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The Florida Statutes

The 2017 Florida Statutes

Title V
JUDICIAL BRANCH
Chapter 39
PROCEEDINGS RELATING TO CHILDREN
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F.S. 39.4091
39.4091 Participation in childhood activities.
(1) FINDINGS AND INTENT.
(a) The Legislature finds that every day parents make important decisions about their child’s participation in activities and that caregivers for children in out-of-home care are faced with making the same decisions for a child in their care.
(b) The Legislature also finds that when a caregiver makes decisions, he or she must consider applicable laws, rules, and regulations to safeguard the health and safety of a child in out-of-home care and that those rules and regulations have commonly been interpreted to prohibit children in out-of-home care from participating in extracurricular activities.
(c) The Legislature further finds that participation in these types of activities is important to the child’s well-being, not only emotionally, but in developing valuable life-coping skills.
(d) It is the intent of the Legislature to recognize the importance of making every effort to normalize the lives of children in out-of-home care and to empower a caregiver to approve or disapprove a child’s participation in activities based on the caregiver’s own assessment using a reasonable and prudent parent standard, without prior approval of the department, the caseworker, or the court.
(2) DEFINITIONS.When used in this section, the term:
(a) “Age-appropriate” means activities or items that are generally accepted as suitable for children of the same chronological age or level of maturity. Age appropriateness is based on the development of cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral capacity that is typical for an age or age group.
(b) “Caregiver” means a person with whom the child is placed in out-of-home care, or a designated official for group care facilities licensed by the Department of Children and Families pursuant to s. 409.175.
(c) “Reasonable and prudent parent standard” means the standard characterized by careful and sensible parental decisions that maintain the child’s health, safety, and best interests while at the same time encouraging the child’s emotional and developmental growth, that a caregiver shall use when determining whether to allow a child in out-of-home care to participate in extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities.
(3) REQUIREMENTS FOR DECISIONMAKING.
(a) Each child who comes into care under this chapter is entitled to participate in age-appropriate extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities.
(b) Caregivers must use a reasonable and prudent parent standard in determining whether to give permission for a child in out-of-home care to participate in extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities. When using the reasonable and prudent parent standard, the caregiver shall consider:
1. The child’s age, maturity, and developmental level to maintain the overall health and safety of the child.
2. The potential risk factors and the appropriateness of the extracurricular, enrichment, and social activity.
3. The best interest of the child based on information known by the caregiver.
4. The importance of encouraging the child’s emotional and developmental growth.
5. The importance of providing the child with the most family-like living experience possible.
6. The behavioral history of the child and the child’s ability to safely participate in the proposed activity, as with any other child.
(c) The department and community-based care lead agencies are required to verify that private agencies providing out-of-home services to dependent children have policies consistent with this section and that those agencies promote and protect the ability of dependent children to participate in age-appropriate extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities.
(d) A caregiver as defined in this section is not liable for harm caused to a child in care who participates in an activity approved by the caregiver, provided that the caregiver has acted as a reasonable and prudent parent. This section does not remove or limit any existing liability protection afforded by statute.
(4) RULEMAKING.The department shall adopt by rule procedures to administer this section.
History.s. 2, ch. 2013-21.