Disclosure of Confidential Child Abuse and Neglect Records - New Mexico

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Confidentiality of Records

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 32A-4-33

All records or information concerning a party to a neglect or abuse proceeding, including social records, diagnostic evaluations, psychiatric or psychological reports, videotapes, transcripts and audio recordings of a child's statement of abuse, or medical reports incident to or obtained as a result of a neglect or abuse proceeding or that were produced or obtained during an investigation in anticipation of or incident to a neglect or abuse proceeding shall be confidential and closed to the public.

Persons or Entities Allowed Access to Records

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 32A-4-33

The records described above shall be disclosed only to the parties and the following:

  • Court personnel and persons authorized by the court to review, inspect, or otherwise have access to records or information in the court's possession
  • Court-appointed special advocates
  • The child's guardian ad litem
  • The attorney representing the child in an abuse or neglect action, a delinquency action, or any other action under the Children's Code
  • Personnel of the Children, Youth and Families Department and persons or entities authorized by contract with the department to review, inspect, or otherwise have access to records or information in the department's possession
  • Any local substitute care review board or any agency contracted to implement local substitute care review boards
  • Law enforcement officials
  • District attorneys
  • Any State government social services agency in any State or when, in the opinion of the department it is in the best interests of the child, a governmental social services agency of another country
  • Those persons or entities of an Indian Tribe specifically authorized to inspect the records pursuant to the Federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 or any regulations promulgated thereunder
  • A foster parent, if the records are those of a child currently placed or being considered for placement with that foster parent and the records concern the social, medical, psychological, or educational needs of the child
  • School personnel involved with the child if the records concern the child's social or educational needs
  • A grandparent, parent of a sibling, relative, or fictive kin, if the records or information pertain to a child being considered for placement with that grandparent, parent of a sibling, relative, or fictive kin and the records or information concern the social, medical, psychological, or educational needs of the child
  • Health-care or mental health professionals involved in the evaluation or treatment of the child or of the child's parents, guardian, custodian, or other family members
  • Protection and advocacy representatives pursuant to the Federal Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act and the Federal Protection and Advocacy for Mentally Ill Individuals Amendments Act of 1991
  • Children's safehouse organizations conducting investigatory interviews of children on behalf of a law enforcement agency or the department
  • Representatives of the Federal government or their contractors authorized by Federal statute or regulation to review, inspect, audit, or otherwise have access to records and information pertaining to neglect or abuse proceedings
  • Any person or entity attending a meeting arranged by the department to discuss the safety, well-being, and permanency of a child when the parent or child or parent or legal custodian on behalf of a child younger than age 14 has consented to the disclosure
  • Any other person or entity, by order of the court, having a legitimate interest in the case or the work of the court

A parent, guardian, or legal custodian whose child has been the subject of an investigation of abuse or neglect, when no petition has been filed, shall have the right to inspect any medical report, psychological evaluation, law enforcement reports, or other investigative or diagnostic evaluation provided that any identifying information related to the reporting party or any other party providing information shall be deleted. The parent, guardian, or legal custodian also shall have the right to the results of the investigation and the right to petition the court for full access to all department records and information, except those records and information the department finds would be likely to endanger the life or safety of any person providing information to the department.

When Public Disclosure of Records is Allowed

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 32A-4-33.1

After learning that there is reasonable suspicion that a child fatality was caused by abuse or neglect, the department shall release the following information within 5 business days:

  • The age and gender of the child
  • The date of death
  • Whether the child was in foster care or in the home of the child's parent or guardian at the time of death
  • Whether an investigation is being conducted by the department

Upon completion of a child abuse or neglect investigation into a child's death, if it is determined that abuse or neglect caused the child's death, the following documents shall be released upon request:

  • A summary of the department's investigation
  • A law enforcement investigation report, if in the department's possession
  • A medical examiner's report, if in the department's possession

Prior to releasing any document, the department shall consult with the district attorney and shall redact the following:

  • Information that would, in the opinion of the district attorney, jeopardize a criminal investigation or proceeding
  • Identifying information related to a reporting party or any other party providing information
  • Information that is privileged, confidential, or not subject to disclosure pursuant to any other State or Federal law

Once documents have been released, the department may comment on the case within the scope of the release. Information released by the department consistent with the requirements of this section does not require prior notice to any other individual.

Nothing in this section shall be construed as requiring the department to obtain documents that are not in the abuse and neglect case file.

Use of Records for Employment Screening

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.