Disclosure of Confidential Child Abuse and Neglect Records - Maine

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Confidentiality of Records

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4008

All records of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services that contain personally identifying information and are created or obtained in connection with the department's child protective activities and activities related to a child while in the care or custody of the department, and all information contained in those records, are confidential and subject to release only as permitted by statute.

Within the department, the records are available only to and may be used only by appropriate departmental personnel and legal counsel for the department in carrying out their functions. Any person who receives department records or information from the department may use the records or information only for the purposes for which that release was intended.

The department may determine that for the purposes of disclosure under this section records are limited to only records created by the department in connection with its duties under this chapter.

The proceedings and records of the Child Death and Serious Injury Review Panel created in accordance with § 4004(1)(E) are confidential and are not subject to subpoena, discovery, or introduction into evidence in a civil or criminal action. The commissioner shall disclose conclusions of the review panel upon request, but may not disclose data that is otherwise classified as confidential.

Persons or Entities Allowed Access to Records

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4008

The department may disclose relevant information in the records to the following persons:

  • An agency or person investigating a report of child abuse or neglect
  • A law enforcement agency, an employee of the attorney general's office, an employee of any court or court system, a person mandated to report suspected abuse or neglect, a person who has made a report to the department, a person who has provided information to the department or an attorney, guardian ad litem, party, participant, witness, or prospective witness in a child protection proceeding
  • An administrator of a social media service to the extent authorized by a court for reporting, investigating, or removing a threat or serious intimidation attempt directed against an employee of the department, an employee of the attorney general's office, a guardian ad litem, or an officer of any court or court system
  • A physician treating a child who they reasonably suspect may be abused or neglected
  • A child named in a record who is reported to be abused or neglected, the child's parent or custodian, or the subject of the report
  • A party to a child protection proceeding, when the records or information is relevant to the proceeding, with protection for identity of reporters and other persons when appropriate
  • A parent, custodian, or caregiver of a child when the department believes the child may be at risk of harm from the person who is the subject of the records
  • A person having the legal responsibility or authorization to evaluate, treat, educate, care for, or supervise a child, parent, or custodian who is the subject of a record
  • A member of a child death review panel or the Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel
  • Any person engaged in bona fide research
  • Any agency or department involved in licensing or approving homes for the placement of children
  • The representative designated to provide child welfare services by the Tribe of an Indian child
  • A person making a report of suspected abuse or neglect
  • The local animal control officer or the animal welfare program of the Department of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Resources
  • The personal representative of the estate of a child named in a record who is reported to be abused or neglected

The department shall disclose relevant information in the records to the following persons:

  • The child's guardian ad litem or attorney
  • A court or grand jury on its finding that access to those records may be necessary for the determination of any issue before it
  • An appropriate State executive or legislative official with responsibility for child protection services
  • The protection and advocacy agency for persons with disabilities
  • Prospective adoptive parents
  • Upon written request, a person having the legal authorization to evaluate or treat a child, parent, or custodian who is the subject of a record
  • Any government entity that needs such information in order to carry out its responsibilities under law to protect children from abuse and neglect
  • A juvenile court when the child who is the subject of the records has been brought before it
  • A relative or other person whom the department is investigating for possible custody or placement of the child
  • A licensing board of a mandated reporter who appears from the record or relevant circumstances to have failed to make a required report
  • Law enforcement authorities for entry into the National Crime Information Center database of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and to a national information clearinghouse for missing and exploited children

When Public Disclosure of Records is Allowed

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4008-A

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the commissioner, with the advice of the attorney general, may disclose information regarding the abuse or neglect of a child and the investigation of and any services related to the abuse and neglect if the commissioner determines that such disclosure is not contrary to the best interests of the child, the child's siblings, or other children in the household, and any one of the following factors is present:

  • The alleged perpetrator of the abuse or neglect has been charged with committing a crime related to the allegation of abuse or neglect maintained by the department.
  • A judge, a law enforcement agency official, a district attorney, or another State or local investigative agency or official has publicly disclosed the provision of child welfare services or the investigation by child welfare services of the abuse or neglect of the child.
  • An individual who is the parent, custodian, or guardian of the victim or a child victim over 14 years of age has made a prior knowing, voluntary, public disclosure.

The commissioner shall make public disclosure of the findings or information pursuant to this section in situations where child abuse or neglect results in a child fatality or near fatality, with the exception of circumstances, as determined with the advice of the attorney general or appropriate district attorney, in which disclosure of child protective information would jeopardize a criminal investigation or proceeding.

Use of Records for Employment Screening

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4008

The department may disclose relevant information in the records to a person, organization, employer, or agency for the purpose of carrying out a background or employment-related screening of an individual who is or may be engaged in the following:

  • Child-related activities or employment
  • Activities or employment relating to adults with intellectual disabilities, autism, or acquired brain injury

The department shall disclose relevant information in the records to the Commissioner of Education when the information concerns teachers and other professional personnel, persons employed by schools, or any employees of schools operated by the Department of Education.