(1) As part of the department’s quality assurance program, the department shall provide an immediate multiagency investigation of certain child deaths or other serious incidents. The purpose of such investigation is to identify root causes and rapidly determine the need to change policies and practices related to child protection and child welfare.
(2) An immediate onsite investigation conducted by a critical incident rapid response team is required for all child deaths reported to the department if the child or another child in his or her family was the subject of a verified report of suspected abuse or neglect during the previous 12 months. The secretary may direct an immediate investigation for other cases involving death or serious injury to a child, including, but not limited to, a death or serious injury occurring during an open investigation.
(3) Each investigation shall be conducted by a multiagency team of at least five professionals with expertise in child protection, child welfare, and organizational management. The team may consist of employees of the department, community-based care lead agencies, Children’s Medical Services, and community-based care provider organizations; faculty from the institute consisting of public and private universities offering degrees in social work established pursuant to s. 1004.615; or any other person with the required expertise. The team shall include, at a minimum, a Child Protection Team medical director, a representative from a child advocacy center under s. 39.3035 who has specialized training in sexual abuse of a child if sexual abuse of the child who is the subject of the report is alleged, or a combination of such specialists if deemed appropriate. The majority of the team must reside in judicial circuits outside the location of the incident. The secretary shall appoint a team leader for each group assigned to an investigation.
(4) An investigation shall be initiated as soon as possible, but not later than 2 business days after the case is reported to the department. A preliminary report on each case shall be provided to the secretary no later than 30 days after the investigation begins.
(5) Each member of the team is authorized to access all information in the case file.
(6) All employees of the department or other state agencies and all personnel from community-based care lead agencies and community-based care lead agency subcontractors must cooperate with the investigation by participating in interviews and timely responding to any requests for information. The members of the team may only access the records and information of contracted provider organizations which are available to the department by law.
(7) The secretary shall develop cooperative agreements with other entities and organizations as necessary to facilitate the work required under this section.
(8) The members of the team may be reimbursed by the department for per diem, mileage, and other reasonable expenses as provided in s. 112.061. The department may also reimburse the team member’s employer for the associated salary and benefits during the time the team member is fulfilling the duties required under this section.
(9) Upon completion of the investigation, the department shall make the team’s final report, excluding any confidential information, available on its website.
(10) The secretary, in conjunction with the institute established pursuant to s. 1004.615, shall develop guidelines for investigations conducted by critical incident rapid response teams and provide training to team members. Such guidelines must direct the teams in the conduct of a root-cause analysis that identifies, classifies, and attributes responsibility for both direct and latent causes for the death or other incident, including organizational factors, preconditions, and specific acts or omissions resulting from either error or a violation of procedures. The department shall ensure that each team member receives training on the guidelines before conducting an investigation.
(11) The department shall conduct investigations of reports of sexual abuse of children in out-of-home care. The purpose of such investigations is to identify root causes and to rapidly determine the need to change policies and practices related to preventing and addressing sexual abuse of children in out-of-home care.
(a) At a minimum, the department shall investigate a verified report of sexual abuse of a child in out-of-home care under this subsection if the child was the subject of a verified report of abuse or neglect during the previous 6 months. The investigation must be initiated as soon as possible, but not later than 2 business days after a determination of verified findings of sexual abuse or immediately if a case has been open for 45 days. One investigation shall be initiated for an allegation of sexual abuse that is based on the same act, criminal episode, or transaction regardless of the number of reports that are made about the allegations to the central abuse hotline.
Terms Used In Florida Statutes 39.2015
- Abuse: means any willful act or threatened act that results in any physical, mental, or sexual abuse, injury, or harm that causes or is likely to cause the child's physical, mental, or emotional health to be significantly impaired. See Florida Statutes 39.01
- Allegation: something that someone says happened.
- Child Protection Team: means a team of professionals established by the Department of Health to receive referrals from the protective investigators and protective supervision staff of the department and to provide specialized and supportive services to the program in processing child abuse, abandonment, or neglect cases. See Florida Statutes 39.01
- Department: means the Department of Children and Families. See Florida Statutes 39.01
- Family: means a collective body of persons, consisting of a child and a parent, legal custodian, or adult relative, in which:(a) The persons reside in the same house or living unit; or(b) The parent, legal custodian, or adult relative has a legal responsibility by blood, marriage, or court order to support or care for the child. See Florida Statutes 39.01
- Out-of-home: means a placement outside of the home of the parents or a parent. See Florida Statutes 39.01
- person: includes individuals, children, firms, associations, joint adventures, partnerships, estates, trusts, business trusts, syndicates, fiduciaries, corporations, and all other groups or combinations. See Florida Statutes 1.01
- Secretary: means the Secretary of Children and Families. See Florida Statutes 39.01(b) Each investigation must be conducted by, at a minimum, a trained department employee and one or more professionals who are employees of other organizations and who are involved in conducting critical incident rapid response investigations. The investigation, or any part thereof, may be conducted remotely. Subsections (5), (6), (8), and (10) apply to investigations conducted under this subsection. The secretary, in consultation with the institute established under s. 1004.615, shall develop any necessary guidelines specific to such investigations.(c) A preliminary report on each case must be provided to the secretary no later than 45 days after the investigation begins.
(12) The secretary shall appoint an advisory committee made up of experts in child protection and child welfare, including, but not limited to, the Statewide Medical Director for Child Protection under the Department of Health, a representative from the institute established under s. 1004.615, an expert in organizational management, and an attorney with experience in child welfare, to conduct an independent review of investigative reports from the critical incident rapid response teams and sexual abuse report investigations and to make recommendations to improve policies and practices related to child protection and child welfare services. The advisory committee shall meet at least once each quarter to review the critical incident rapid response teams’ reports and sexual abuse report investigations and shall submit quarterly reports to the secretary which include findings and recommendations. The secretary shall submit each report to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.