Tampa by Times by Christopher O’Donnell
March 21, 2019
TAMPA — Child advocacy groups across Florida are warning that a bill to keep secret the names of foster parents will make it tougher to expose abuse and neglect within the foster care system.
The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, would add foster parents’ names to a list of information that is exempt from Florida’s public records laws. The addresses of foster parents are already confidential under state law.
Montford said the Florida Department of Children and Families asked him to introduce the bill after hearing from foster parents concerned about their privacy. The concerns arose from a Sarasota Herald-Tribunepublic records request for the names of all foster parents in Florida.
State officials fear that families would stop fostering children if biological parents seek them out, Montford said.
“I understand the need for transparency and so on,” he said. “In my mind, the safety of these foster parents and foster children themselves carried a heavier weight.”