WEEK 7 – Student Voices Filled the Halls
This week, over one hundred students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School traveled to the state capitol to advocate for policy change in light of the tragedy that shook our state last week. Students met with Governor Scott and other cabinet members, Representatives and Senators. Their voices, and the voices of thousands around the state did not fall on deaf ears. On Friday morning, Governor Scott shared his action plan to address procedures around purchasing and possessing firearms, funding school safety and funding for mental health services. Soon after, legislative leadership from both chambers shared their plan with similar provisions and funding levels in the range of the Governor’s proposal. Press conferences announcing proposals can be accessed for the Governor here and for the legislative leaders here.
Early Childhood Music Education
SB 654 by Sen. Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) extends the scheduled expiration of the Early Childhood Education Pilot Program. The bill was reported favorably in its last committee of reference, the Appropriations Committee on February 22nd. A House companion has not been filed and unless language is amended onto an existing bill, made part of a committee bill, or addressed through the budget process, this bill will likely die.
Child Care Facilities
SB 1738 by Sen. Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) and HB 1297 by Rep. Kamia Brown (D- Ocoee) prohibit a private prekindergarten provider from participating in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program or the School Readiness program for five years if they have been cited for four or more violations relating to the supervision of children within a two-year period. SB 1738 was recorded favorable in the Education Committee and is awaiting action in the Appropriations Subcommittee on PreK-12 Education. On February 20th, the language of SB 1738 was amended onto the omnibus education bill, HB 7055 by Rep. Michael Bileca (R-Miami) and Rep. Manny Diaz (R-Hialeah Gardens) in the Senate Education Committee.
SB 1520 by Sen. Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) and the House companion, HB 1129 by Rep. Bob Cortes (R-Altamonte Springs) require certain organizations offering child care through after-school programs to be licensed as child care facilities.The bills include language that mirror exemptions of the DCF rule but remove the blanket exemption for membership organizations that are affiliated with a national organization. SB 1520 was temporarily postponed for a second time on February 6th, the bill’s sponsor indicated that he will work with stakeholders and will refile next year. Despite the bill not moving in the Senate, HB 1129 was reported favorably by the Health and Human Services Committee, its final committee of reference, on February 21st and awaits consideration by the full chamber.
Perinatal Mental Health
SB 138 by Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation) and HB 937 by Rep. Jeanette Nunez (R-Miami) create the “Florida Families First Act” and would require the Department of Health to create public service announcements to educate the public on perinatal mental health care, as well as revise components that are included in the postpartum evaluation and follow-up care provided by birth centers to include a mental health screening and the provision of certain information on postpartum depression. SB 138 will be considered by the Appropriations Committee, its final committee of reference, on February 27th. HB 937 was reported favorably by the Health and Human Services Committee on February 21st and placed on the Special Order Calendar for February 28th.
Mental Health and Substance Abuse
SB 270 by Sen. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota) and the House companion, HB 947 by Rep. Bobby Payne (R-Palatka) relate to involuntary examination and involuntary admission of minors. The bill authorizes a designated law enforcement agency to decline to transport a minor 14 years of age or younger to a receiving facility for mental health or substance abuse evaluation if the parent or guardian of the minor agrees to transport the minor to the receiving facility. It also requires the examination of a minor 14 years of age or younger to be initiated within eight hours after the patient’s arrival at the receiving facility. On February 20th, SB 270 was reported favorably by the Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee, its second of three committees of reference. HB 947 is awaiting consideration by the full House.
Early Childhood Court Program
SB 1442 by Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation) and the House companion, HB 1351 by Rep. Bobby Payne (R-Palatka) establish the Early Childhood Court in statute and provides resources for supporting the program. The legislation would also require one or more university centers with specified expertise in infant mental health to hire a statewide clinical consultant and assemble a clinical oversight team. The proposed policy includes provisions for the Florida Institute for Child Welfare to conduct an evaluation of the program’s impact in consultation with the Department of Children and Families, the Office of State Courts Administration, and the university-based center(s). SB 1442 was reported favorably by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice on February 21st, clearing its second of three committee stops. HB 1351 is awaiting action in the Appropriations Committee, its second of three committees of reference.
SB 774 by Sen. Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) and the House companion, HB 505 by Rep. Rick Roth (R-Palm Beach Garden) and Rep. Patricia Williams (D-Ft. Lauderdale) revise the types of information relating to the identity and location of a child’s legal father that fall within the scope of a court inquiry at a shelter hearing or a hearing regarding a petition for termination of parental rights. The bill provides for certain unmarried biological fathers to receive notice of dependency hearings and requires notice of a petition for termination of parental rights to be served on an unmarried biological father identified under oath or by a diligent search of the Florida Putative Father Registry. SB 774 was reported favorably by the Judiciary Committee on February 20th and is on the agenda for February 27th in its last committee of reference, Appropriations. HB 505 is awaiting action in the Judiciary Committee, its final committee of reference.
SB 1514 by Sen. Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah) and SB 1360 by Sen. Doug Broxson (R-Pensacola) and HB 1079 by Rep. Colleen Burton (R-Lakeland) and HB 7065 by the Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee and Rep. Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart) focus on a wide breadth of modifications to the child welfare system including:
SB 1514 has been referred to three committees but has not been considered by any committee. SB 1360 was reported favorably by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services on February 21st and is on the agenda in its last committee of reference, Appropriations for February 27th. HB 1079 has passed all its committees of reference and is ready for full House action. HB 7065 is also awaiting full House action.
HB 1105 by Rep. Ben Albritton (R-Bartow) and its Senate companion, SB 1650 by Sen. Bill Montford (D-Quincy) provide for the name of a child’s guardian ad litem or attorney ad litem to be entered on court orders in dependency proceedings. The bill requires the court to advise parents during adjudicatory hearing of actions required to achieve reunification and modifies mandatory timeframes for dependency hearings and enter orders. HB 1105 is awaiting action in the Civil Justice and Claims Subcommittee, its second of three committees of reference. SB 1650 was reported favorably by the Rules Committee, its final committee stop, on February 22nd.
HB 1435 by Rep. Daniel Perez (R-Miami) and its Senate companion, SB 590 by Sen. Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah) require DCF, in collaboration with sheriffs’ offices that conduct child protective sinvestigations & community-based care lead agencies, to develop a statewide family-finding program. The bills require the court to request that parents consent to providing access to additional records and requires the department to provide financial assistance to kinship and fictive kin caregivers who meet certain requirements. HB 1435 was reported favorably by its last committee of reference, Health and Human Services, on February 21st. SB 590 was reported favorably by the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee on February 21st and has been placed on the Appropriations Committee agenda for February 27th.
SB 508 by Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) and the House companion HB 751 by Rep. Dane Eagle (R-Cape Coral) require CareerSource Florida, Inc., to submit, in a detailed annual report, certain information on individuals subject to mandatory work requirements who receive temporary cash or food assistance. The bill requires the Department of Economic Opportunity to work with program participants in developing strategies to overcome obstacles to compliance with work activity requirements and creates the TANF Reemployment Pilot Program in Pinellas County. SB 508 is awaiting action in the Commerce and Tourism Committee, its second of four committees of reference. HB 751 was reported favorably by the Health and Human Services Committee on February 21st and has been placed on the Special Order Calendar for February 28th.
SB 1160 by Sen. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota) and the House companion, CS/HB 693 by Rep. Frank White (R-Pensacola) authorize changes to public assistance policy and federal food assistance waivers to conform to federal law & simplify administration. The bills require DCF to impose resource limit for households receiving food assistance, subject to federal approval and requires CareerSource Florida, Inc., to contract with a vendor to develop a pilot program to increase employment for persons receiving temporary cash assistance. SB 1160 has been referred to four committees and has yet to be considered. CS/HB 693 was reported favorably by the Health and Human Services on February 21st and was placed on the Special Order Calendar for full House action on February 28th.
HB 167 by Rep. Ross Spano (R-Riverview) and the Senate companion, SB 1044 by Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation) “Civil Action for Victims of Human Trafficking and Prevention of Human Trafficking Act” provide civil cause of action for victims of human trafficking against the trafficker or facilitator and provides procedures and requirements for bringing claims and receiving damages. HB 167 was reported favorably by the Judiciary Committee, its last committee of reference, on February 21st. SB 1044 is on agenda to be considered in its last committee of reference, the Rules Committee, on February 26th.
HB 487 by Rep. Bobby Olszewski (R-Orlando) and SB 634 by Sen. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota) prohibit a child, who has suffered sexual exploitation, from being placed in a generic shelter setting when safe-harbor or trauma-informed housing is not available and requires the Department of Children and Families to assemble a team of specified experts to determine the safest placement for the child. HB 487 passed favorably in the full House on February 14th. SB 634 was reported favorably by Children, Families and Elder Affairs, its first of three committees, on February 20th. Its next committee, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, is not scheduled to meet again; however, because it was heard in one committee, the Senate may take up the House version in messages.
HB 417 by Rep. Evan Jenne (D-Hollywood) and its Senate companion, SB 1212 by Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation) provide an exemption from public records requirements to certain identifying and location information of current or former directors, managers, supervisors, and clinical employees of child advocacy centers that meet certain standards and requirements including members of a child protection team, and their spouses and children. HB 417 passed favorably in the full House on February 14th and was sent to the Senate. SB 1212 was reported favorably by the Rules Committee, its final committee of reference, on February 22nd.
HM (House Memorial) 817 by Rep. Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart) is a memorial to the Congress of the United States imploring the renewal of the Title IV-E Waivers for child welfare services. Florida is one of 26 states that have approved agreements with the federal government for the administration of child welfare services. Florida’s variance permits it to use funds for services beyond out-of-home care which removes the financial incentive to remove a child when it may not be the appropriate action. HM 817 passed the House on January 31st, was reported favorably by the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs committee on February 20th and is now headed to Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee, its second of three committees of reference.
SB 1552 by Sen. Randolph Bracy (D-Ocoee) and the House companion, HB 1417 by Rep. Lawrence McClure (R-Plant City) require that a prolific juvenile offender be held in secure detention until a detention hearing is held if the juvenile violated the conditions of non-secure detention. SB 1552 also includes language to increase the age of a child that is required to or can be direct filed to the adult court system from 14 to 15 years old. HB 1417 is awaiting action by the full House. SB 1552 was reported favorably by Appropriations Committee, its last committee stop, on February 22nd.
SB 1004 by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) and the House companion, HB 361 by Rep. David Richardson (D-Miami Beach) and Rep. Cynthia Stafford (D-Opa Locka) authorize certain elected and state officials (or their designees) to visit all state facilities housing juveniles which are operated or overseen by the Department of Juvenile Justice and prohibit the department from unreasonably withholding permission for visits to such facilities by certain persons. SB 1004 was reported favorably by its last committee of reference, the Rules Committee, on February 22nd. HB 361 is on the Special Order Calendar for consideration by the full chamber on February 28th.
OTHER BILLS AFFECTING CHILDREN
Children with Unique Abilities
SB 1788 by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) and the House companion, HB 1373 by Rep. Cyndi Stevenson (R-St. Augustine) prohibit the Agency for Persons with Disabilities from issuing a license to a new comprehensive transitional education program and prohibit the agency from renewing the license of an existing comprehensive transitional education program after December 31, 2020. SB 1788 was reported favorably by the Appropriations Committee, its last of three committees, on February 22nd. HB 1373 is on the Special Order Calendar for full House consideration on February 28th.