Third DCA: Foster Parents cannot access the entire file

The facts are simple: foster parents moved for party status, and the trial court partially granted them access to the entire court file. The mother (not TPR’d), joined by the GAL Program (for the children) and an AAL for another half-sibling, petitioned for cert alleging violation of privacy and lack of statutory basis. DCF took no position for or against their foster parent.

Section 39.01(50) expressly includes foster parents as “participants” in a dependency proceeding such as this, affording them rights to receive notice of hearings involving children in their care and allowing the court to permit them “to be heard without the necessity of filing a motion to intervene.” Chapter 39 does not, however, authorize the foster parents to receive every record in a confidential, pending dependency case court file that may relate, for example, to the natural parents, or to siblings that are in other placements and are not in the care of the foster parents. The order in this case did not exclude any such records, thus jeopardizing the constitutional (Art. I, § 23, Fla. Const.) and statutory (§ 39.0132(3), Fla. Stat. (2013)) rights of the natural parents and siblings to privacy and confidentiality.

D.C. v. J.M., 3D13-3158, 2014 WL 305284 (Fla. 3d DCA 2014).

Under the current statutory and constitutional scheme, this seems right.

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