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Hillsborough Family Court Promotes Another Unqualified Parenting Coordinator to Unsuspecting Parents

Board Disciplines Tampa Area Licensed Clinical Social Worker Byron Kerry Brown for Conducting Child Custody Evaluation of Psychotherapy Clients

November 14, 2013

On April 23, 2012, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) filed an administrative complaint against Byron Kerry Brown, a licensed clinical social worker in the Tampa area. The DOH administrative complaint alleged that B. Kerry Brown performed an evaluation of minors for the purposes of making a recommendation regarding custody, residence or visitation, despite having previously provided psychotherapy treatment to the parties of the evaluation, in violation of Florida Statute (F.S.) 491.009(1)(w) and Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.) 64B4-7.006. The administrative complaint also alleged that B. Kerry Brown used the title of “family therapist” without holding a valid, active license as a marriage and family therapist, in violation of F.S. 491.012(1)(b). The administrative complaint further alleged that B. Kerry Brown charged $1,830 to copy a file, in violation of F.S. 491.009(1)(w) and F.S. 456.057(18).

On August 10, 2012, B. Kerry Brown appeared before the Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling for the purpose of hearing a proposed settlement agreement. The proposed settlement agreement reached by the DOH and B. Kerry Brown called for a reprimand on his license; a $2,000 fine; reimbursement of $7,961.67 in costs; 8 hours of continuing education in laws and rules; 3 hours of continuing education in professional ethics; 3 hours of continuing education in recordkeeping; an affidavit attesting that he read and understood the laws and rules contained in F.S. Chapters 491 and 456, and F.A.C. Chapter 64B; and an agreement that he would not use any of the titles set out in F.S. 491.012(1)(b) without holding a valid, active license as a marriage and family therapist.

The Board rejected the settlement agreement, and proposed a counter settlement agreement reducing the reprimand to a Letter of Concern, removing the costs assessment, and dismissing counts two and three. Mr. Brown accepted the counter settlement agreement and the Board issued its Final Order resolving the administrative complaint.

As a result of the Board’s disciplinary action against Mr. Brown, the status of his license changed to Obligations/Active, according to a DOH Medical Quality Assurance (MQA) license verification lookup.

F.S. 61.125(4)(c) states, “A qualified parenting coordinator must be in good standing, or in clear and active status, with his or her respective licensing authority, certification board, or both, as applicable.” Likewise, Hillsborough Family Court requirements also state that a qualified parenting coordinator must be "in clear and active status" with his or her licensing authority, certification board, or both.

Despite not meeting the minimum qualifications of a parenting coordinator under the Florida Statute or the Hillsborough Family Court requirements, B. Kerry Brown continues to hold himself out as a “Qualified Parenting Coordinator in Hillsborough County Courts” on his web site.

F.S. 61.125(5)(b) states, “A parenting coordinator must discontinue service as a parenting coordinator and immediately report to the court and the parties if any of the disqualifying circumstances described in paragraph (a) occur, or if he or she no longer meets the minimum qualifications in subsection (4), and the court may appoint another parenting coordinator.”

While B. Kerry Brown appears on the Hillsborough Family Courts list of parenting coordinators, it is not known whether he has informed them of his change in license status, and that consequently he does not meet the minimum qualifications of a parenting coordinator under the Florida Statute or the Hillsborough Family Court’s parenting coordinator requirements.

Moreover, Mr. Brown states on his web site, “I require all clients to sign a separate Contract before the [parenting coordination] process is officially begun.” In the contract, parents waive decision-making authority to Mr. Brown on non-substantive issues (though what constitutes substantive vs. non-substantive is not defined), grant access to their confidential and privileged records to Mr. Brown, and grant permission to Mr. Brown to provide their confidential and privileged records to health care providers and to any other third parties.

Florida Attorney Elizabeth Kates warns about the inappropriate delegation of judicial function to parenting coordinators on her web site.

Whereas according to the Hillsborough Family Courts list of parenting coordinators, Mr. Brown charges a flat hourly rate of $200 for his parenting coordination services; on the parenting coordination contract he requires parents to complete “before the [parenting coordination] process is officially begun,” he requires parents to divulge their annual salary from zero to over $150,000.

When Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush vetoed Senate Bill 2640 on Parenting Coordination on June 18, 2004, he warned that “we must limit the risk of 'professionalization' of the parenting coordinator role by limiting it to volunteers.” If Mr. Brown charges a flat hourly rate for his parenting coordination services as advertised, then one has to seriously wonder how parental income could possibly be relevant, unless it is a cynical guage of how involved Mr. Brown will be as a parenting coordinator in each case or how much of his intervention a particular family will need.

Have you had an experience with licensed clinical social worker B. Kerry Brown that you would like to share?


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