HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES STAFF ANALYSIS
BILL #: HB 1337 Step into Success Workforce Education and Internship Pilot Program
TIED BILLS: IDEN./SIM. BILLS: SB 1190
REFERENCE ACTION ANALYST STAFF DIRECTOR or
1) Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee 13 Y, 0 N Brazzell Brazzell
2) Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee 14 Y, 0 N Fontaine Clark
3) Health & Human Services Committee 19 Y, 0 N Brazzell Calamas
Young adults who age out of the foster care system can experience challenges achieving self-sufficiency.
HB 1337 creates the “Step Into Success Act,” and establishes the three-year Step into Success Workforce
Education and Internship Pilot Program (program) to be implemented by the Department of Children and
Families (DCF). The purpose of the program is to give eligible foster youth and former foster youth an
opportunity to: learn and develop essential workforce and professional skills; transition from the custody of
DCF to independent living; and become better prepared for an independent and successful future.
The program includes two specific components: a workforce education component and an onsite internship
component. The bill specifies how the pilot program will operate and includes reporting requirements. State
government agencies as well as private-sector organizations may be sites for interns, who must be assigned
mentors and, subject to available funding, receive stipends.
The bill has a significant, negative fiscal impact on the DCF and no fiscal impact on local governments.
The bill provides an effective date of July 1, 2023.
This docum ent does not reflect the intent or official position of the bill sponsor or House of Representatives .
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I. SUBSTANTIVE ANALYSIS
A. EFFECT OF PROPOSED CHANGES:
Florida’s Dependency System
Chapter 39, F.S., creates the dependency system charged with protecting child welfare. Florida’s
dependency system identifies children and families in need of services through reports to the central
abuse hotline and child protective investigations. DCF and the 18 community-based care lead agencies
(CBCs) throughout Florida1 work with those families to address the problems endangering children, if
possible. If the problems are not addressed, DCF and the CBCs find safe out-of-home placements for
DCF’s practice model is based on the safety of the child within the home by using in-home services,
such as parenting coaching and counseling, to maintain and strengthen that child’s natural supports in
his or her environment.
DCF contracts with CBCs for case management, out-of-home services, and related services. The
outsourced provision of child welfare services is intended to increase local community ownership of
service delivery and design. CBCs contract with a number of subcontractors for case management and
direct care services to children and their families.
DCF remains responsible for a number of child welfare functions, including operating the central abuse
hotline, performing child protective investigations, and providing children’s legal services.2 Ultimately,
DCF is responsible for program oversight and the overall performance of the child welfare system. 3
When children are placed in out-of-home care, child welfare agencies must find safe, permanent
homes for them as quickly as possible. In most cases, children are reunified with their families. When
reunification is not possible DCF seeks to place children in permanent homes with relatives or adoptive
families. Florida law requires a permanency hearing no later than 12 months after the child was
removed from the home or within 30 days after a court determines that reasonable efforts to return the
child to either parent are not required, whichever occurs first. 4 The purpose of the permanency hearing
is for the court to determine when the child will achieve permanency or whether modifying the
permanency goal is in the child’s best interest.5 A permanency hearing must be held at least every 12
months for any child who continues to be supervised by DCF or awaits adoption. 6
The permanency goals under Florida law, listed in order of preference are:
Adoption, if a petition for termination of parental rights has been or will be filed;
Permanent guardianship under s. 39.6221, F.S.;
Permanent placement with a fit and willing relative under 39.6231, F.S.; or
Placement in another planned permanent living arrangement under s. 39.6241, F.S. 7
Permanency Outcomes by Age of Entry
1 These 18 CBCs together serve the state’s 20 judicial circuits.
2 Ch. 39, F.S.
4 S. 39.621(1), F.S.
7 S. 39.621(3), F.S.
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The U.S.Department of Health and Human Services analyzed national permanency outcomes for
children in the foster care system using state reported data.8 The following graph describes the
outcomes of children exiting care by age at entry.
Below are some likely outcomes as presented on the graph: 9
Reunification is the most likely outcome for children who enter care between ages 1 and 16.
Children under age 1 who enter care are the only group for whom adoption is the most likely
outcome (the likelihood of adoption decreases the older the child is when entering care).
Guardianship likelihood increases the older the child is when entering care, until age 13.
Most likely to still be in care after four years are those who enter care between ages 9 and 13.
Emancipation likelihood increases the older the age of entry, for entry between ages 13 and 17.
Children who enter foster care between the ages of 9 and 13 who do not reunify within the first two
years may stay in foster care longer, either waiting to be adopted or aging out of care. For youth
entering at age 16 or older, aging out of care is the most likely outcome. Aging out of care generally
means a youth reached the state’s legal age of adulthood without achieving permanency. Additionally,
older children who are not reunified within the first year are much less likely to be reunified in
subsequent years when compared to younger children who enter care and do not reunify in the first
Older Foster Youth
Young adults who age out of the foster care system have challenges achieving self-sufficiency.
Compared to young adults without foster care involvement, these young adults are less likely to earn a
high school diploma or GED, or attend college. They are more likely to have mental health problems,
8 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, ACYF-CB-IM-21-01,
https:www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/documents/cb/im2101.pdf (last viewed March 13, 2023).
9 Id., at 7.
10 Id., at 8.
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have a higher rate of criminal justice system involvement, have difficulty achieving financial
independence, need public assistance, and experience housing instability and homelessness.
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2020-2021, 1,047 young adults started the year at 17 years of age in Florida’s
foster care system.11 Of those, 862 (82%) aged out of care at the age of 18. Such foster youth can elect
to enter Florida’s extended foster care program if they meet certain requirements. Of these, 477
entered extended foster care and were eligible to receive foster care services until age 21 (or 22 if
The Children’s Bureau within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services collects information
about the characteristics and experiences of current and former foster youth across the country. The
National Youth in Transition Database tracks the independent living services each state provides to
foster youth in care and assesses each state’s performance in providing independent living and
transition services.13 The 2018 Florida survey14 documented outcomes related to education,
employment, housing, finances and transportation, health and well-being, and connections, indicated in
the chart below.15
Outcomes of Young Adults who Aged Out of Care
74% were enrolled in and attending high school, GED classes, post-high school vocational
training, or college.
Education 12% experienced barriers that prevented them from continuing education. The top three reported
barriers included the need to work full-time, not having transportation, and having academic
15% were employed full-time (35 hours per week or more).
26% were employed part-time.
78% had a paid job over the last year.
22% completed an apprenticeship, internship, or other on-the-job training, either paid or unpaid.
The top three current living situations included living in their own apartment, house, or trailer;
living with friends or a roommate; and living in a group care setting (including a group home or
residential care facility).
41% had to couch surf or move from house to house because they did not have a permanent
place to stay.
27% experienced some type of homelessness in the past year. 16
46% received public food assistance.
10% received social security payments (Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability
Insurance, or dependents’ payments).
83% had a reliable means of transportation to school/work.
76% had an open bank account.
85% were on Medicaid.
18% had children.
Health & 34% had not received medical care for a physical health problem, treatment for a mental health
Well-Being problem, or dental care in the past two years for some health problem needing to be addressed.
24% were confined in a jail, prison, correctional facility, or juvenile detention facility within the
past two years.
85% had at least one adult in their life, other than their case manager, to go to for advice or
Connections emotional support.
67% had a close relationship with biological family members.
11 Email from John Paul Fiore, Legislative Affairs Director, Florida Department of Children and Families, Updated Info, Jan. 20, 2022
(on file with the House Children, Families, and Seniors Subcommittee).
13 DCF periodically surveys current and former foster youth ages 18 -22 who turned 18 in licensed care. Many of the young adults
completing the survey receive services through EFC, PESS, and Aftercare.
14 The survey reflects the responses of 933 young adults.
15 Florida National Youth in Transition Database, 2018 Survey Data Report, https://www.myflfamilies.com/service-
programs/independent-living/docs/2018%20Florida%20NYTD%20Statewide%20Report%20Final.pdf (last viewed March 11, 2023).
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Independent Living Services
Under s. 39.6035, F.S., DCF and CBCs, in collaboration with the caregiver and any other individual
whom the child would like to include, must assist the child in developing a transition plan out of foster
care during the year after a child turns 16. The transition plan must address specific options for the
child to use in obtaining services, including housing, health insurance, education, financial literacy, a
driver license, and workforce support and employment services. The transition plan must be updated as
needed before the child turns 18. During the transition plan process, children should be informed of all
the independent living services Florida provides to allow the child to decide what independent living
program would best fit his or her needs.
Florida provides independent living services to older youth to help them transition out of foster care and
to prepare them to become self-sufficient adults. Florida’s independent living services include extended
foster care, which applies to young adults who were in licensed foster care upon turning 18. Florida
also offers two other independent living programs: Postsecondary Education Services and Supports
(PESS) and Aftercare Services.
Office of Continuing Care
In 2021, the Legislature created the Office of Continuing Care (OCC) within DCF. This program
operates as a point of contact for young adults who age out of the foster care system until they reach
the age of 26. The purpose of the OCC is to ensure this population receives ongoing support and care
coordination needed to achieve self-sufficiency. The duties of the OCC include:
Informing eligible young adults about the OCC and the types of supports it offers;
Providing information on how to access services to support the young adult’s self-sufficiency;
Assisting eligible young adults in accessing services and supports, and;
Collaborating with CBCs to identify local resources.
DCF staffs the OCC primarily with individuals with lived experience in the foster care system. These
employees use their unique viewpoint and focus to provide information, access to ongoing supports,
and care navigation for the specific population they serve.
The Office of Continuing Care has served nearly 500 clients since it launched in October 2021. The top
requested services or referrals requested by OCC clients include:
information to understand available services as a youth who has aged out of care,
connection to an Independent Living Specialist, and
Effect of Proposed Changes
Section 409.1455, F.S., is created and titled the “Step Into Success Act,” and establishes the three-
year Step into Success Workforce Education and Internship Pilot Program (program). The purpose of
the program is to give eligible foster youth and former foster youth an opportunity to: learn and develop
essential workforce and professional skills; transition from the custody of DCF to independent living;
and become better prepared for an independent and successful future. The program contemplates two
specific components that the program must include: a workforce education component and an onsite
The OCC , in consultation with subject-matter experts and the CBCs, must develop and administer the
pilot program for interested foster youth and former foster youth. The bill authorizes DCF to contract
with entities that have demonstrable subject-matter expertise in the necessary areas to collaborate with
the OCC in the development and administration of the pilot program. The independent living
17 Florida Department of Children and Families, Agency Analysis of 2023 House Bill 1337 (n.d.).
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professionalism and workforce education component of the program must culminate in a certificate that
allows a former foster youth to participate in the onsite workforce training internship.
The bill provides definitions for relevant terms, including but not limited to:
“Former foster youth” means an individual 18 years of age or older but younger than 26 years
of age who is currently or was previously placed in licensed care, excluding Level I licensed
placements pursuant to s. 409.175(5)(a)1, F.S., for at least 60 days within the state.
“Foster youth” means an individual older than 16 years of age but younger than 18 years of
age who is currently in licensed care, excluding Level I licensed placements pursuant to s.
“Participating organization” means a state agency, a corporation under chapter 607 or chapter
617, or another relevant entity that has agreed to collaborate with the Office in the
development and implementation of a trauma-informed onsite workforce training internship