CEO 87-51 -- July 30, 1987
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
D.H.R.S. DISTRICT CYF COUNSELOR EMPLOYED BY FOSTER CARE HOME
To: Ms. Beth Burghard, CYF Counselor, District I, Children, Youth and Families Program, Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, Pensacola
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a children, youth and families counselor for a D.H.R.S. District to be employed on weekends with a children's home which has been licensed by the Department as a foster care facility, where the counselor is not in a position to place children in the home. As the counselor would have no role in the licensing process or in the placement of children in the home, her proposed employment as a house parent by the home would not violate Section 112.313(7), Florida Statutes.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were you, a Children, Youth and Families Counselor for a Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services District, to be employed on weekends with a children's home which has been licensed by the Department as a foster care facility, where you are not in a position to place children in the home?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry and in subsequent correspondence you have advised that you are employed as a Senior CYF Counselor with the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services District I Children, Youth and Families Program. You work in the adoptions and related services unit and in that position are responsible for planning for children in the foster care system, approving adoptive applicants, placement and supervision in adoptive homes, and for interviews, supervision, and reports on adoptions and divorce custodies.
You question whether you may work as a part-time houseparent at a home for girls on the weekend. The home is licensed as a foster care facility by the foster care unit, so that you have no responsibilities regarding the licensing of the home.
You have advised that as a Senior CYF Counselor you do not have the option of placing children in the home because none of the children on your caseload have been or will be eligible for placement in the home. At the present time, one child at the home is an HRS placement.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in relevant part:
CONFLICTING EMPLOYMENT OR CONTRACTUAL RELATIONSHIP. -- No public officer or employee of an agency shall have or hold any employment or contractual relationship with any business entity or any agency which is subject to the regulation of, or is doing business with, an agency of which he is an officer or employee . . . ; nor shall an officer or employee of an agency have or hold any employment or contractual relationship that will create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict between his private interests and the performance of his public duties or that would impede the full and faithful discharge of his public duties. [Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes (1985).]
This provision prohibits a public employee from having any employment with a business entity which is subject to the regulation of, or is doing business with, the employee's agency, and further prohibits the employee from having any outside employment that would create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict of interest.
In a previous opinion, CEO 85-73, we advised that a D.H.R.S. District Intake Counselor could be employed by an adolescent group home. As explained in that opinion, where a D.H.R.S. employee seeks employment with a private entity, we have looked at the employee's role in the regulatory process over the private entity and the employee's role in any contracts between the Department and the private entity. We also have considered whether the employee is in a position to make referrals of D.H.R.S. clients to the private entity. If there is no conflict in these respects between the outside employment and the employee's duties, we have found that there is no prohibited conflict of interest.
Here, no children on your caseload have been placed with the home and you are not in a position to make placements with the home which would be your private employer. Therefore, we perceive no conflict between your duties as a Senior CYF Counselor and your employment as a houseparent with the home.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were you to accept part-time employment as a houseparent with the children's home while serving as a CYF Counselor with the adoptions and related services unit.