Disclosure of Confidential Child Abuse and Neglect Records - Arkansas

Date:

Confidentiality of Records

Citation: Ann. Code § 12-18-909

True reports of child maltreatment are confidential and may be disclosed only as provided in this chapter.

Persons or Entities Allowed Access to Records

Citation: Ann. Code § 12-18-909

The Department of Human Services and the Division of Arkansas State Police may provide information, including protected health information, to a person or agency that provides services such as a medical examination; an assessment interview; or diagnosis, care, treatment, or supervision of a victim of child maltreatment or a juvenile offender. This information may include the investigative determination or the investigation report and the services offered and provided.

A report made under this chapter that is determined to be true as well as any other information obtained, including protected health information and the administrative hearing decision, and a report written or photograph or radiological procedure taken concerning a true report in the possession of the department and the State police shall be confidential and shall be made available only to the following:

  • The administration of the adoption, foster care, children's and adult protective services programs, or child care licensing programs of any State
  • A Federal, State, or local government entity having a need for the information to protect children from abuse or neglect
  • Any person who is the subject of a true report
  • A civil or administrative proceeding connected with the administration of the Arkansas Child Welfare State Plan when the court or hearing officer determines that the information is necessary for the determination of an issue before the court or agency
  • Any government agency conducting an audit
  • A person, agency, or organization engaged in a bona fide research or evaluation project
  • A properly constituted authority, including multidisciplinary teams, investigating a report of known or suspected child abuse or neglect or providing services to a child or family that is the subject of a report
  • Child abuse citizen panels or child fatality review panels as authorized by the department
  • A grand jury upon a finding that information in the record is necessary for the determination of an issue before grand jury
  • A court in a criminal case or a court in a child custody or similar civil case upon finding that the information in the record is necessary for the determination of an issue before the court
  • The current foster parents of a child who is a subject of a report
  • Federal, State, and local government entities or any agent of Federal, State, or local government entities that have a need for such information to carry out their responsibilities under law to protect children from child maltreatment
  • Individual U.S. and Arkansas senators and representatives and their authorized staff acting in their official capacities
  • The child's court-appointed special advocate or attorney ad litem
  • Any person or entity to whom notification was provided under this chapter
  • The Division of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • The custodial and noncustodial parents, guardians, and legal custodians of the child who is identified as the offender
  • Any family advocacy program or other person designated by the military authority for the military installation receiving notice of a child abuse hotline report under § 12-18-508
  • The custodial parent, custodian, or guardian of a child who is or may be currently cared for or supervised by the offender
  • A child welfare ombudsman

When Public Disclosure of Records is Allowed

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 12-18-1101 through 12-18-1108

When an investigation is pending on a report of a fatality or near fatality of a child, the department shall release the following information to the public:

  • The child's age, race, and gender
  • Date of the fatality or near fatality
  • The preliminary cause of the death or near fatality
  • County and type of placement of the child at the time of the incident
  • The alleged offender's relationship to the child
  • The agency conducting the investigation
  • Legal action taken by the department
  • Services offered or provided by the department presently and in the past
  • In the case of a fatality, the name of the child

If an investigation of a child death has been completed, the department shall release the following information to the public when the report is determined to be true:

  • A summary of previous child maltreatment investigations
  • A summary of the current investigation, including the following:
    • The nature and extent of the child's present and past injuries
    • Medical information pertaining to the death
    • The name of the offender if due process has been satisfied or the offender has been arrested
  • All relevant risk and safety assessments completed on the child
  • Information about criminal charges, if known
  • Any action taken by the department or the State police, including personnel and licensing actions

When the investigative determination is unsubstantiated, the summary of the current investigation shall include medical information pertaining to the death; however, the name of the alleged offender shall not be disclosed.

For a report of a near fatality of a child, the department shall release a nonidentifying summary of the current and any previous investigations.

The department shall not release the following:

  • Information on siblings of the child
  • Attorney-client communications
  • Any information that would jeopardize a criminal investigation

Use of Records for Employment Screening

Citation: Ann. Code § 12-18-909

A report that is determined to be true shall be made available to the following:

  • The Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education and the child care facility owner who requested the registry information through a signed release from an individual who is an employee, applicant, volunteer, or the owner or operator of a child care facility
  • An employer or volunteer agency for purposes of screening an employee, applicant, or volunteer who is or will be engaged in employment or activity with children, the elderly, or individuals with disabilities upon submission of a signed release from the employee, applicant, or volunteer
  • The Division of Developmental Disabilities Services and the Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services as to participants of the waiver program
  • The Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education for purposes of enforcement of licensing laws and rules
  • Any licensing or registering authority to the extent necessary to carry out its official responsibilities
  • The following persons to the extent necessary to carry out a responsibility to ensure that children are protected while in the school environment or during off-campus school activities:
    • A school district superintendent, a person in an equivalent position in a private school, or other district-level administrator
    • A public school principal, a person in an equivalent position in a private school, or other building-level administrator
    • Another person or organization designated by a public school, private school, or school district to organize volunteers for the public school, private school, or school district upon the submission of a signed release from the volunteer

The registry shall release only the following information on true reports:

  • That the employee, applicant, or volunteer has a true report
  • The date the investigation was completed
  • The type of true report