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.
   10  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   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.
   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 home
  141  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 released to 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.