(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.

Terms Used In Florida Statutes 39.201

  • abandonment: means a situation in which the parent or legal custodian of a child or, in the absence of a parent or legal custodian, the caregiver, while being able, has made no significant contribution to the child's care and maintenance or has failed to establish or maintain a substantial and positive relationship with the child, or both. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Abuse: means any willful act or threatened act that results in any physical, mental, or sexual abuse, injury, or harm that causes or is likely to cause the child's physical, mental, or emotional health to be significantly impaired. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Adult: means any natural person other than a child. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Allegation: something that someone says happened.
  • assessment: means the gathering of information for the evaluation of a child's and caregiver's physical, psychiatric, psychological, or mental health; developmental delays or challenges; and educational, vocational, and social condition and family environment as they relate to the child's and caregiver's need for rehabilitative and treatment services, including substance abuse treatment services, mental health services, developmental services, literacy services, medical services, family services, and other specialized services, as appropriate. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Caregiver: means the parent, legal custodian, permanent guardian, adult household member, or other person responsible for a child's welfare as defined in subsection (54). See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Child who has exhibited inappropriate sexual behavior: means a child who has been found by the department or the court to have committed an inappropriate sexual act. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Contract: A legal written agreement that becomes binding when signed.
  • Department: means the Department of Children and Families. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Family: means a collective body of persons, consisting of a child and a parent, legal custodian, or adult relative, in which:
    (a) The persons reside in the same house or living unit; or
    (b) The parent, legal custodian, or adult relative has a legal responsibility by blood, marriage, or court order to support or care for the child. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Foster care: means care provided a child in a foster family or boarding home, group home, agency boarding home, child care institution, or any combination thereof. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Institutional child abuse or neglect: means situations of known or suspected child abuse or neglect in which the person allegedly perpetrating the child abuse or neglect is an employee of a public or private school, public or private day care center, residential home, institution, facility, or agency or any other person at such institution responsible for the child's welfare as defined in subsection (54). See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Jurisdiction: (1) The legal authority of a court to hear and decide a case. Concurrent jurisdiction exists when two courts have simultaneous responsibility for the same case. (2) The geographic area over which the court has authority to decide cases.
  • Juvenile sexual abuse: means any sexual behavior by a child which occurs without consent, without equality, or as a result of coercion. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Licensed child-placing agency: means a person, society, association, or institution licensed by the department to care for, receive, or board children and to place children in a licensed child-caring institution or a foster or adoptive home. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Office: means the Office of Adoption and Child Protection within the Executive Office of the Governor. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Parent: means a woman who gives birth to a child and a man whose consent to the adoption of the child would be required under…. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • person: includes individuals, children, firms, associations, joint adventures, partnerships, estates, trusts, business trusts, syndicates, fiduciaries, corporations, and all other groups or combinations. See Florida Statutes 1.01
  • Physician: means any licensed physician, dentist, podiatric physician, or optometrist and includes any intern or resident. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Protective investigation: means the acceptance of a report alleging child abuse, abandonment, or neglect, as defined in this chapter, by the central abuse hotline or the acceptance of a report of other dependency by the department; the investigation of each report; the determination of whether action by the court is warranted; the determination of the disposition of each report without court or public agency action when appropriate; and the referral of a child to another public or private agency when appropriate. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Protective supervision: means a legal status in dependency cases which permits the child to remain safely in his or her own home or other nonlicensed placement under the supervision of an agent of the department and which must be reviewed by the court during the period of supervision. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Relative: means a grandparent, great-grandparent, sibling, first cousin, aunt, uncle, great-aunt, great-uncle, niece, or nephew, whether related by the whole or half blood, by affinity, or by adoption. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Victim: means any child who has sustained or is threatened with physical, mental, or emotional injury identified in a report involving child abuse, neglect, or abandonment, or child-on-child sexual abuse. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • writing: includes handwriting, printing, typewriting, and all other methods and means of forming letters and characters upon paper, stone, wood, or other materials. See Florida Statutes 1.01
(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.