Representing youth in the dependency system mary k wimsett esq gainesville florida
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Representing Youth in the Dependency System Mary K. Wimsett, Esq. Gainesville, Florida PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Representing Youth in the Dependency System Mary K. Wimsett, Esq. Gainesville, Florida. Levels of Care. Placement with parents, family or other non-relative caretaker Foster Care (family home or group home) Therapeutic Foster Care Specialized Therapeutic Group Care

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Representing Youth in the Dependency System Mary K. Wimsett, Esq. Gainesville, Florida

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Representing Youth in the Dependency SystemMary K. Wimsett, Esq.Gainesville, Florida

Levels of Care

  • Placement with parents, family or other non-relative caretaker

  • Foster Care (family home or group home)

  • Therapeutic Foster Care

  • Specialized Therapeutic Group Care

  • Residential Treatment Center

Levels of Care: Foster Care

  • Family foster home

    • number of children in home will range anywhere from one to six depending on the family

    • Child receives a monthly allowance (ranges from $10-20 per month depending on the CBC)

  • Group home

    • managed by professional staff

    • number of children in home will vary but will typically be bigger than a family foster home

Levels of Care: Therapeutic Foster Care

  • 2 levels of Therapeutic Foster Care

    • level will determine the following:

      • frequency of therapy and psychiatric care

      • Medicaid board rate

      • step down staffings required statewide

      • increased training for foster parents

Levels of Care: Specialized Therapeutic Group Care

  • 24-hour residential program in “homelike” setting with no more than 12 kids

  • Purpose is to provide treatment (vs. living environment as in foster care)

  • Requires the recommendation of a Suitability Assessment, the same procedures & constitutional protections apply of RTC placements, 394.67(21), Fla. Stat.

Levels of Care: Residential Treatment Centers (RTC)

  • Rule 8.350 & 39.407(6), Fla. Stat.

    • Suitability Assessment required before child can be placed in RTC

    • Motion required for placement

    • GAL always appointed, AAL appointed if child does not agree to placement

    • Status hearing on placement

Levels of Care: Residential Treatment Centers con’t.

  • Evidentiary hearing on placement

  • Voluntary Treatment Individualized Plans

  • Internal Treatment Review

  • Court Review

    • Every 90 days, report must be filed 72 hours

  • GAL may request review of placement at ANY TIME

Levels of Care

Involuntary Commitment (Baker Act)

  • Baker Act provision in the statute is §39.407(5)

  • Criteria established in §394.467 must be established

  • Difference from residential commitment as a residential commitment is considered a “voluntary commitment”

Issues Related to Placement

  • Runaways

  • Pregnant Youth

  • DJJ Involvement

  • Psychotropic Medications

  • Master Trust Accounts

Issues Related to Placement: Runaways

  • If a child runs away, the family services counselor is required to notify:

    • local law enforcement (confirm this on FDLE’s website,

    • child’s parents

    • GAL

    • immediate supervisor

    • child’s therapist

    • any other person the counselor deems essential

Issues Related to Placement: Runaways con’t.

  • FSC is required to make weekly contacts (for the first 3 months) with family, legal custodians, relatives, provider agencies, friends, Missing Children Information Clearinghouse, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and local law enforcement

  • At every Judicial Review, the department is required to inform the court of the child’s status and the efforts of the department to locate the child

Issues Related to Placement: Runaways con’t.

  • When the child returns, the advocate should:

    • determine if the department has procured the required evaluation within 24 hours to determine the need for further services including mental health and medical services; and

    • determine if the child’s case plan needs to be amended to include services necessary to remedy issues that led to the child missing

Issues Related to Placement: Pregnant Youth

  • Important to work beforehand to secure placement for client and baby

  • F.A.C. 65C-28.010 states that dependent mothers shall be placed with their babies unless there is not a home or facility available to house them both or if the infant’s safety is at a substantial risk

  • If client and baby are placed separately, have nursing schedule ordered as well as transportation for client. If department argues that client can pump/store milk, have court order that the department provide proper equipment for this (an electric pump which can be rented from hospitals).

Issues Related to Placement: Pregnant Youth con’t.

  • Attend shelter hearing with client to ensure Court has accurate information

  • Must communicate regularly with child’s attorney (if shelter granted and dependency action proceeds)

  • There must be separate grounds for dependency of infant

  • Young mother still entitled to IL services

Issues Related to Placement: DJJ Involvement

  • Crucial to communicate with child’s public defender/defense attorney and DJJ counselor (Juvenile Probation Office or “JPO”)

    • You can provide the critical link between dependency and delinquency courts

    • Do not assume that DJJ or the delinquency judge is familiar with child’s dependency history

  • If child is committed to DJJ, coordinate release logistics pre-release, especially if child will be released after 18th Birthday

Issues Related to Placement: Psychotropic Medications

  • Children in foster care are 2-3 times more likely to be medicated than those in the community

  • Many children medicated by physicians with incomplete medical history

  • 39.407, Fla. Stat.

    • DCF must obtain consent of parents or file motion with the court in order to medicate child

    • Specific requirements in statute as to what motion and affidavit must include

  • Juvenile Rule of Procedure 8.355

    • Tracks the statute

Issues Related to Placement: Master Trust Accounts

  • Children who receive SSI or SSA benefits have a Master Trust Account

  • Important to carefully review accountings to ensure accuracy and that balance does not exceed $2000.00 (if SSI funds)

  • Fee Waivers

  • Complicated issue: consult with GAL staff if child has a Master Trust Account

Maintaining Placement

  • Placement Match

  • Extra-Curricular Activities—Normalcy Memo (GAL web site)

  • Sibling Contact

  • Adult Support

  • Positive Reinforcement

Resources by Topic

Conferences and Trainings

Searchable Case Summaries

Case Summary by Topic

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