(1) A child may only be taken into custody:

(a) Pursuant to the provisions of this part, based upon sworn testimony, either before or after a petition is filed; or

Terms Used In Florida Statutes 39.401

  • 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
  • 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
  • Department: means the Department of Children and Families. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Dependent: A person dependent for support upon another.
  • 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
  • Next of kin: means an adult relative of a child who is the child's brother, sister, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or first cousin. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Nonrelative: means a person unrelated by blood or marriage or a relative outside the fifth degree of consanguinity. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Out-of-home: means a placement outside of the home of the parents or a parent. 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
  • Probable cause: A reasonable ground for belief that the offender violated a specific law.
  • 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
  • Shelter: means a placement with a relative or a nonrelative, or in a licensed home or facility, for the temporary care of a child who is alleged to be or who has been found to be dependent, pending court disposition before or after adjudication. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Shelter hearing: means a hearing in which the court determines whether probable cause exists to keep a child in shelter status pending further investigation of the case. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Sibling: means :
    (a) A child who shares a birth parent or legal parent with one or more other children; or
    (b) A child who has lived together in a family with one or more other children whom he or she identifies as siblings. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Taken into custody: means the status of a child immediately when temporary physical control over the child is attained by a person authorized by law, pending the child's release or placement. See Florida Statutes 39.01
  • Testimony: Evidence presented orally by witnesses during trials or before grand juries.
(b) By a law enforcement officer, or an authorized agent of the department, if the officer or authorized agent has probable cause to support a finding:

1. That the child has been abused, neglected, or abandoned, or is suffering from or is in imminent danger of illness or injury as a result of abuse, neglect, or abandonment;
2. That the parent or legal custodian of the child has materially violated a condition of placement imposed by the court; or
3. That the child has no parent, legal custodian, or responsible adult relative immediately known and available to provide supervision and care.
(2) If the law enforcement officer takes the child into custody, that officer shall:

(a) Release the child to:

1. The parent or legal custodian of the child;
2. A responsible adult approved by the court when limited to temporary emergency situations;
3. A responsible adult relative or the adoptive parent of the child’s sibling who shall be given priority consideration over a nonrelative placement when this is in the best interests of the child; or
4. A responsible adult approved by the department; or
(b) Deliver the child to an authorized agent of the department, stating the facts by reason of which the child was taken into custody and sufficient information to establish probable cause that the child is abandoned, abused, or neglected, or otherwise dependent. For such a child for whom there is also probable cause to believe he or she has been sexually exploited, the law enforcement officer shall deliver the child to the department.

For cases involving allegations of abandonment, abuse, or neglect, or other dependency cases, within 3 days after such release or within 3 days after delivering the child to an authorized agent of the department, the law enforcement officer who took the child into custody shall make a full written report to the department.

(3) If the child is taken into custody by, or is delivered to, an authorized agent of the department, the agent shall review the facts supporting the removal with an attorney representing the department. The purpose of the review is to determine whether there is probable cause for the filing of a shelter petition.

(a) If the facts are not sufficient, the child shall immediately be returned to the custody of the parent or legal custodian.
(b) If the facts are sufficient and the child has not been returned to the custody of the parent or legal custodian, the department shall file the petition and schedule a hearing, and the attorney representing the department shall request that a shelter hearing be held within 24 hours after the removal of the child.
(c) While awaiting the shelter hearing, the authorized agent of the department may place the child in out-of-home care, and placement shall be determined based on priority of placements as provided in s. 39.4021 and what is in the child’s best interest based on the criteria and factors set out in s. 39.01375.
(d) Placement of a child which is not in a licensed shelter must be preceded by a criminal history records check as required under s. 39.0138.
(e) In addition, the department may authorize placement of a housekeeper/homemaker in the home of a child alleged to be dependent until the parent or legal custodian assumes care of the child.
(4) When a child is taken into custody pursuant to this section, the department shall request that the child’s parent, caregiver, or legal custodian disclose the names, relationships, and addresses of all parents and prospective parents and all next of kin of the child, so far as are known.
(5) Judicial review and approval is required within 24 hours after placement for all nonrelative placements. A nonrelative placement must be for a specific and predetermined period of time, not to exceed 12 months, and shall be reviewed by the court at least every 6 months. If the nonrelative placement continues for longer than 12 months, the department shall request the court to establish permanent guardianship or require that the nonrelative seek licensure as a foster care provider within 30 days after the court decision. Failure to establish permanent guardianship or obtain licensure does not require the court to change a child’s placement unless it is in the best interest of the child to do so.