Disclosure of Confidential Child Abuse and Neglect Records - Minnesota

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Confidentiality of Records

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 260E.35, Subd. 1, 2, 3

All records concerning individuals maintained by a local welfare agency or agency responsible for assessing or investigating a report of child abuse or neglect, including any written reports, shall be private data on individuals, except for copies of reports that are required to be sent to the local police department or the county sheriff. All records concerning determinations of maltreatment by a facility are nonpublic data as maintained by the Department of Education, except for as copies of reports that are required to be sent to the local police department or the county sheriff. Reports maintained by any police department or the county sheriff shall be private data on individuals, except the reports shall be made available to the investigating, petitioning, or prosecuting authority, including county medical examiners or county coroners.

Persons or Entities Allowed Access to Records

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 260E.35, Subd. 3, 4, 5

All reports and records created, collected, or maintained under this section by a local welfare agency or law enforcement agency may be disclosed to a child welfare agency of another State when the agency certifies the following:

  • The reports and records are necessary to conduct an investigation of maltreatment.
  • The reports and records will be used only for purposes of a child protection assessment or investigation and will not be further disclosed to any other person or agency.

The responsible authority of a local welfare agency may release private or confidential data on an active case involving an assessment or investigation of maltreatment to a court services agency if the following apply:

  • The court services agency has an active case involving a common client who is the subject of the data.
  • The data are necessary for the court services agency to effectively process the court services agency's case, including investigating or performing other duties relating to the case required by law.

A local social services or child protection agency or the agency responsible for assessing or investigating the report of maltreatment shall provide relevant private data on individuals obtained under this section to a mandated reporter who made the report and who has an ongoing responsibility for the health, education, or welfare of a child affected by the data, unless the agency determines that providing the data would not be in the best interests of the child. The agency may provide the data to other mandated reporters with ongoing responsibility for the health, education, or welfare of the child. Mandated reporters with ongoing responsibility for the health, education, or welfare of a child affected by the data include the child's teachers or other appropriate school personnel, foster parents, health-care providers, respite care workers, therapists, social workers, child care providers, residential care staff, crisis nursery staff, probation officers, and court services personnel.

Records may be shared with another local welfare agency that requests the information because it is conducting an assessment or investigation of the subject of the records. Reports and records also may be made available to the following:

  • The local police department or county sheriff
  • The investigating, petitioning, or prosecuting authority, including county medical examiners or county coroners
  • An individual subject of a record, except that the name of the reporter shall be confidential
  • A legislative auditor
  • The Commissioner of Education when the data is requested pursuant to an assessment or investigation of a maltreatment report of a student in a school

When Public Disclosure of Records is Allowed

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 260E.35, Subd. 7

A public agency shall disclose to the public, upon request, the findings and information related to a child fatality or near fatality if any of the following apply:

  • A person is criminally charged with having caused the child fatality or near fatality.
  • A county attorney certifies that a person would have been charged with having caused the child fatality or near fatality but for that person's death.
  • A child protection investigation resulted in a determination of child abuse or neglect.

The findings and information that may be disclosed consist of a written summary that includes any of the following information the agency is able to provide:

  • The cause and circumstances regarding the child fatality or near fatality
  • The age and gender of the child
  • Information on any previous reports of child abuse or neglect that are pertinent to the abuse or neglect that led to the child fatality or near fatality
  • Information on any previous investigations that are pertinent to the abuse or neglect that led to the child fatality or near fatality
  • The results of any previous investigations
  • The actions of and the services provided by the local social services agency on behalf of a child that are pertinent to the child abuse or neglect that led to the child fatality or near fatality
  • The results of any review of the State child mortality review panel, a local child mortality review panel, a local community child protection team, or any public agency

Nothing in this subdivision authorizes access to the private data in the custody of a local social services agency; the disclosure to the public of the records or content of any psychiatric, psychological, or therapeutic evaluations; or the disclosure of information that would reveal the identities of persons who provided information related to abuse or neglect of the child.

Use of Records for Employment Screening

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.