Significant child welfare reforms enacted into law

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Representative Cyndi Stevenson (R-St. Augustine), reported to Historic City News that substantial legislation focused on taking the next step in improving the Florida child welfare system has been enacted into law.

HB 1121, sponsored by Stevenson, reflects a joint effort on the part of the Department of Children & Families and Senator Rene Garcia, provides the department and judiciary with updated tools needed to protect some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens.

“Under past Florida law, a judge could not consider a parent’s abuse history from other states, when considering if rights should be terminated,” Rep. Stevenson told local reporters. “Crossing a state line does not make a child any safer and parents should not get a clean slate just because they crossed our state line.”

  • HB 1121 provides that the Department of Children & Families and the courts will review parental issues occurring in other states.
  • The bill also seeks to further protect substance exposed newborns by requiring a court to order evaluations and treatments and assessments for parents whose substance abuse contributed to the harm of a newborn.
  • Stevenson’s bill also requires children born into a household involved in an active investigation, or children moving into such a household, to be automatically added to the investigation.

“HB 1121 contains many important provisions that improve the protection of children and our most vulnerable adults.” Rep. Stevenson said. “I am delighted that after two years of effort this legislation is finally in effect. Ultimately, I believe this bill will save lives.”

These provisions seek to address proven risks to the safety of Florida’s children. In addition, changes reflected in the bill also allow for children to return home once safety conditions have been addressed.

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