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Today's topic is education plans available for all school-age children. Learn more about this important tool, review them for your children (GAL or otherwise) and be sure that schools are following their plans.
What is an educational plan and who needs one?
An educational and career path plan is necessary for each child in foster care age thirteen and older. Developed with the youth, their foster parent, the case manager and the school, each plan should outline the youth's post-secondary goals and the path to achieving those goals. Thereafter, plans should be reviewed at each Judicial Review hearing.
The 2006 Legislature passed House Bill 7087 (A++) which included changes to the middle grades promotion requirements. One requirement states that students entering the sixth grade in 2006 must enroll in a semester-long course in career and education planning to be completed in the seventh or eighth grade.
As part of the course, students will develop a career and education plan using Florida CHOICES Planner or another career information system such as ePersonal Education Planner (ePEP). Schools must use one of the approved courses to meet this requirement. Some of the approved courses are designated as year-long. In those cases, the classroom teacher can determine which semester to implement the career and education content.
The Educator's Toolkit on Career and Education Planning was developed to assist teachers in planning a comprehensive middle school career course. It provides easy access to classroom activities, lesson plans and related web-based resources. Each module includes a module description, lesson plans with student handouts, recommended websites for additional information and a glossary for the unit.
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.
Let's spend a few minutes today learning a little more about relative care giver funds with thanks to our friends at Florida's Center for the Advancement of Child Welfare Practice.
What are the eligibility requirements for the relative caregiver program?
Relatives must be within the fifth degree by blood or marriage to the parent or stepparent; the child(ren) must be under age 18, placed as a result of abuse, neglect or abandonment, adjudicated dependent, a United States citizen or qualified alien and reside in Florida and placed by a Florida court; there must be an approved home study; and there must be a court order placing children in temporary legal custody of the relative.
Can a relative get relative caregiver funds under the "Fit and Willing Relative" permanency goal?
Yes, if the relatives meet the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) relative caregiver eligibility requirements.
Can a relative get relative caregiver funds if the parent of the child lives in the home?
No, the parent and child cannot reside in the same home. If the parent is in the home thirty consecutive days or more, then the relative caregiver payment must be terminated. If the parent is under the age of eighteen, then the relative may receive the relative caregiver payment if both the minor parent and child have been adjudicated dependent and placed in the home by the court.