Disclosure of Confidential Child Abuse and Neglect Records - Arizona

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Confidentiality of Records

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 8-807

Department of Child Safety (DCS) information shall be maintained by the DCS as required by Federal law. If the department receives information that is confidential by law, the department shall maintain the confidentiality of the information as prescribed in the applicable law.

A person may authorize the release of DCS information about the person but may not waive the confidentiality of DCS information concerning any other person.

For the purposes of this section, 'DCS information' includes all information the department gathers during an investigation conducted under this chapter from the time a file is opened and until it is closed. DCS information does not include information that is contained in child welfare agency licensing records.

Persons or Entities Allowed Access to Records

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 8-807

If there is a reasonable need for the DCS information, the department may provide the information to the following:

  • A Federal, State, Tribal, county, or municipal agency
  • A law enforcement agency or prosecutor
  • An attorney or a guardian ad litem representing a child victim
  • A school
  • A community or contract service provider or any other person providing services
  • A court
  • A party in a dependency or termination of parental rights proceeding or the party's attorney
  • The foster care review board
  • A court-appointed special advocate
  • A domestic relations, family, or conciliation court
  • A person who is the subject of the information
  • A person who is conducting bona fide research
  • The parent, guardian, or custodian of a child if the information is reasonably necessary to promote the safety, permanency, and well-being of the child
  • A medical examiner directing an investigation into the circumstances surrounding a death
  • Federal or State auditors
  • Persons conducting any accreditation deemed necessary by the department
  • A legislative committee for purposes of conducting investigations related to the legislative oversight of the department
  • A legislator who requests CPS information in the regular course of his or her duties
  • A citizen review panel, a child fatality review team, and the Office of Ombudsman-Citizen's Aide
  • An independent oversight committee established pursuant to § 41-3801

The department shall provide the person who conducts a forensic medical evaluation with any records the person requests, including social history and family history regarding the child, the child's siblings, and the child's parents or guardians.

The department shall provide DCS information on request to a prospective adoptive parent, foster parent, or guardian if the information concerns a child the prospective adoptive parent, foster parent, or guardian seeks to adopt or provide care for.

A person who is the subject of an unfounded report or complaint, and who believes that the report or complaint was made in bad faith or with malicious intent, may petition a judge of the superior court to order the department to release the DCS information. The petition shall specifically set forth reasons supporting the person's belief that the report or complaint was made in bad faith or with malicious intent. The court shall review the DCS information in camera and the person filing the petition shall be allowed to present evidence in support of the petition. If the court determines that there is a reasonable question of fact as to whether the report or complaint was made in bad faith or with malicious intent and that disclosure of the identity of the person making the report or complaint would not be likely to endanger the life or safety of the person making the report or complaint, it shall provide a copy of the DCS information to the person filing the petition. The original DCS information will then be subject to discovery in a subsequent civil action regarding the making of the report or complaint.

The department may provide a summary of the outcome of a child protective services investigation to the person who reported the suspected child abuse or neglect.

When Public Disclosure of Records is Allowed

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 8-807(F); 8-807.01

The department may provide DCS information to confirm, clarify, correct, or supplement information concerning an instance of child abuse or neglect that has been made public by sources outside the department.

The department shall promptly provide DCS information to the public regarding a case of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect that has resulted in a fatality or near fatality, as follows:

  • In the case of a fatality, the name of the child who has died
  • The age, gender, and general location of the residence of the child
  • The fact that a child suffered a fatality or near fatality as the result of abuse, abandonment, or neglect
  • The name; age; and city, town, or general location of the residence of the alleged perpetrator, if available, unless the disclosure would violate the privacy of the victim
  • Whether there have been any current or past cases of abuse, abandonment, or neglect involving the child or the alleged perpetrator
  • Actions taken by the department in response to the fatality or near fatality of the child
  • A detailed synopsis of prior reports or cases of abuse, abandonment, or neglect involving the child or the alleged perpetrator and of the actions taken or determinations made by the department in response to these reports or cases

On request by any person, the department shall promptly provide additional DCS information about the case of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect that has resulted in a fatality or a near fatality. Before releasing additional DCS information, the department shall promptly notify the county attorney of any decision to release that information, and the county attorney shall promptly inform the department if it believes the release would cause a specific, material harm to a criminal investigation or prosecution. After consulting with the county attorney, the department shall produce to the requestor as much additional DCS information about the case as promptly as possible.

Use of Records for Employment Screening

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 8-804; 8-804.01

The department shall conduct central registry background checks and shall use the information contained in the central registry only for the following purposes:

  • As a factor to determine qualifications for foster home licensing; adoptive parent certification; individuals who apply for child welfare agency licensing, child care home certification, registration of unregulated child care homes with the child care resource and referral system; home- and community-based services certification for services to children or vulnerable adults; and an adult who works in a group home, residential treatment center, shelter, or other congregate care setting
  • As a factor to determine qualifications for persons who are employed or who are applying for employment with this State in positions that provide direct service to children or vulnerable adults
  • As a factor to determine qualifications for individuals who are employed or who are applying for employment with a child welfare agency in positions that provide direct service to children or vulnerable adults
  • As a factor to determine qualifications for positions that provide direct service to children or vulnerable adults for the following:
    • Any person who applies for a contract with this State and that person's employees
    • All employees of a contractor
    • A subcontractor of a contractor and the subcontractor's employees
    • Prospective employees of the contractor or subcontractor
  • To provide information to licensees that do not contract with this State regarding persons who are employed or seeking employment to provide direct services to children

Reports and related records maintained by the department shall not be used for purposes of employment or background checks. Only information contained in the central registry may be used to conduct background checks.