot come to a consensus decision;
1279 requiring the formation of a team within specified
1280 timeframes; requiring the facilitator to file a report
1281 with the court within a specified timeframe if the
1282 team does not reach a consensus decision; providing
1283 requirements for the report; authorizing specified
1284 parties to discuss confidential information during a
1285 team staffing in the presence of participating
1286 individuals; providing that information collected by
1287 any agency or entity that participates in a staffing
1288 which is confidential and exempt upon collection
1289 remains confidential and exempt when discussed in
1290 staffings; requiring individuals who participate in a
1291 staffing to maintain the confidentiality of all
1292 information shared; providing construction; requiring
1293 the department to adopt rules; creating s. 39.4023,
1294 F.S.; providing legislative findings and intent;
1295 defining terms; providing for the creation of
1296 transition plans for specified changes in placement;
1297 providing conditions under which a child may be
1298 removed from a caregiver’s home; requiring community
1299 based care lead agencies to provide services to
1300 prevent a change in placement; requiring the
1301 department and a community-based care lead agency to
1302 convene a multidisciplinary team staffing to develop a
1303 transition plan under certain circumstances; requiring
1304 the department or community-based care lead agency to
1305 provide written notice of a planned placement change;
1306 providing requirements for the notice; providing
1307 applicability; requiring additional considerations for
1308 placement changes for infants and young children;
1309 providing findings; requiring the department or
1310 community-based care lead agency to create and
1311 implement individualized transition plans; specifying
1312 factors that must be considered when selecting a new
1313 school for a child; requiring children who enter out
1314 of-home care or undergo changes in placement to remain
1315 with familiar child care providers or early education
1316 programs, if possible; providing requirements for
1317 transition plans for transitions between K-12 schools;
1318 requiring the department, in collaboration with the
1319 Quality Parenting Initiative, to develop a form for a
1320 specified purpose; specifying requirements for the
1321 form; requiring the department and community-based
1322 care lead agencies to document multidisciplinary team
1323 staffings and placement transition decisions in the
1324 Florida Safe Families Network and include such
1325 information in the social study report for judicial
1326 review; providing an exemption; requiring the
1327 department to adopt rules; creating s. 39.4024, F.S.;
1328 providing legislative findings; defining terms;
1329 requiring the department or lead agency to make
1330 reasonable efforts to place siblings in the same
1331 foster, kinship, adoptive, or guardianship home when
1332 certain conditions are met; requiring the department
1333 or lead agency and multidisciplinary team to take
1334 certain actions when siblings are not placed together;
1335 specifying that the department and court are not
1336 required to make a placement or change in placement to
1337 develop certain sibling relationships; requiring the
1338 department or the lead agency to convene a
1339 multidisciplinary team staffing to determine and
1340 assess sibling relationships when a child is removed
1341 from a home; providing for the placement of sibling
1342 groups in certain circumstances; specifying factors
1343 for the multidisciplinary team to consider when
1344 determining placement or change of placement for
1345 children in sibling groups who do not have an existing
1346 relationship with siblings; requiring that a child’s
1347 transition to a new home be carried out gradually when
1348 it is determined that the child would benefit from
1349 being placed with siblings; requiring the department,
1350 in collaboration with the Quality Parenting
1351 Initiative, to develop standard protocols for the
1352 department and lead agency for use in making specified
1353 decisions about child placement; providing
1354 considerations for maintaining contact between
1355 siblings when separated; providing duties for
1356 caregivers; authorizing the court to limit and
1357 restrict communication and visitation upon a finding
1358 of clear and convincing evidence that such
1359 communication or visitation is harmful to the child;
1360 requiring the department and community-based care lead
1361 agencies to periodically reassess certain sibling
1362 placements in certain instances; requiring the
1363 department to provide certain services to prevent
1364 disruption in a placement when a child does not adjust
1365 to such placement; requiring that a multidisciplinary
1366 team staffing is convened when one child does not
1367 adjust to placement as a sibling group under certain
1368 conditions; requiring the team to review such
1369 placement and choose a plan least detrimental to each
1370 child; requiring that a multidisciplinary team be
1371 convened in certain circumstances where the department
1372 or child subsequently identifies a sibling; requiring
1373 the department to provide children with specified
1374 information relating to their siblings; requiring the
1375 department to make reasonable efforts to ascertain
1376 such information if it is not known; providing that a
1377 child has a right to continued communication with a
1378 sibling under certain circumstances; requiring the
1379 department and lead agencies to document in writing
1380 decisions to separate siblings in case files and the
1381 Florida Safe Families Network; specifying requirements
1382 for such documentation; providing an exemption;
1383 requiring the department to adopt rules; amending s.
1384 39.522, F.S.; deleting and relocating criteria for the
1385 court to consider when determining whether a legal
1386 change of custody is in the best interest of the
1387 child; conforming a provision to changes made by the
1388 act; defining the term “change in physical custody”;
1389 providing a rebuttable presumption that the best
1390 interest of a child is to remain in a current
1391 placement; providing applicability for such
1392 presumption; establishing the manner in which to rebut
1393 the presumption; requiring the department or lead
1394 agency to notify certain caregivers within a specified
1395 timeframe of the intent to change the physical custody
1396 of a child; requiring that a multidisciplinary team
1397 staffing be held within a specified timeframe before
1398 the intended date for the child’s change in physical
1399 custody; requiring that the department’s official
1400 position be provided to the parties under certain
1401 circumstances; requiring the caregiver to provide
1402 written notice of objection to such change in physical
1403 custody within a specified timeframe; requiring the
1404 court to conduct an initial case status hearing within
1405 a specified timeframe upon receiving specified written
1406 notice from a caregiver; providing procedures for when
1407 a caregiver objects to the child’s change in physical
1408 custody; requiring the court to conduct an initial
1409 case status hearing; requiring the court to conduct an
1410 evidentiary hearing; requiring the department or lead
1411 agency to implement an appropriate transition plan if
1412 the court orders a change in physical custody of the
1413 child; amending s.