centralized investigation of child abuse, making the process easier on the child.134 CACs also
provide ongoing services to children and families, such as counseling and community
Seven states allow child-advocacy centers and employees of such centers to access child
abuse records.136 Some states, such as Kentucky137 and Tennessee,138 permit employees or other
designates of child-advocacy centers to access child abuse records with no further stipulations
regarding disclosure. Georgia, however, specifies that for a child-advocacy center to access child
abuse records, the center must be “certified by the Child Abuse Protocol Committee” or similarly
accreditted organization.139 This certification requires that the advocacy center be operated for
the purpose of investigating known or suspected cases of abuse or neglect and treating a child or
family suffering from abuse or neglect.140 Further, Georgia law requires the center to have been
created through “intracommunity compacts” between the center and law enforcement or child-protection agencies, district attorneys’ offices, and other like institutions.141 If an advocacy center
does access records, the Georgia statute requires that the center be bound to the confidentiality
provisions and subject to penalties for disclosing the confidential information.142
The restrictions Georgia law placed on these centers limit the purpose of disclosure and
the use of the information to the extent necessary for the centers to serve the needs of the child.
These limits foster the provision of necessary services while protecting the privacy of the families
involved. CACs serve as valuable resources to the community and the state; the Department of
Justice called the development of CACs “[o]ne of the most important innovations of this decade
in providing services to child victims.” 143 Limits on the certification or authorization of these
centers should therefore be closely drawn, as Georgia’s law illustrates, to ensure the required
standards of care will be provided. Once a CAC is identified as an accredited partner, however,
its employees should have the access to records necessary to the extent their roles require to treat
the children in the CAC's care, such as prior abuse history, treatment plans, and previous
2. Court-Determined Parties
Twenty states allow additional parties access to child abuse records pursuant to a court
order. 144 Using the courts as a screening device ensures stringent analysis of the competing
interests in a disclosure request. Most states’ legislatures, however, limit the courts’ discretion in
granting access in some way, such as requiring an in-camera inspection before admitting the
134 Jessica Dixon Weaver, The Principle of Subsidiarity Applied: Reforming the Legal Framework to Capture the Psychological Abuse
of Children, 18 VA. J. SOC. POL’Y & L. 247, 299 (2011).
135 See Child Advocacy Centers, supra note 133; see also Child and Family Friendly Facilities, NAT’L CHILD. ALLIANCE,
http://www.nationalchildrensalliance.org/index.php?s=36 (last visited Dec. 29, 2013) (listing services offered by the CACs registered
with the National Children’s Alliance).
136 The states that allow child-advocacy centers and their employees to access child abuse records are Florida, Georgia, Iowa,
Kentucky, South Dakota, Utah, and Wisconsin.
137 KY. REV. STAT. ANN. § 620.050(5)(g) (West 2013).
138 TENN. CODE ANN. § 37-1-612(b)(1) (West 2013).
139 GA. CODE ANN. § 49-5-41(a)(7.1) (West 2013).
143 Nancy Chandler, Children's Advocacy Centers: Making a Difference One Child at a Time, 28 HAMLINE J. PUB. L. & POL’Y 315,
324 (2006) (citing U.S. DEP'T OF JUSTICE, OFFICE FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME, NEW DIRECTIONS FROM THE FIELD: VICTIMS' RIGHTS AND
SERVICES FOR THE 21ST CEN TURY 394-95 (1998)).
144 The states that grant access to court-determined parties are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana,
Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas,
Washington, and West Virginia. See, e.g., KY. REV. STAT. ANN. § 620.050(5)(h) (West 2013) (granting access to “[t]hose persons
authorized by court order”).