Disclosure of Confidential Child Abuse and Neglect Records - Georgia

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Confidentiality of Records

Citation: Ann. Code § 49-5-40(b)

Every record concerning reports of child abuse that is in the custody of the Department of Human Services, other State or local agency, or child advocacy center is declared to be confidential, and access thereto is prohibited except as provided in § 49-5-41.

Persons or Entities Allowed Access to Records

Citation: Ann. Code § 49-5-41

The following persons or agencies shall have reasonable access to records concerning reports of child abuse:

  • Any Federal, State, or local government agency or Tribal entity that has a need for the information to carry out its legal responsibilities to protect children from abuse and neglect
  • A grand jury when it is necessary for determination of an issue before it
  • A prosecuting attorney in connection with any official duty
  • Any adult who has made a report of suspected child abuse regarding the child who was the subject of the report about whether the investigation is ongoing or completed and, if completed, whether child abuse was confirmed or unconfirmed
  • Any entity that receives a report of suspected child abuse from a school employee
  • The State Personnel Board for determination of an issue involving departmental personnel
  • A child advocacy center investigating known or suspected child abuse
  • Police or any other law enforcement agency of this State or any other State or any medical examiner or coroner investigating a report of abuse
  • Any child abuse protocol committee
  • The governor, attorney general, lieutenant governor, or speaker of the house of representatives to determine whether the laws of this State are being complied with
  • A court seeking records for an in-camera inspection of such records
  • The Administrative Office of the Courts to facilitate data sharing, collection, and analysis of the timeliness, permanency, and safety outcomes of children who have been the subject of dependency actions and actions to terminate parental rights
  • Individuals who are engaged in legitimate research
  • A physician who reasonably suspects a child may be abused
  • A licensed child-placing agency or child-caring institution that is locating or providing foster or adoptive homes for children in the custody of the department or an investigator appointed to investigate a pending petition for adoption
  • A person authorized to place a child in protective custody when such person requires the information in the record in order to determine whether to place the child in protective custody
  • An agency or person that has the responsibility to care for, treat, or supervise the child who is the subject of a report
  • Members of citizen review panels
  • Guardians ad litem or court-appointed special advocates
  • A public child protective agency or law enforcement agency of another State bound by similar confidentiality requirements when, during or following the department's investigation of a report of child abuse, the alleged abuser has left the State
  • A child welfare agency or a school where the department has investigated allegations of child abuse made against any employee and any child remains at risk from exposure to that employee
  • An employee of a school or a child welfare agency against whom allegations of child abuse have been made
  • Any person who has an ongoing relationship with the child named in the record of child abuse, but only if that person is required to report
  • Any school principal, guidance counselor, social worker, or psychologist who is counseling a student
  • The Department of Early Care and Learning
  • Any child-caring agency, child-placing agency, or identified foster parent with respect to any child who has been placed in their care or custody

When Public Disclosure of Records is Allowed

Citation: Ann. Code § 49-5-41

Child abuse and dependency records shall not be confidential and shall be subject to public inspection if the records are applicable to a child who at the time of his or her fatality or near fatality was in the custody of a State department or agency or in the care of a foster parent; was receiving protective services; or was the subject of an investigation, report, referral, or complaint.

The following may be redacted from the records:

  • Confidential medical and mental health records
  • Privileged communications of an attorney
  • Identifying information of a person who reported the suspected child abuse
  • The name of a child who suffered a near fatality
  • The name of any sibling of the child
  • Any record of law enforcement or prosecution agencies in any pending investigation or prosecution of criminal activity contained within the child abuse, neglect, or dependency records

Upon the release of documents pursuant to this subsection, the department may comment publicly on the case.

Use of Records for Employment Screening

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 49-5-40(c); 49-5-41

Each and every record concerning child abuse or neglect that is received by the department from the child abuse and neglect registry of any other State shall not be disclosed or used outside of the department for any other purpose other than conducting background checks to be used in foster care and adoptive placements.

The department may permit access to information from child abuse records to the following:

  • A licensed child-placing agency that is assisting the department by locating or providing foster or adoptive homes for children in the custody of the department
  • A licensed adoption agency of this or any other State that is placing a child for adoption
  • A court-appointed investigator who is investigating a pending petition for adoption