CS for CS for CS for SB 318                      First Engrossed
    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; updating terminology; making conforming
    7         changes; providing for future legislative review and
    8         repeal of the exemption; providing for reversion of
    9         statutory text of certain provisions if the exemption
   10         is not saved from repeal; providing a statement of
   11         public necessity; providing an effective date.
   13  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   15         Section 1. Subsections (2) and (5) of section 39.202,
   16  Florida Statutes, are amended, and subsection (9) is added to
   17  that section, to read:
   18         39.202 Confidentiality of reports and records in cases of
   19  child abuse or neglect.—
   20         (2) Except as provided in subsection (4), access to such
   21  records, excluding the name of, or other identifying information
   22  with respect to, the reporter which shall be released only as
   23  provided in subsection (5), shall be granted only to the
   24  following persons, officials, and agencies:
   25         (a) Employees, authorized agents, or contract providers of
   26  the department, the Department of Health, the Agency for Persons
   27  with Disabilities, the Office of Early Learning, or county
   28  agencies responsible for carrying out:
   29         1. Child or adult protective investigations;
   30         2. Ongoing child or adult protective services;
   31         3. Early intervention and prevention services;
   32         4. Healthy Start services;
   33         5. Licensure or approval of adoptive homes, foster homes,
   34  child care facilities, facilities licensed under chapter 393,
   35  family day care homes, providers who receive school readiness
   36  funding under part VI of chapter 1002, or other homes used to
   37  provide for the care and welfare of children;
   38         6. Employment screening for caregivers in residential group
   39  homes; or
   40         7. Services for victims of domestic violence when provided
   41  by certified domestic violence centers working at the
   42  department’s request as case consultants or with shared clients.
   44  Also, employees or agents of the Department of Juvenile Justice
   45  responsible for the provision of services to children, pursuant
   46  to chapters 984 and 985.
   47         (b) Criminal justice agencies of appropriate jurisdiction.
   48         (c) The state attorney of the judicial circuit in which the
   49  child resides or in which the alleged abuse or neglect occurred.
   50         (d) The parent or legal custodian of any child who is
   51  alleged to have been abused, abandoned, or neglected, and the
   52  child, and their attorneys, including any attorney representing
   53  a child in civil or criminal proceedings. This access shall be
   54  made available no later than 60 days after the department
   55  receives the initial report of abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
   56  However, any information otherwise made confidential or exempt
   57  by law shall not be released pursuant to this paragraph.
   58         (e) Any person alleged in the report as having caused the
   59  abuse, abandonment, or neglect of a child. This access shall be
   60  made available no later than 60 days after the department
   61  receives the initial report of abuse, abandonment, or neglect
   62  and, when the alleged perpetrator is not a parent, shall be
   63  limited to information involving the protective investigation
   64  only and shall not include any information relating to
   65  subsequent dependency proceedings. However, any information
   66  otherwise made confidential or exempt by law shall not be
   67  released pursuant to this paragraph.
   68         (f) A court upon its finding that access to such records
   69  may be necessary for the determination of an issue before the
   70  court; however, such access shall be limited to inspection in
   71  camera, unless the court determines that public disclosure of
   72  the information contained therein is necessary for the
   73  resolution of an issue then pending before it.
   74         (g) A grand jury, by subpoena, upon its determination that
   75  access to such records is necessary in the conduct of its
   76  official business.
   77         (h) Any appropriate official of the department or the
   78  Agency for Persons with Disabilities who is responsible for:
   79         1. Administration or supervision of the department’s
   80  program for the prevention, investigation, or treatment of child
   81  abuse, abandonment, or neglect, or abuse, neglect, or
   82  exploitation of a vulnerable adult, when carrying out his or her
   83  official function;
   84         2. Taking appropriate administrative action concerning an
   85  employee of the department or the agency who is alleged to have
   86  perpetrated child abuse, abandonment, or neglect, or abuse,
   87  neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult; or
   88         3. Employing and continuing employment of personnel of the
   89  department or the agency.
   90         (i) Any person authorized by the department who is engaged
   91  in the use of such records or information for bona fide
   92  research, statistical, or audit purposes. Such individual or
   93  entity shall enter into a privacy and security agreement with
   94  the department and shall comply with all laws and rules
   95  governing the use of such records and information for research
   96  and statistical purposes. Information identifying the subjects
   97  of such records or information shall be treated as confidential
   98  by the researcher and shall not be released in any form.
   99         (j) The Division of Administrative Hearings for purposes of
  100  any administrative challenge.
  101         (k) Any appropriate official of a Florida advocacy council
  102  investigating a report of known or suspected child abuse,
  103  abandonment, or neglect; the Auditor General or the Office of
  104  Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability for the
  105  purpose of conducting audits or examinations pursuant to law; or
  106  the guardian ad litem for the child.
  107         (l) Employees or agents of an agency of another state that
  108  has comparable jurisdiction to the jurisdiction described in
  109  paragraph (a).
  110         (m) The Public Employees Relations Commission for the sole
  111  purpose of obtaining evidence for appeals filed pursuant to s.
  112  447.207. Records may be released only after deletion of all
  113  information which specifically identifies persons other than the
  114  employee.
  115         (n) Employees or agents of the Department of Revenue
  116  responsible for child support enforcement activities.
  117         (o) Any person in the event of the death of a child
  118  determined to be a result of abuse, abandonment, or neglect.
  119  Information identifying the person reporting abuse, abandonment,
  120  or neglect shall not be released. Any information otherwise made
  121  confidential or exempt by law shall not be released pursuant to
  122  this paragraph.
  123         (p) An employee of the local school district who is
  124  designated as a liaison between the school district and the
  125  department pursuant to an interagency agreement required under
  126  s. 39.0016 and the principal of a public school, private school,
  127  or charter school where the child is a student. Information
  128  contained in the records which the liaison or the principal
  129  determines are necessary for a school employee to effectively
  130  provide a student with educational services may be released to
  131  that employee.
  132         (q) An employee or agent of the Department of Education who
  133  is responsible for the investigation or prosecution of
  134  misconduct by a certified educator.
  135         (r) Staff of a children’s advocacy center that is
  136  established and operated under s. 39.3035.
  137         (s) A physician licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459,
  138  a psychologist licensed under chapter 490, or a mental health
  139  professional licensed under chapter 491 engaged in the care or
  140  treatment of the child.
  141         (t) Persons with whom the department is seeking to place
  142  the child or to whom placement has been granted, including
  143  foster parents for whom an approved home study has been
  144  conducted, the designee of a licensed child-caring agency as
  145  defined in s. 39.01(41) residential group home described in s.
  146  39.523, an approved relative or nonrelative with whom a child is
  147  placed pursuant to s. 39.402, preadoptive parents for whom a
  148  favorable preliminary adoptive home study has been conducted,
  149  adoptive parents, or an adoption entity acting on behalf of
  150  preadoptive or adoptive parents.
  151         (5) The department may not release the name of, or other
  152  identifying information with respect to, any person reporting
  153  child abuse, abandonment, or neglect may not be released to any
  154  person other than employees of the department responsible for
  155  child protective services, the central abuse hotline, law
  156  enforcement, the child protection team, or the appropriate state
  157  attorney, without the written consent of the person reporting.
  158  This does not prohibit the subpoenaing of a person reporting
  159  child abuse, abandonment, or neglect when deemed necessary by
  160  the court, the state attorney, or the department, provided the
  161  fact that such person made the report is not disclosed. Any
  162  person who reports a case of child abuse or neglect may, at the
  163  time he or she makes the report, request that the department
  164  notify him or her that a child protective investigation occurred
  165  as a result of the report. Any person specifically listed in s.
  166  39.201(1) who makes a report in his or her official capacity may
  167  also request a written summary of the outcome of the
  168  investigation. The department shall mail such a notice to the
  169  reporter within 10 days after completing the child protective
  170  investigation.
  171         (9) The expansion of the public records exemption under
  172  this section to include other identifying information with
  173  respect to any person reporting child abuse, abandonment, or
  174  neglect is subject to the Open Government Sunset Review Act in
  175  accordance with s. 119.15 and shall stand repealed on October 2,
  176  2024, unless reviewed and saved from repeal through reenactment
  177  by the Legislature. If the expansion of the exemption is not
  178  saved from repeal, this section shall revert to that in
  179  existence on June 30, 2019, except that any other amendments
  180  made to this section, other than by this act, are preserved and
  181  continue to operate to the extent that such amendments are not
  182  dependent upon the portions of text that expire under this
  183  subsection.
  184         Section 2. The Legislature finds that it is a public
  185  necessity to strengthen reporter-status protection by making all
  186  reporter identifying information exempt from s. 119.07(1),
  187  Florida Statutes, and s. 24(a), Article I of the State
  188  Constitution. The current statutory scheme only protects the
  189  name of the reporter who calls into the abuse hotline. By
  190  protecting only the name of the reporter of child abuse,
  191  abandonment, or neglect, the identity of the individual may be
  192  discerned by other identifying information, thus rendering the
  193  protection ineffective. Providing robust protections to
  194  reporters of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect improves the
  195  mandatory reporting scheme by ensuring that all instances of
  196  suspected child abuse, abandonment, or neglect are reported to
  197  the Department of Children and Families. Therefore, it is
  198  necessary that individuals who are considered reporters under
  199  the current statutory scheme have their identifying information
  200  protected.
  201         Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2019.