Section 39.806(1)(i) now has an expiration date

Three years.

As noted above, Appellants’ parental rights were terminated for their previous child, D.B., on June 12, 2009. Almost three years later, on March 31, 2012, V.B. was removed from Appellants’ custody. This time frame is relevant under the holding of F.L. We find that, as a matter of law, such a time frame contains very little probative value as to whether the prior termination indicates a risk of neglect. In other words, the prior termination was not so close in time to this proceeding as to provide competent, substantial evidence that Appellants pose a risk of significant harm to V.B. The trial court’s order essentially revisits the findings of the prior terminations and finds that Appellants have not demonstrated a capacity to appropriately care for V.B. But again, under F.L., it is not the parents’ burden to show they are capable of such care; it is the Department’s burden to show by clear and convincing evidence that Appellants cannot care for V.B. F.L., 880 So.2d at 610.

J.B. v. Department of Children and Families, — So.3d —-, 2013 WL 627238 (Fla.1st DCA 2013). (emphasis in the original).

Who determines probable cause under the Keeping Children Safe Act?

Not the dependency court holding the hearing:

[T]he KCSA [does not] authorize a court to revisit a probable cause determination that has been made. It is not the responsibility of a court in a KCSA hearing to re-determine whether there was probable cause; rather, the responsibility of the court is to determine whether a court of competent jurisdiction has found probable cause, and then to allow the caregiver to present clear and convincing evidence to rebut the statutory presumption that flows from the probable cause determination.

DCF v. P.F., — So.3d —- (Fla. 5th DCA 2013).

This increased KCSA case law by 50%. The two previous holdings were:

  • KCSA doesn’t apply in dissolution of marriage proceedings. Leneve v. Leneve, 64 So.3d 196 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011); Mahmood v. Mahmood, 15 So.3d 1 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009).
  • KCSA doesn’t apply to kids who haven’t been sexually abused. In re S.C.,  83 So.3d 883 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2012) (because the legislature doesn’t know how to write a good legislative purpose–please someone fix this).

I can’t believe no parent has raised constitutionality yet. Give it time.

Saturday morning case law

2013 is not panning out as a great case law year thus far:  

We don’t split babies in Florida. In re T.B., — So.3d —-, 2013 WL 561489
(Fla. 2nd DCA 2013) (citing § 39.521(4), Fla. Stat. (2012) (“An agency granted legal custody shall have the right to determine where and with whom the child shall live, but an individual granted legal custody shall exercise all rights and duties personally unless otherwise ordered by the court.”)).

You need evidence for a finding of dependency. R.S. v. Department of Children and Families, — So.3d —-, 2013 WL 557023 (Fla. 5th DCA 2013) (“Without taking any evidence, the trial court entered an adjudication that DCF had proven by a preponderance of the evidence that the child was dependent.”).



APD denies foster child twice, gets denied by First DCA

A.G.Q. ex rel. M.Q. v. Agency for Persons with Disabilities
— So.3d —-, 2013 WL 466264
Fla.App. 1 Dist.,2013.

Though this case is nominally about the relationship between APD and DCF, its holding appears to be limited to the standard of review between recommended orders and final orders in administrative hearings.

The facts are interesting, however: an administrative hearing officer finds that a foster child is in need of crisis services and APD attempts to remand the case not once but twice to force the hearing officer to reconsider. Illegally, says the First DCA. Once the hearing officer, who is the fact finder in administrative proceedings, found that the services DCF provided were insufficient for the child’s needs, the matter was settled absent some error. Congrats to a determined hearing officer. Not cool, APD.

Youth and GALs Stand in Support of SB 164 on Normalcy


I am inspired any time I see a group of people who believe strongly in improving life for others, and this is one such time. Everyone who spoke did a fantastic job. The video is here. The normalcy bill portion begins at 35:40. (And hat tip to Mr. Pitts for knowing a good bill when he sees one.)

Next stop: HB 215 will be heard in the House Healthy Families Subcomittee on Wednesday 2/13. 


Finally, some case law

After a slow start to 2013, the appellate courts seem to be back in business:

Reflection on the importance of dependency orders. In re C.Z., — So.3d —-, 2013 WL 466209 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2013).

Biology is still not everything in paternity cases. Van Weelde v. Van Weelde, — So.3d —-, (Fla. 2nd DCA 2013). 

And, we only got through one month of 2013 without a permanent guardianship case. Come on people. B.R. v. Department of Children and Families, — So.3d —-, 2013 WL 461498 (Fla. 5th DCA 2013).

What I’m reading: Brooklyn Law Review

Brooklyn Law School held what looks like an amazing symposium on reforming child protection law. The TOC of the law review issue that came out of it is below. You can access the full issue for free here.


Symposium: Reforming Child Protection Law: A Public Health Approach
Introduction by Introduction by Marsha Garrison, J.D. and Cynthia Godsoe, J.D.

Taking the Risks Out of Child Protection Risk Analysis
Marsha Garrison, J.D. 

Neuroscience and the Child Welfare System 
Clare Huntington, J.D. 

Public Health Approaches to Child and Parent Screening: Implications for Child Protection
Sheila Smith, Ph.D.  

Just Intervention: Differential Response in Child Protection  
Cynthia Godsoe, J.D.  

Assessing Public Health Strategies for Advancing Child Protection: Human Trafficking as a Case Study
Jonathan Todres, J.D.  

Using Community-Based Participatory Research to Study the Relationship Between Sources and Types of Funding and Mental Health Outcomes for Children Served by the Child Welfare System in Ohio
Susan Vivian Mangold, J.D, Catherine Cerulli, J.D., Ph.D., Gregory Kapcar, Crystal Ward Allen, Kim Kaukeinen, And Hua He, Ph.D. 

Remarks Delivered April 13, 2012 to the Brooklyn Law School Symposium on Reforming Child Protection Law: A Public Health Approach
Hon. Edwina Richardson-Mendelson, J.D., Ph.D.