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The Florida Statutes

The 2019 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 by July 1, 2019, 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 paragraphs (a)-(f). 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 specialized training 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 before July 1, 2014, shall complete the specialized training by June 30, 2016, and 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) REPORT.By each October 1, the department shall submit a report on the educational qualifications, turnover, 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.
(4) ATTORNEYS EMPLOYED BY THE DEPARTMENT TO HANDLE CHILD WELFARE CASES.Attorneys hired 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:
(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; and
(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.
History.s. 23, ch. 2014-224.