child welfare, law, and lots of graphs

child welfare, law, and lots of graphs

Category: Legislation


Florida Independent Living Bill Now in House’s Hands

Done! SB 434 is already in messages with the House. The amendments in the Senate were as follows:

  • explicitly made DCF guardian of the person of a child in its custody
  • updated the legislative purpose
  • required a plan for health care coordination and “connection to a positive adult”
  • removed $25 minimum for RTI
  • extended adoption assistance through age 20 for adoptive parents of kids in school
  • clarified that kids eligible for Medicaid are not to be enrolled in Kid Care

Psychotropic Medication Bills Filed

Psychotropic Medication bills, HB 1405 and SB 1808 and have been filed in the House and the Senate. Running the bills through DiffPDF, it appears they are substantially the same as SB 2718 and HB 1567, which were filed in 2010, with some cosmetic changes. For example, both the House and the Senate bills still have the same likely typos in them that I spotted in 2010.

I wrote some off-the-cuff analyses of those bills in four parts back then:

  1. Florida SB 2718 Introduces Mental Health Treatment Plans and Cost Effective MDT Model 
  2. SB 2718 on Psychotropic Medications: Moving Discretion, Removing Discretion 
  3. SB 2718 on Psychotropic Medications: Consent and Assent 
  4. SB 2718 on Psychotropic Medications: Setting Standards 

I don’t know how much of the above I still stand by, so don’t hold me to it.

Recall that in 2010 the bills allegedly died due to push-back from doctors who wanted less paperwork/didn’t want to be conscripted into the case planning element of dependency/etc. If this is true, it was a failure of public education. The bills as far as I can see do not add any new requirements on doctors beyond what they already do: see children and write a report explaining their treatment plans for the court to review.

What’s new is that this bill elevates the doctor’s treatment plan to case plan status, where the Department is then obligated to implement that plan as they would any service provided to a parent. From the physician’s perspective of having the child’s well-being foremost in their mind and having healthy skepticism about the Department’s ability or willingness to follow through with treatment recommendations, this is an important and powerful tool to improve the care of children in the system.

Over the last couple of years, the Department has promulgated administrative rules to cover psychotropic medication and we learned a great deal through that process. I think the 2010 bills were good but could be made even better. I look forward to seeing what can be accomplished.


HB 1163 on Adoption

HB 1163 on Adoptions was filed, introduced, and referred to several committees this month. Some of the changes are subtle, some are ambitious. They include:

  • explicit procedures for creation and enforcement of continuing contact orders and agreements (“open adoption”)
  • an additional class of men whose consent is required for the adoption, namely the man whose name appears on the birth certificate
  • requirement of personal appearance at adoption hearings to avoid a default or implied consent
  • limitations on the availability of DNA/HLA tests in certain situations (and a requirement that the man claiming paternity pay for it, regardless of who requests the test)
  • changes to the private adoption bypass of dependency proceedings.

Over the next few weeks I’ll go through what I like, what I don’t like, and what I think will cause chaos and confusion. Stay tuned.


This is what happened at the Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs

The Florida Senate’s Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs convened on December 7, 2011. A link to the committee’s page, along with audio of the hearing, is here:

Notable events:

  • Senate Bill 434 to modify the IL Program to an extended foster care model was approved.
  • Alan Abramowitz presented on the GAL Program’s NICE Pilot (GALs driving children) and received a commitment to creating legislative language to preclude judges from ordering GALs to drive and language stating that a GAL’s driving does not relieve the CBCs of any duties they otherwise owe to the child.
  • OPPAGA gave a rushed overview of current the current IL Program, but technical difficulties made it unbearable to listen to at the end.



What will the Florida Senate’s Committee on Children and Families Discuss Tomorrow?

According to their meeting packet, the following should be interesting:

  1. SB 434’s changes to the IL Program (creating extended foster care for $0);
  2. SB 202’s changes to the Florida Safe Harbor Act (concerning sexual exploitation shelters);
  3. A presentation by the GAL Program (mostly concerning their new pilot on driving children [ed.: chauffeur ad litem?]); and
  4. OPPAGA’s review of the IL Program.

Included in the meeting packet are staff analyses for the bills and powerpoints for the presentations.