First DCA: foster parents cannot use corporal punishment under cover of religious belief

If your religious beliefs do not allow you to abide by the contractual terms of being a foster parent, then you should not be a foster parent, says the First DCA:

We reject Appellants’ contention that section 409.175(1)(b) deprives the Department of legal authority to prohibit corporal punishment, specifically the striking of the child’s body in an effort to control or in response to the child’s behavior, as the facts established in this case. Clearly, a licensure under section 409.175 does not endow the licensee with a property right. Section 409.175(2)(e) specifically provides: “A license under this act is a public trust and a privilege, and is not an entitlement.” In addition, the Bilateral Services Agreement and Specialized Therapeutic Foster Parent Agreement containing the same prohibition on corporal punishment as rule 65C–13.029 were voluntary contracts knowingly entered into by Appellants. If Appellants never intended to comply with the provisions of the contracts due to their religious practices, they should not have entered into the contracts and agreed to the terms and restrictions in those agreements, upon which their license was conditioned. Appellants have failed to establish any erroneous interpretation of a provision of law by the Department.

Sanders v. DCF, — So.3d —- (Fla. 1st DCA) (July 19, 2013).

The fact that these were supposedly therapeutic foster parents only makes it worse.


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