Municipalities throughout the nation continue to use zoning to exclude community residences from residential districts despite the presence of numerous court decisions that recognize community residences for people with disabilities as a residential use. Over the past year multiple Florida cities have imposed tougher regulations on community residences for people with disabilities. These communities include group homes, sober living homes, recovery communities, and assisted living facilities that emulate a biological family. In creating these regulations, cities cite to the protection of individuals from the actions of unscrupulous operators and also the need to avoid a concentration of community residences in one area that have shown to undermine the goals of the residents. Thus, if you are an operator in one of these cities, you may be subject to heightened scrutiny and additional documentation requirements ranging from simple registration to submitting an application for a conditional use permit requiring an appearance before a planning and zoning board.
Attorneys from the Florida Healthcare Law Firm will hold a live call to present an urgently needed update regarding FARR certification.
The recent petition for Declaratory Statement filed with the Department of Children and Families on behalf of Amethyst Recovery Center focuses on one thing: whether the FARR certification requirements for Recovery Residences also apply to facilities licensed by DCF to provide Day and Night treatment with community housing and to Res-5 housing. A review of FARR recovery residence certification shows that there is significant conflict with DCF requirements for licensure of treatment facilities that have a housing component. There are no referrals to and from the community housing component of Day and Night or for Res 5: patients are simply housed under the DCF licensed component while in treatment. Referrals from Recovery Residences to addiction treatment facilities are generally made for individuals who are seeking treatment, not for housing.
Day and Night Treatment Providers with community housing may make referrals for individuals who have completed inpatient treatment, requiring them to step down to an outpatient provider. Many times, clients desire to live in a recovery residence to maintain their sobriety. In that case, it would be appropriate for the Day and Night Treatment Provider to refer to a FARR-certified recovery residence.
When asked about why Amethyst filed for clarification, Pamela Springer, Chief Operating Officer with Amethyst Recovery Center stated, “Amethyst supports FARR’s mission and the State of Florida’s requirement for recovery residence certification. However, thus far, DCF has indicated to Amethyst Recovery Center that it does not require FARR certification for licensed community housing. FARR has stated to us and other providers that Day and Night treatment with community housing must obtain FARR certification or they will be in violation of the law. This is the reason we sought clarification from DCF”.
If history teaches anything, it’s to learn from it. The addiction treatment industry can’t afford to sit idly by and watch. Uniform application of the law is essential to avoid unfair, unreasonable and unintended results. Step up; show up. Register for FREE: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4977722626987986435 and stand up for your rights under Florida law.
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.
Several clients have inquired in the past few weeks about the new Florida law regarding recovery residences, or sober living facilities. Implementation of the new law has been slow, leaving a lot of questions unanswered and room for opinions to be taken as facts.
Many have asked us if recovery residences are required by law to obtain certification. It is not mandatory for all sober homes to become certified prior to July 1, 2016. However, as of that date, a DCF-licensed substance abuse treatment facility may not refer a current or discharged patient to a recovery residence unless any of the following applies:
the recovery residence holds a valid certificate of complianceor
the recovery residence is owned and operated by a licensed service provider or
the recovery residence is a licensed service provider’s wholly owned subsidiary.
The term “refer” means to inform a patient by any means about the name, address, or other details of the recovery residence. The effect of the law is to squeeze sober homes into obtaining certification if they are not owned and operated by a DCF-licensed treatment provider.
Two separate legislative proposals are aimed to tighten up the sober home industry. The Bills follow on the heels of legislation proposed last year, which did not become law. We have a couple weeks left till the Legislative session ends (May 1st), after which time we will see what regulation made its way through the process. Until then, it’s important to have an idea of what is on the horizon.
Creates “voluntary” certification for recovery residences;
A. Specifies the requirement of a “recovery residence administrator;”
B. Specifies that the credentialing entity of both the recovery residence and the recovery residence administrator will be a nonprofit organization (not necessarily one that is tax exempt) that “develops, administers professional, facility, or organization certification programs according to applicable nationally recognized certification or psychometric standards,” and requires the credentialing entity to:
Establish the recovery residence certification requirements. Interestingly, the Legislature, which states that those in recovery are vulnerable and need to be protected, is offloading to an unspecified nonprofit organization (which anyone can form in five minutes) the responsibility for developing certification requirements;
Establish procedures to, among other things, to monitor, inspect and insure compliance with the certification requirements established by this unspecified nonprofit organization entrusted by the state of Florida with this responsibility;
Require recovery residences (who are volunteering to be regulated) to submit documents such as job descriptions, drug testing procedures and requirements, to be managed by a “certified recovery residence administrator.”
The Bill also states that a recovery residence cannot be certified if an owner, director or CFO plead guilty, no contest or was found guilty of certain offenses. Moreover, the non-governmental, not for profit certifying body has authority to suspend or revoke a certification if the entity determines the residence isn’t complying with the law. No due process is required. Oh, and finally, as of July 1, 2016, a provider licensed under Chapter 397 may not refer a patient (current or discharged) to a recovery residence unless the residence, which is not required to be certified, actually becomes certified, making the voluntary certification requirement, ummm….mandatory!
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