Florida Senate - 2021                        COMMITTEE AMENDMENT
       Bill No. CS for SB 80
                              LEGISLATIVE ACTION                        
                    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
   17  section.
   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
   22  department.—
   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
   31  custodian.
   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
   37  child.
   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.
   43  39.4022 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.—
   59         (8)
   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
  135  read:
  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
  151  sibling.
  152         4. Fictive kin with a close existing relationship to the
  153  child.
  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
  161  39.4024.
  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
  168  read:
  169         39.4022 Multidisciplinary teams; staffings; assessments;
  170  report.—
  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
  192  adult.
  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
  198  child.
  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
  202  placement.
  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
  226  strategies;
  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
  278  applicable.
  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.
  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.
  310  39.4023.
  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
  340  history;
  341         c. Community ties and school placement;
  342         d. The stability and longevity of the child’s current
  343  placement;
  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.
  349  39.4024;
  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
  356  applicable;
  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.
  365  39.4023;
  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
  376  activities;
  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
  395  suitable.
  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
  468  read:
  469         39.4023 Placement and education transitions; transition
  470  plans.—
  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
  476  involved.
  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
  506  placement.
  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
  530  child.
  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
  584  leaves.
  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
  629  placement.
  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
  679  origin.
  680         b.The preference of the child’s parents or legal
  681  guardians.
  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
  712  permanency.
  713         m.The child’s history of school transfers and how such
  714  transfers have impacted the child academically, emotionally, and
  715  behaviorally.
  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
  737  following:
  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
  755  school.
  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
  785  read:
  786         39.4024 Placement of siblings; visitation; continuing
  787  contact.—
  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
  795  reunification.
  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 teamhas 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.
  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
  866  trauma.
  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
  889  together.
  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
  903  factors:
  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
  910  siblings;
  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
  937  siblings.
  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).
  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
  973  responsibility.
  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
 1043  section.
 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.
 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
 1077  approved.
 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
 1083  read:
 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 custodians 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
 1119  placement.
 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.
 1143  63.082(6).
 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.
 1184  39.4022.
 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
 1212  attachment.
 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
 1223  first.
 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
 1229  court.
 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.