may be an example from Maine, which grants access to local animal control officers and the state
animal welfare program in cases where there is a suspicion of animal cruelty. 205
D. Summary of Statutorily Permitted Disclosures
All of the states, in compliance with CAPTA, have statutory provisions that guarantee the
confidentiality of child abuse records. However, the extent to which these laws provide access to
individuals, organizations, and the public, varies. For example, six states have only a general
statement of confidentiality. 206 Including the categories of parties granted access by the federal
regulation and those categories of parties granted access by only the states, Florida grants access
to the most categories of parties; twenty-four, including five categorized under Miscellaneous. 207
New Jersey is close behind, granting access to twenty categories of parties. South Carolina and
Montana grant access to eighteen and nineteen categories respectively. 208 The number of parties
granted access to child abuse records is an indicator of the scope of disclosures.
However, much of the disclosure specified by state law is discretionary, not
mandatory. 209 This provides protection for the privacy of the children and other individuals
identified in the report. The majority of the persons granted access to records have a personal or
professional stake in the records requested–attorneys, physicians, or parents. When disclosure is
made for oversight to the public it is reactive; public disclosures are made in response to cases of
child fatalities or near fatalities. This kind of reactive disclsosure is an important step in
reviewing the events that led to the death or serious injury. More consistent oversight, however,
can be the means of proactive, ongoing review of the child welfare system. Although citizen
review panels review policies and cases in a more regularized fashion, state laws vary as to the
formation and training of review boards, as well as the information disclosed to these boards and
the information disclosed to the public following the boards' investigations.
Tragedies in the child-welfare systems of Missouri, 210 Florida, 211 and New Jersey212 have
served as catalysts for calls to action, specifically for changes in the law that would allow greater
access to child abuse records. Florida and New Jersey, however, authorize disclosure to more
persons than any other state, 213 yet they are still plagued with tragic deaths and near fatalities in
the child-welfare system. 214 The extent of the permissible disclosures does not appear to be the
root of the problem in these states. However, the number of parties states may disclose
205 ME. REV. STAT. ANN. tit. 22, § 4008(2)(k).
206 See DEL. CODE ANN. tit. 29, § 9017 (West 2013); HAW. REV. STAT. § 350-1.4 (West 2013); IDAHO CODE ANN. §§ 16-1629; 9-
340B (West 2013); N. Y. COMP. CODES R. & REGS. tit. 18, § 465.1 (2013); OHIO REV. CODE ANN. § 5153.17 (West 2013); VA. ANN.
CODE § 63.2-1515 (West 2013).
207 See supra text accompanying notes 203-205.
208 The tables in Appendix III provide a complete listing of the categories of parties granted access to the records under federal law
and those granted access under state law; the tables in Appendix IV list all fifty states and D.C. in the order of the number of the total
categories of parties granted access by the states. For a complete list of abbreviations used in these tables, see infra Appendix II.
209 The federal regulation gives states the option to authorize disclosure to certain individuals and organizations. See 45 C.F.R. §
1340.14( i)(2) (2014). “If a State chooses to, it may authorize by statute disclosure to any or all of the following persons and agencies,
under limitations and procedures the State determines.” Id.
210 See supra text accompanying notes 1-11.
211 See supra text accompanying notes 115, 163-164.
212 See supra note 165.
213 See supra text accompanying notes 207-208.
214 See, e.g., DCF in Freefall?, FLA. COURIER (Dec. 25, 2013), http://flcourier.com/2013/12/25/dcf-in-freefall; Thomas Zambito,
Grandmother Testifies DYFS Workers Told Her to 'Stop Calling,' After She Found Drug Pipe in Diaper Bag, NJ.COM (Dec. 5, 2013),
_diaper_bag.html; N.J. DYFS Is Still Failing to Help Troubled Families Under Their Supervision, Report Says, NJ.COM (Dec. 14,