Disclosure of Confidential Child Abuse and Neglect Records - South Carolina

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Confidentiality of Records

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-1990

All reports made and information collected pursuant to this article maintained by the Department of Social Services and the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect are confidential.

Persons or Entities Allowed Access to Records

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-1990

The department is authorized to grant access to the records of indicated cases to the following persons, agencies, or entities:

  • The ombudsman of the Office of the Governor or the governor's designee
  • The child's guardian ad litem, the attorney for the child's guardian ad litem, or the child's attorney
  • Appropriate staff of the department
  • A law enforcement agency investigating or prosecuting known or suspected abuse or neglect of a child or any other crime against a child, attempting to locate a missing child, investigating or prosecuting the death of a child, or investigating or prosecuting any other crime
  • A person who is named in a report or investigation as having abused or neglected a child, that person's attorney, and that person's guardian ad litem
  • A child who is age 14 or older who is named in a report as a victim of child abuse or neglect
  • The parents or guardians of a child who is named in a report
  • County medical examiners or coroners who are investigating the death of a child
  • The State Child Fatality Advisory Committee and the Department of Child Fatalities
  • Family courts conducting proceedings pursuant to this article
  • The parties to a court proceeding when information in the records is legally relevant and necessary for the determination of an issue before the court
  • A grand jury when it is necessary in the conduct of its official business
  • Authorities in other States conducting child abuse and neglect investigations or providing child welfare services
  • Courts in other States conducting child abuse and neglect or child custody proceedings
  • The director or chief executive officer of a child care facility, child-placing agency, or child-caring facility when the records concern the investigation of an incident of child abuse or neglect that allegedly was perpetrated by an employee or volunteer
  • A person or agency with authorization to care for, diagnose, supervise, or treat the child, the child's family, or the person alleged to have abused or neglected the child
  • Any person engaged in bona fide research
  • Multidisciplinary teams
  • Circuit solicitors and their agents investigating or prosecuting known or suspected abuse or neglect of a child or any other crime against a child, attempting to locate a missing child, investigating or prosecuting the death of a child, or investigating or prosecuting any other crime
  • Prospective or current adoptive parents, caregivers, kinship care providers, foster parents, and public or private residential facilities, in contemplation of placement and after placement
  • Employees of the Division for the Review of the Foster Care of Children, Office of the Governor, and members of local boards when carrying out their duties
  • The designated authorities at the military installation where the active-duty service member, who is the sponsor of the alleged abused or neglected child, is assigned
  • A South Carolina Children's Advocacy Medical Response System child abuse health-care provider or his or her designee for the evaluation of a child for suspected abuse or neglect

The department may disclose to participants in a family group conference relevant information concerning the child or family or other relevant information to the extent that the department determines that the disclosure is necessary to accomplish the purpose of the family group conference. Participants in the family group conference must be instructed to maintain the confidentiality of information disclosed by the agency.

When Public Disclosure of Records is Allowed

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-1990

The State director of the department may disclose to the media information contained in child protective services records if the disclosure is limited to discussion of the department's activities in handling the case, including information placed in the public domain by other public officials, a criminal prosecution, the alleged perpetrator, the party in interest, the attorney for the alleged perpetrator, or other public judicial proceedings.

Information is considered 'placed in the public domain' when it has been reported in the news media, is contained in public records of a criminal justice agency, is contained in public records of a court of law, or has been the subject of testimony in a public judicial proceeding.

The State director shall disclose information from confidential records to respond to an allegation made by the alleged perpetrator, the attorney for the alleged perpetrator, the party in interest, or other public officials in public testimony before a committee or subcommittee of the legislature that is engaged in oversight or investigating the activities of the department. The department's response is limited to discussion of the department's activities in handling the case relating to the allegation made in public testimony. For all other information not subject to disclosure, the state director shall disclose information in records required to be kept confidential to respond to an inquiry from a legislative committee that is engaged in oversight or investigating the activities of the department. The information must be reviewed in a closed session and kept confidential.

The State director is authorized to prepare and release reports of the results of the department's investigations into the deaths of children in its custody or receiving child welfare services at the time of death.

Use of Records for Employment Screening

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-1990

The department is authorized to grant access to the records of indicated cases to the following agencies or entities:

  • The Division for the Review of the Foster Care of Children for purposes of certifying that no potential employee, nominee to, or member of the State or a local foster care review board is a subject of an indicated report or affirmative determination
  • The Division of Guardian ad Litem, Office of the Governor, for purposes of certifying that no potential employee or volunteer is the subject of an indicated report or an affirmative determination

The department is authorized to disclose information concerning an individual named in the central registry as a perpetrator when screening of an individual's background is required by statute or regulation for employment, licensing, or any other purposes or a request is made in writing by the person being screened. Nothing in this section prevents the department from using other information in department records when making decisions concerning licensing, employment, or placement, or performing other duties required by this act. The department also is authorized to consult any department records in providing information to persons conducting preplacement investigations of prospective adoptive parents.