(1) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND INTENT.—
(a) It is the intent of the Legislature that the Department of Children and Families provide child protection and child welfare services to children through contracting with community-based care lead agencies. The community-based lead agencies shall give priority to the use of services that are evidence-based and trauma-informed. Counties that provide children and family services with at least 40 licensed residential group care beds by July 1, 2003, and that provide at least $2 million annually in county general revenue funds to supplement foster and family care services shall continue to contract directly with the state. It is the further intent of the Legislature that communities have responsibility for and participate in ensuring safety, permanence, and well-being for all children in the state.
(b) The Legislature finds that when private entities assume responsibility for the care of children in the child protection and child welfare system, comprehensive oversight of the programmatic, administrative, and fiscal operation of those entities is essential. The Legislature further finds that the appropriate care of children is ultimately the responsibility of the state and that outsourcing such care does not relieve the state of its responsibility to ensure that appropriate care is provided.
(2) CHILD PROTECTION AND CHILD WELFARE OUTCOMES.—It is the goal of the department to protect the best interest of children by achieving the following outcomes in conjunction with the community-based care lead agency, community-based subcontractors, and the community alliance:
(a) Children are first and foremost protected from abuse and neglect.
(b) Children are safely maintained in their homes, if possible and appropriate.
(c) Services are provided to protect children and prevent their removal from their home.
(d) Children have permanency and stability in their living arrangements.
(e) Family relationships and connections are preserved for children.
(f) Families have enhanced capacity to provide for their children’s needs.
(g) Children receive appropriate services to meet their educational needs.
(h) Children receive services to meet their physical and mental health needs.
(i) Children develop the capacity for independent living and competence as an adult.
(3) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this part, except as otherwise provided, the term:
(a) “Care” means services of any kind which are designed to facilitate a child remaining safely in his or her own home, returning safely to his or her own home if he or she is removed from the home, or obtaining an alternative permanent home if he or she cannot remain at home or be returned home. The term includes, but is not limited to, prevention, diversion, and related services.
(b) “Child” or “children” has the same meaning as provided in s. 39.01. (c) “Community alliance” or “alliance” means the group of stakeholders, community leaders, client representatives, and funders of human services established pursuant to s. 20.19(5) to provide a focal point for community participation and oversight of community-based services.
(d) “Community-based care lead agency” or “lead agency” means a single entity with which the department has a contract for the provision of care for children in the child protection and child welfare system in a community that is no smaller than a county and no larger than two contiguous judicial circuits. The secretary of the department may authorize more than one eligible lead agency within a single county if doing so will result in more effective delivery of services to children.
(e) “Related services” includes, but is not limited to, family preservation, independent living, emergency shelter, residential group care, foster care, therapeutic foster care, intensive residential treatment, foster care supervision, case management, coordination of mental health services, postplacement supervision, permanent foster care, and family reunification.