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As an Early Steps provider and a mandatory reporter, you should be familiar with Florida's child abuse and neglect reporting procedures. Chapter 39 of the Florida Statutes mandates 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 immediately such knowledge or suspicion to the central abuse hotline of the Department of Children and Families.

A. The Florida Abuse Hotline will accept a report when:

  • There is reasonable cause to suspect that a child (less than 18 years old) who can be located in Florida, or is temporarily out of the state but expected to return in the immediate future, has been harmed or is believed to be threatened with harm from a person responsible for the care of the child.

B. Definition of Caretaker Responsible Every child should expect to be safe and protected when in the care of:
  • a parent, even if the parent is a minor; or
  • an adult household member found in the home continually or at regular intervals; or
  • another adult who has been entrusted with, or voluntarily assumed responsibility for the care of the child; or
  • another child who is an employee or volunteer of a daycare, private school, agency, summer camp or similar facility when given sole responsibility for the care of the child.

C. Description of Harm:
  • Abuse: Non-accidental infliction of physical or psychological injury or sexual abuse by a parent, adult household member, or other person responsible for care of the child.
  • Neglect: Failure/omission by a caretaker to provide the care, supervision, services or protection necessary to maintain physical and mental health.
  • Threatened Harm: A situation, circumstances or behavior which leads a prudent person to have reasonable cause to suspect abuse or neglect has occurred or may occur in the immediate future if no intervention is provided.

To Make a Report
TELEPHONE: 1-800-96ABUSE (1-800-962-2873)
TDD (Telephone Device for the Deaf): 1-800-453-5145
FAX: 1-800-914-0004
A written report with your name and contact telephone or FAX using this fax form in PDF Format.

Notification of Report
Telephone reporters will always be told prior to concluding your conversation, whether the information provided has been accepted as a report. For faxed information, notification will be provided only when additional information is needed to accept a report, or when the report does not fall within the jurisdiction of Children & Families. Your fax number must be clearly indicated on your report. Although you may request confirmation, you can assume that your report was accepted if you provided your fax number and receive no response from the Hotline.
Voice mail messages will not be confirmed unless you leave a fax number for a response as indicated above. The Hotline cannot provide telephone confirmations.

Be Prepared to Provide the Following:
  • Victim's name, address or location, approximate age, race and sex
  • Physical, mental or behavioral indications that the person is infirm or disabled
  • Signs or indications of harm or injury, including a physical description if possible
  • Relationship of the alleged perpetrator to the victim, if possible. If the relationship is unknown, a report will still be taken if other reporting criteria are met.