984.01 Purposes and intent; personnel standards and screening.—
(1) The purposes of this chapter are:
(a) To provide judicial and other procedures to assure due process through which children and other interested parties are assured fair hearings by a respectful and respected court or other tribunal and the recognition, protection, and enforcement of their constitutional and other legal rights, while ensuring that public safety interests and the authority and dignity of the courts are adequately protected.
(b) To provide for the care, safety, and protection of children in an environment that fosters healthy social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development; to ensure secure and safe custody; and to promote the health and well-being of all children under the state’s care.
(c) To ensure the protection of society, by providing for a comprehensive standardized assessment of the child’s needs so that the most appropriate control, discipline, punishment, and treatment can be administered consistent with the seriousness of the act committed, the community’s long-term need for public safety, the prior record of the child, and the specific rehabilitation needs of the child, while also providing restitution, whenever possible, to the victim of the offense.
(d) To preserve and strengthen the child’s family ties whenever possible, by providing for removal of the child from parental custody only when his or her welfare or the safety and protection of the public cannot be adequately safeguarded without such removal; and, when the child is removed from his or her own family, to secure custody, care, and discipline for the child as nearly as possible equivalent to that which should have been given by the parents; and to assure, in all cases in which a child must be permanently removed from parental custody, that the child be placed in an approved family home, adoptive home, independent living program, or other placement that provides the most stable and permanent living arrangement for the child, as determined by the court.
(e)1. To assure that the adjudication and disposition of a child alleged or found to have committed a violation of Florida law be exercised with appropriate discretion and in keeping with the seriousness of the offense and the need for treatment services, and that all findings made under this chapter be based upon facts presented at a hearing that meets the constitutional standards of fundamental fairness and due process.
2. To assure that the sentencing and placement of a child tried as an adult be appropriate and in keeping with the seriousness of the offense and the child’s need for rehabilitative services, and that the proceedings and procedures applicable to such sentencing and placement be applied within the full framework of constitutional standards of fundamental fairness and due process.
(f) To provide children committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice with training in life skills, including career education.
(2) The Department of Juvenile Justice or the Department of Children and Family Services, as appropriate, may contract with the Federal Government, other state departments and agencies, county and municipal governments and agencies, public and private agencies, and private individuals and corporations in carrying out the purposes of, and the responsibilities established in, this chapter.
1(a) If the department contracts with a provider for any program for children, all personnel, including owners, operators, employees, and volunteers, in the facility must be of good moral character. Each contract entered into by either department for services delivered on an appointment or intermittent basis by a provider that does not have regular custodial responsibility for children and each contract with a school for before or aftercare services must ensure that the owners, operators, and all personnel who have direct contact with children are of good moral character. A volunteer who assists on an intermittent basis for less than 10 hours per month need not be screened if a person who meets the screening requirement of this section is always present and has the volunteer in his or her line of sight.
(b) The Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Children and Family Services shall require employment screening pursuant to chapter 435, using the level 2 standards set forth in that chapter for personnel in programs for children or youths.
(c) The Department of Juvenile Justice or the Department of Children and Family Services may grant exemptions from disqualification from working with children as provided in s. 435.07.
(3) It is the intent of the Legislature that this chapter be liberally interpreted and construed in conformity with its declared purposes.
History.—s. 87, ch. 97-238; s. 11, ch. 2001-125; s. 63, ch. 2004-267; s. 47, ch. 2010-114.
1Note.—Section 58, ch. 2010-114, provides that “[t]he changes made by this act are intended to be prospective in nature. It is not intended that persons who are employed or licensed on the effective date of this act be rescreened until such time as they are otherwise required to be rescreened pursuant to law, at which time they must meet the requirements for screening as set forth in this act.”