(1) Any person or organization, including the Department of Children and Families, may petition the court for an order making public the records of the Department of Children and Families which pertain to investigations of alleged abuse, abandonment, or neglect of a child. The court shall determine whether good cause exists for public access to the records sought or a portion thereof. In making this determination, the court shall balance the best interests of the child who is the focus of the investigation and the interest of that child’s siblings, together with the privacy rights of other persons identified in the reports, against the public interest. The public interest in access to such records is reflected in s. 119.01(1), and includes the need for citizens to know of and adequately evaluate the actions of the Department of Children and Families and the court system in providing children of this state with the protections enumerated in s. 39.001. However, this subsection does not contravene s. 39.202, which protects the name of any person reporting the abuse, abandonment, or neglect of a child.
(2) In cases involving serious bodily injury to a child, the Department of Children and Families may petition the court for an order for the immediate public release of records of the department which pertain to the protective investigation. The petition must be personally served upon the child, the child’s parent or guardian, and any person named as an alleged perpetrator in the report of abuse, abandonment, or neglect. The court must determine whether good cause exists for the public release of the records sought no later than 24 hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, after the date the department filed the petition with the court. If the court does not grant or deny the petition within the 24-hour time period, the department may release to the public summary information including:

(a) A confirmation that an investigation has been conducted concerning the alleged victim.

Terms Used In Florida Statutes 39.2021

  • 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
  • Department: means the Department of Children and Families. 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
  • Probable cause: A reasonable ground for belief that the offender violated a specific law.
  • 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
  • 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
(b) The dates and brief description of procedural activities undertaken during the department’s investigation.
(c) The date of each judicial proceeding, a summary of each participant’s recommendations made at the judicial proceeding, and the ruling of the court.

The summary information shall not include the name of, or other identifying information with respect to, any person identified in any investigation. In making a determination to release confidential information, the court shall balance the best interests of the child who is the focus of the investigation and the interests of that child’s siblings, together with the privacy rights of other persons identified in the reports against the public interest for access to public records. However, this subsection does not contravene s. 39.202, which protects the name of any person reporting abuse, abandonment, or neglect of a child.

(3) When the court determines that good cause for public access exists, the court shall direct that the department redact the name of, and other identifying information with respect to, any person identified in any protective investigation report until such time as the court finds that there is probable cause to believe that the person identified committed an act of alleged abuse, abandonment, or neglect.