Disclosure of Confidential Child Abuse and Neglect Records - Texas

Date: February 2022

Confidentiality of Records

Citation: Fam. Code § 261.201

The following information is confidential, not subject to public release under Chapter 552, Government Code, and may be disclosed only for purposes consistent with this code and applicable Federal or State law or under rules adopted by an investigating agency:

  • A report of alleged or suspected abuse or neglect made under this chapter and the identity of the person making the report
  • Except as otherwise provided in this section, the files, reports, records, communications, audiotapes, videotapes, and working papers used or developed in an investigation or in providing services as a result of an investigation

Persons or Entities Allowed Access to Records

Citation: Fam. Code § 261.201

A court may order the disclosure of information that is confidential if the following conditions are met:

  • A motion has been filed requesting the release of the information.
  • A notice of hearing has been served on the investigating agency and all other interested parties.
  • After a hearing and an in-camera review of the requested information, the court determines that the disclosure of the requested information is essential to the administration of justice and is not likely to endanger the life or safety of a child who is the subject of the report, a person who made the report, or any other person who participates in an investigation or who provides care for the child.

The adoptive parents of a child who was the subject of an investigation and an adult who was the subject of an investigation as a child are entitled to examine and make copies of any report, record, or other information in the possession of the State that pertains to the history of the child. The Department of Family and Protective Services may edit the documents to protect the identity of the biological parents and any other person whose identity is confidential unless this information is already known to the adoptive parents or is readily available through other sources.

The department shall provide to a relative or other individual with whom a child is placed any information the department considers necessary to ensure that the relative or other individual is prepared to meet the needs of the child. The information may include information related to any abuse or neglect suffered by the child.

The department shall provide to the parent, managing conservator, or other legal representative of a child who is the subject of reported abuse or neglect information that would otherwise be confidential if the department has edited the information to protect the confidentiality of the identity of the person who made the report and any other person whose life or safety may be endangered by the disclosure.

When Public Disclosure of Records is Allowed

Citation: Fam. Code § 261.203

No later than 5 days after the department receives a request for information about a child fatality in a case of alleged abuse or neglect the department is investigating, the department shall release the following:

  • The child's age, sex, and date of death
  • Whether the State was the managing conservator of the child at the time of death
  • Whether, at the time of death, the child resided with his or her parent

If, after an investigation is completed, the department, on request, shall promptly release the following information:

  • The information described above, if not previously disclosed
  • Whether a child's death or near fatality:
    • Was determined to be caused by abuse or neglect
    • Resulted in a criminal investigation or the filing of criminal charges
  • For cases in which the child's death or near fatality occurred while the child was living with the child's parent, the following:
    • A summary of any previous reports of abuse or neglect
    • A description of any services that were provided or offered by the department
    • The results of any risk or safety assessments
  • For a case in which the child's death or near fatality occurred while the child was in substitute care, the following:
    • The date the substitute care provider with whom the child was residing at the time of death or near fatality was licensed
    • A summary of any previous reports of abuse or neglect
    • Any reported licensing violations
    • Records of any training completed by the substitute care provider

Before any release of records, the department shall redact any information that would do the following:

  • Identify the individual who reported the abuse or neglect or any other individual other than the deceased child or an alleged perpetrator
  • Jeopardize an ongoing criminal investigation or prosecution
  • Endanger the life or safety of any person
  • Violate State or Federal law

Use of Records for Employment Screening

Citation: Fam. Code § 261.002

The department may enter into agreements with other States to allow for the exchange of reports of child abuse and neglect in other States' central registry systems. The department shall use information obtained under this subsection in performing the background checks on prospective foster and adoptive parents and owners, operators, and employees of child care facilities as required by § 42.056, Human Resources Code.