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The Florida Statutes

The 2018 Florida Statutes

Title XXX
SOCIAL WELFARE
Chapter 409
SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE
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F.S. 409.145
409.145 Care of children; quality parenting; “reasonable and prudent parent” standard.The child welfare system of the department shall operate as a coordinated community-based system of care which empowers all caregivers for children in foster care to provide quality parenting, including approving or disapproving a child’s participation in activities based on the caregiver’s assessment using the “reasonable and prudent parent” standard.
(1) SYSTEM OF CARE.The department shall develop, implement, and administer a coordinated community-based system of care for children who are found to be dependent and their families. This system of care must be directed toward the following goals:
(a) Prevention of separation of children from their families.
(b) Intervention to allow children to remain safely in their own homes.
(c) Reunification of families who have had children removed from their care.
(d) Safety for children who are separated from their families by providing alternative emergency or longer-term parenting arrangements.
(e) Focus on the well-being of children through emphasis on maintaining educational stability and providing timely health care.
(f) Permanency for children for whom reunification with their families is not possible or is not in the best interest of the child.
(g) The transition to independence and self-sufficiency for older children who remain in foster care through adolescence.
(2) QUALITY PARENTING.A child in foster care shall be placed only with a caregiver who has the ability to care for the child, is willing to accept responsibility for providing care, and is willing and able to learn about and be respectful of the child’s culture, religion and ethnicity, special physical or psychological needs, any circumstances unique to the child, and family relationships. The department, the community-based care lead agency, and other agencies shall provide such caregiver with all available information necessary to assist the caregiver in determining whether he or she is able to appropriately care for a particular child.
(a) Roles and responsibilities of caregivers.A caregiver shall:
1. Participate in developing the case plan for the child and his or her family and work with others involved in his or her care to implement this plan. This participation includes the caregiver’s involvement in all team meetings or court hearings related to the child’s care.
2. Complete all training needed to improve skills in parenting a child who has experienced trauma due to neglect, abuse, or separation from home, to meet the child’s special needs, and to work effectively with child welfare agencies, the court, the schools, and other community and governmental agencies.
3. Respect and support the child’s ties to members of his or her biological family and assist the child in maintaining allowable visitation and other forms of communication.
4. Effectively advocate for the child in the caregiver’s care with the child welfare system, the court, and community agencies, including the school, child care, health and mental health providers, and employers.
5. Participate fully in the child’s medical, psychological, and dental care as the caregiver would for his or her biological child.
6. Support the child’s educational success by participating in activities and meetings associated with the child’s school or other educational setting, including Individual Education Plan meetings and meetings with an educational surrogate if one has been appointed, assisting with assignments, supporting tutoring programs, and encouraging the child’s participation in extracurricular activities.
a. Maintaining educational stability for a child while in out-of-home care by allowing the child to remain in the school or educational setting that he or she attended before entry into out-of-home care is the first priority, unless not in the best interest of the child.
b. If it is not in the best interest of the child to remain in his or her school or educational setting upon entry into out-of-home care, the caregiver must work with the case manager, guardian ad litem, teachers and guidance counselors, and educational surrogate if one has been appointed to determine the best educational setting for the child. Such setting may include a public school that is not the school of origin, a private school pursuant to s. 1002.42, a virtual instruction program pursuant to s. 1002.45, or a home education program pursuant to s. 1002.41.
7. Work in partnership with other stakeholders to obtain and maintain records that are important to the child’s well-being, including child resource records, medical records, school records, photographs, and records of special events and achievements.
8. Ensure that the child in the caregiver’s care who is between 13 and 17 years of age learns and masters independent living skills.
9. Ensure that the child in the caregiver’s care is aware of the requirements and benefits of the Road-to-Independence Program.
10. Work to enable the child in the caregiver’s care to establish and maintain naturally occurring mentoring relationships.
(b) Roles and responsibilities of the department, the community-based care lead agency, and other agency staff.The department, the community-based care lead agency, and other agency staff shall:
1. Include a caregiver in the development and implementation of the case plan for the child and his or her family. The caregiver shall be authorized to participate in all team meetings or court hearings related to the child’s care and future plans. The caregiver’s participation shall be facilitated through timely notification, an inclusive process, and alternative methods for participation for a caregiver who cannot be physically present.
2. Develop and make available to the caregiver the information, services, training, and support that the caregiver needs to improve his or her skills in parenting children who have experienced trauma due to neglect, abuse, or separation from home, to meet these children’s special needs, and to advocate effectively with child welfare agencies, the courts, schools, and other community and governmental agencies.
3. Provide the caregiver with all information related to services and other benefits that are available to the child.
4. Show no prejudice against a caregiver who desires to educate at home a child placed in his or her home through the child welfare system.
(c) Transitions.
1. Once a caregiver accepts the responsibility of caring for a child, the child will be removed from the home of that caregiver only if:
a. The caregiver is clearly unable to safely or legally care for the child;
b. The child and his or her biological family are reunified;
c. The child is being placed in a legally permanent home pursuant to the case plan or a court order; or
d. The removal is demonstrably in the child’s best interest.
2. In the absence of an emergency, if a child leaves the caregiver’s home for a reason provided under subparagraph 1., the transition must be accomplished according to a plan that involves cooperation and sharing of information among all persons involved, respects the child’s developmental stage and psychological needs, ensures the child has all of his or her belongings, allows for a gradual transition from the caregiver’s home and, if possible, for continued contact with the caregiver after the child leaves.
(d) Information sharing.Whenever a foster home or residential group home assumes responsibility for the care of a child, the department and any additional providers shall make available to the caregiver as soon as is practicable all relevant information concerning the child. Records and information that are required to be shared with caregivers include, but are not limited to:
1. Medical, dental, psychological, psychiatric, and behavioral history, as well as ongoing evaluation or treatment needs;
2. School records;
3. Copies of his or her birth certificate and, if appropriate, immigration status documents;
4. Consents signed by parents;
5. Comprehensive behavioral assessments and other social assessments;
6. Court orders;
7. Visitation and case plans;
8. Guardian ad litem reports;
9. Staffing forms; and
10. Judicial or citizen review panel reports and attachments filed with the court, except confidential medical, psychiatric, and psychological information regarding any party or participant other than the child.
(e) Caregivers employed by residential group homes.All caregivers in residential group homes shall meet the same education, training, and background and other screening requirements as foster parents.
(3) REASONABLE AND PRUDENT PARENT STANDARD.
(a) Definitions.As used in this subsection, the term:
1. “Age-appropriate” means an activity or item that is generally accepted as suitable for a child of the same chronological age or level of maturity. Age appropriateness is based on the development of cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral capacity which is typical for an age or age group.
2. “Caregiver” means a person with whom the child is placed in out-of-home care, or a designated official for a group care facility licensed by the department under s. 409.175.
3. “Reasonable and prudent parent” standard means the standard of care used by a caregiver in determining whether to allow a child in his or her care to participate in extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities. This standard is characterized by careful and thoughtful parental decisionmaking that is intended to maintain a child’s health, safety, and best interest while encouraging the child’s emotional and developmental growth.
(b) Application of standard of care.
1. Every child who comes into out-of-home care pursuant to this chapter is entitled to participate in age-appropriate extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities.
2. Each caregiver shall use the reasonable and prudent parent standard in determining whether to give permission for a child living in out-of-home care to participate in extracurricular, enrichment, or social activities. When using the reasonable and prudent parent standard, the caregiver must consider:
a. The child’s age, maturity, and developmental level to maintain the overall health and safety of the child.
b. The potential risk factors and the appropriateness of the extracurricular, enrichment, or social activity.
c. The best interest of the child, based on information known by the caregiver.
d. The importance of encouraging the child’s emotional and developmental growth.
e. The importance of providing the child with the most family-like living experience possible.
f. The behavioral history of the child and the child’s ability to safely participate in the proposed activity.
(c) Verification of services delivered.The department and each community-based care lead agency shall verify that private agencies providing out-of-home care services to dependent children have policies in place which are consistent with this section and that these agencies promote and protect the ability of dependent children to participate in age-appropriate extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities.
(d) Limitation of liability.A caregiver is not liable for harm caused to a child who participates in an activity approved by the caregiver, provided that the caregiver has acted in accordance with the reasonable and prudent parent standard. This paragraph may not be interpreted as removing or limiting any existing liability protection afforded by law.
(4) FOSTER CARE ROOM AND BOARD RATES.
(a) Effective July 1, 2018, room and board rates shall be paid to foster parents as follows:

Monthly Foster Care Rate

0-5 Years
Age

6-12 Years
Age

13-21 Years
Age

$457.95

$469.68

$549.74

(b) Each January, foster parents shall receive an annual cost of living increase. The department shall calculate the new room and board rate increase equal to the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, U.S. City Average, All Items, not seasonally adjusted, or successor reports, for the preceding December compared to the prior December as initially reported by the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. The department shall make available the adjusted room and board rates annually.
(c) Effective July 1, 2019, foster parents of level I family foster homes, as defined 1in s. 409.175(5)(a) shall receive a room and board rate of $333.
(d) Effective July 1, 2019, the foster care room and board rate for level II family foster homes as defined in s. 409.175(5)(a) shall be the same as the new rate established for family foster homes as of January 1, 2019.
(e) Effective January 1, 2020, paragraph (b) shall only apply to level II through level V family foster homes, as defined in s. 409.175(5)(a).
(f) The amount of the monthly foster care room and board rate may be increased upon agreement among the department, the community-based care lead agency, and the foster parent.
(g) From July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019, community-based care lead agencies providing care under contract with the department shall pay a supplemental room and board payment to foster care parents of all family foster homes, on a per-child basis, for providing independent life skills and normalcy supports to children who are 13 through 17 years of age placed in their care. The supplemental payment shall be paid monthly to the foster care parents in addition to the current monthly room and board rate payment. The supplemental monthly payment shall be based on 10 percent of the monthly room and board rate for children 13 through 21 years of age as provided under this section and adjusted annually. Effective July 1, 2019, such supplemental payments shall only be paid to foster parents of level II through level V family foster homes.
(5) RULEMAKING.The department shall adopt by rule procedures to administer this section.
History.s. 1, ch. 69-268; ss. 19, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 1, ch. 70-255; s. 26, ch. 73-334; s. 3, ch. 76-168; s. 273, ch. 77-147; s. 1, ch. 77-457; s. 4, ch. 78-190; s. 5, ch. 78-433; s. 101, ch. 79-164; s. 1, ch. 80-174; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 1, 3, 4, ch. 83-250; s. 39, ch. 88-337; ss. 3, 4, ch. 93-115; ss. 46, 55, ch. 94-164; s. 42, ch. 97-103; s. 37, ch. 98-280; s. 77, ch. 2000-139; s. 49, ch. 2000-153; s. 1, ch. 2000-180; s. 9, ch. 2000-217; s. 49, ch. 2001-62; ss. 2, 9, ch. 2002-19; s. 991, ch. 2002-387; s. 7, ch. 2013-178; s. 3, ch. 2015-130; s. 20, ch. 2018-103.
1Note.The word “under” following the word “in” was deleted by the editors to improve clarity.