Disclosure of Confidential Child Abuse and Neglect Records - Mississippi

Date: February 2022

Confidentiality of Records

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 43-21-257; 43-21-261

Any record involving children, including valid and invalid complaints, and the contents thereof maintained by the Department of Child Protection Services or any other State agency shall be kept confidential and shall not be disclosed except as provided by law.

The central registry shall be confidential and shall not be open to public inspection.

Records involving children shall not be disclosed other than to necessary staff or officials of the youth court, a guardian ad litem appointed to a child by the court, or a court-appointed special advocate volunteer that may be assigned in an abuse and neglect case, except pursuant to an order of the youth court specifying the person or persons to whom the records may be disclosed, the extent of the records that may be disclosed, and the purpose of the disclosure.

Persons or Entities Allowed Access to Records

Citation: Ann. Code § 43-21-261

Court orders for disclosure of child abuse records shall be limited to those instances in which the youth court concludes, in its discretion, that disclosure is required for the best interests of the child, the public safety, or the functioning of the youth court, or to identify a person who knowingly made a false allegation of abuse or neglect, and then only to the following persons:

  • The judge of another youth court or member of another youth court staff
  • The court of the parties in a child custody or adoption case in another court
  • A judge of any other court or members of another court staff, including the chancery court that ordered a forensic interview
  • A public or private agency providing supervision or having custody of the child
  • Any person engaged in bona fide research
  • Any person, pursuant to a finding by a judge of the youth court of compelling circumstances affecting the health, safety, or well-being of a child, and that such disclosure to this person is in the best interests of the child
  • The parent, guardian, or custodian of the child who is the subject of a youth court case or any attorney for such person
  • The youth court prosecutor, county attorney, district attorney, youth court defender, or any attorney representing a child
  • Any interagency child abuse task force
  • Any member of a foster care review board
  • A person who was the subject of a knowingly made false allegation of child abuse or neglect that has resulted in a conviction of a perpetrator in accordance with § 97-35-47 or which allegation was referred by the department to a prosecutor or law enforcement official

The department shall disclose all records resulting from an investigation into suspected child abuse or neglect to the following:

  • A county prosecuting attorney or district attorney when the case has been referred for criminal prosecution
  • A court of competent jurisdiction
  • The Division of Victim Compensation of the Office of the Attorney General for purposes of determination of eligibility for victim compensation benefits
  • Any attorney, physician, dentist, intern, resident, nurse, psychologist, social worker, family protection worker, family protection specialist, child caregiver, minister, law enforcement officer, or public or private school employee making the report if the reporter has a continuing professional relationship with the child and a need for such information in order to protect or treat the child

The department may disclose records involving children to the following:

  • A foster home, residential child-caring agency, or child-placing agency to the extent necessary to provide care and services to a child
  • An individual, agency, or organization that provides services to a child or the child's family in furtherance of the child's permanency plan to the extent necessary in providing those services
  • Health and mental health-care providers of a child to the extent necessary for the provider to properly treat and care for the child
  • An educational institution or educational services provider where the child is enrolled or expected to enroll to the extent necessary for the school to provide appropriate services to the child
  • Any other State agency if the disclosure is necessary to the department in fulfilling its statutory responsibilities in protecting the best interests of the child

When Public Disclosure of Records is Allowed

Citation: Ann. Code § 43-21-261

In every case of child abuse or neglect, if a child's physical condition is medically labeled as medically 'serious' or 'critical' or a child dies, the confidentiality provisions of this section shall not apply.

In such cases, the following information may be released by the department:

  • The cause of the circumstances regarding the fatality or medically serious or critical physical condition
  • The age and gender of the child
  • Information describing any previous reports of child abuse or neglect investigations that are pertinent to the child abuse or neglect that led to the fatality or medically serious or critical physical condition
  • The result of any such investigations
  • The services provided by and actions of the State on behalf of the child that are pertinent to the child abuse or neglect that led to the fatality or medically serious or critical physical condition

Use of Records for Employment Screening

Citation: Ann. Code § 43-21-257

The Mississippi State Department of Health may release the findings of investigations into allegations of abuse within licensed daycare centers to any parent of a child who is enrolled in the daycare center at the time of the alleged abuse or at the time the request for information is made. The findings of any such investigation also may be released to parents who are considering placing children in the daycare center.