Florida Is a Mandatory Report State for Elder Abuse
Florida is one of eight states that require anyone with knowledge of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation to report the problem to the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF). Failure to report is a second-degree misdemeanor. Under the law there are two types of reporters:
- Mandated reporter — This is anyone who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that an elder adult is being abused, neglected or exploited. Mandated reporters do not have to have all the facts. They can report their suspicions online at the DCF website or over the phone anonymously.
- Professionally mandated reporter — This category includes healthcare workers, social workers, adult day-care workers, law enforcement officers, judges and mediators. Professionals are required to identify themselves when they make a report.
The law requires DCF to forward the report within one hour to the sheriff’s office of the county where the abuse is alleged to have occurred for investigation.
Nonprofessionals may be unaware they have a legal duty to report suspected abuse and may feel they do not have enough information to justify a county investigation into their neighbors’ private lives. We understand this hesitancy, but it is important for the public to understand that elder abuse is quite prevalent and generally occurs when well-meaning caregivers are stressed beyond the limits of their endurance. Rather than causing added turmoil in your neighbors’ lives, you might prompt a much-needed intervention that safeguards the elder’s health and relieves the caregiver from crushing responsibilities.
If you suspect elder abuse, please fulfill your legal obligations and make a report. If you are an overstressed caregiver, reach out for assistance. An experienced elder law attorney at the Charles Law Offices can discuss better options for your loved one.