Juvenile Dependency
The Dependency division of the Juvenile Court consists of five Circuit Court Judges, two General Magistrates and judicial staff. The Court presides over Abuse, Neglect, and Abandonment cases and its mission is to ensure the permanency, safety and well being of children that are brought into the Dependency system within statutorily mandated timeframes. The Department of Children and Families, Protective Investigators, investigate reported cases of abuse and/or neglect. After investigation a petition is either filed with the court under Chapter 39 of the Florida Statutes or the family is offered volunteer services and the case is not submitted for court supervision. A case plan is presented for each case in the system which outlines what must be completed and the time frame in order for children to be reunified or to achieve permanent placement. Permanency goals of the court are generally reunification with rehabilitated parents, adoption if a petition for termination of parental rights has been filed, permanent guardianship, permanent placement, and APPLA (Another Permanent Planned Living Arrangement).

In 1997 the Adoption and Safe Families Act was enacted to promote the timely adoption of children involved in the foster care system. State and federal mandatory timeframes must be strictly adhered to in order to achieve the mission of promoting, safety, permanency and well being of children.

There are many court partners involved with the dependency division of the Juvenile Court such as the Department of Children and Families, Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe County Inc., Guardian Ad Litem Office, Full Case Management Agencies such as: His House, Family Resource Center, Center of Family and Child Enrichment, CHARLEE home for Children, Children’s Home Society, and Wesley House Family Services, Defense Council, private attorneys and community service partners.

The dependency division of the Juvenile court offers Dependency Drug Court program. This is a voluntary program that has been in existence since 1998 and offered to clients that are eligible and involved in the dependency system. Drug court coordinators and specially trained child welfare counselors provide intensive assessment, case management and therapeutic crisis intervention services in collaboration with a number of community service providers. Linda Ray Intervention Center, University of Miami, provides developmental assessments, early intervention programs, and the Strengthening Families and Nurturing Families family skills enhancement program in identified cases where children age 4 and under are in the petition. In addition, parents have access to health assessments, medical referrals, family planning counseling and referral services provided by a Nurse Practitioner.

Related Information
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