Disclosure of Confidential Child Abuse and Neglect Records - Iowa

Date: February 2022

Confidentiality of Records

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 235A.15

The confidentiality of all child abuse information shall be maintained except as specifically provided by this section.

Persons or Entities Allowed Access to Records

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 235A.15

Access to report data and disposition data subject to placement in the central registry is authorized only to the following:

  • Subjects of a report, as follows:
    • The child or to the child's attorney or guardian ad litem
    • The parent, guardian, or legal custodian or that person's attorney
    • The alleged abuser or that person's attorney
  • Persons involved in an assessment of child abuse, as follows:
    • A health practitioner or mental health professional
    • An employee or agent of the Department of Human Services
    • A law enforcement officer
    • A multidisciplinary team
    • A mandatory reporter who reported the abuse
    • The county attorney
    • The juvenile court
    • The licensing authority for a facility providing care to the child
    • The child protection assistance team
  • Report, disposition, and assessment data to the extent necessary for resolution of the proceeding, as follows:
    • A juvenile court or district court
    • A court or the department hearing an appeal for correction of report and disposition data
    • An expert witness
    • A probation or parole officer, juvenile court officer, court-appointed special advocate, or adult correctional officer
    • The Department of Justice
    • A licensing board and the Iowa Department of Public Health for the purpose of licensure, certification, registration, or disciplinary investigation of health-care professionals
  • Others as follows, but only with respect to data for cases of founded child abuse:
    • A person conducting bona fide research
    • Registry or department personnel
    • The Department of Justice for the sole purpose of the filing of a claim for restitution or compensation
    • A child protection agency of another State
    • A public or licensed child-placing agency of another State responsible for an adoptive or foster care preplacement or placement evaluation
    • The attorney for the Department of Human Services
    • The child advocacy and local citizen foster care review boards
    • The Department of Human Services regarding a person who is providing child care if the person is not registered or licensed
    • The Board of Educational Examiners for purposes of determining whether a license, certificate, or authorization should be issued, denied, or revoked
    • A protection and advocacy agency, if a person identified as a victim or a perpetrator of abuse resides in or receives services from a facility or agency
    • The Iowa Board for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers for purposes of certifying sex offender treatment providers
    • An employee of the department, a certified adoption investigator, or licensed child-placing agency responsible for an adoptive placement
    • The Department of Inspections and Appeals for purposes of record checks of applicants for employment
    • A person or agency responsible for the care or supervision of a child named in a report
    • An intake officer making a preliminary inquiry
  • Only with respect to disposition data for cases of founded child abuse subject to placement in the central registry, to a person who submits written authorization from an individual allowing the person access to data on behalf of the individual in order to verify whether the individual is named in a founded child abuse report as having abused a child

Access to report data and disposition data for a case of child abuse that is not subject to placement in the central registry is authorized only to the following:

  • Subjects of a report
  • Persons involved in an assessment of child abuse
  • The Department of Justice

Upon the request of the governor, the department shall disclose child abuse information to the governor relating to a specific case of child abuse.

When Public Disclosure of Records is Allowed

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 235A.15

If the department receives from the public a request for information relating to a case of founded child abuse involving a fatality or near fatality, the director shall consult with the county attorney and shall disclose information related to the case, except for the following:

  • Any confidential mental health or psychological information
  • The privileged communication of an attorney
  • The identity of any person who provided information related to the case
  • Information that may cause mental or physical harm to a sibling or another child living in the home
  • Information that may jeopardize the prosecution or the rights to a fair trial of any alleged perpetrator or undermine an ongoing or future criminal investigation
  • Any release prohibited by Federal law

The information released shall include the following, except that listed above:

  • The circumstances of the child fatality or near fatality, including the age and gender of the child and the department's response and findings
  • Any previous child abuse or neglect investigations of the caregivers responsible for the child fatality or near fatality and the results of those investigations
  • Whether the child or a family member was receiving social services from the department at the time of the child fatality or near fatality or within the previous 5 years
  • Any recommendations made by the department to the county attorney or the juvenile court
  • The services provided to the child that are pertinent to the child abuse or neglect that led to the child fatality or near fatality

If a subject of a report releases to the public information about a case, the director may respond with relevant information about the case. Prior to releasing the response, the director shall consult with the child's parent, guardian, or guardian ad litem and apply to the court for a review of the information proposed for release and an order authorizing release of the information.

Use of Records for Employment Screening

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 235A.15

Access to records of founded child abuse placed in the central registry may be provided to individuals, agencies, or facilities providing care to a child, but only with respect to disposition data as necessary for evaluating a person who is employed or being considered for employment, as follows:

  • An administrator of a psychiatric medical institution for children
  • An administrator of a licensed child foster care or child care facility
  • The superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School or the School for the Deaf
  • An administrator of a community mental health center or program operated by the State, a city, or a county that provides services or care directly to children
  • An administrator of an agency certified by the Department of Human Services to provide services under a medical assistance home and community-based services waiver
  • The administrator of an agency providing mental health, intellectual disability, or developmental disability services
  • An administrator of a child care resource and referral agency
  • An administrator of a licensed hospital
  • An area education agency or other person responsible for providing early intervention services to children that is funded under part C of the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
  • A Federal, State, or local governmental unit that needs the information in order to carry out its responsibilities to protect children from abuse and neglect
  • A nursing program approved by the State Board of Nursing, if the data relates to a record check

The following may access report and disposition data for cases of founded child abuse for records checks of potential employees and volunteers:

  • The Iowa veterans' home
  • Administrators of certified nurse aide programs
  • Administrator of juvenile detention or shelter care homes
  • Employers of school bus drivers
  • Administrators of family support programs receiving public funds
  • Free clinics