Recent News


05/31/22   Preparing for Successful Transition to Adulthood: A toolkit for Florida Youth with disabilities.

Disability Rights Florida issued this toolkit to assist young people with disabilities, and the adults who support them with a variety of topics concerning their transition to adulthood. It includes a specific section with information relevant to youth who are in the child welfare system. To view the guide click here.


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05/31/22  Transition for Youth with Disabilities
04/01/22  Federal Special Juvenile Immigrant Rules
03/17/22  Pandemic Funds NOT Taxable to Youth
01/22/22  2022 Legislative Session Preview
01/10/22  NACC Recommendations for Child Rep Issued
08/25/21  Money for Youth! Pandemic Funds Released.
05/05/21  2021 Legislative Session Wrap Up-Updated!
03/02/21  Pandemic Support for Former Foster Youth
03/02/21  2021 Legislative Session Preview
03/01/21  Federal Support for Quality Representation
10/01/20  Parent Attorney Guidelines for Practice
09/08/20  My Florida My Family, New Resource
09/08/20  Case Law Update
07/22/20  FAQ on Federal Funding for Attorneys
07/22/20  Children's Legal Representation - by State
07/01/20  2020 Legislative Summary - Updated 9/8/20
04/21/20  2020 Legislative Overview - Preliminary
04/21/20  COVID-19 Materials for Youth
04/09/20  COVID-19 Materials for Attorneys
03/31/20  Federal COVID-19 Guidance UPDATED
01/21/20  2020 Session: Bills of Interest
01/21/20  Children Who Refuse Placement Report
12/10/19  Parent Medicaid Eligibility Expanded
12/05/19  Therapeutic Services for Children -Update
08/01/19  Importance of Youth and Parent Voice
06/03/19  Multidisciplinary Parent Rep Works!
02/20/19  Unseen Cost of Foster Care - Report
02/05/19  Statewide Behavioral Health Search Tool
01/30/19  Federal Funding for Quality Counsel
11/13/18  Fostering Youth Transitions
10/08/18  DCF Memo - 2018 Legislative Changes
10/08/18  2018 Child Protection Summit Materials
06/27/18  2018 Florida Kids Count Profile
06/11/18  2018 Summary Legislative Overview
06/05/18  Final Report: Child & Parent Represention
05/05/18  Regis Little Act Best Practice Guide
05/03/18  Know Your Rights Guide (for Parents)
05/01/18  Immigrants in the Child Welfare System
05/01/18  Homeless Youth Handbook
01/07/18  Independent Living Services Report
12/07/17  Revisions to CFOP 170-14
12/07/17  Revisions to CFOP 170-11
12/01/17 Launched
11/01/17  November Newsletter
10/12/17  October Newsletter
09/25/17  GAL Program to Pay for Certification
09/25/17  September Newsletter
09/20/17  Students Displaced by Irma?
08/29/17  New GAL Bill
08/28/17  Lady Gaga and Mental Health
08/20/17  August Newsletter
08/20/17  Upcoming Webinars
07/13/17  Education Bill
07/01/17  July Newsletter
06/27/17  June Newsletter
06/13/17  Amended Rules on Education and Adoption
06/09/17  Youth Mental Health First Aid
05/12/17  New Child Placement Agreement
04/26/17  New DCF Procedure on Assessment of Child
04/20/17  Supreme Court Ruling on Immigrant Child
04/04/17  New Rules on Psychotropic Medication
03/23/17  FL SC Issues IAC Juvenile Rules
03/12/17  DCF Rule Change: Suitability Assessment
01/17/17  Legal Representation for All Parties
09/13/16  Hire a Foster Youth Campaign
06/26/16  Health Care for Immigrant Children
06/26/16  New Adoption Rules Effective 7/7/16
06/26/16  SSI Pilot for Transitioning Youth
06/25/16  Federal Educational Stability Requirements
06/25/16  Out of the Shadows -LGBTQ Youth
05/18/16  M. Stoneman Douglas High School Safety Act
05/13/16  IAC Rule Comments Due June 1
05/05/16  Civil Rights for Parents with Disabilities
05/01/16  USDOE Transition Tool Kit
03/31/16  Juvenile Record Expunction Time Reduced
03/31/16  Juvenile Law Certification Info Available
03/30/16  Graduate School for Former Foster Youth
03/21/16  Protection for Trafficking Victims Enacted
01/21/16  Juvenile Rules Update January 2016
01/17/16  Federal Guidance on Right to Counsel
10/04/15  PESS & Aftercare Living Rules at Last!
08/10/15  Rights of Parents with Disabilities
07/09/15  Court Creates IAC Procedure for Parents
06/23/15  DCF / APD Fix Enacted
06/17/15  Child Protection Bill Signed
06/11/15  Gov. Signs Regis Little Act
06/11/15  Adoption & Foster Care Bill Signed
05/21/15  Juvenile Law Certification Approved
04/01/15  Register for GAL Disability Training - May
02/16/15  Parent's Representation Conference
12/18/14  GALP Addresses Adult Guardianships
12/03/14  NEW Federal Reports on Child Welfare
10/06/14  DCF / APD Fix Memos Issued
09/30/14  New Federal Law On Foster Care & Adoption
09/08/14  Independent Living Draft Rules
08/07/14  Training Curriculum for Children's Lawyers
07/03/14  Rilya Wilson Act (Early Education) Update
06/26/14  ICPC Report Details Problems
06/11/14  Child Welfare Legislative Update
06/10/14  2014-15 FAFSA Tips for Foster Youth
06/09/14  Girls Court Started in Jacksonville
06/01/14  Tools to Support LGBTQ Youth in Care
06/01/14  Keys to Independence Driver's License Help
06/01/14  Medicaid Coverage Guidance
05/30/14  Keeping IDs Safe Act- Prevent ID Theft
05/30/14  GAO: Psych Meds & Fostering Connections
05/20/14  Attorneys for Children Law Passed!
01/01/14  Medicaid Available for Former Foster Youth
01/01/14  Higher Education Access
01/01/14  Extended Foster Care Implementation
06/25/13  Foster Care Revamped
06/19/13  3d DCA Upholds Attorney Client Privilege
05/28/13  New Rules of Juvenile Procedure
05/01/13  Legislature Votes to Extend Foster Care
04/04/13  Guardian Ad Litem Report on Transportation
02/01/13  Order Establishing SIPP Procedures
01/30/13  GAO Report on Use of Title IV-B Funds.
01/28/13  Update: Quality Parenting Bill is the Law!
01/09/13  "Protect Our Kids Act"
01/02/13  Adoption Tax Credit Made Permanent
01/01/13  FL Safe Harbor Law Takes Effect 1/1/2013
01/01/13  "Uninterrupted Scholars Act" Passed
12/31/12  New GAO Report on Children's Mental Health
12/31/12  FL 2012 ILSAC Report Issued
10/31/12  New Florida Interagency Agreement
08/07/12  ABA Passes Resolution Regarding FASD
03/15/12  Report - Foster Care Licensing Standards
10/17/11  BBC Report on US Child Abuse Deaths
10/01/11  New Law on Foster Youth Identity Theft
06/16/11  USSC Holds Age Is a Factor for Miranda
09/20/10  New Report on Deaths From Child Abuse
09/14/10  Abused, Undocumented Children
08/10/10  ABA Policies on Child Abuse Proceedings
12/16/09  See GAO Report on Seclusion & Restraint
10/08/08  Runaway and Homeless Youth Act
10/07/08  New Federal Child Welfare Law
01/01/00  Unaccompanied Immigrant Children Crisis
01/01/00  NEW Policy Briefs on Foster Care Issues
01/01/00  NonRelative Caregiver Rule Proposed
01/01/00  Scholarships for Kids with Disabilities
01/01/00  SB 7078 Child Welfare Signed into Law
01/01/00  New Tools -SSI for Transitioning Youth
01/01/00  ABA Launches Family Justice Initiative
01/01/00  Child's Right to Counsel Report Card
01/01/00  Directive Issued to DCF-CLS
01/01/00  Help Youth and Others Get Income
01/01/00  2022 Legislative Wrap Up
VIEW ALL OTHER NEWS ITEMS(If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader, click here.)
03/23/17   The Florida Supreme Court issues amendments to the Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure and Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.146

Today, March 23, 2017, the Florida Supreme Court handed down new rules for Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedures and Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.146. These amendments concern the procedures to be followed when a parent can bring an ineffective assistance of counsel claim for both court-appointed and privately retained counsel following termination of parental rights. For specific amendments to the rules, please click here.

03/12/17   As of March 12, 2017, DCF amended a rule in the Florida Administrative Code to add definitions and clarify procedures for obtaining a suitability assessment.

DCF recently amended Rules 65C-27.001-002 concerning the suitability assessment for a child in need of residential treatment. The initial suitability assessment is performed through a referral by the Department or a community-based care lead agency. Notice of the initial suitability assessment must be provided to the guardian ad litem and the child's attorney. If applicable, the GAL and AAL will have an opportunity to meet with the child and the evaluator. click here

01/17/17   The Children's Bureau of the Department of Human and Health Services recently issued a memorandum showing the importance of high quality legal representation for all parties in a child welfare proceeding

The Children's Bureau of the Administration of Children and Families recently published a memorandum emphasizing the need of high quality legal representation for all parties involved in child dependency cases. This memorandum provides research that high quality legal representation ensures a well-functioning child welfare system, as well as identifies best practices to promote and sustain legal representation for all parties at all stages in the child welfare proceedings. click here

09/13/16   Federal Legislation introduced to provide tax incentives to employers who hire foster youth

The Improved Employment for Foster Youth Act would add current and former transition aged foster youth (16-26) to the category of persons for whom employers can receive Work Opportunity Tax Credits. For more information on the Hire a Foster Youth Campaign click here.

06/26/16   "Lawfully Residing" Immigrant Children have greater access to Medicaid and subsidized health insurance

Applications are now being accepted for Florida KidCare coverage for immigrant children who are ?lawfully residing? in the United States. Many of these children were previously subject to a 5 year waiting period, or were otherwise precluded from obtaining Medicaid or subsidized health insurance. To read more about eligibility click here. To obtain an application online click here.

06/26/16   DCF Substantially Revised Fla. Admin. Code 65C-16 rules relating to adoptions from child welfare

To read the rules click here.

06/26/16   The Social Security Administration is conducting a one year pilot project nationwide to improve economic stability of foster youth.

The Social Security Administration is extending the time prior to age 18 that youth in foster care receiving SSI can apply for an "adult redetermination." Presently applications can be submitted 90 days prior to age 18. Under this pilot, they will be accepted up to 180 days prior to age 18. The hope is that fewer youth will experience a disruption in payment with the additional application time. To read the announcement click here.

06/25/16   Federal Government issues guidance on the foster care requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

The U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services have issued a "Non-Regulatory Guidance: Ensuring Educational Stability for Children in Foster Care." This guidance explains how education and child welfare agencies are to work together to promote educational stability of children in state care. Of particular note is a detailed discussion of the "best interest" factors that should be considered when determining whether a child will stay in the school of origin or change schools. To read the guidance click here.

06/25/16   Out of the Shadows: Supporting LGBTQ Youth in Child Welfare Through Cross System Collaboration

This report highlights the research on the disparities that exist between LGBTQ foster youth and their non-LGBTQ peers, as well as the compounding effects these factors have in relation to other intersecting factors including race, ethnicity, culture and language. It also discusses successful policy strategies and state examples of efforts that are addressing system and practice obstacles. To read the report click here.

05/18/16   Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. SB 7026- took effect March 9, 2018.

This law requires a 3-day waiting period for all firearm purchases (with some exceptions), raises the age to 21 for all firearm purchases, prohibits bump stocks, allows Sheriffs to establish school guardian programs if approved by the school district, amends the Baker Act to allow use of reasonable force to enter and seize firearms and ammunition of those under BA who have made a credible threat of violence, requires Courts to report the names and addresses of students committed to mental health treatment to their district school superintendent within 48 hours of commitment, and provides additional funds for mental health care in schools while promoting facilitation to access of services to students with emotional and behavioral disabilities. The law also establishes a Statewide Guardian Office and criteria for confidential information sharing with DJJ, DCF, and DOE, requires each school to have a threat assessment team and each district to have a school safety specialist, students are required to report referrals to mental health services when registering at a new school, and every school is required to perform active shooter drills. This is a summary of this new law. The full text can be read here.

05/13/16   The Florida Supreme Court is accepting comments on the proposed rules of Juvenile Procedure that provide a means for parents whose parental rights were terminated to challenge the ineffectiveness of their counsel.

In the J.B. vs. DCF decision issued in July 2015 Florida Supreme Court directed the creation of procedural rules for parents to challenge the ineffective assistance of counsel. The opinion can be viewed here, click here. Two versions of proposed rules were submitted to the Court for consideration. The "narrow" set of rules limit the remedy to indigent parents with court appointed counsel. The "broad" set of rules provides the remedy to all parents. Both drafts and the instructions for filing comments can be viewed here click here.

05/05/16   New tools for parents with Disabilities

The National Council on Disability (NCD) and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation issued "Parenting with a Disability: Know Your Rights Toolkit" at a White House forum on the Civil Rights of Parents with Disabilities. The toolkit follows the ground break report "Rocking The Cradle, Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and their Children." To obtain the toolkit click here. To read the Rocking the Cradle report click here.

05/01/16   The U.S. Department of Education recently published a Foster Care Transition Tool Kit

The U.S. Department of Education released a toolkit to "inspire and support current and former foster youth pursuing college and career opportunities. The Foster Care Transition Toolkit includes tips and resources intended to help foster youth access and navigate social, emotional, educational and skills barriers as they transition into adulthood." To obtain the tool kit click here.

03/31/16   SB 386 allows more young adults to have their juvenile records expunged at an early age.

Senate bill 386 lowers the age for most automatic expunctions from 24 to 21. It allows young people to move for an expunction between the ages of 18 and 21 (once they are 5 years out from the charge) and allows the request for expunction of diversion records to be made more than 12 months after the completion of the diversion program. Florida's Children First and Florida Youth SHINE's fact sheet for youth can be viewed here . memo can be viewed here, click here. . To read the bill, click here.

03/31/16   Attorneys can now review the materials on Juvenile Law Certification.

The Juvenile Law Certification Committee has completed its policies, exam specifications and application. Applications will be accepted from September 1, 2016 to October 31, 2016. All requirements must be met prior to October 31, 2016. The exam will be held in May of 2017. Attorneys who have practiced 20 years or more and meet other criteria may not have to take the examination Additional information on certification is on the Florida Bar Website. To read the exam specifications. click here. To read the application click here. To read the Committee policies click here.

03/30/16   Florida's public universities now recognize that the child welfare related tuition exemption covers graduate school as well as courses needed to complete undergraduate degrees.

Prior rule of the Board of Governors of the State University System limited the use of the tuition and fee exemption to 120 credit hours toward an undergraduate degree. Faced with litigation and potential legislation concerning the limitations of its rule, the Board of Governor's agreed to revise its rule to permit the exemption to be used for more than 120 hours and with no limitation that courses had to be undergraduate only. To read the Florida's Children First and Florida Youth SHINE fact sheet to explain the use of the exemption. click here.

03/21/16   New Law Clarifies that Children who Engage in Prostitution are Victims, Not Criminals. Strengthens Protections for Victims of Trafficking

House Bill 545 is latest in a series of laws intended to protect trafficking victims. This law, which goes into effect on October 1, 2016, precludes minors from being prosecuted for prostitution. It eliminates the reference to children who commit prostitution from the definition of sexual abuse of a child in Ch. 39.01. The law also addresses several other issues. To read a summary of the bill click here. To read the staff analysis) click here. To read the bill click here.

01/21/16   The Florida Supreme Court revised the rules of Juvenile Procedure concerning the appointment of counsel for dependent children with special needs.

The court revised the previously adopted "fast track" rule implementing Ch. 39.01305, Appointment of Counsel for Dependent Children with Special Needs. The revision specifies that the rule applies only to children for whom there is a statutory right to counsel and does not affect the court's authority to appoint counsel for any other child. It also revises the rules on and forms shelter, dependency petitions, judicial reviews to ensure that children who are entitled to counsel are identified. The court amended Rule 8.355 to clarify that motion for court authorization for psychotropic medication includes information on whether the prescribing physician has obtained the child's assent to take the medication. Finally, it removes the term "attorney ad litem" and replaces it with "attorney for the child." To read the order amending the rules click here.

01/17/16   The Children's Bureau of the US. Dept. of Health and Human Services issued federal guidance on High Quality Legal Representation for All Parties in Child Welfare Proceedings.

The Guidance emphasizes the importance of high quality legal representation in helping ensure a well-functioning child welfare system. It also highlights important research and identifies best practices and strategies to promote and sustain high quality legal representation for all parents, children and youth, and child welfare agencies in all stages of child welfare proceedings. To read the Guidancee click here.

10/04/15   Rules Implementing Postsecondary Education Services and Supports, Aftercare, and creating an Appeals Process went into effect on October 4, 2015.

On October 4, 2015 the Florida Administrative Code rules relating to Ch. 409.1451, took effect. The rules for Extended Foster Care are still pending. To view the rules on PESS, Aftercare and Appeals Rules click here.

08/10/15   Federal Agencies issue Guidance on the Applicability of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to Child Welfare Programs.

This technical assistance paper from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services addresses the administration of child welfare programs, activities and services. It's intended to help child welfare agencies and family courts understand their obligation under Federal law to ensure that parents and prospective parents with disabilities receive equal treatment and equal access to parroting opportunities. The paper can be viewed here, click here.

07/09/15   The Florida Supreme Court held that parents have a right to effective assistance of counsel in Termination of Parental Rights proceedings. It created an interim procedure for use until rules can be developed.

In the case of J.B. v. D.C.F. the Florida Supreme Court addressed two questions certified to it by the First District Court of Appeals. The opinion issued on July 9th a) affirms that the right to counsel in TPR cases necessarily includes the right to effective assistance of counsel; b) rejects the Strickland and Geist standards proposed by parties to the appeal; c) creates a standard for determining ineffective assistance of counsel claims; d) creates an interim procedure for parents to employ in stating a claim for ineffectiveness; and e) creates a "Chief Justice's Select Committee" to develop permanent rules. The opinion can be viewed here, click here.

06/23/15   New appropriations language aims to fix the problems with getting children and young adults from the child welfare system on to the APD Waiver (home and community based services for persons with developmental Disabilities).

There are 2 basic provisions. One deals with children who can achieve permanency prior to 18 and the other addresses the 18 to 21 year olds. 1. Children who who can exit the child welfare system to permanency (reunification, adoption, permanent placement with a relative and guardianship with non relative) are not required to be placed in a family home to be eligible. 2. Young adults 18-21 who are in Extended Foster Care and need waiver services- will get Waiver Services (including residential habilitation) from APD. The CBC will be responsible for room and board, case management and related services. Medicaid service that can be provided under state plan (EPSDT) Medicaid will be paid by the Medicaid provider, not by APD. 3. It will cover young adults 18-21 who do not remain in Extended foster care. The law goes into effect on July 1, 2015. The bill can be viewed here, click here.

06/17/15   House Bill 1055 addresses issues concerning the Child Protection Teams and Critical Incident Rapid Response Teams.

This bill amends 39.303 to require that the Statewide District Child Protection Team medical directors be board certified pediatricians and have or acquire a diplomate in child abuse pediatrics. The law extends sovereign immunity to members of the Child Protection Team. And it requires that each Critical Incident Rapid Response Team includes a Child Protection Team medical. Finally it amends the law on expert witness certification that will enable physicians and osteopathic physicians from other jurisdictions to obtain certificates needed The law goes into effect on July 1, 2015. The bill can be viewed here, click here.

06/11/15   "The Regis Little Act to Protect Children with Special Needs" was signed into law on June 10th. It is intended to help the child welfare system better serve youth who may have impaired capacity for adult decision making

HB 734, also known as the Regis Little Act, was passed as the result of significant effort by the Guardian Ad Litem Program. It is intended to identify those youth with disabilities who might require assistance with decision-making when they become adults. The law amends the case planning and judicial review requirements for 17 year olds who may be in need of an adult guardianship or guardian advocacy. If a less restrictive form of decision making assistance will not be sufficient for those youth, it permits the initiation of guardianship or guardian advocacy proceedings to begin prior to age 18. Those proceedings remain in probate court and provide youth with the same procedural protections that adults get. It requires DCF to obtain evaluations and initiate proceedings if no other person has come forward to do that. For youth who remain in care after age 18, it provides for review of the necessity of decision making assistance. The law goes into effect on July 1, 2015. The bill can be viewed here, click here.

06/11/15   Governor Scott signed House Bill 7013, providing adoption incentives to state workers, permitting children in out of home care to be home-schooled and repealing the statutory ban on gay adoption.

The adoption incentive provisions of this bill were widely popular. The repeal of the statutory ban on gay adoption drew a great deal of opposition. But for most attorneys and judges, the little discussed education provisions will have the most impact on their daily work. The law is intended to strengthen the requirements that help children remain in their school of origin upon entry into care. Then if the child cannot remain in that school, there is to be a conversation and decision made about the best educational setting for the child. That best setting may now include homeschooling, which is currently prohibited by administrative rule. The law goes into effect on July 1, 2015. The bill can be viewed here, click here.

05/21/15   On Thursday May 21, 2015 the Florida Supreme Court approved the Florida Bar's Proposal to add a Juvenile Law Certification to the list of board certifications available to members of the Florida Bar.

Attorneys interested in obtaining certification will need to have 50 juvenile law CLE credits, at intermediate or advanced levels, within 3 years prior to the application for certification. The new Rule 6-29.2 defines Juvenile Law as "the area of law that inherently and directly impacts children. It includes, but is not limited to, dependency, delinquency, and termination of parental rights matters. It does not include adoption matters or matters arising in the context of family law proceedings not consolidated with dependency or termination of parental rights matters." To see the excerpt of the order establishing certification, click here.

04/01/15   This second annual training conference is jam packed with sessions and key notes that will benefit all lawyers and judges who work children and parents with disabilities.

Funded by excess funding in counsel for dependent children with special needs, the GAL Program has put together a comprehensive conference that will help all practitioners effectively advocate for their clients and promote the best interest of children. Register online click here.

02/16/15   Regional Counsel for the 4th District will host Florida's first CLE conference exclusively presented by and for Parent Attorneys.

The conference will present new ways to conceptualize parent representation and advocacy while at the same time offer practical litigation tools to safeguard and enhance due process for parents and protection of parents? rights. The conference will feature nationally recognized attorneys in the field of dependency and child and family welfare, including Keynote Speaker Martin Guggenheim, Clinical Professor of Law at NYU. To view the flyer click here. Or to register online click here.

12/18/14   Guardian Ad Litem Program undertakes a legislative effort to address the long-standing concern of what happens when youth with impaired capacity for decision making turn 18 while in state care.

The Guardian Ad Litem Program issued: Guardianship Services for Incapacitated Youth in Foster Care Turning 18, a statement of principles to guide legislation to protect this vulnerable population of youth. These principles are intended to guide legislation in this upcoming session. The principles are: 1. A process must be in place that will satisfy all necessary legal and administrative requirements so that, when appropriate, guardianship services will begin for youth in foster care on their 18th birthdays. 2. The rights of incapacitated youth in foster care must be protected by adhering to existing law that requires use of the least restrictive type of decision making assistance for these young adults. To read the Principles click here.

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Florida Dependency Law Center is the Child Protection Connection for Florida. Learn more.