The Department intends to create Rule Chapter 65C-44, F.A.C., entitled Guardianship Assistance Program. The chapter will contain rules regarding the processes and procedures for the Guardianship Assistance Program, including definitions, types of ...  

  •  

    DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

    Family Safety and Preservation Program

    RULE NO.:RULE TITLE:

    65C-44.001Definitions

    65C-44.002Types of Guardianship Assistance

    65C-44.003Determination of Guardianship Assistance Payments

    65C-44.004Guardianship Assistance Agreement

    65C-44.005Non-recurring Guardianship Expenses

    65C-44.006Extension of Guardianship Assistance Agreement

    65C-44.007Redetermination of Guardianship Assistance Payment and Extended Guardianship Assistance Payment

    PURPOSE AND EFFECT: The Department intends to create Rule Chapter 65C-44, F.A.C., entitled Guardianship Assistance Program. The chapter will contain rules regarding the processes and procedures for the Guardianship Assistance Program, including definitions, types of guardianship assistance, guardianship assistance agreements, determining guardianship assistance payments, and redetermination of eligibility for guardianship assistance and extended payments.

    SUMMARY: The rules accomplish the following: 1) Define terms; 2) Require the child welfare professional to inform prospective guardianship caregivers of the availability of types of guardianship assistance, including guardianship assistance payments, other medical services, reimbursement for non-recurring guardianship assistance expenses, and tuition fee exemptions; 3) Incorporate several forms; 4) Explain the purpose of the guardianship payment; 5) Require determination of need prior to case closing in permanent guardianship; 6) Establish when a Guardianship Assistance Agreement shall be terminated; 7) Require specified background checks for successor guardians; 8) Establish criteria for payments to the guardian for non-recurring expenses the guardian incurred in connection with the guardianship; and 9) Require annual redetermination of guardianship assistance payment eligibility and semiannual redetermination of extended guardianship assistance payment eligibility.

    SUMMARY OF STATEMENT OF ESTIMATED REGULATORY COSTS AND LEGISLATIVE RATIFICATION:

    The Agency has determined that this will not have an adverse impact on small business or likely increase directly or indirectly regulatory costs in excess of $200,000 in the aggregate within one year after the implementation of the rule. A SERC has not been prepared by the Agency.

    The Agency has determined that the proposed rule is not expected to require legislative ratification based on the statement of estimated regulatory costs or if no SERC is required, the information expressly relied upon and described herein: The Department used a checklist to conduct an economic analysis and determine if there is an adverse impact or regulatory costs associated with this rule that exceeds the criteria in section 120.541(2)(a), F.S. Based upon this analysis, the Department has determined that the proposed rule is not expected to require legislative ratification.

    Any person who wishes to provide information regarding a statement of estimated regulatory costs, or provide a proposal for a lower cost regulatory alternative must do so in writing within 21 days of this notice.

    RULEMAKING AUTHORITY: 39.6225(11), FS.

    LAW IMPLEMENTED: 39.6225, FS.

    IF REQUESTED WITHIN 21 DAYS OF THE DATE OF THIS NOTICE, A HEARING WILL BE SCHEDULED AND ANNOUNCED IN THE FAR.

    THE PERSON TO BE CONTACTED REGARDING THE PROPOSED RULE IS: Jodi Abramowitz. Jodi can be reached at (850)717-4470 or Jodi.Abramowitz@myflfamilies.com.

     

    THE FULL TEXT OF THE PROPOSED RULE IS:

    CHAPTER 65C-44

    Guardianship Assistance Program

     

    65C-44.001 Definitions.

    (1) “Child” means an individual who has not attained 18 years of age.

    (2)  “Extended Guardianship Assistance Agreement” means an agreeement that outlines the payment amount and services provided for a qualifying young adult.

    (3) “Extended Guardianship Assistance Payment” means a monthly payment provided to a caregiver for the care and support of a qualifying young adult.

    (4) “Guardianship Assistance Agreement” means an agreement that outlines the payment amount and services provided for a qualifying child.

    (5) “Guardianship Assistance Payment” means a monthly payment provided to the caregiver for care and support of a qualifying child.

    (6) “Successor Guardian” means an adult identified by the caregiver and approved by the Department who will assume care and responsibility for the child if the caregiver is no longer able to care for the child.

    (7) “Young adult” as defined in paragraph 39.6225(1)(b), F.S.

    Rulemaking Authority 39.6225(11), F.S.   Law Implemented 39.6225, F.S.  History-New.

     

    65C-44.002 Types of Guardianship Assistance

    The child welfare professional shall inform prospective guardianship caregivers of the availability of all of the benefits listed below:

    (1) Guardianship Assistance Payment.

    (2) Other Medical Services. Other medical services available include on-going Medicaid coverage and continuing eligibility with Children’s Medical Services for children who were receiving such services prior to case closure in permanent guardianship.

    (3) Reimbursement for Non-Recurring Guardianship Assistance Expenses. Non-recurring guardianship expenses are expenses necessary for pursuing legal permanent guardianship. Payments must be requested in writing prior to case closure in permanent guardianship.

    (4)  Tuition Fee Exemption. Children who were in the custody of a permanent guardian may be eligible for an exemption of undergraduate college tuition fees at Florida universities or community colleges pursuant to section  1009.25, F.S.

    Rulemaking Authority 39.6225(11), F.S.   Law Implemented 39.6225, F.S.  History-New.

     

    65C-44.003 Determination of Guardianship Assistance Payments

    (1) The purpose of the guardianship assistance payment is to make financial assistance available to permanent guardians to enable them to provide care for a qualifying child. Every permanent guardian must be advised of the availability of a guardianship assistance payment and the purpose for which it was intended.

    (2) An application to participate in the Guardianship Assistance Program must be made on the “Application for Guardianship Assistance Program” form, CF-FSP 5442, (insert date), which is incorporated by reference and available at http://www.flrules.org/Gateway/reference.asp?No=Ref-XXX. As outlined in CFOP 170-13, Chapter 13, presumptive eligibility must be completed prior to execution of the Guardianship Assistance Agreement.

    (3) The child’s and family’s need for guardianship assistance payment must be determined prior to the court case closing in permanent guardianship. Guardianship assistance payments shall not be made prior to all parties signing the “Guardianship Assistance Agreement,” CF-FSP 5437, incorporated in rule 65C-44.004, F.A.C.

    (4) If the Department or community-based care lead agency (CBC) has responsibility for placement and care of the child, the CBC in the county where the court has jurisdiction is responsible for entering into the Guardianship Assistance Agreement and paying guardianship assistance payments.

    (5) When the need for guardianship assistance payments is not determined prior to case closure and the permanent guardians believe they have been wrongly denied guardianship assistance payments on behalf of a child, they have the right to appeal the denial in accordance with the rules and procedures of the state’s fair hearing and appeal process.  If it is found that the guardianship assistance payment was wrongly denied, retroactive payment will be made dating back to the date the permanent guardian requested guardianship assistance payments in writing. Retroactive payment dating back to the date of placement will not be approved.

    (6) Medical or mental health evaluations shall be required to document the need for any guardianship assistance payment that exceeds the statewide standard foster care board rate. Evaluations must be completed within the last 12 months of initial guardianship assistance payment determination.

    (7) The CBC or subcontracted agency child welfare professional shall inform the caregiver that the guardianship assistance payments, unlike the foster care board rate payments, are not intended to cover the complete cost of the child’s care. The guardianship assistance payment is intended to assist the permanent guardian in supporting the extra cost associated with providing care for a child.

    (8) The initial determination of the monthly guardianship assistance payment shall be based on the needs of the child at the time of negotiation and the projected future needs of the child based on the family and medical history of the child and birth family, or for cases that meet guardianship assistance program requirements and are closed in permanent guardianship on or after, July 1, 2019, as stated in Section 39.6225, F.S. Negotiations for the initial guardianship assistance payment shall begin at $333 monthly.

    (9) A guardianship assistance payment may be negotiated up to 100% of the statewide foster care board rate. A payment may exceed 100% of the statewide foster care board rate based on a family’s level of licensure pursuant to 409.175(5) F.S., when an exception is granted by the Department’s regional managing director or designee and documented on the “Guardianship Assistance Payment Approval” form CF-FSP 5440, (insert date), incorporated by reference and available at http://www.flrules.org/Gateway/reference.asp?No=Ref-XXX. Requests for exceptions must be in writing. In determining whether to grant an exception, the regional managing director or designee shall consider the medical, behavioral, and therapeutic needs of the child at the time of the negotiation, as well as the projected future needs of the child based on the family and medical history of the child and birth family. In no case shall the guardianship assistance payment exceed the foster care maintenance payment for which the child is or would be eligible if the child had been placed in a family foster home. Guardianship assistance payments are not intended to cover services which can be obtained through family insurance, Medicaid, Children’s Medical Services, or through special education plans provided by the public school district.

    (10) The effective date of the agreement is the date that all requirements for the Guardianship Assistance Program have been met. Payments may not be made for any months in which there is no Guardianship Assistance Agreement in place.

    (11) The permanent guardian must be advised by the child welfare professional that it is their responsibility to notify the Department or CBC lead agency of any change in circumstances, including moving out of state, no later than 48 hours after the change.

    (12) The Guardianship Assistance Agreement shall be terminated:

    (a) Upon the death or incapacity of the guardian(s) if no successor legal guardian is named.

    (b) Upon the death of the child.

    (c) When it is determined that the child is no longer the legal responsibility of the guardian(s).

    (d) When it is determined that the child is no longer receiving support from the guardian(s).

    (e) Upon request of the guardian(s).

    (13) Permanent guardians may request an increase in the guardianship assistance payments after the initial Guardianship Assistance Agreement was approved due to increased needs related to conditions of the child that were identified as current or future needs of the child prior to the permanent guardianship placement or the circumstances of the family have changed to meet the increased needs of the child.

    (a) If the increase request is approved, retroactive payment will be made dating back to the date the permanent guardian officially requested the increased guardianship assistance payment in writing.

    (b) If the increase request is denied, the designated Department staff shall send a denial letter with notification of the permanent guardian’s right to appeal in accordance with the rules and procedures of the state’s fair hearing and appeal process. If it is found that the increase was wrongfully denied, the effective date of the new payment will be the date the increase request was received.

    (c) A new Guardianship Assistance Agreement must be signed by all parties with the new approved amount documented.

    (14) No child will have his or her guardianship assistance payment reduced based on application of this rule.

    (15) No change shall be made to a guardianship assistance payment without concurrence of the permanent guardian except as provided by the federal regulation or state law. The Guardianship Assistance Agreement is not transferable but should include a successor guardian.

    Rulemaking Authority 39.6225(11), F.S.   Law Implemented 39.6225, F.S.  History-New.

     

    65C-44.004 Guardianship Assistance Agreement

    (1) The “Guardianship Assistance Agreement,” CF-FSP 5437, (insert date), incorporated by reference and available at http://www.flrules.org/Gateway/reference.asp?No=Ref-XXX, must be signed and dated by all parties prior to case closure in permanent guardianship and uploaded into the Florida Safe Families Network (FSFN) database.

    (2) A successor guardian should be identified and documented on the Guardianship Assistance Agreement.

    (3) The successor guardian is not required to be a relative, fictive kin or a licensed caregiver.

    (4) The successor guardian must successfully complete the following criminal, delinquency and abuse/neglect history checks prior to being added to the Guardianship Assistance Agreement:

    (a) Fingerprints;

    (b) Statewide criminal records check through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement;

    (c) Records check of the Florida Sexual Offenders and Predators registry;

    (d) Juvenile records check through the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice for adults ages 18-26 years old;

    (e) Federal criminal records check through the Federal Bureau of Investigations;

    (f) Local criminal records check through law enforcement agencies, including records of any responses to the home by law enforcement that did not result in criminal charges;

    (g) Abuse and neglect records check through the FSFN; and

    (h) Civil court records check regarding domestic violence complaints and orders of domestic violence complaints and orders of protection.

    (5) Successor guardians are not required to have a completed Unified Home Study at the point of being identified but must have a home study completed and approved in FSFN prior to placement.

    Rulemaking Authority 39.6225(11), F.S.   Law Implemented 39.6225, F.S.  History-New.

     

    65C-44.005 Non-recurring Guardianship Expenses

    (1) Under any Guardianship Assistance Agreement, the state is authorized to make payments to the guardian for non-recurring, one time, expenses the guardian has incurred in connection with the guardianship. Non-recurring guardianship expenses are court costs, attorney fees, and other expenses which are directly related to the guardianship.

    (2) Agency fees shall be established by written agreement between the agency and family prior to the performance of the requested service. If these children are otherwise eligible, agency fees shall be counted as an allowable expense under non-recurring guardianship expenses. It is not necessary that the family be receiving guardianship assistance payment to be eligible for reimbursement of non-recurring guardianship expenses.

    (3) In cases where siblings are placed separately or as a unit, each child is treated as an individual with separate reimbursement for non-recurring expenses up to the maximum amount of $1,000 per child.

    (4) There are no income eligibility requirements for guardians in determining whether payments for non-recurring expenses of guardianship will be made.

    (5) Guardians cannot be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses for which they have been otherwise reimbursed.

    (6) The following procedures will initiate payments for reimbursement of non-recurring guardianship expenses:

    (a) All guardians will be advised by the staff person conducting the home study of the availability of non-recurring expense reimbursement;

    (b) Reimbursement for eligible costs may be made to the guardian or directly to a vendor. The staff person conducting the home study shall advise all guardians to keep copies of receipts of expenditures related to pursuing guardianship. Copies of such receipts shall be entered into  the payment record in  Florida Safe Families Network (FSFN.) Eligible expenses include court costs, attorney fees, birth certificates, costs of required physicals and psychological examinations, costs of transportation, lodging and food for the child and/or guardian when necessary to complete the guardianship process, and the cost of the home study if the child is in the custody of a private agency;

    (c) When completing program eligibility, the Guardianship Assistance Agreement shall be negotiated with the family and must include a statement of the projected cost to be reimbursed for non-recurring guardianship expenses as well as proposed guardianship assistance payments.

    (d) Payments for non-recurring expenses can be made up to one (1) year following the closing in permanent guardianship.

    Rulemaking Authority 39.6225(11), F.S.   Law Implemented 39.6225, F.S.  History-New.

     

    65C-44.006 Extension of Guardianship Assistance Agreement

    (1) Families shall be notified of the Extension of Guardianship Assistance Payment when they are entering into an agreement for a child who has attained 16 or 17 years of age.

    (2) The initial agreement shall notate that the caregiver intends to opt into the Extension of Guardianship Assistance Program.

    (3) The “Extension of Guardianship Assistance Agreement,” CF-FSP 5434, (insert date), incorporated by reference and available at http://www.flrules.org/Gateway/reference.asp?No=Ref-XXX, shall be executed prior to the child’s 18th birthday.

    (4) The young adult must meet the eligibility criteria as stated in Section 39.6225, F.S.

    (5) Extension of Guardianship Assistance Payments may be made until the young adult reaches 21 years of age, if the young adult is determined to meet eligibility criteria during the annual redetermination periods.              

    Rulemaking Authority 39.6225(11), F.S.   Law Implemented 39.6225, F.S.  History-New.

     

    65C-44.007 Redetermination of Guardianship Assistance Payment and Extended Guardianship Assistance Payment

    (1) An annual redetermination for Guardianship Assistance Payment eligibility shall be completed every 12 months. Failure of the guardian to submit a completed “Guardianship Assistance Program Eligibility Redetermination” form prior to the end of the 12-month redetermination date shall result in suspension of the Guardianship Assistance Payment. The “Guardianship Assistance Program Eligibility Redetermination” form, CF-FSP 5441, (insert date), is incorporated by reference and available at http://www.flrules.org/Gateway/reference.asp?No=Ref-XXX.

    (2) A redetermination for Extended Guardianship Assistant Payment eligibility shall be completed every six (6) months.

    (a) The guardian must provide documentation that the young adult for whom they are receiving Extended Guardianship Assistance Payment continues to meet the eligibility criteria in Section 39.6225(9), F.S. 

    (b) Failure of the guardian to submit a completed “Guardianship Assistance Program Eligibility Redetermination” form prior to the end of the 6-month redetermination date shall result in suspension of the Guardianship Assistance Payment.

    (3) The “Guardianship Assistance Program Eligibility Redetermination” form will be uploaded into the file cabinet under the child or young adult’s program eligibility page in Florida’s Safe Families Network (FSFN) database.

    Rulemaking Authority 39.6225(11), F.S.   Law Implemented 39.6225, F.S.  History-New.

     

    NAME OF PERSON ORIGINATING PROPOSED RULE: Teanna Houston

    NAME OF AGENCY HEAD WHO APPROVED THE PROPOSED RULE: Chad Poppell

    DATE PROPOSED RULE APPROVED BY AGENCY HEAD: March 8, 2019

    DATE NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULE DEVELOPMENT PUBLISHED IN FAR: October 25, 2018

Document Information

Comments Open:
3/21/2019
Summary:
The rules accomplish the following: 1) Define terms; 2) Require the child welfare professional to inform prospective guardianship caregivers of the availability of types of guardianship assistance, including guardianship assistance payments, other medical services, reimbursement for non-recurring guardianship assistance expenses, and tuition fee exemptions; 3) Incorporate several forms; 4) Explain the purpose of the guardianship payment; 5) Require determination of need prior to case closing in ...
Purpose:
The Department intends to create Rule Chapter 65C-44, F.A.C., entitled Guardianship Assistance Program. The chapter will contain rules regarding the processes and procedures for the Guardianship Assistance Program, including definitions, types of guardianship assistance, guardianship assistance agreements, determining guardianship assistance payments, and redetermination of eligibility for guardianship assistance and extended payments.
Rulemaking Authority:
39.6225(11), F.S.
Law:
39.6225, F.S.
Contact:
Jodi Abramowitz. Jodi can be reached at 850-717-4470 or Jodi.Abramowitz@myflfamilies.com.
Related Rules: (7)
65C-44.001.
65C-44.002.
65C-44.003.
65C-44.004.
65C-44.005.
More ...