By: Karina Gonzalez
There are a rash of blogs, bulletins, memos, e-mails relaying that Florida DCF licensed Day/Night with Community Housing licensees (D/N with Community Housing) must be certified by FARR by July 1, 2018 in order to refer or accept referrals and not be sanctioned. The referral prohibitions in 397.4873 (2), Fla. Stat. show they apply after July 1, 2018 when a licensed service provider is referring to that provider’s wholly owned subsidiary. But there is no requirement for certification when the licensee, the entity licensed by DCF to provide services, is not a wholly owned subsidiary.
As of June 12th, Florida Healthcare Law Firm has served a Petition for Declaratory Statement on the Agency by a Day/Night with Community Housing licensee to seek clarification on whether Voluntary Certification of Recovery Residences administered by FARR under 397.487 Fla. Stat. applies to a licensed D/N with Community Housing program when the community housing is owned by the same service provider. Other D/N with Community Housing and Res 5 providers have a narrow window of opportunity to intervene in the action and work alongside FHLF to get clarification from DCF and potentially avoid FARR sanctions.
Standards for D/N with Community Housing require that clients live in a supportive, community housing location while participating in treatment. Rule 65D-30.0081 prohibits D/N Community Housing licensees from providing services in the community housing. There are no resident fees for living in community housing, length of stay is determined by clinical team based on the client’s progress in treatment. There are no referrals made or accepted to the Community Housing component; it is a part of the clinical service component licensed by DCF. An individual must be admitted to a clinical treatment program to live in the Community Housing component of the program. Community Housing is used solely for the purpose of assisting clients, participating in treatment to learn the life skills to transition to independent living.
On the other hand, the Florida legislature found that “a person suffering from addiction has a higher success rate of achieving long-lasting sobriety when given the opportunity to build a stronger foundation by living in a Recovery Residence after completing treatment.” Recovery residences (also known as sober homes or sober living homes) are alcohol and drug-free living environments for individuals in recovery who are trying to maintain abstinence after completing treatment. A Recovery Residence offers no formal treatment, but some residences strongly encourage voluntary attendance at 12-step groups. An individual living in a Recovery Residence is required to pay for room and board and any other services they receive in the residence. After completing treatment, a facility may refer an individual to a recovery residence to help maintain sobriety. Currently, to make or receive a referral, a Recovery Residence must be FARR certified.
DCF does not license Recovery Residences. The legislature enacted law to establish a program for recovery residences and recovery residence administrators. DCF approved two credentialing private entities to design a certification program and issue certificates. FARR certifies a Recovery Residence and The Florida Certification Board certifies Recovery Residence Administrators.
But DCF already has the right to enter and inspect a licensed provider at any time to determine statutory and regulatory compliance. Noncompliant licensed facilities are provided with reports of their noncompliance and given corrective action plans with completion deadlines. DCF may deny, suspend or revoke a license and it may impose restrictions and penalties on licensed providers who are not in compliance. To require a D/N with Community Housing licensees to also obtain and maintain FARR certification not only duplicates certain efforts but imposes recovery residence standards on a clinical treatment program which may prove impossible to implement.
DCF needs to issue a clarifying statement to avoid the confusing message that this community is getting from FARR, the State Attorney for the 15th Judicial Circuit, Task Force Proviso representatives and DCF.