Disclosure of Confidential Child Abuse and Neglect Records - New Hampshire

Date: February 2022

Confidentiality of Records

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 169-C:35; 170-G:8-a

Records in the State registry shall be confidential and subject to rules on access established by the commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services under § 541-A.

The case records of the department shall be confidential.

Persons or Entities Allowed Access to Records

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170-G:8-a

The department shall provide access to the case records to the following persons, unless the commissioner determines that the harm to the child named in the case record resulting from the disclosure outweighs the need for the disclosure presented by the person requesting access:

  • The child and the parent, guardian, or custodian of the child named in the case record
  • Another family member of the child named in the case record, if disclosure is necessary for the provision of services to the child or other family member
  • Employees of the department and their legal counsel
  • Persons made parties to judicial proceedings in New Hampshire relative to the child or family, whether civil or criminal, including the court with jurisdiction over the proceeding, any attorney for any party, and any guardian ad litem
  • A grand jury when it is necessary in the conduct of its official business
  • The relevant county
  • Another State's child welfare agency, other government entity, or any law enforcement agency, including local and out-of-State law enforcement agencies, that requires the information in order to carry out its responsibility under law to protect children from abuse or neglect, including the investigation of child fatalities

For the purposes of this section, the term 'law enforcement agency' includes the attorney general, a county attorney, a county sheriff, the State police, and any local police department.

The department shall disclose information from case records or provide access to case records to the following persons or entities, if such information or access is not harmful to the child and is necessary to enable the person or entity requesting information or access to evaluate or provide services, treatment, or supervision to the child named in the case record or to the family:

  • A person or entity requested by the department or ordered by the court to perform an evaluation or assessment; to create a service plan; or to provide services for the child, the child's family, or a member of the child's family
  • The superintendent of schools for the school district in which the child named in the case record is or will be attending school
  • The person or entity with whom the child resides, if that person is not the child's parent, guardian, or custodian
  • The child's primary health-care provider
  • A licensed medical practitioner who is overseeing the use of psychotropic medication prescribed to the child

The commissioner shall adopt rules governing the procedures regulating access to all the records of the department. Such rules shall contain provisions relative to access to case records by all persons listed in this section and the following:

  • A physician who has examined a child and reasonably suspects that the child may be abused or neglected
  • A State official who is responsible for the provision of services to children and families
  • A legislative official who has been granted specific responsibility for oversight of legislation related to the provision of services to children and families
  • A person conducting a bona fide research or evaluation project
  • Any person making a report of suspected child abuse or neglect, provided that such disclosure is limited to information about the status of the report under investigation or information reasonably required to protect the safety of such person

When Public Disclosure of Records is Allowed

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Use of Records for Employment Screening

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 169-C:35; 170-G:8-c

Upon receipt of a written request from a court in conjunction with a petition for guardianship of a minor or from a child welfare agency or private adoption agency in another State to check the central registry for information on a prospective foster or adoptive parent or any other adult living in the home, the department shall conduct the requested check and shall provide the requesting court, State, or private adoption agency with the results of the check.

Upon the receipt of a written request from another State's lead child care agency to check the name of a child care provider, child care staff member, or prospective child care staff member in its State against the department's State registry of founded reports of abuse and neglect, the department shall conduct the requested check and shall provide the results of the check to the requesting State's lead agency.

The department shall, prior to adding new or transferred staff members whose job descriptions would cause them to come into direct contact with children, submit the names, birth names, birth dates, and addresses of such individuals for review against the State registry of founded abuse and neglect reports.