There is an increasing evidence showing services for children and families are most effective when delivered in the context of a single, integrated multidisciplinary team that includes the child, his or her family, natural and community supports, and professionals who join together to empower, motivate, and strengthen a family and collaboratively develop a plan of care and protection to achieve child safety, child permanency, and child and family well-being.
Effective assessment through an integrated Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) is particularly important for children who are vulnerable because of existing histories of trauma that led to the child’s entrance into the child welfare system. This assessment is especially important for young children who are 3 years of age or younger, as a result of the enhanced need for such children to have healthy and stable attachments to assist with necessary brain development.
Summary of Main Changes in Florida Child Welfare:
- Requires the Department of Children and Families (the DCF) and community-based care lead agencies (lead agency) to develop a “FACE sheet”, which must include minimum information related to the child’s case to be kept in the dependency case file as a quick reference resource and require the FACE sheet to be updated at least once a month.
- Expands and relocates provisions that list the persons that should be considered as priority placements for children in out-of-home care and requires this priority list apply to the initial placement and any subsequent placements.
- Relocate provisions relating to existing MDT and expands those teams to make better decisions for the child by engaging with families and other important individuals.
- Requires MDT staff participants to gather and consider data and information on the child before formulating a decision. Requires MDTs to conduct supplemental assessments for children under age 3. Requires that a unanimous consensus decision reached by the MDT becomes the official position and that specified parties are bound by such consensus decision.
- Specifies how the DCF and the lead agencies must handle changes in placement and educational settings and transitions of sibling groups throughout the dependency process. Requires that the DCF must make reasonable efforts to place sibling groups together when they are removed at the same time from the same home, and the initial placement of a child who enters out-of-home care later than his or her siblings, if it won’t disrupt the placement.
- The bill codifies, consolidates, and amends, in part, current law in new sections regarding priority placement, multidisciplinary team staffing to make placement, education and other important life decisions of the child, transition plans and sibling placements. These new sections are created, to ensure that these issues are addressed at the time a child is removed from his or her home because of abuse, abandonment, or neglect and applied throughout dependency proceedings as current law is silent on how to deal with placement issues between the time of shelter and the disposition hearing.
Vote Yes on SB 80 / HB 1473 for children and families.