Review and Expunction of Central Registries and Reporting Records - Florida

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Right of the Reported Person to Review and Challenge Records

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 39.202(2)(e); Pol. Man. # 170-16

Except for the name of the reporter, access to child abuse and neglect reports shall be granted to any person alleged in the report as having caused the abuse, abandonment, or neglect of a child. This access shall be made available no later than 30 days after the Department of Children and Family Services receives the initial report of abuse, abandonment, or neglect and, when the alleged perpetrator is not a parent, shall be limited to information involving the protective investigation only and shall not include any information relating to subsequent dependency proceedings. However, any information otherwise made confidential or exempt by law shall not be released.

In policy: The Florida Safe Families Network (FSFN) is the department's Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System. FSFN serves as the statewide electronic case record for all child abuse investigations and case management activities.

An internal review can be conducted by the department to ensure policy, rule, and statute were followed when making a determination of a verified finding in a child protective investigation. Only the 'caregiver responsible' may request an internal review.

An internal review involves the examination of the information contained in FSFN; the hardcopy investigation file; other pertinent documents (if any are available) particular to the specific case, such as police reports; and any documents provided by the requestor along with interviews of staff involved in the investigation, if they are still employed by the department. The internal review will not reinvestigate the allegations but will consider whether a preponderance of the evidence supports the verified finding based on the investigative process and information provided by the requestor.

The internal review will be completed by the Regional Family and Community Services director or his or her designee. The person completing the internal review must not have been involved in any stage of the investigation.

The internal review shall be completed within 60 days of the request. The person completing the internal review has the authority to change a verified finding if the documentation does not support the finding.

If a dependency proceeding is pending at the time of the request for an internal review, the review shall not be initiated until after the adjudicatory hearing. If a criminal investigation or criminal case is pending at the time of the request, the internal review shall not be initiated until after the law enforcement investigation or State attorney's case is completed.

An internal review may not be conducted on an investigative file past the department's retention schedule.

After the review is completed, if the verified finding is changed as a result, the supervisor of the child protective investigator that made the finding or a person designated by the Regional Family and Community Services director will immediately:

  • Ensure the investigative summary is updated and an addition is made to the chronological notes to explain that an internal review occurred, resulting in an update of the finding
  • Ensure the program office staff documents the decision in FSFN
  • Prepare an addendum to the investigative summary reflecting the changed finding and send a copy to the Children's Legal Services attorney assigned to the case as well as the case manager assigned to the case if there is an open dependency case involving the subject of the internal review
  • Review the case with the child protective investigator, supervisor, and program administrator that made the finding, if appropriate, to discuss and document why the reviewer indicated that a preponderance of credible evidence did not exist and to discuss any changes in practice indicated by the internal review

When Records Must Be Expunged

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 39.202

The Department of Children and Family Services shall make and keep reports and records of all cases under this chapter and shall preserve the records pertaining to a child and family until the child who is the subject of the report is age 30, at which time the records may then be destroyed.