Evidentiary Hearing Before Placing a Child Into Residential Treatment

In M.W. v. Davis, 756 So. 2d 90 (Fla. 2000) this Court considered whether an evidentiary hearing that complied with the substantive and procedural requirements of the Baker Act was required before a court could order a dependent child in the temporary legal custody of the Department of Children and Family Services (the department) to be placed into residential treatment. The court ultimately found that an evidentiary hearing that complied with the Baker Act was not required, see: id. at 106, but stated: The procedures that the dependency court must follow before residential treatment is ordered should be clearly set forth for the guidance of dependency court judges, the Department and the parties to the dependency proceeding. As stated above, at a minimum, these procedures should include a hearing in which the child has a meaningful opportunity to be heard. Accordingly, we direct that the Juvenile Court Rules Committee submit to this Court no later than June 30, 2000, proposed rules that will set forth the procedures to be followed by the dependency court when the Department of Children and Families seeks an order committing a dependent child to a residential facility for mental health treatment. The Committee shall give due regard to both the rights of the child and the child's best interests. Id. at 109.