Reports to Children and Family Services
Florida Abuse Hotline: 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873)
What does Florida law require?
Florida Statute (F.S.) 39.201 requires that any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare, shall report such knowledge or suspicion to the Department of Children and Family Services.
Although every person has a responsibility to report suspected abuse or neglect, some occupations are specified in Florida law as required to do so. These occupations are considered “professionally mandatory reporters”. According to Chapter 39, school teachers, other school personnel, social workers, or other professional child care workers are mandatory reporters.
Failure to Report:
According to section 39.205, F.S., a person (a mandatory reporter) who is required to report known or suspected child abuse, abandonment, or neglect and who knowingly and willfully fails to do so, or who knowingly and willfully prevents another person from doing so, is in violation of the law.
Law Enforcement’s Role:
During the course of an investigation into possible abuse, neglect, and/or abandonment of a child, the law enforcement officer, or authorized agent of the Florida Department of Children and Families, investigating the allegation may choose to interview the child at the school. The officer or authorized agent is authorized to remove the child from any public or private school.
A school official shall not deny law enforcement the right to interview a child, alone or with someone present, during an investigation. Additionally, school officials may not deny law enforcement the right to transport a child to an appointment deemed necessary for the furtherance of the investigation.
Notification and Inquiries:
The law enforcement officer is responsible for notifying the child’s legal guardian of the child’s removal from any public or private school. The school is not responsible for notifying the child’s legal guardian of the removal; neither before, at the time of, or after the removal. If the child is returned to the school after normal school hours, and the child’s normal method of transportation home is no longer available, the law enforcement officer responsible for removing the child from school, or his/her designee, transports the child to the child’s residence.
If a parent, caregiver, or legal guardian desires information related to a complaint of child abuse, that person needs to contact the Department of Children and Family Services and/or the applicable local law enforcement agency.