Disclosure of Confidential Child Abuse and Neglect Records - Pennsylvania

Date: February 2022

Confidentiality of Records

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 6339

Except as otherwise provided in this subchapter or by the Pennsylvania Rules of Juvenile Court Procedure, reports made pursuant to this chapter, including, but not limited to, report summaries of child abuse and reports made pursuant to § 6313 (relating to reporting procedure) as well as any other information obtained, reports written or photographs or x-rays taken concerning alleged instances of child abuse in the possession of the Department of Human Services or a county agency shall be confidential.

Persons or Entities Allowed Access to Records

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 6340

Records shall only be made available to the following:

  • An authorized official of a county agency, a Federal agency that has a need for the information, or of an agency of another State that performs protective services
  • Multidisciplinary team members assigned to the case
  • A physician examining or treating a child when the physician suspects the child of being an abused child
  • A guardian ad litem or court-designated advocate for the child
  • An official or agent of the department conducting a performance audit
  • A court of competent jurisdiction
  • A court of common pleas in connection with any matter involving custody of a child, including standby and temporary guardianship
  • A standing committee of the General Assembly charged with legislative oversight
  • The attorney general
  • Federal auditors if required for Federal financial participation in funding of agencies
  • The district attorney's office or other law enforcement official, as set forth in county protocols for multidisciplinary investigative teams
  • Law enforcement officials of any jurisdiction, as long as the information is relevant to an investigation
  • Designated county officials
  • A mandated reporter who made a report of abuse involving the subject child
  • School administrators and child care service employers
  • A prospective adoptive parent when considering adopting an abused child in the custody of a county agency
  • Appropriate officials of another county or State regarding an investigation related to child abuse or protective services when a family has moved to that county or State
  • Members of a citizen review panel
  • A member of a child fatality or near fatality review team
  • The Department of the Auditor General in conjunction with the performances of the duties designated to the office, except that the auditor general may not remove identifiable reports or copies of reports from the department or county agency

Upon a written request, a subject of a report may receive a copy of all information, except for the person who made a report of suspected child abuse or who cooperated in a subsequent investigation, contained in the statewide database or in any report filed pursuant to § 6313 (relating to reporting procedure).

When Public Disclosure of Records is Allowed

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 6343

The department shall conduct a child fatality or near fatality review immediately upon receipt of a report that a child died or nearly died as a result of suspected child abuse.

Prior to completing its report, the department may release the following information to the public concerning a child who died or nearly died as a result of suspected or substantiated child abuse:

  • The identity of the child
  • If the child was in the custody of a public or private agency, the identity of the agency
  • The identity of the public or private agency that provided services to the child and the child's family in the child's home prior to the child's death or near fatality
  • A description of services provided
  • The identity of the county agency that convened a child fatality or near fatality review team with respect to the child

Upon completion of the review and report, the department's report shall be made available to the county agency, the child fatality or near fatality review team, designated county officials, and, upon request, to other individuals to whom confidential reports may be released.

The report shall be made available to the public but identifying information shall be removed from the contents of the report except for disclosure of the information listed above. The report shall not be released to the public if the district attorney certifies that release of the report may compromise a pending criminal investigation or proceeding.

Use of Records for Employment Screening

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 6335

Information from statewide database of protective services may be released if a request for information is made orally or in writing and the department has done all of the following:

  • Identified the requester, including electronic verification of the requester's identity
  • Determined whether the requester is authorized to obtain the information under this section
  • Provided notice to the requester that access and dissemination of the information is restricted as provided by this chapter
  • Obtained an affirmation by the requester that the request is within the scope of that person's official duties and the provisions of this chapter

Information provided in response to inquiries under § 6344 (relating to employees having contact with children and adoptive and foster parents), § 6344.1 (relating to information relating to certified or licensed child-care home residents), or § 6344.2 (relating to volunteers having contact with children) shall not include unfounded reports of child abuse or reports related to general protective services and shall be limited to the following:

  • Whether the person was named as a perpetrator of child abuse in a founded or indicated report
  • Whether there is an investigation pending in which the individual is an alleged perpetrator
  • The number and dates of the incidents upon which the report is based and the type of abuse or neglect involved in any founded or indicated reports