Disclosure of Confidential Child Abuse and Neglect Records - Massachusetts

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This publication presents an overview of State laws that designate the officials and entities that may have access to the confidential records of child abuse and neglect reports and investigations, the circumstances under which information may be disclosed, and the appropriate use of confidential information. Public disclosure of information in cases of child abuse-related fatalities or near fatalities also is addressed.

Confidentiality of Records

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 119, §§ 51E & 51F

The Department of Children and Families shall maintain a file of the written reports prepared pursuant to this section and §§ 51A to 51D, inclusive. These written reports shall be confidential.

The department shall maintain a central registry of information sufficient to identify children whose names are reported pursuant to §§ 51A or 51B. Data and information relating to individual cases in the central registry shall be confidential and shall be made available only with the approval of the commissioner or upon court order.

Persons or Entities Allowed Access to Records

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 119, §§ 51E & 51F

A copy of the written report of the initial investigation may, upon request and upon the approval of the commissioner, be provided to the following:

  • The child's parent, guardian, or counsel
  • The reporting person or agency
  • The appropriate review board
  • A child welfare agency of another State for the purpose of assisting that agency in determining whether to approve a prospective foster or adoptive parent
  • A social worker assigned to the case

No such report shall be made available to any persons other than those enumerated in this section without the written and informed consent of the child's parent or guardian, the written approval of the commissioner, or an order of a court of competent jurisdiction.

A child welfare agency of another State may, upon request and upon the approval of the commissioner, receive a copy of the written report of the initial investigation if the agency has a need for such information in order to carry out its responsibilities under law to protect children from abuse and neglect.

The department may release data and information maintained in the central registry to the child welfare agency of another State upon request of that agency in determining whether to approve a prospective foster or adoptive parent. The commissioner shall establish rules and regulations governing the availability of such data and information. Pursuant to chapter 18C, the child advocate shall have access to the information in the registry.

A child welfare agency of another State may, upon request and upon the approval of the commissioner, receive information from the central registry if the agency has a need for such information in order to carry out its responsibilities under law to protect children from abuse and neglect.

When Public Disclosure of Records is Allowed

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Use of Records for Employment Screening

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.