Disclosure of Confidential Child Abuse and Neglect Records - Rhode Island

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Confidentiality of Records

Citation: Gen. Laws §§ 40-11-13; 42-72-8

All records concerning reports of child abuse and neglect, including reports made to the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), shall be confidential except as specifically provided by this chapter, § 42-72-8, or specifically authorized by the family court in furtherance of the purposes directly connected with this chapter.

Any DCYF records pertaining to children and their families in need of service pursuant to the provisions of this chapter, or for whom an application for services has been made, shall be confidential and only disclosed as provided by law.

Persons or Entities Allowed Access to Records

Citation: Gen. Laws § 42-72-8

Records may be disclosed when necessary to the following:

  • The attorney general when the office is engaged in the investigation or prosecution of criminal conduct by another relating to the child or other children within the same family unit
  • Individuals or agencies engaged in medical, psychological, or psychiatric diagnosis or treatment or education of the person under the supervision of the department
  • Individuals or agencies for the purposes of temporary or permanent placement of the person
  • The family court
  • The child's guardian ad litem or attorney
  • Any mandated reporter who made a report of child abuse involving the subject child
  • A physician who believes or has reasonable cause to suspect that the child may have been abused or neglected
  • The Department of Corrections in the case of an individual who has been transferred to the jurisdiction of that department
  • Individuals employed by a State or county child welfare agency outside of Rhode Island when the information is needed to ensure the care, protection, and/or treatment of any child
  • An administrative hearing officer for purposes of making a determination of relevancy to the merits of the administrative matter pending before the hearing
  • A court of proper jurisdiction for purposes of making a determination of relevancy to the merits of the civil or criminal action pending before the court

The director shall notify the Office of the Child Advocate within 48 hours of a confirmed fatality or near fatality of a child who is the subject of a DCYF case. The department shall provide the office of the child advocate with access to any written material about the case. Within 5 days of the completion of an investigation that results in a substantiated finding of child abuse or neglect that caused a child fatality or near fatality, the director shall disclose the following information to the Office of the Child Advocate:

  • A summary of the report of abuse or neglect
  • The date of birth and gender of the child
  • The date that the child suffered the fatality or near fatality
  • The cause of the fatality or near fatality if such information has been determined
  • Whether DCYF or a court-appointed special advocate had any contact with the child before the fatality or near fatality and, if so, whether any of the following apply:
    • The frequency of any contact or communication with the child or a member of the child's family or household before the fatality or near fatality and the date on which the last contact or communication occurred before the fatality or near fatality
    • Whether DCYF provided any services or made any referrals for services to the child or to a member of the child's family or household before or at the time of the fatality or near fatality
    • Whether DCYF took any other action concerning the welfare of the child before or at the time of the fatality or near fatality
    • A summary of the status of the child's case at the time of the fatality or near fatality, including, without limitation, whether the child's case was closed by DCYF before the fatality or near fatality and if so, the reasons why the case was closed
  • Whether DCYF, in response to the fatality or near fatality, did either of the following:
    • Has provided or intends to provide and/or make a referral for child welfare services to the child or to a member of the child's family or household
    • Has taken, or intends to take, any other action concerning the welfare and safety of the child or any member of the child's family or household

When Public Disclosure of Records is Allowed

Citation: Gen. Laws § 42-72-8

The director shall make public disclosure of a confirmed fatality or near fatality of a child who is the subject of a DCYF case within 48 hours of confirmation, provided disclosure of such information is in general terms and does not jeopardize a pending criminal investigation.

Use of Records for Employment Screening

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.