Department Of Children And Families v. Coll, 2005 WL 1959190 (Fla. 4th DCA August 17, 2005) (Trial Court Reversed) The Florida Department of Children and Families (“DCF”) isn’t always the easiest government agency to deal with. As one family learned in this case, they have their own ways of doing things, and not even a court order can change that. In guardianship proceedings initiated by the mother of an adult son who is cognitively impaired and autistic, Palm Beach County Judge Gary L. Vonhof attempted to expedite DCF’s evaluation process of the ward by entering an order compelling the DCF to determine if the ward was eligible for developmental services and to appear at a status conference to report on its findings. One problem though, DCF wasn’t a party to these proceedings, which means the court didn’t have the authority to order them to do anything. The DCF petitioned the Fourth DCA for a writ of prohibition challenging the circuit court’s order, and the Fourth DCA agreed: it held that the circuit court had exceeded its authority under Ch. 744 (Florida’s guardianship statutes), it thus quashed the order and provided the following guidance for families seeking DCF services in the future:

The statutes requires one seeking developmental services to submit a written application to DCF. See 2005->Ch0393->Section%20065#0393.065″>§ 393.065(1), Fla. Stat. (2005). DCF is required to notify the applicant of its eligibility determination. See 2005->Ch0393->Section%20065#0393.065″>§ 393.065(3), Fla. Stat. (2005). DCF’s decision is subject to an administrative appeal. There is no requirement that DCF notify a court or any counsel in guardianship proceedings of its determination. Nothing in the guardianship statutes authorizes the court to create its own procedure for assessment for developmental services, and there is no evidence that DCF has failed to comply with its obligations under section 2005->Ch0393->Section%20065#0393.065″>393.065.