Section 39.702, Florida Statutes 2009
39.702 Citizen review panels.--
(1) Citizen review panels may be established in each judicial circuit and shall be authorized by an administrative order executed by the chief judge of each circuit. The court shall administer an oath of office to each citizen review panel member which shall authorize the panel member to participate in citizen review panels and make recommendations to the court pursuant to the provisions of this section.
(2) Citizen review panels shall be administered by an independent not-for-profit agency. For the purpose of this section, an organization that has filed for nonprofit status under the provisions of s. 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code is an independent not-for-profit agency for a period of 1 year after the date of filing. At the end of that 1-year period, in order to continue conducting citizen reviews, the organization must have qualified for nonprofit status under s. 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code and must submit to the chief judge of the circuit court a consumer's certificate of exemption that was issued to the organization by the Florida Department of Revenue and a report of the organization's progress. If the agency has not qualified for nonprofit status, the court must rescind its administrative order that authorizes the agency to conduct citizen reviews. All independent not-for-profit agencies conducting citizen reviews must submit citizen review annual reports to the court.
(3) For the purpose of this section, a citizen review panel shall be composed of five volunteer members and shall conform with the requirements of this chapter. The presence of three members at a panel hearing shall constitute a quorum. Panel members shall serve without compensation.
(4) Based on the information provided to each citizen review panel pursuant to s. 39.701, each citizen review panel shall provide the court with a report and recommendations regarding the placement and dispositional alternatives the court shall consider before issuing a judicial review order.
(5) The independent not-for-profit agency authorized to administer each citizen review panel shall:
(a) In collaboration with the department, develop policies to assure that citizen review panels comply with all applicable state and federal laws.
(b) Establish policies for the recruitment, selection, retention, and terms of volunteer panel members. Final selection of citizen review panel members shall, to the extent possible, reflect the multicultural composition of the community which they serve. A criminal background check and personal reference check shall be conducted on each citizen review panel member prior to the member serving on a citizen review panel.
(c) In collaboration with the department, develop, implement, and maintain a training program for citizen review volunteers and provide training for each panel member prior to that member serving on a review panel. Such training may include, but shall not be limited to, instruction on dependency laws, departmental policies, and judicial procedures.
(d) Ensure that all citizen review panel members have read, understood, and signed an oath of confidentiality relating to written or verbal information provided to the panel members for review hearings.
(e) Establish policies to avoid actual or perceived conflicts of interest by panel members during the review process and to ensure accurate, fair reviews of each child dependency case.
(f) Establish policies to ensure ongoing communication with the department and the court.
(g) Establish policies to ensure adequate communication with the parent, the foster parent or legal custodian, the guardian ad litem, and any other person deemed appropriate.
(h) Establish procedures that encourage attendance and participation of interested persons and parties, including the parents, foster parents, or legal custodian with whom the child is placed, at citizen review hearings.
(i) Coordinate with existing citizen review panels to ensure consistency of operating procedures, data collection, analysis, and report generation.
(j) Make recommendations as necessary to the court concerning attendance of essential persons at the review and other issues pertinent to an effective review process.
(k) Ensure consistent methods of identifying barriers to the permanent placement of the child and delineation of findings and recommendations to the court.
(6) The department and agents of the department shall submit information to the citizen review panel when requested and shall address questions asked by the citizen review panel to identify barriers to the permanent placement of each child.
History.--s. 12, ch. 90-306; s. 50, ch. 92-58; s. 79, ch. 98-403; s. 39, ch. 99-193.
Note.--Former s. 39.4531.