The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) offers a partnership agreement for libraries and other agencies.
The ACCESS Florida 2009 Community Network Agreement (PDF) has three options:
- Assisted Service Site
- Self-Service Site
- Information Site
We recommended libraries do not sign on as Assisted Service Sites.
This level of agreement essentially puts the libraries in the shoes of DCF. This can put unexpected obligations on the library, such as the requirement under Florida Statute § 97.058 to offer and maintain voter registration preference forms. Public libraries are exempted from this requirement, but the assumption of social services agency responsibilities under the “Assisted Service” choice would cause them to lose that exemption.
Additionally, the library may find itself assuming a duty of care well beyond its role as information provider.
If a library signs an agreement at any of the three levels, it is obligated to comply with civil rights laws, confidentiality of client information, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
Of particular importance, the agreement for all three levels holds the library partner responsible for information security, especially involving the access, transport or storing of sensitive and confidential information.
The Agreement additionally imposes an obligation on the library partner to immediately report knowledge or reasonable suspicion of abuse, neglect or exploitation of a child, aged person or disabled adult to the Florida Abuse Hotline. Under Florida Statute 39.201(a) any person in Florida who has reasonable suspicion that a child is abused must report it. However, librarians are not listed as reporters in 39.201(b), which imposes additional obligations (must give personal name when reporting).
It is recommended that any library that chooses to sign at the Self-Service or Information Site levels consider these provisions and have the library’s attorney review the agreement.
Other Partnership Agreements
Additional partnerships may be considered, such as the SHINE - Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders (PDF) agreement.
Such partnerships can strengthen service to the community, but should be reviewed by the library’s attorney. In particular, the library should be vigilant not to assume obligations to collect or maintain personal records.