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The Florida Statutes

The 2021 Florida Statutes

Title V
JUDICIAL BRANCH
Chapter 39
PROCEEDINGS RELATING TO CHILDREN
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F.S. 39.201
39.201 Required reports of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect, sexual abuse of a child, and juvenile sexual abuse; required reports of death; reports involving a child who has exhibited inappropriate sexual behavior.
(1) MANDATORY REPORTING.
(a)1. A person is required to report immediately to the central abuse hotline established in s. 39.101, in writing, through a call to the toll-free telephone number, or through electronic reporting, if he or she knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that any of the following has occurred:
a. Child abuse, abandonment, or neglect by a parent or caregiver, which includes, but is not limited to, when a child is abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare or when a child is in need of supervision and care and has no parent, legal custodian, or responsible adult relative immediately known and available to provide such supervision and care.
b. Child abuse by an adult other than a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare. The central abuse hotline must immediately electronically transfer such reports to the appropriate county sheriff’s office.
2. Any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is the victim of sexual abuse or juvenile sexual abuse shall report such knowledge or suspicion to the central abuse hotline, including if the alleged incident involves a child who is in the custody of or under the protective supervision of the department.

Such reports may be made in writing, through the statewide toll-free telephone number, or through electronic reporting.

(b)1. A person from the general public may make a report to the central abuse hotline anonymously if he or she chooses to do so.
2. A person making a report to the central abuse hotline whose occupation is in any of the following categories is required to provide his or her name to the central abuse hotline counselors:
a. Physician, osteopathic physician, medical examiner, chiropractic physician, nurse, or hospital personnel engaged in the admission, examination, care, or treatment of persons;
b. Health care professional or mental health professional other than a person listed in sub-subparagraph a.;
c. Practitioner who relies solely on spiritual means for healing;
d. School teacher or other school official or personnel;
e. Social worker, day care center worker, or other professional child care worker, foster care worker, residential worker, or institutional worker;
f. Law enforcement officer;
g. Judge; or
h. Animal control officer as defined in s. 828.27(1)(b) or agent appointed under s. 828.03.
(c) Central abuse hotline counselors shall advise persons under subparagraph (b)2. who are making a report to the central abuse hotline that, while their names must be entered into the record of the report, the names of reporters are held confidential and exempt as provided in s. 39.202. Such counselors must receive periodic training in encouraging all reporters to provide their names when making a report.
(2) EXCEPTIONS TO REPORTING.
(a) An additional report of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect is not required to be made by:
1. A professional who is hired by or who enters into a contract with the department for the purpose of treating or counseling a person as a result of a report of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect if such person was the subject of the referral for treatment or counseling.
2. An officer or employee of the judicial branch when the child is currently being investigated by the department, when there is an existing dependency case, or when the matter has previously been reported to the department if there is reasonable cause to believe that the information is already known to the department. This subparagraph applies only when the information related to the alleged child abuse, abandonment, or neglect has been provided to such officer or employee in the course of carrying out his or her official duties.
3. An officer or employee of a law enforcement agency when the incident under investigation by the law enforcement agency was reported to law enforcement by the central abuse hotline through the electronic transfer of the report or telephone call. The department’s central abuse hotline is not required to electronically transfer calls or reports received under sub-subparagraph (1)(a)1.b. to the county sheriff’s office if the matter was initially reported to the department by the county sheriff’s office or by another law enforcement agency. This subparagraph applies only when the information related to the alleged child abuse, abandonment, or neglect has been provided to the officer or employee of a law enforcement agency or central abuse hotline counselor in the course of carrying out his or her official duties.
(b) Nothing in this section or in the contract with community-based care providers for foster care and related services as specified in s. 409.987 may be construed to remove or reduce the duty and responsibility of any person, including any employee of the community-based care provider, to report a known or suspected case of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect to the department’s central abuse hotline.
(3) ADDITIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES RELATED TO REPORTS.
(a) Abuse occurring out of state.
1. Except as provided in subparagraph 2., the central abuse hotline may not take a report or call of known or suspected child abuse, abandonment, or neglect when the report or call is related to abuse, abandonment, or neglect that occurred out of state and the alleged perpetrator and alleged victim do not live in this state. The central abuse hotline must instead transfer the information in the report or call to the appropriate state or country.
2. If the alleged victim is currently being evaluated in a medical facility in this state, the central abuse hotline must accept the report or call for investigation and must transfer the information in the report or call to the appropriate state or country.
(b) Reports received from emergency room physicians.The department must initiate an investigation when it receives a report from an emergency room physician.
(c) Abuse involving impregnation of a child.A report must be immediately electronically transferred to the appropriate county sheriff’s office or other appropriate law enforcement agency by the central abuse hotline if the report is of an instance of known or suspected child abuse involving impregnation of a child 15 years of age or younger by a person 21 years of age or older under s. 827.04(3). If the report is of known or suspected child abuse under s. 827.04(3), subsection (1) does not apply to health care professionals or other professionals who provide medical or counseling services to pregnant children when such reporting would interfere with the provision of such medical or counseling services.
(d) Institutional child abuse or neglect.Reports involving known or suspected institutional child abuse or neglect must be made and received in the same manner as all other reports made under this section.
(e) Surrendered newborn infants.
1. The central abuse hotline must receive reports involving surrendered newborn infants as described in s. 383.50.
2.a. A report may not be considered a report of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect solely because the infant has been left at a hospital, emergency medical services station, or fire station under s. 383.50.
b. If the report involving a surrendered newborn infant does not include indications of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect other than that necessarily entailed in the infant having been left at a hospital, emergency medical services station, or fire station, the central abuse hotline must provide to the person making the report the name of an eligible licensed child-placing agency that is required to accept physical custody of and to place surrendered newborn infants. The department shall provide names of eligible licensed child-placing agencies on a rotating basis.
3. If the report includes indications of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect beyond that necessarily entailed in the infant having been left at a hospital, emergency medical services station, or fire station, the report must be considered as a report of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect and, notwithstanding chapter 383, is subject to s. 39.395 and all other relevant provisions of this chapter.
(4) REPORTS OF CHILD ABUSE, ABANDONMENT, OR NEGLECT BY A PARENT, LEGAL CUSTODIAN, CAREGIVER, OR OTHER PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR A CHILD’S WELFARE.
(a)1. Upon receiving a report made to the central abuse hotline, the department shall determine if the received report meets the statutory criteria for child abuse, abandonment, or neglect.
2. Any report meeting the statutory criteria for child abuse, abandonment, or neglect must be accepted for a child protective investigation pursuant to part III of this chapter.
(b)1. Any call received from a parent or legal custodian seeking assistance for himself or herself which does not meet the criteria for being a report of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect may be accepted by the central abuse hotline for response to ameliorate a potential future risk of harm to a child.
2. The department must refer the parent or legal custodian for appropriate voluntary community services if it is determined by the department that a need for community services exists.
(5) REPORTS OF SEXUAL ABUSE OF A CHILD OR JUVENILE SEXUAL ABUSE; REPORTS OF A CHILD WHO HAS EXHIBITED INAPPROPRIATE SEXUAL BEHAVIOR.
(a)1. Sexual abuse of a child or juvenile sexual abuse must be reported immediately to the central abuse hotline, including any alleged incident involving a child who is in the custody of or under the protective supervision of the department. Such reports may be made in writing, through the statewide toll-free telephone number, or through electronic reporting.
2. Within 48 hours after the central abuse hotline receives a report under subparagraph 1., the department shall conduct an assessment, assist the family in receiving appropriate services under s. 39.307, and send a written report of the allegation to the appropriate county sheriff’s office.
(b) Reports involving a child who has exhibited inappropriate sexual behavior must be made and received by the central abuse hotline. Within 48 hours after receiving a report under this paragraph, the department shall conduct an assessment, assist the family in receiving appropriate services under s. 39.307, and send a written report of the allegation to the appropriate county sheriff’s office.
(c) The services identified in the assessment conducted under paragraph (a) or paragraph (b) must be provided in the least restrictive environment possible and must include, but are not limited to, child advocacy center services under s. 39.3035 and sexual abuse treatment programs developed and coordinated by the Children’s Medical Services Program in the Department of Health under s. 39.303.
(d) The department shall ensure that the facts and results of any investigation of sexual abuse of a child or juvenile sexual abuse involving a child in the custody of or under the protective supervision of the department are made known to the court at the next hearing and are included in the next report to the court concerning the child.
(e)1. In addition to conducting an assessment and assisting the family in receiving appropriate services, the department shall conduct a child protective investigation under part III of this chapter if the incident leading to a report occurs on school premises, on school transportation, at a school-sponsored off-campus event, at a public or private school readiness or prekindergarten program, at a public K-12 school, at a private school, at a Florida College System institution, at a state university, or at any other school. The child protective investigation must include an interview with the child’s parent or legal custodian.
2. The department shall orally notify the Department of Education; the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the municipality or county in which the school, program, institution, or university is located; and, as appropriate, the superintendent of the school district in which the school is located, the administrative officer of the private school, or the owner of the private school readiness or prekindergarten program provider.
3. The department shall make a full written report to the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the municipality or county in which the school, program, institution, or university is located within 3 business days after making the oral report. Whenever possible, any criminal investigation must be coordinated with the department’s child protective investigation. Any interested person who has information regarding sexual abuse of a child or juvenile sexual abuse may forward a statement to the department.
(6) MANDATORY REPORTS OF A CHILD DEATH.Any person required to report or investigate cases of suspected child abuse, abandonment, or neglect who has reasonable cause to suspect that a child died as a result of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect shall report his or her suspicion to the appropriate medical examiner. The medical examiner shall accept the report for investigation and report his or her findings, in writing, to the local law enforcement agency, the appropriate state attorney, and the department. Autopsy reports maintained by the medical examiner are not subject to the confidentiality requirements under s. 39.202.
History.ss. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, ch. 63-24; s. 941, ch. 71-136; ss. 1, 1A, ch. 71-97; s. 32, ch. 73-334; s. 65, ch. 74-383; s. 1, ch. 75-101; s. 1, ch. 75-185; s. 4, ch. 76-237; s. 1, ch. 77-77; s. 3, ch. 77-429; ss. 1, 2, ch. 78-322; s. 3, ch. 78-326; s. 22, ch. 78-361; s. 1, ch. 78-379; s. 181, ch. 79-164; s. 1, ch. 79-203; s. 7, ch. 84-226; s. 37, ch. 85-54; s. 68, ch. 86-163; s. 34, ch. 87-238; s. 21, ch. 88-337; s. 33, ch. 89-294; s. 6, ch. 90-50; s. 51, ch. 90-306; s. 7, ch. 91-57; s. 17, ch. 91-71; s. 6, ch. 93-25; s. 59, ch. 94-164; ss. 22, 44, ch. 95-228; s. 9, ch. 95-266; s. 51, ch. 95-267; s. 133, ch. 95-418; s. 1, ch. 96-215; s. 14, ch. 96-268; s. 14, ch. 96-402; s. 271, ch. 96-406; s. 1041, ch. 97-103; s. 43, ch. 97-264; s. 257, ch. 98-166; s. 31, ch. 98-403; s. 4, ch. 99-168; s. 10, ch. 99-193; s. 41, ch. 2000-139; s. 3, ch. 2000-188; s. 1, ch. 2000-217; s. 1, ch. 2001-53; s. 1, ch. 2003-127; s. 7, ch. 2006-86; s. 2, ch. 2008-90; s. 5, ch. 2008-245; s. 3, ch. 2009-43; s. 1, ch. 2012-155; s. 4, ch. 2012-178; s. 6, ch. 2013-15; s. 4, ch. 2013-219; ss. 5, 50, ch. 2014-224; s. 1, ch. 2016-58; s. 1, ch. 2016-238; s. 2, ch. 2019-142; s. 3, ch. 2021-170.
Note.Former ss. 828.041, 827.07(3), (4), (9), (13); s. 415.504.