Florida Senate - 2019 CS for CS for SB 318 By the Committees on Education; and Children, Families, and Elder Affairs; and Senator Montford 581-03239-19 2019318c2 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to public records; amending s. 39.202, 3 F.S.; prohibiting the release of any identifying 4 information with respect to any person reporting child 5 abuse, abandonment, or neglect, except under certain 6 circumstances; making conforming changes; providing a 7 statement of public necessity; providing an effective 8 date. 9 10 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 11 12 Section 1. Subsections (2) and (5) of section 39.202, 13 Florida Statutes, are amended to read: 14 39.202 Confidentiality of reports and records in cases of 15 child abuse or neglect.— 16 (2) Except as provided in subsection (4), access to such 17 records, excluding the name of, or other identifying information 18 with respect to, the reporter which shall be released only as 19 provided in subsection (5), shall be granted only to the 20 following persons, officials, and agencies: 21 (a) Employees, authorized agents, or contract providers of 22 the department, the Department of Health, the Agency for Persons 23 with Disabilities, the Office of Early Learning, or county 24 agencies responsible for carrying out: 25 1. Child or adult protective investigations; 26 2. Ongoing child or adult protective services; 27 3. Early intervention and prevention services; 28 4. Healthy Start services; 29 5. Licensure or approval of adoptive homes, foster homes, 30 child care facilities, facilities licensed under chapter 393, 31 family day care homes, providers who receive school readiness 32 funding under part VI of chapter 1002, or other homes used to 33 provide for the care and welfare of children; 34 6. Employment screening for caregivers in residential group 35 homes; or 36 7. Services for victims of domestic violence when provided 37 by certified domestic violence centers working at the 38 department’s request as case consultants or with shared clients. 39 40 Also, employees or agents of the Department of Juvenile Justice 41 responsible for the provision of services to children, pursuant 42 to chapters 984 and 985. 43 (b) Criminal justice agencies of appropriate jurisdiction. 44 (c) The state attorney of the judicial circuit in which the 45 child resides or in which the alleged abuse or neglect occurred. 46 (d) The parent or legal custodian of any child who is 47 alleged to have been abused, abandoned, or neglected, and the 48 child, and their attorneys, including any attorney representing 49 a child in civil or criminal proceedings. This access shall be 50 made available no later than 60 days after the department 51 receives the initial report of abuse, neglect, or abandonment. 52 However, any information otherwise made confidential or exempt 53 by law shall not be released pursuant to this paragraph. 54 (e) Any person alleged in the report as having caused the 55 abuse, abandonment, or neglect of a child. This access shall be 56 made available no later than 60 days after the department 57 receives the initial report of abuse, abandonment, or neglect 58 and, when the alleged perpetrator is not a parent, shall be 59 limited to information involving the protective investigation 60 only and shall not include any information relating to 61 subsequent dependency proceedings. However, any information 62 otherwise made confidential or exempt by law shall not be 63 released pursuant to this paragraph. 64 (f) A court upon its finding that access to such records 65 may be necessary for the determination of an issue before the 66 court; however, such access shall be limited to inspection in 67 camera, unless the court determines that public disclosure of 68 the information contained therein is necessary for the 69 resolution of an issue then pending before it. 70 (g) A grand jury, by subpoena, upon its determination that 71 access to such records is necessary in the conduct of its 72 official business. 73 (h) Any appropriate official of the department or the 74 Agency for Persons with Disabilities who is responsible for: 75 1. Administration or supervision of the department’s 76 program for the prevention, investigation, or treatment of child 77 abuse, abandonment, or neglect, or abuse, neglect, or 78 exploitation of a vulnerable adult, when carrying out his or her 79 official function; 80 2. Taking appropriate administrative action concerning an 81 employee of the department or the agency who is alleged to have 82 perpetrated child abuse, abandonment, or neglect, or abuse, 83 neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult; or 84 3. Employing and continuing employment of personnel of the 85 department or the agency. 86 (i) Any person authorized by the department who is engaged 87 in the use of such records or information for bona fide 88 research, statistical, or audit purposes. Such individual or 89 entity shall enter into a privacy and security agreement with 90 the department and shall comply with all laws and rules 91 governing the use of such records and information for research 92 and statistical purposes. Information identifying the subjects 93 of such records or information shall be treated as confidential 94 by the researcher and shall not be released in any form. 95 (j) The Division of Administrative Hearings for purposes of 96 any administrative challenge. 97 (k) Any appropriate official of a Florida advocacy council 98 investigating a report of known or suspected child abuse, 99 abandonment, or neglect; the Auditor General or the Office of 100 Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability for the 101 purpose of conducting audits or examinations pursuant to law; or 102 the guardian ad litem for the child. 103 (l) Employees or agents of an agency of another state that 104 has comparable jurisdiction to the jurisdiction described in 105 paragraph (a). 106 (m) The Public Employees Relations Commission for the sole 107 purpose of obtaining evidence for appeals filed pursuant to s. 108 447.207. Records may be released only after deletion of all 109 information which specifically identifies persons other than the 110 employee. 111 (n) Employees or agents of the Department of Revenue 112 responsible for child support enforcement activities. 113 (o) Any person in the event of the death of a child 114 determined to be a result of abuse, abandonment, or neglect. 115 Information identifying the person reporting abuse, abandonment, 116 or neglect shall not be released. Any information otherwise made 117 confidential or exempt by law shall not be released pursuant to 118 this paragraph. 119 (p) An employee of the local school district who is 120 designated as a liaison between the school district and the 121 department pursuant to an interagency agreement required under 122 s. 39.0016 and the principal of a public school, private school, 123 or charter school where the child is a student. Information 124 contained in the records which the liaison or the principal 125 determines are necessary for a school employee to effectively 126 provide a student with educational services may be released to 127 that employee. 128 (q) An employee or agent of the Department of Education who 129 is responsible for the investigation or prosecution of 130 misconduct by a certified educator. 131 (r) Staff of a children’s advocacy center that is 132 established and operated under s. 39.3035. 133 (s) A physician licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459, 134 a psychologist licensed under chapter 490, or a mental health 135 professional licensed under chapter 491 engaged in the care or 136 treatment of the child. 137 (t) Persons with whom the department is seeking to place 138 the child or to whom placement has been granted, including 139 foster parents for whom an approved home study has been 140 conducted,
the designee of a licensed residential group home141 described in s. 39.523,an approved relative or nonrelative with 142 whom a child is placed pursuant to s. 39.402, preadoptive 143 parents for whom a favorable preliminary adoptive home study has 144 been conducted, adoptive parents, or an adoption entity acting 145 on behalf of preadoptive or adoptive parents. 146 (5) The department may not release the name of, or other 147 identifying information with respect to, any person reporting 148 child abuse, abandonment, or neglect may not be releasedto any 149 person other than employees of the department responsible for 150 child protective services, the central abuse hotline, law 151 enforcement, the child protection team, or the appropriate state 152 attorney, without the written consent of the person reporting. 153 This does not prohibit the subpoenaing of a person reporting 154 child abuse, abandonment, or neglect when deemed necessary by 155 the court, the state attorney, or the department, provided the 156 fact that such person made the report is not disclosed. Any 157 person who reports a case of child abuse or neglect may, at the 158 time he or she makes the report, request that the department 159 notify him or her that a child protective investigation occurred 160 as a result of the report. Any person specifically listed in s. 161 39.201(1) who makes a report in his or her official capacity may 162 also request a written summary of the outcome of the 163 investigation. The department shall mail such a notice to the 164 reporter within 10 days after completing the child protective 165 investigation. 166 Section 2. The Legislature finds that it is a public 167 necessity to strengthen reporter-status protection by making all 168 reporter identifying information exempt from s. 119.07(1), 169 Florida Statutes, and s. 24(a), Article I of the State 170 Constitution. The current statutory scheme only protects the 171 name of the reporter who calls into the abuse hotline. By 172 protecting only the name of the reporter of child abuse, 173 abandonment, or neglect, the identity of the individual may be 174 discerned by other identifying information, thus rendering the 175 protection ineffective. Providing robust protections to 176 reporters of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect improves the 177 mandatory reporting scheme by ensuring that all instances of 178 suspected child abuse, abandonment, or neglect are reported to 179 the Department of Children and Families. Therefore, it is 180 necessary that individuals who are considered reporters under 181 the current statutory scheme have their identifying information 182 protected. 183 Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2019.