November 29, 2020
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The Florida Statutes

The 2009 Florida Statutes

Title V
JUDICIAL BRANCH
Chapter 39
PROCEEDINGS RELATING TO CHILDREN
View Entire Chapter
Section 39.303, Florida Statutes 2009

39.303  Child protection teams; services; eligible cases.--The Children's Medical Services Program in the Department of Health shall develop, maintain, and coordinate the services of one or more multidisciplinary child protection teams in each of the service districts of the Department of Children and Family Services. Such teams may be composed of appropriate representatives of school districts and appropriate health, mental health, social service, legal service, and law enforcement agencies. The Legislature finds that optimal coordination of child protection teams and sexual abuse treatment programs requires collaboration between the Department of Health and the Department of Children and Family Services. The two departments shall maintain an interagency agreement that establishes protocols for oversight and operations of child protection teams and sexual abuse treatment programs. The State Surgeon General and the Deputy Secretary for Children's Medical Services, in consultation with the Secretary of Children and Family Services, shall maintain the responsibility for the screening, employment, and, if necessary, the termination of child protection team medical directors, at headquarters and in the 15 districts. Child protection team medical directors shall be responsible for oversight of the teams in the districts.

(1)  The Department of Health shall utilize and convene the teams to supplement the assessment and protective supervision activities of the family safety and preservation program of the Department of Children and Family Services. Nothing in this section shall be construed to remove or reduce the duty and responsibility of any person to report pursuant to this chapter all suspected or actual cases of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect or sexual abuse of a child. The role of the teams shall be to support activities of the program and to provide services deemed by the teams to be necessary and appropriate to abused, abandoned, and neglected children upon referral. The specialized diagnostic assessment, evaluation, coordination, consultation, and other supportive services that a child protection team shall be capable of providing include, but are not limited to, the following:

(a)  Medical diagnosis and evaluation services, including provision or interpretation of X rays and laboratory tests, and related services, as needed, and documentation of findings relative thereto.

(b)  Telephone consultation services in emergencies and in other situations.

(c)  Medical evaluation related to abuse, abandonment, or neglect, as defined by policy or rule of the Department of Health.

(d)  Such psychological and psychiatric diagnosis and evaluation services for the child or the child's parent or parents, legal custodian or custodians, or other caregivers, or any other individual involved in a child abuse, abandonment, or neglect case, as the team may determine to be needed.

(e)  Expert medical, psychological, and related professional testimony in court cases.

(f)  Case staffings to develop treatment plans for children whose cases have been referred to the team. A child protection team may provide consultation with respect to a child who is alleged or is shown to be abused, abandoned, or neglected, which consultation shall be provided at the request of a representative of the family safety and preservation program or at the request of any other professional involved with a child or the child's parent or parents, legal custodian or custodians, or other caregivers. In every such child protection team case staffing, consultation, or staff activity involving a child, a family safety and preservation program representative shall attend and participate.

(g)  Case service coordination and assistance, including the location of services available from other public and private agencies in the community.

(h)  Such training services for program and other employees of the Department of Children and Family Services, employees of the Department of Health, and other medical professionals as is deemed appropriate to enable them to develop and maintain their professional skills and abilities in handling child abuse, abandonment, and neglect cases.

(i)  Educational and community awareness campaigns on child abuse, abandonment, and neglect in an effort to enable citizens more successfully to prevent, identify, and treat child abuse, abandonment, and neglect in the community.

(j)  Child protection team assessments that include, as appropriate, medical evaluations, medical consultations, family psychosocial interviews, specialized clinical interviews, or forensic interviews.

All medical personnel participating on a child protection team must successfully complete the required child protection team training curriculum as set forth in protocols determined by the Deputy Secretary for Children's Medical Services and the Statewide Medical Director for Child Protection.

(2)  The child abuse, abandonment, and neglect reports that must be referred by the department to child protection teams of the Department of Health for an assessment and other appropriate available support services as set forth in subsection (1) must include cases involving:

(a)  Injuries to the head, bruises to the neck or head, burns, or fractures in a child of any age.

(b)  Bruises anywhere on a child 5 years of age or under.

(c)  Any report alleging sexual abuse of a child.

(d)  Any sexually transmitted disease in a prepubescent child.

(e)  Reported malnutrition of a child and failure of a child to thrive.

(f)  Reported medical neglect of a child.

(g)  Any family in which one or more children have been pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital or other health care facility, or have been injured and later died, as a result of suspected abuse, abandonment, or neglect, when any sibling or other child remains in the home.

(h)  Symptoms of serious emotional problems in a child when emotional or other abuse, abandonment, or neglect is suspected.

(3)  All abuse and neglect cases transmitted for investigation to a district by the hotline must be simultaneously transmitted to the Department of Health child protection team for review. For the purpose of determining whether face-to-face medical evaluation by a child protection team is necessary, all cases transmitted to the child protection team which meet the criteria in subsection (2) must be timely reviewed by:

(a)  A physician licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459 who holds board certification in pediatrics and is a member of a child protection team;

(b)  A physician licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459 who holds board certification in a specialty other than pediatrics, who may complete the review only when working under the direction of a physician licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459 who holds board certification in pediatrics and is a member of a child protection team;

(c)  An advanced registered nurse practitioner licensed under chapter 464 who has a speciality in pediatrics or family medicine and is a member of a child protection team;

(d)  A physician assistant licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459, who may complete the review only when working under the supervision of a physician licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459 who holds board certification in pediatrics and is a member of a child protection team; or

(e)  A registered nurse licensed under chapter 464, who may complete the review only when working under the direct supervision of a physician licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459 who holds certification in pediatrics and is a member of a child protection team.

(4)  A face-to-face medical evaluation by a child protection team is not necessary when:

(a)  The child was examined for the alleged abuse or neglect by a physician who is not a member of the child protection team, and a consultation between the child protection team board-certified pediatrician, advanced registered nurse practitioner, physician assistant working under the supervision of a child protection team board-certified pediatrician, or registered nurse working under the direct supervision of a child protection team board-certified pediatrician, and the examining physician concludes that a further medical evaluation is unnecessary;

(b)  The child protective investigator, with supervisory approval, has determined, after conducting a child safety assessment, that there are no indications of injuries as described in paragraphs (2)(a)-(h) as reported; or

(c)  The child protection team board-certified pediatrician, as authorized in subsection (3), determines that a medical evaluation is not required.

Notwithstanding paragraphs (a), (b), and (c), a child protection team pediatrician, as authorized in subsection (3), may determine that a face-to-face medical evaluation is necessary.

(5)  In all instances in which a child protection team is providing certain services to abused, abandoned, or neglected children, other offices and units of the Department of Health, and offices and units of the Department of Children and Family Services, shall avoid duplicating the provision of those services.

(6)  The Department of Health child protection team quality assurance program and the Department of Children and Family Services' Family Safety Program Office quality assurance program shall collaborate to ensure referrals and responses to child abuse, abandonment, and neglect reports are appropriate. Each quality assurance program shall include a review of records in which there are no findings of abuse, abandonment, or neglect, and the findings of these reviews shall be included in each department's quality assurance reports.

History.--s. 9, ch. 84-226; s. 63, ch. 85-81; s. 23, ch. 88-337; s. 53, ch. 90-306; s. 24, ch. 95-228; s. 273, ch. 96-406; s. 1043, ch. 97-103; s. 4, ch. 97-237; s. 13, ch. 98-137; s. 31, ch. 98-166; s. 40, ch. 98-403; s. 9, ch. 99-168; s. 42, ch. 99-397; s. 5, ch. 2000-217; s. 2, ch. 2000-367; s. 9, ch. 2006-86; s. 4, ch. 2008-6.

Note.--Former s. 415.5055.

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