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2021 Florida Statutes (Including 2021B Session)
Medical, psychiatric, and psychological examination and treatment of child; physical, mental, or substance abuse examination of person with or requesting child custody.
Medical, psychiatric, and psychological examination and treatment of child; physical, mental, or substance abuse examination of person with or requesting child custody.
39.407 Medical, psychiatric, and psychological examination and treatment of child; physical, mental, or substance abuse examination of person with or requesting child custody.—
(1) When any child is removed from the home and maintained in an out-of-home placement, the department is authorized to have a medical screening performed on the child without authorization from the court and without consent from a parent or legal custodian. Such medical screening shall be performed by a licensed health care professional and shall be to examine the child for injury, illness, and communicable diseases and to determine the need for immunization. The department shall by rule establish the invasiveness of the medical procedures authorized to be performed under this subsection. In no case does this subsection authorize the department to consent to medical treatment for such children.
(2) When the department has performed the medical screening authorized by subsection (1), or when it is otherwise determined by a licensed health care professional that a child who is in an out-of-home placement, but who has not been committed to the department, is in need of medical treatment, including the need for immunization, consent for medical treatment shall be obtained in the following manner:
(a)1. Consent to medical treatment shall be obtained from a parent or legal custodian of the child; or
2. A court order for such treatment shall be obtained.
(b) If a parent or legal custodian of the child is unavailable and his or her whereabouts cannot be reasonably ascertained, and it is after normal working hours so that a court order cannot reasonably be obtained, an authorized agent of the department shall have the authority to consent to necessary medical treatment, including immunization, for the child. The authority of the department to consent to medical treatment in this circumstance shall be limited to the time reasonably necessary to obtain court authorization.
(c) If a parent or legal custodian of the child is available but refuses to consent to the necessary treatment, including immunization, a court order shall be required unless the situation meets the definition of an emergency in s. 743.064 or the treatment needed is related to suspected abuse, abandonment, or neglect of the child by a parent, caregiver, or legal custodian. In such case, the department shall have the authority to consent to necessary medical treatment. This authority is limited to the time reasonably necessary to obtain court authorization.
In no case shall the department consent to sterilization, abortion, or termination of life support.
(3)(a)1. Except as otherwise provided in subparagraph (b)1. or paragraph (e), before the department provides psychotropic medications to a child in its custody, the prescribing physician or a psychiatric nurse, as defined in s. 394.455, shall attempt to obtain express and informed consent, as defined in s. 394.455(16) and as described in s. 394.459(3)(a), from the child’s parent or legal guardian. The department must take steps necessary to facilitate the inclusion of the parent in the child’s consultation with the physician or psychiatric nurse, as defined in s. 394.455. However, if the parental rights of the parent have been terminated, the parent’s location or identity is unknown or cannot reasonably be ascertained, or the parent declines to give express and informed consent, the department may, after consultation with the prescribing physician or psychiatric nurse, as defined in s. 394.455, seek court authorization to provide the psychotropic medications to the child. Unless parental rights have been terminated and if it is possible to do so, the department shall continue to involve the parent in the decisionmaking process regarding the provision of psychotropic medications. If, at any time, a parent whose parental rights have not been terminated provides express and informed consent to the provision of a psychotropic medication, the requirements of this section that the department seek court authorization do not apply to that medication until such time as the parent no longer consents.
2. Any time the department seeks a medical evaluation to determine the need to initiate or continue a psychotropic medication for a child, the department must provide to the evaluating physician or psychiatric nurse, as defined in s. 394.455, all pertinent medical information known to the department concerning that child.
(b)1. If a child who is removed from the home under s. 39.401 is receiving prescribed psychotropic medication at the time of removal and parental authorization to continue providing the medication cannot be obtained, the department may take possession of the remaining medication and may continue to provide the medication as prescribed until the shelter hearing, if it is determined that the medication is a current prescription for that child and the medication is in its original container.
2. If the department continues to provide the psychotropic medication to a child when parental authorization cannot be obtained, the department shall notify the parent or legal guardian as soon as possible that the medication is being provided to the child as provided in subparagraph 1. The child’s official departmental record must include the reason parental authorization was not initially obtained and an explanation of why the medication is necessary for the child’s well-being.
3. If the department is advised by a physician licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459 or a psychiatric nurse, as defined in s. 394.455, that the child should continue the psychotropic medication and parental authorization has not been obtained, the department shall request court authorization at the shelter hearing to continue to provide the psychotropic medication and shall provide to the court any information in its possession in support of the request. Any authorization granted at the shelter hearing may extend only until the arraignment hearing on the petition for adjudication of dependency or 28 days following the date of removal, whichever occurs sooner.
4. Before filing the dependency petition, the department shall ensure that the child is evaluated by a physician licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459 or a psychiatric nurse, as defined in s. 394.455, to determine whether it is appropriate to continue the psychotropic medication. If, as a result of the evaluation, the department seeks court authorization to continue the psychotropic medication, a motion for such continued authorization shall be filed at the same time as the dependency petition, within 21 days after the shelter hearing.
(c) Except as provided in paragraphs (b) and (e), the department must file a motion seeking the court’s authorization to initially provide or continue to provide psychotropic medication to a child in its legal custody. The motion must be supported by a written report prepared by the department which describes the efforts made to enable the prescribing physician or psychiatric nurse, as defined in s. 394.455, to obtain express and informed consent for providing the medication to the child and other treatments considered or recommended for the child. In addition, the motion must be supported by the prescribing physician’s or psychiatric nurse’s signed medical report providing:
1. The name of the child, the name and range of the dosage of the psychotropic medication, and that there is a need to prescribe psychotropic medication to the child based upon a diagnosed condition for which such medication is being prescribed.
2. A statement indicating that the physician or psychiatric nurse, as defined in s. 394.455, has reviewed all medical information concerning the child which has been provided.
3. A statement indicating that the psychotropic medication, at its prescribed dosage, is appropriate for treating the child’s diagnosed medical condition, as well as the behaviors and symptoms the medication, at its prescribed dosage, is expected to address.
4. An explanation of the nature and purpose of the treatment; the recognized side effects, risks, and contraindications of the medication; drug-interaction precautions; the possible effects of stopping the medication; and how the treatment will be monitored, followed by a statement indicating that this explanation was provided to the child if age appropriate and to the child’s caregiver.
5. Documentation addressing whether the psychotropic medication will replace or supplement any other currently prescribed medications or treatments; the length of time the child is expected to be taking the medication; and any additional medical, mental health, behavioral, counseling, or other services that the prescribing physician or psychiatric nurse, as defined in s. 394.455, recommends.
(d)1. The department must notify all parties of the proposed action taken under paragraph (c) in writing or by whatever other method best ensures that all parties receive notification of the proposed action within 48 hours after the motion is filed. If any party objects to the department’s motion, that party shall file the objection within 2 working days after being notified of the department’s motion. If any party files an objection to the authorization of the proposed psychotropic medication, the court shall hold a hearing as soon as possible before authorizing the department to initially provide or to continue providing psychotropic medication to a child in the legal custody of the department. At such hearing and notwithstanding s. 90.803, the medical report described in paragraph (c) is admissible in evidence. The prescribing physician or psychiatric nurse, as defined in s. 394.455, does not need to attend the hearing or testify unless the court specifically orders such attendance or testimony, or a party subpoenas the physician or psychiatric nurse, as defined in s. 394.455, to attend the hearing or provide testimony. If, after considering any testimony received, the court finds that the department’s motion and the physician’s or the psychiatric nurse’s medical report meet the requirements of this subsection and that it is in the child’s best interests, the court may order that the department provide or continue to provide the psychotropic medication to the child without additional testimony or evidence. At any hearing held under this paragraph, the court shall further inquire of the department as to whether additional medical, mental health, behavioral, counseling, or other services are being provided to the child by the department which the prescribing physician or psychiatric nurse, as defined in s. 394.455, considers to be necessary or beneficial in treating the child’s medical condition and which the physician or psychiatric nurse, as defined in s. 394.455, recommends or expects to provide to the child in concert with the medication. The court may order additional medical consultation, including consultation with the MedConsult line at the University of Florida, if available, or require the department to obtain a second opinion within a reasonable timeframe as established by the court, not to exceed 21 calendar days, after such order based upon consideration of the best interests of the child. The department must make a referral for an appointment for a second opinion with a physician or psychiatric nurse, as defined in s. 394.455, within 1 working day. The court may not order the discontinuation of prescribed psychotropic medication if such order is contrary to the decision of the prescribing physician or psychiatric nurse, as defined in s. 394.455, unless the court first obtains an opinion from a licensed psychiatrist, if available, or, if not available, a physician licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459, stating that more likely than not, discontinuing the medication would not cause significant harm to the child. If, however, the prescribing psychiatrist specializes in mental health care for children and adolescents, the court may not order the discontinuation of prescribed psychotropic medication unless the required opinion is also from a psychiatrist who specializes in mental health care for children and adolescents. The court may also order the discontinuation of prescribed psychotropic medication if a child’s treating physician, licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459, or psychiatric nurse, as defined in s. 394.455, states that continuing the prescribed psychotropic medication would cause significant harm to the child due to a diagnosed nonpsychiatric medical condition.
2. The burden of proof at any hearing held under this paragraph shall be by a preponderance of the evidence.
(e)1. If the child’s prescribing physician or psychiatric nurse, as defined in s. 394.455, certifies in the signed medical report required in paragraph (c) that delay in providing a prescribed psychotropic medication would more likely than not cause significant harm to the child, the medication may be provided in advance of the issuance of a court order. In such event, the medical report must provide the specific reasons why the child may experience significant harm and the nature and the extent of the potential harm. The department must submit a motion seeking continuation of the medication and the physician’s or psychiatric nurse’s medical report to the court, the child’s guardian ad litem, and all other parties within 3 working days after the department commences providing the medication to the child. The department shall seek the order at the next regularly scheduled court hearing required under this chapter, or within 30 days after the date of the prescription, whichever occurs sooner. If any party objects to the department’s motion, the court shall hold a hearing within 7 days.
2. Psychotropic medications may be administered in advance of a court order in hospitals, crisis stabilization units, and in statewide inpatient psychiatric programs. Within 3 working days after the medication is begun, the department must seek court authorization as described in paragraph (c).
(f)1. The department shall fully inform the court of the child’s medical and behavioral status as part of the social services report prepared for each judicial review hearing held for a child for whom psychotropic medication has been prescribed or provided under this subsection. As a part of the information provided to the court, the department shall furnish copies of all pertinent medical records concerning the child which have been generated since the previous hearing. On its own motion or on good cause shown by any party, including any guardian ad litem, attorney, or attorney ad litem who has been appointed to represent the child or the child’s interests, the court may review the status more frequently than required in this subsection.
2. The court may, in the best interests of the child, order the department to obtain a medical opinion addressing whether the continued use of the medication under the circumstances is safe and medically appropriate.
(g) The department shall adopt rules to ensure that children receive timely access to clinically appropriate psychotropic medications. These rules must include, but need not be limited to, the process for determining which adjunctive services are needed, the uniform process for facilitating the prescribing physician’s or psychiatric nurse’s ability to obtain the express and informed consent of a child’s parent or guardian, the procedures for obtaining court authorization for the provision of a psychotropic medication, the frequency of medical monitoring and reporting on the status of the child to the court, how the child’s parents will be involved in the treatment-planning process if their parental rights have not been terminated, and how caretakers are to be provided information contained in the physician’s or psychiatric nurse’s signed medical report. The rules must also include uniform forms to be used in requesting court authorization for the use of a psychotropic medication and provide for the integration of each child’s treatment plan and case plan. The department must begin the formal rulemaking process within 90 days after the effective date of this act.
(4)(a) A judge may order a child in an out-of-home placement to be examined by a licensed health care professional.
(b) The judge may also order such child to be evaluated by a psychiatrist or a psychologist or, if a developmental disability is suspected or alleged, by the developmental disability diagnostic and evaluation team of the department. If it is necessary to place a child in a residential facility for such evaluation, the criteria and procedure established in s. 394.463(2) or chapter 393 shall be used, whichever is applicable.
(c) The judge may also order such child to be evaluated by a district school board educational needs assessment team. The educational needs assessment provided by the district school board educational needs assessment team shall include, but not be limited to, reports of intelligence and achievement tests, screening for learning disabilities and other handicaps, and screening for the need for alternative education as defined in s. 1001.42.
(5) A judge may order a child in an out-of-home placement to be treated by a licensed health care professional based on evidence that the child should receive treatment. The judge may also order such child to receive mental health or developmental disabilities services from a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other appropriate service provider. Except as provided in subsection (6), if it is necessary to place the child in a residential facility for such services, the procedures and criteria established in s. 394.467 shall be used. A child may be provided mental health services in emergency situations, pursuant to the procedures and criteria contained in s. 394.463(1). Nothing in this section confers jurisdiction on the court with regard to determining eligibility or ordering services under chapter 393.
(6) Children who are in the legal custody of the department may be placed by the department, without prior approval of the court, in a residential treatment center licensed under s. 394.875 or a hospital licensed under chapter 395 for residential mental health treatment only pursuant to this section or may be placed by the court in accordance with an order of involuntary examination or involuntary placement entered pursuant to s. 394.463 or s. 394.467. All children placed in a residential treatment program under this subsection must have a guardian ad litem appointed.
(a) As used in this subsection, the term:
1. “Residential treatment” means placement for observation, diagnosis, or treatment of an emotional disturbance in a residential treatment center licensed under s. 394.875 or a hospital licensed under chapter 395.
2. “Least restrictive alternative” means the treatment and conditions of treatment that, separately and in combination, are no more intrusive or restrictive of freedom than reasonably necessary to achieve a substantial therapeutic benefit or to protect the child or adolescent or others from physical injury.
3. “Suitable for residential treatment” or “suitability” means a determination concerning a child or adolescent with an emotional disturbance as defined in s. 394.492(5) or a serious emotional disturbance as defined in s. 394.492(6) that each of the following criteria is met:
a. The child requires residential treatment.
b. The child is in need of a residential treatment program and is expected to benefit from mental health treatment.
c. An appropriate, less restrictive alternative to residential treatment is unavailable.
(b) Whenever the department believes that a child in its legal custody is emotionally disturbed and may need residential treatment, an examination and suitability assessment must be conducted by a qualified evaluator who is appointed by the Agency for Health Care Administration. This suitability assessment must be completed before the placement of the child in a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed children and adolescents or a hospital. The qualified evaluator must be a psychiatrist or a psychologist licensed in Florida who has at least 3 years of experience in the diagnosis and treatment of serious emotional disturbances in children and adolescents and who has no actual or perceived conflict of interest with any inpatient facility or residential treatment center or program.
(c) Before a child is admitted under this subsection, the child shall be assessed for suitability for residential treatment by a qualified evaluator who has conducted a personal examination and assessment of the child and has made written findings that:
1. The child appears to have an emotional disturbance serious enough to require residential treatment and is reasonably likely to benefit from the treatment.
2. The child has been provided with a clinically appropriate explanation of the nature and purpose of the treatment.
3. All available modalities of treatment less restrictive than residential treatment have been considered, and a less restrictive alternative that would offer comparable benefits to the child is unavailable.
A copy of the written findings of the evaluation and suitability assessment must be provided to the department, to the guardian ad litem, and, if the child is a member of a Medicaid managed care plan, to the plan that is financially responsible for the child’s care in residential treatment, all of whom must be provided with the opportunity to discuss the findings with the evaluator.
(d) Immediately upon placing a child in a residential treatment program under this section, the department must notify the guardian ad litem and the court having jurisdiction over the child and must provide the guardian ad litem and the court with a copy of the assessment by the qualified evaluator.
(e) Within 10 days after the admission of a child to a residential treatment program, the director of the residential treatment program or the director’s designee must ensure that an individualized plan of treatment has been prepared by the program and has been explained to the child, to the department, and to the guardian ad litem, and submitted to the department. The child must be involved in the preparation of the plan to the maximum feasible extent consistent with his or her ability to understand and participate, and the guardian ad litem and the child’s foster parents must be involved to the maximum extent consistent with the child’s treatment needs. The plan must include a preliminary plan for residential treatment and aftercare upon completion of residential treatment. The plan must include specific behavioral and emotional goals against which the success of the residential treatment may be measured. A copy of the plan must be provided to the child, to the guardian ad litem, and to the department.
(f) Within 30 days after admission, the residential treatment program must review the appropriateness and suitability of the child’s placement in the program. The residential treatment program must determine whether the child is receiving benefit toward the treatment goals and whether the child could be treated in a less restrictive treatment program. The residential treatment program shall prepare a written report of its findings and submit the report to the guardian ad litem and to the department. The department must submit the report to the court. The report must include a discharge plan for the child. The residential treatment program must continue to evaluate the child’s treatment progress every 30 days thereafter and must include its findings in a written report submitted to the department. The department may not reimburse a facility until the facility has submitted every written report that is due.
(g)1. The department must submit, at the beginning of each month, to the court having jurisdiction over the child, a written report regarding the child’s progress toward achieving the goals specified in the individualized plan of treatment.
2. The court must conduct a hearing to review the status of the child’s residential treatment plan no later than 60 days after the child’s admission to the residential treatment program. An independent review of the child’s progress toward achieving the goals and objectives of the treatment plan must be completed by a qualified evaluator and submitted to the court before its 60-day review.
3. For any child in residential treatment at the time a judicial review is held pursuant to s. 39.701, the child’s continued placement in residential treatment must be a subject of the judicial review.
4. If at any time the court determines that the child is not suitable for continued residential treatment, the court shall order the department to place the child in the least restrictive setting that is best suited to meet his or her needs.
(h) After the initial 60-day review, the court must conduct a review of the child’s residential treatment plan every 90 days.
(i) The department must adopt rules for implementing timeframes for the completion of suitability assessments by qualified evaluators and a procedure that includes timeframes for completing the 60-day independent review by the qualified evaluators of the child’s progress toward achieving the goals and objectives of the treatment plan which review must be submitted to the court. The Agency for Health Care Administration must adopt rules for the registration of qualified evaluators, the procedure for selecting the evaluators to conduct the reviews required under this section, and a reasonable, cost-efficient fee schedule for qualified evaluators.
(7) When a child is in an out-of-home placement, a licensed health care professional shall be immediately called if there are indications of physical injury or illness, or the child shall be taken to the nearest available hospital for emergency care.
(8) Except as otherwise provided herein, nothing in this section shall be deemed to eliminate the right of a parent, legal custodian, or the child to consent to examination or treatment for the child.
(9) Except as otherwise provided herein, nothing in this section shall be deemed to alter the provisions of s. 743.064.
(10) A court shall not be precluded from ordering services or treatment to be provided to the child by a duly accredited practitioner who relies solely on spiritual means for healing in accordance with the tenets and practices of a church or religious organization, when required by the child’s health and when requested by the child.
(11) Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize the permanent sterilization of the child unless such sterilization is the result of or incidental to medically necessary treatment to protect or preserve the life of the child.
(12) For the purpose of obtaining an evaluation or examination, or receiving treatment as authorized pursuant to this section, no child alleged to be or found to be dependent shall be placed in a detention home or other program used primarily for the care and custody of children alleged or found to have committed delinquent acts.
(13) The parents or legal custodian of a child in an out-of-home placement remain financially responsible for the cost of medical treatment provided to the child even if either one or both of the parents or if the legal custodian did not consent to the medical treatment. After a hearing, the court may order the parents or legal custodian, if found able to do so, to reimburse the department or other provider of medical services for treatment provided.
(14) Nothing in this section alters the authority of the department to consent to medical treatment for a dependent child when the child has been committed to the department and the department has become the legal custodian of the child.
(15) At any time after the filing of a shelter petition or petition for dependency, when the mental or physical condition, including the blood group, of a parent, caregiver, legal custodian, or other person who has custody or is requesting custody of a child is in controversy, the court may order the person to submit to a physical or mental examination by a qualified professional. The order may be made only upon good cause shown and pursuant to notice and procedures as set forth by the Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure.
(16) At any time after a shelter petition or petition for dependency is filed, the court may order a person who has custody or is requesting custody of the child to submit to a substance abuse assessment or evaluation. The assessment or evaluation must be administered by a qualified professional, as defined in s. 397.311. The order may be made only upon good cause shown. This subsection does not authorize placement of a child with a person seeking custody, other than the parent or legal custodian, who requires substance abuse treatment.
History.—s. 20, ch. 78-414; s. 14, ch. 80-290; s. 2, ch. 84-226; s. 8, ch. 84-311; s. 74, ch. 86-220; s. 2, ch. 87-238; s. 230, ch. 95-147; s. 11, ch. 95-228; s. 59, ch. 98-403; s. 24, ch. 99-193; s. 1, ch. 2000-265; s. 151, ch. 2000-349; s. 3, ch. 2002-219; s. 885, ch. 2002-387; s. 2, ch. 2005-65; s. 3, ch. 2006-97; s. 4, ch. 2006-227; ss. 3, 62, ch. 2016-241; s. 6, ch. 2019-142; s. 15, ch. 2020-39.