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The Florida Statutes

The 2020 Florida Statutes

Title XXIX
Chapter 402
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F.S. 402.402
402.402 Child protection and child welfare personnel; attorneys employed by the department.
(1) CHILD PROTECTIVE INVESTIGATION PROFESSIONAL STAFF REQUIREMENTS.The department is responsible for recruitment of qualified professional staff to serve as child protective investigators and child protective investigation supervisors. The department shall make every effort to recruit and hire persons qualified by their education and experience to perform social work functions. The department’s efforts shall be guided by the goal that at least half of all child protective investigators and supervisors will have a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in social work from a college or university social work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. The department, in collaboration with the lead agencies, subcontracted provider organizations, the Florida Institute for Child Welfare created pursuant to s. 1004.615, and other partners in the child welfare system, shall develop a protocol for screening candidates for child protective positions which reflects the preferences specified in 1paragraphs (a)-(c). The following persons shall be given preference in the recruitment of qualified professional staff, but the preferences serve only as guidance and do not limit the department’s discretion to select the best available candidates:
(a) Individuals with baccalaureate degrees in social work and child protective investigation supervisors with master’s degrees in social work from a college or university social work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
(b) Individuals with baccalaureate or master’s degrees in psychology, sociology, counseling, special education, education, human development, child development, family development, marriage and family therapy, and nursing.
(c) Individuals with baccalaureate degrees who have a combination of directly relevant work and volunteer experience, preferably in a public service field related to children’s services, demonstrating critical thinking skills, formal assessment processes, communication skills, problem solving, and empathy; a commitment to helping children and families; a capacity to work as part of a team; an interest in continuous development of skills and knowledge; and personal strength and resilience to manage competing demands and handle workplace stresses.
(2) SPECIALIZED TRAINING.All child protective investigators and child protective investigation supervisors employed by the department or a sheriff’s office must complete the following specialized training:
(a) Training on the recognition of and responses to head trauma and brain injury in a child under 6 years of age developed by the Child Protection Team Program within the Department of Health.
(b) Training that is either focused on serving a specific population, including, but not limited to, medically fragile children, sexually exploited children, children under 3 years of age, or families with a history of domestic violence, mental illness, or substance abuse, or focused on performing certain aspects of child protection practice, including, but not limited to, investigation techniques and analysis of family dynamics.

The specialized training may be used to fulfill continuing education requirements under s. 402.40(3)(e). Individuals hired on or after July 1, 2014, shall complete the specialized training within 2 years after hire. An individual may receive specialized training in multiple areas.

(3) STAFF SUPPORT.The department shall implement policies and programs that mitigate and prevent the impact of secondary traumatic stress and burnout among child protective investigations staff, including, but not limited to:
(a) Initiatives to encourage and inspire child protective investigations staff, including recognizing their achievements on a recognition wall within their unit.
(b) Formal procedures for providing support to child protective investigations staff after a critical incident such as a child fatality.
(c) Initial training upon appointment to a supervisory position and annual continuing education for all supervisors on how to prevent secondary traumatic stress and burnout among the employees they supervise.
(d) Monitoring levels of secondary traumatic stress and burnout among individual employees and intervening as needed. The department shall closely monitor and respond to levels of secondary traumatic stress and burnout among employees during the first 2 years after hire.
(e) Ongoing training in self-care for all child protective investigations staff.

Such programs may also include, but are not limited to, formal peer counseling and support programs.

(4) REPORT.By each October 1, the department shall submit a report on the educational qualifications, turnover, professional advancement, and working conditions of the child protective investigators and supervisors to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
(5) ATTORNEYS EMPLOYED BY OR CONTRACTING WITH THE DEPARTMENT TO HANDLE CHILD WELFARE CASES.Attorneys hired or contracted with on or after July 1, 2014, whose primary responsibility is representing the department in child welfare cases shall, within the first 6 months of employment, receive training in all of the following:
(a) The dependency court process, including the attorney’s role in preparing and reviewing documents prepared for dependency court for accuracy and completeness.
(b) Preparing and presenting child welfare cases, including at least 1 week shadowing an experienced children’s legal services attorney preparing and presenting cases.
(c) Safety assessment, safety decisionmaking tools, and safety plans.
(d) Developing information presented by investigators and case managers to support decisionmaking in the best interest of children.
(e) The experiences and techniques of case managers and investigators, including shadowing an experienced child protective investigator and an experienced case manager for at least 8 hours.
(f) The recognition of and responses to head trauma and brain injury in a child under 6 years of age.
History.s. 23, ch. 2014-224; s. 8, ch. 2020-40; s. 3, ch. 2020-152.
1Note.Substituted by the editors for a reference to paragraphs (a)-(f). Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 1666, 2014, included paragraphs (a)-(f) under child protective investigation professional staff requirements. Amendment 292200 revised the material to combine the subjects of paragraphs (d)-(f) in paragraph (c), but did not update the cross-reference in the introductory paragraph of subsection (1).