guidelines for discretionary disclosure to prevent too much information from being disclosed.
For example, the department directors can be authorized to release confirmation and disposition
information about reports, but not personally identifying or sensitive information. The
circumstances for releasing personally identifying information would need to be outlined in the
statutes or state administrative code. Alternatively, there could be restrictions on when the
directors could release information in an agency record, such as when there is imminent danger.
In the Oregon law, this could be accomplished by removing the “best interest” provision. In
addition to clarifying when records would be kept confidential, more specific guidelines would
allow citizens to hold the departments to standards for access to information under freedom of
information laws. 154
4. Citizen Review Boards
Twenty-nine states recognize citizen review boards, and other similar oversight teams
that function as evaluators of child welfare agencies, as parties eligible to access child abuse
records. 155 These teams consist of volunteers representative of the community at large. Federal
law requires that some members have expertise in child abuse prevention and investigation. 156
These review boards act as auditors of the child-welfare system. 157 CAPTA states that the
function of citizen review boards is to examine policies, procedures, and practices of the child
welfare agencies in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the child-protection services. 158 This
includes examining specific cases and investigating the deaths of children who could reasonably
be suspected as victims of child abuse or neglect. 159 Traditionally, these review boards convene
at regular intervals to review individual case files, creating aggregate reports on the performance
of state child welfare agencies. 160
mental and physical health of the child, and presence of domestic violence. Id. at 3. However, these are applied in varying
combinations by only approximately twenty states. Id.
154 More specific provisions granting access or providing confidentiality provide more predictability for public records requestors.
Specific provisions also provide the basis for appeal if records are withheld.
155 The states that grant access to foster-care review boards are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois,
Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada,
New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. These
review boards are constituted under various names, such as citizen review panels, child fatality review boards, and child death review
boards. See ALA. CODE § 26-14-8(c)(10) (2013); ARIZ. REV. STAT. ANN. § 8-807(C), (I)(5) (West 2013); ARK. CODE ANN. § 12-18-
909(g)(9)-(10) (West 2013); CAL. PENAL CODE § 11167.5(b)(14) (West 2013); COLO. REV. STAT. ANN. § 19-1-307(2)(p) (West
2013); GA. CODE ANN. § 49-5-41(a)(8) (West 2013); 325 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 5/11.1(a)(16) (West 2013) (referencing panels
defined in 325 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 5/7.1); IND. CODE ANN. § 31-33-18-2(12) (West 2013) (requiring that a court determine the
necessity of the records for the review board to fulfill its duties); IOWA CODE ANN. § 235A.15(2)(e)(7) (West 2013); KAN. STAT. ANN.
§ 38-2212(c)(3), (7) (West 2013); LA. REV. STAT. ANN. § 46:56(F)(4)(a) (2013); ME. REV. STAT. ANN. tit. 22 § 4008(2)(E) (2013);
MASS. GEN. LAWS. ANN. ch. 18B, § 6A; ch. 119, § 51E (West 2013) (requiring the consent of the child welfare agency’s
commissioner); MICH. COMP. LAWS ANN. § 722.627(2)(q), (s) (West 2013); MINN. STAT. ANN. § 626.556 (11d)(c)(2) (West 2013);
MISS. CODE ANN. § 43-21-261(19) (West 2013); MO. REV. STAT. § 210. 150(2)(3), (12) (West 2013); MONT. CODE ANN. § 41-3-
205(3)(u) (West 2013); NEB. REV. STAT. ANN. § 28-726(6) (West 2013); NEV. REV. STAT. ANN. § 432B.290(1)(x) (West 2013); N.J.
STAT. ANN. § 9:6-8.10a(b)(22) (West 2013); N.M. STAT. ANN. § 32A-4-33(B)(6) (West 2013); OKLA. STAT. ANN. tit. 10A, § 1-6-
103(B)(2) (West 2013); OR. REV. STAT. ANN. § 419B.035(1)(d) (West 2013); 23 PA. CONS. STAT. ANN. § 6340(a)(16) (West 2013);
R.I. GEN. LAWS ANN. § 42-72-8(d) (West 2013); S.C. CODE ANN. § 63-7-1990(B)(21) (2013); W. VA. CODE ANN. § 49-7-1(c)(3)
(West 2013); WIS. STAT. ANN. § 48.981(7)(15g) (West 2013).
156 42 U.S.C.A. § 5106a(c)(2) (West 2014).
157 CHILD WELFARE INST., ASFA+ FOSTER CARE REVIEW SERIES, COLLECTIING REVIEW DATA AND GETTING IT USED 3 (2002),
158 See 42 U.S.C.A. § 5106a(c)(4)(A).
160 See CHILD WELFARE INST, supra note 157, at 4; see also 42 U.S.C.A. § 5106a(c)(3) (providing that each panel “shall meet not less
than once every 3 months”); Id. § 5106a(4)(A) (establishing guidelines for the panel to examine “policies, procedures, and practices of
State and Local agencies”); Id. § 5106a(6) (mandating that each panel prepare and distribute annual reports to the State and public
“containing a summary of the activities of the panel and recommendations to improve the child protection services system at the State
and local levels”).