organizations that are legally authorized to investigate reports of abuse.89 Montana also provides
access for state advocacy programs90 and interdisciplinary teams that formulate and monitor
treatment plans for children and families that interact with the child welfare system.91 California
provides access to child abuse records to interdisciplinary teams called “hospital scan teams,”
whose purpose is to identify child abuse or neglect.92 These teams consist of health-care
professionals, child-protective services employees, and law enforcement representatives.93
Additionally, eleven states grant broad permissions to individuals authorized to place a
child in protective custody.94 California, for example, authorizes disclosure to “[p]ersonnel from
an agency responsible for making a placement of a child.”95 Some states do place a “need
threshold” on the access; for example, Wyoming law grants access to individuals responsible for
temporary placements when the information is needed to determine the necessity of protective
custody.96 Alternatively, Rhode Island allows disclosure to “individuals or public or private
agencies for the purposes of temporary or permanent placement of the person” at the discretion of
the director of the child-welfare agency.97 States that place these kinds of added limitations –
need thresholds and director approval – on access to child welfare records help ensure disclosures
are proper and necessary rather than providing unfettered access to these individuals.
5. Subjects of the Report
Federal law provides for “[a] person about whom a report has been made” to access the
information contained in child-abuse records.98 In addition, a child named in the report, or his or
her guardian ad litem, may access the records.99 However, the federal regulation requires that the
name of the person who reported the abuse or suspected abuse not be released, or that it be
redacted.100 Child welfare state agencies may also redact any other names of or identifying
information about persons they believe the release endangers.101
Seventeen states and the District of Columbia specifically allow the accused access to the
reports or records.102 Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia allow the child or the child’s
guardian ad litem or other legal representative to access the reports.103 The purpose of disclosure
to the accused may be different than the purpose of disclosure to the child, therefore the
distinctions drawn by the states in allowing these different parties access to the information are
important to note.
89 MONT. CODE ANN. § 41-3-205(3)(a) (West 2013).
90 Id. § 41-3-205(3)(f).
91 Id. § 41-3-205(3)(k).
92 CAL. PENAL CODE § 11167.5(b)(7) (West 2013).
94 The states that allow access to persons placing a child in protective custody are California, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota,
Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wyoming. See 45 C.F.R. § 1340.14( i)(2)(vi) (2014); see e.g. IND. CODE
ANN. § 31-33-18-2(5) (West 2013); MICH. COMP. LAWS ANN. § 722.627(2)(d) (West 2013); NEV. REV. STAT. ANN. § 432B.290(1)(b)
(West 2013); N.J. STAT. ANN. § 9:6-8.10a(b)(4) (West 2013); N.D. CENT. CODE ANN. § 50-25.1-11(1)(b) (West 2013); WYO. STAT.
ANN. § 14-3-214(b)(iv) (West 2013) (for statutes granting access to records to persons placing children in protective custody).
95 CAL. PENAL CODE § 11167.5(b)(10).
96 WYO. STAT. ANN. § 14-3-214(b)(iv).
97 R.I. GEN. LAWS ANN. § 42-72-8(b)(2) (West 2013).
98 45 C.F.R. § 1340.14( i)(2)(viii).
99 Id. § 1340.14( i)(2)(ix).
100 Id. § 1340.14( i)(2)(viii).
102 The states that allow the accused access to the child abuse reports or records are Arizona, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Florida,
Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina,
Utah, and Vermont.
103 The states that allow access to the child, the child’s guardian ad litem, or other legal representative are Alabama, Arizona,
Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan,
Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon,
Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and