Effective date: 7/7/2016
(1) No person shall be denied the opportunity to become an adoptive parent on the basis of race, color or national origin. The placement of a child with a particular family must not be denied or delayed on the basis of race, color or national origin of the family or the child.
Terms Used In Florida Regulations 65C-16.005
- Attachment: A procedure by which a person's property is seized to pay judgments levied by the court.
- Conviction: A judgement of guilt against a criminal defendant.
- Evidence: Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other.
- Felony: A crime carrying a penalty of more than a year in prison.
- Jurisdiction: (1) The legal authority of a court to hear and decide a case. Concurrent jurisdiction exists when two courts have simultaneous responsibility for the same case. (2) The geographic area over which the court has authority to decide cases.
(3) In determining which home studies and applications for adoption will be approved, all of the following criteria, not listed in any order of priority, must be considered:
(a) The child’s choice, if the child is developmentally able to participate in the decision. The child’s consent to the adoption is required if the child is age 12 or older unless excused by the court;
(b) The ability and willingness of the adoptive family to adopt some or all of a sibling group, although no individual child shall be impeded or disadvantaged in receiving an adoptive family due to the inability of the adoptive family to adopt all siblings. The needs of each individual child must be considered, as well as the family’s demonstrated efforts to maintain the sibling connection;
(c) The commitment of the applicant to value, respect, appreciate, and educate the child regarding his or her racial and ethnic heritage and to permit the child the opportunity to know and appreciate that ethnic and racial heritage;
(d) The family’s child rearing experience. Applicants with previous child-rearing experience and who have a demonstrated history of having provided consistent financial and emotional support to other minor children, either birth or adopted, will be considered. Applicants who do not have previous child-rearing experience as a parent but who demonstrate the capacity to parent a special needs child by providing care or supervision of a child, such as in a role as an aunt or uncle, teacher, foster parent or friend, will also be considered. Families with no child-rearing experience must also be assessed for their capacity to provide care for a special needs child;
(e) Applicants who have experienced an adoption disruption or dissolution in the past shall be assessed regarding the reasons for the disruption or dissolution, the family’s openness in dealing with the problems that led to the disruption or dissolution, their willingness to accept help with the problems, and their continued support of the child through his or her change of placement;
(f) Marital Status. Applications to adopt will be accepted from married couples and from single adults. Consideration should be given as to stability of the marriage and/or any significant relationships. In determining stability, adoption staff shall consider the length of the marriage or relationship and any history of repeated separations and reconciliations;
(g) Residence. Florida families must be prepared to remain in Florida long enough to have the adoption home study completed, the child placed, and the adoption finalized. Families from other states wishing to adopt Florida children may apply and be studied by an agency authorized or licensed to practice adoption in their state of residence. Out-of-state placements must comply with Florida Statutes § 63.207;
(h) Income. The family must have legal and verifiable income and resources to ensure financial stability and security to meet expenses incurred in the care of the family. While a family’s income must meet the needs of its current members, a family interested in a special needs child must not be precluded from consideration if the availability of an adoption subsidy would enable them to adopt a special needs child. Management of current income and the ability to plan for future changes in income so that the child’s social, physical and financial needs will be met are as important as the amount of income;
(i) Housing. Housing must provide space and the living conditions necessary to promote the health and safety of the family;
(j) Health. Applicants will be required to fully disclose health history for themselves and each member of the household, to include current physical, mental or emotional health status, any condition that is progressive and debilitating in its course, and any past and current treatment and services received for such condition. A current physical shall not be required unless the applicant has disclosed a physical, mental or emotional condition that jeopardizes the safety and permanency of the child’s placement;
(k) Other Children, Including Adult Children, of the Family. When families have children by birth or adoption, the anticipated impact of a new child on the family must be considered. Contact must be attempted with all children of the adoptive family in order to determine the anticipated impact on the family and as part of the assessment of the potential adoptive parent’s capacity to parent a special needs child;
(l) Other Household Members. Other household members must be interviewed and included in the assessment of the adoptive family to determine the anticipated impact on the family. For household members who will serve in a caregiving capacity, the following areas shall be assessed: attachment to child, parenting history, physical and mental health, background checks and references;
(m) Working Parents. The willingness and ability of prospective adoptive parents who are employed outside the home to make arrangements to be with the child during the transition period must be considered. It is desirable that one parent be free to devote full time to the care of the child for a period of time after placement. The exact length of time is determined by the needs and the age of the child, and the needs of the child must be given priority over the employment situation of the parent;
(n) Department, community-based-care (CBC), or Sub-Contractor Employees. Employees of the Department and the CBC, including subcontractor staff, will be considered as adoptive applicants. In situations where the employee has a close working relationship with the foster care or adoption staff in his or her local area, or had such a relationship within the past two (2) years, completion of the applicant’s home study process shall be conducted by a licensed child-placing adoption agency outside the local area. The CBC agency must be notified within 72 hours when an application to adopt is received from a Department, CBC agency employee. The CBC agency will make a decision regarding whether the adoption home study for the employee will be completed by the CBC agency or if the services of another agency will be sought. If the decision is to have the employee’s adoption home study and subsequent placement handled by another agency, the CBC agency shall make the necessary arrangements with the chosen agency. When an adoptive applicant is a member of a board or group which has actual or perceived authority over the Department, its CBC agency, its staff or operations, such applicant will be referred to another circuit or a local licensed child placing agency for handling;
(o) Criminal History. All adoptive parent applicants must disclose to the Department, CBC agency, or subcontractor agency any prior or pending local, state or national criminal proceedings in which they have been or are involved;
(p) Background Screening. All adoptive applicants must complete the requirements for background screening as outlined in Rule 65C-16.007, F.A.C.;
(q) References. A minimum of five (5) written references shall be required. Only one (1) reference may be obtained from an employer and only one (1) of the references may be obtained from a relative. All other references must be obtained from persons who either: 1) have observed the applicants in situations that give some indication for their capacity for parenthood, or 2) who as the result of their relationship to the applicant, possess documentation or knowledge of the applicant’s capacity for parenthood. All references shall be provided directly to the agency person conducting the home study by the person providing the reference; and,
(r) The “Acknowledgement of Firearms Safety Requirements” form CF-FSP 5343, February 2015, incorporated by reference and available at http://www.flrules.org/Gateway/reference.asp?No=Ref-06976, or a form developed by the CBC provider, must be signed and dated by the adoptive applicants as a part of the home study process. A copy of the signed form must be retained as a part of the approved home study and a signed copy must be provided to the prospective adoptive parents. If a CBC provider chooses to use its own form, that form must contain all of the elements of CF-FSP 5343, February 2015.
(4) Family Preparation and Study Process.
(a) Adoption staff shall explain to applicants what to expect during the preparation and study process. Adoption staff must also help to establish a relationship with adoptive applicants which will make it possible for adoptive applicants to ask for and receive help during the presentation, pre-placement, placement and the post-placement adjustment period.
(b) The Department approved adoptive parent training must be provided to and successfully completed by all prospective adoptive parents except licensed foster parents and relative and non-relative caregivers who previously attended the training within the last five (5) years, as prescribed in Rule 65C-13.024, F.A.C., or have the child currently placed in their home for six (6) months or longer and been determined to understand the challenges and parenting skills needed to successfully parent the children available for adoption from foster care. The staff person conducting the home study must clearly document in the adoptive parent home study the reasons why the relative or non-relative caregiver will not be required to complete adoptive parent training.
(c) At the beginning of each year CBC agencies responsible for adoption services must establish a 12 month training calendar. Providers must also have the ability to conduct extra training classes when the number of families waiting for a training class cannot be accommodated in the regularly scheduled sessions.
(5) Family Preparation Through Use of the Individual Study Process.
(a) Although the most preferred method of preparing applicants for adoptive parenthood is the adoptive parent training group process, there will be exceptional cases in which an individual study approach must be used. Some examples of factors which might lead to a decision to prepare an applicant family via an individual study are as follows:
1. Extreme distance which would cause hardship for the family.
2. Small numbers of inquiring families at irregular times.
3. Families who are adopting subsequent children and have already been trained; and,
4. Cases in which the applicant may need individualized education on portions of the curriculum even though the child has been living in the home for an extended period and there is evidence of well functioning relationships.
(b) Each decision to use the individual study approach must be approved in writing by the CBC or subcontractor agency, and the home study must include justification for use of this method.
(c) The focus of the individual study, as in group preparation, must be on education and preparation of the family.
(6) Families Who Adopt Again. Prior approval of a family to adopt does not automatically deem the family appropriate to adopt again. Consideration of any family for placement of a subsequent child requires an updating of the previous adoptive parent home study. The update shall include an assessment of the following:
(a) Issues Related to the Previously Adopted Child. This shall include a brief description of the child, his or her incorporation into the family, and the skills the parents have demonstrated in providing for this child;
(b) Motivation of the family in seeking to adopt another child at this time;
(c) School adjustment of the previously adopted child, including the communication and ongoing relationship with the local school system. If a child is home schooled, the child’s socialization, community visibility and peer relationships must be assessed;
(d) Health Needs. Any significant medical problems and any impact they have had on the previous adoption or might be expected to have on subsequent placements;
(e) Housing needs and the capacity of the home to comfortably accommodate another child;
(f) Income. Any major changes in the family income must be discussed. A determination shall be made as to whether or not the addition of another child, even with adoption subsidy, will tax the family’s ability to manage within their current income;
(g) Marriage. The effect of the previous adoption on the marriage;
(h) Extended Family and Neighbors. How the previous adoption has been perceived, received or rejected by family. How neighbors perceive the family relationships, including the visibility of the child within the neighborhood, when available;
(i) Updated References. A minimum of five (5) references shall be obtained when updating an adoption home study toward placement of an additional child. References shall address how the family seems to have managed with the previously adopted child and how they believe the family will cope with additional children. References must be obtained from persons who either: 1) have observed the applicants in situations that give some indication for their capacity for parenthood, or 2) who as the result of their relationship to the applicant, possess documentation or knowledge of the applicant’s capacity for parenthood. The case manager shall attempt to obtain a reference from an adult child of the applicant, if applicable. Only one (1) of the references may be obtained from a relative;
(j) Abuse Hotline/Criminal Records Check. Abuse hotline and criminal records checks must be conducted pursuant to Sections 39.0138 and 39.521, F.S., as part of each subsequent application to adopt; and,
(k) Other Major Changes. Address any additional family members not considered in the initial study. Also address any other major changes such as job changes, deaths, and serious illness or medical conditions which may have had an effect on the family or which may compromise the applicant’s ability to meet the needs of another child.
(7) The Written Adoption Home Study. A written report, generally referred to as the adoption home study, must be prepared for each studied family. The adoption home study must address the issues discussed in subsections (1) through (6), above.
(8) At the conclusion of the preparation and study process, the counselor and supervisor will make a decision about the family’s appropriateness to adopt. The decision to approve or not to approve will be reflected in the final recommendation included in the home study. If the recommendation is for approval, the home study will be submitted to the CBC or subcontractor agency for approval. If the counselor and supervisor do not recommend approval, the case will be reviewed by an Adoption Applicant Review Committee according to the directions provided in subsection 65C-16.005(9), F.A.C.
(9) Adoption Applicant Review Committee. Each CBC agency responsible for providing adoption services for children in the Department’s custody must establish an Adoption Applicant Review Committee. The committee must consist of at least three (3) people who have completed the Department adoption competency training. When the request for committee review is due to a recommended denial of a home study or a Department staff person has knowledge of national criminal results, state sealed or expunged criminal results or child abuse and neglect history results that are unknown to the CBC agency, one (1) member of the committee shall be a Department staff person, preferably with adoption expertise, who has knowledge of the applicant’s national and state criminal history and child abuse and neglect history. The CBC agency will select a committee member to serve as the committee chair.
(a) The committee will provide consultation and assistance to the adoption counselor on any child-specific adoptive home study in which the counselor and supervisor are recommending denial, or adoption case situations which present challenging issues. Requests for committee review may be made by the adoption counselor, the Department or the CBC agency. Requests for committee review must be made in writing and forwarded to the CBC agency. While the committee is available to review any challenging case, all cases with the following issues whether child-specific or non-child-specific, except as set forth below, must be referred to the committee.
1. Multiple families who have approved home studies and have applied to adopt the same child.
2. Health. Applicants in which it is determined that the adoptive applicant is experiencing a serious or chronic medical condition and such condition compromises or could compromise the applicant’s ability to provide the physical, emotional, social and economic support necessary for the child to thrive.
3. Child Abuse, Abandonment and Neglect Record Check. Applicants in which the Child Abuse, Abandonment and Neglect Record Check reveals verified findings of abuse, neglect, or abandonment which did not result in a disqualifying felony conviction, and cases in which abuse or neglect was not substantiated. When an applicant has one (1) or more investigations with findings of verified or not substantiated, all of the investigations that involve the applicant must be reviewed to assess if there are reoccurring circumstances that may affect the safety and well-being of the children in the home.
4. Criminal History. In cases in which the required criminal history checks pursuant to Sections 39.0138 and 39.521, F.S., reveal that the applicant(s) have been convicted of crimes specified in Florida Statutes § 39.0138(2), their application must be denied. A referral to the Adoption Applicant Review Committee will not be required. The applicant must be advised that he or she cannot be approved. If the criminal history check reveals that the applicant was convicted of a law violation listed in Florida Statutes § 39.0138(3), within the last five (5) years, the applicant cannot be considered for approval, until five (5) years after the date of conviction. After five (5) years have passed, the applicant shall be referred to the Adoption Applicant Review Committee if the applicant submits a new Adoptive Home Application, CF-FSP 5071, incorporated in subsection 65C-16.004(6), F.A.C.
5. Cases in which the applicant is a current or former foster parent and the review of the foster parent file reveals that there have been care and supervision concerns or a violation of licensing standards.
(b) The review committee chairperson will convene the committee within 30 days of receipt of the request and provide all necessary written documents to the committee members prior to the committee convening. A written recommendation will be submitted to the regional Family Safety Program Office and the CBC agency within 10 days of the committee’s decision. Following input from the regional Family Safety Program Office and the CBC agency, the chairperson will prepare a written report within ten (10) business days summarizing consensus of the committee and the recommendation from regional Family Safety Program Office and the CBC agency. The recommendation to approve the applicant will be submitted to the CBC agency or a designee. The recommendation to deny the applicant will be submitted to the regional managing director or designated Department staff person and the CBC agency or a designee.
(c) The CBC agency will provide the applicant with written notification of the decision to approve within 10 business days of the decision. The regional managing director or designated Department staff person shall provide the applicant with written notification of the decision to deny the application, within 10 business days of the decision. The written notice must include the reason for the denial, and must advise the applicant of his or her option for review of the denial pursuant to Chapter 120, F.S.
(d) The county of jurisdiction shall complete all Adoption Applicant Review Committee staffings on any child or any home study related to the child. If the county of jurisdiction can not complete the staffing due to a conflict, a request shall be made, in consultation with the regional managing director or designee, to transfer the staffing to another county.
Rulemaking Authority 39.012, 63.233 FS. Implements Florida Statutes § 39.0138, 63.042, 63.092, 63.207. History—New 2-14-84, Formerly 10M-8.05, Amended 4-28-92, 4-19-94, 8-17-94, 1-8-95, 7-18-95, Formerly 10M-8.005, Amended 12-23-97, 8-19-03, 11-30-08, 7-7-16.