Disclosure of Confidential Child Abuse and Neglect Records - Florida

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Confidentiality of Records

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 39.202

All records held by the Department of Children and Family Services concerning reports of child abandonment, abuse, or neglect, including reports made to the central abuse hotline and all records generated as a result of such reports, shall be confidential and exempt from the provisions of § 119.07(1) (that allows public records to be inspected and copied), and they shall not be disclosed except as specifically authorized by this chapter. Such exemption from § 119.07(1) applies to information in the possession of those entities granted access as set forth in this section.

Persons or Entities Allowed Access to Records

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 39.202

Access to records shall be granted only to the following persons, officials, and agencies:

  • Employees, authorized agents, or contract providers of the department, the Department of Health, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Office of Early Learning, or county agencies responsible for carrying out the following:
    • Child or adult protective investigations
    • Ongoing child or adult protective services
    • Healthy Start services
    • Services for victims of domestic violence
  • Employees or agents of the Department of Juvenile Justice responsible for the provision of services to children
  • Criminal justice agencies of appropriate jurisdiction
  • The State attorney of the judicial circuit in which the child resides or in which the alleged abuse or neglect occurred
  • The parent or legal custodian of any child who is alleged to have been abused, abandoned, or neglected; the child; and their attorneys
  • Any person alleged in the report as having caused the abuse, abandonment, or neglect of a child
  • A court when it is necessary for the determination of an issue before the court
  • A grand jury, by subpoena, when it is necessary in the conduct of its official business
  • Any appropriate official of the department, the Agency for Health Care Administration, or Agency for Persons with Disabilities who is responsible for administration or supervision of the department's program for the prevention, investigation, or treatment of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect or abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult
  • Any person who is engaged in bona fide research
  • The Division of Administrative Hearings for purposes of any administrative challenge
  • Any appropriate official of a Florida advocacy council investigating a report of known or suspected child abuse, abandonment, or neglect
  • The Auditor General or the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability for the purpose of conducting audits or examinations
  • The guardian ad litem for the child
  • Employees or agents of an agency of another State that has comparable jurisdiction to the jurisdiction described above
  • The Public Employees Relations Commission for the sole purpose of obtaining evidence for appeals filed pursuant to § 447.207
  • Employees or agents of the Department of Revenue responsible for child support enforcement activities
  • An employee of the local school district and the principal of a public school, private school, or charter school where the child is a student as needed for a school employee to effectively provide a student with educational services
  • An employee or agent of the Department of Education who is responsible for the investigation or prosecution of misconduct by a certified educator
  • Staff of a children's advocacy center
  • A physician, psychologist, or mental health professional engaged in the care or treatment of the child
  • Persons with whom the child may be placed

When Public Disclosure of Records is Allowed

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 39.202

Access to records may be granted to any person in the event of the death of a child determined to be a result of abuse, abandonment, or neglect. Information identifying the reporter shall not be released. Any information otherwise made confidential or exempt by law shall not be released.

When a child under the supervision of the department is determined to be missing, the department may release the following information to the public when it believes the release of the information is likely to assist efforts in locating the child or to promote the safety or well-being of the child:

  • The name of the child and the child's date of birth
  • A physical description of the child
  • A photograph of the child

With the concurrence of the law enforcement agency primarily responsible for investigating the incident, the department may release any additional information it believes likely to assist efforts in locating the child or to promote the safety or well-being of the child.

The law enforcement agency primarily responsible for investigating the incident may release any information received from the department regarding the investigation if it believes the release of the information is likely to assist efforts in locating the child or to promote the safety or well-being of the child.

Use of Records for Employment Screening

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 39.202

Access to records may be provided to employees, authorized agents, or contract providers of the department, the Department of Health, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Office of Early Learning, or county agencies for the purpose of licensure or approval of adoptive homes, foster homes, child care facilities, facilities licensed under chapter 393, family day care homes, providers who receive school readiness funding, or other homes used to provide for the care and welfare of children.