We rely on home studies all the time, but do we know what is actually required to be in a home study? What is included in the home study?
At a minimum, a home study must include:
- An interview with the proposed legal custodians to assess their ongoing commitment and ability to care for the child.
- Records checks through the Florida Abuse Hotline Information System (FAHIS), and local and statewide criminal and juvenile records checks through the Department of Law Enforcement, on all household members 12 years of age or older and any other persons made known to the department who are frequent visitors in the home.
- Out-of-state criminal records checks must be initiated for any individual designated above who has resided in a state other than Florida provided that state's laws allow the release of these records. The out-of-state criminal records must be filed with the court within 5 days after receipt by the department or its agent.
- An assessment of the physical environment of the home.
- A determination of the financial security of the proposed legal custodians.
- A determination of suitable child care arrangements if the proposed legal custodians are employed outside of the home.
- Documentation of counseling and information provided to the proposed legal custodians regarding the dependency process and possible outcomes.
- Documentation that information regarding support services available in the community has been provided to the proposed legal custodians.
Additionally, a determination shall be made and documented regarding:
- the child's feelings on the placement if the child is of sufficient maturity, understanding, and experience to reliably express such feelings concerning placement in this home;
- whether each proposed caregiver understands and is able to meet the child's need for protection;
- whether each proposed caregiver understands the child's need for care and permanency and can provide long-term permanency if needed;
- whether each proposed caregiver has been informed regarding rights and responsibilities in the dependency process;
- whether each proposed caregiver will provide adequate and nurturing care and can ensure an adequate and safe home;
- whether each proposed caregiver has a history free of child abuse and free of a criminal record; and
- whether or not the placement is to be recommended and an explanation of the decision.
- § 39.521(2)(r)(1-7), Florida Statutes (2011).
- Rule 65C-28.012(2)(a)(b), Florida Administrative Code (2006).