Statutory changes and new provisions enacted by the 2018 Florida Legislature affect our case management responsibilities for incarcerated parents. Chapter 39 updates include how to engage incarcerated parents, case plan development including incarcerated parents, and offering available services while incarcerated and are outlined below.
Changes to F.S. 39.621 include:
• When parents are incarcerated or become incarcerated, the Department shall obtain information from the facility where they reside to determine how they can participate in the preparation and completion of the Case Plan and receive services.
• An incarcerated parent must be given the regulations of the facility where he/she resides and the services available at the facility.
• The Department must attach a list of all services available at the facility to the Case Plan. If the facility does not have a list of available services, the Department must note the unavailability of the list in the Case Plan.
• The incarcerated parent must comply with the facility procedures and policies to access services or maintain contact with his/her children as provided in the Case Plan.
• If a parent becomes incarcerated after a Case Plan has been developed, the parties must move to amend the Case Plan if the incarceration has an impact on permanency for the child including, but not limited to:
− Modification of provision regarding visitation and contact with the child
− Identification of services within the facility
− Changing the permanency goal or establishing a concurrent goal
• A parent’s services must be assessed upon release, if the Case Plan has not expired.
• If the parent was unable to participate in services, the Department must include a full explanation of the circumstances surrounding non-participation and state the nature of the Department’s efforts to secure participation.
Case Management responsibilities:
• Case Managers need to coordinate with Children’s Legal Services and other parties to ensure participation of the incarcerated parent in the development of the Case Plan.
• Upon completing the Family Functioning Assessment-Ongoing and developing the Case Plan Worksheet, Case Managers must send a notification/introduction letter to the parent(s) notifying them of their assignment and contact information.
• Case Managers also must send a letter to the assigned correctional institution introducing themselves and their role and asking the Classification Officer to respond via e-mail with their contact information. The email will be marked “Attention Classification Department”.
• When a parent is incarcerated, Case Managers need to identify the appropriate services and classes for the parent in order to make recommendations to the court regarding tasks that should be included in the parent’s Case Plan. The Florida Department of Correction’s website has information about programs and services that are available, such as mental health treatment, substance abuse counseling, parenting classes, and anger management, and can be accessed at the various correctional institutions by the parent(s).
• Upon obtaining a verified list of available services, Case Managers need to ensure the list is attached to the copy of the Case Plan filed with the courts.
• A copy of the Case Plan must be provided to the incarcerated parent. A copy can be provided via mail, e-mail, or provided through the assigned attorney.
• Case Managers need to familiarize themselves with s. 39.6011 (1)(a), F.S. and HB 281.
The incarcerated parent’s information can be located on the Florida Department of Correction’s website: http://www.dc.state.fl.us/ Click on “Offender Search” to locate their Department of Corrections’ number and the address of the assigned correctional institution.
Information on parents incarcerated outside of the state of Florida can be found using Vinelink at https://www.vinelink.com/#/home