E.G. v. Department of Children and Families, 2016 WL 2731654 (Fla. 3rd DCA)

E.G., a 15 year old dependent youth, petitioned the court for a writ of certiorari quashing portions of an order directing E.G. to “voluntarily” enter into residential drug treatment, abstain from illegal drugs, and abstain from running away.

Mother had filed a motion to have E.G. removed from her home and returned to foster care. E.G. was ordered to “voluntarily submit himself to inpatient treatment” and while in foster care “shall abstain from drugs, alcohol use, and shall not run away from placement” and “shall submit to daily/random drug testing.”

Florida Statute § 39.601 governs voluntary admission into substance abuse treatment facilities. The Third DCA found this statute addresses situations where individuals choose to enter into treatment under their own volition but does not authorize a court to order a person to voluntarily enter into treatment. E.G. had a history of emotional and behavioral difficulties and was assessed on three separate occasions for residential placement pursuant to Florida Statute § 39.407. Each assessment found that E.G. was not suitable for residential placement.

The Third DCA found no statutory authorization or explanation in the record for indefinitely recurring drug testing. As to abstaining from drug use, the Third DCA noted the lack of explanation or purpose for the order and expressed concern as to future use of the contempt power. Finally, the Third DCA held that nothing in Florida Chapter 39 provides authorization to order a child not to run away.

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