CONFIDENTIALITY


§ 3490.91. Persons to whom child abuse information shall be made available.

 (a)  Reports, report summaries and other accompanying information obtained under the CPSL and this chapter in the possession of the Department and a county agency are confidential. Except for the subject of a report, persons who receive information under this section shall be advised that they are subject to the confidentiality provisions of the CPSL and this chapter, that they are required to insure the confidentiality and security of the information and that they are liable for civil and criminal penalties for releasing information to persons who are not permitted access to this information. This material shall only be released under the CPSL and this chapter and be made available only to the following:

   (1)  An authorized official of a county agency or of an agency of another state that performs protective services analogous to those services performed by county agencies or the Department in the course of the official’s duties, multidisciplinary team members assigned to the case and authorized persons providing services by referral or under section 6364 of the CPSL (relating to purchasing services of other agencies). The name of the person who made the report or cooperated in the investigation may be released to county agencies in this Commonwealth and out-of-State agencies providing protective services provided they have a legitimate need to know this information to protect the child and the person requesting the information can assure the confidentiality of the identity of the persons who made the report or cooperated in the investigation.

   (2)  A physician examining or treating a child or the director of a hospital or medical facility treating a child, if the physician or the director of a hospital or medical facility suspects the child of being an abused child.

   (3)  A guardian ad litem and court designated advocate for the child.

   (4)  An authorized official or agent of the Department including the following:

     (i)   The Secretary.

     (ii)   Deputy Secretaries of the Department and designated staff, in cases involving alleged or actual abuse of children in facilities or programs under their jurisdiction.

     (iii)   ChildLine staff.

     (iv)   Authorized officials or agents of the Department who are conducting a performance audit as authorized under section 6343 of the CPSL (relating to investigating performance of county agency) and this chapter.

   (5)  A court of competent jurisdiction under a court order or a court of common pleas upon written request from a judge in connection with any matter involving custody of a child.

     (i)   When the Department receives a written request under this paragraph, ChildLine will send to the court copies of the Report of Suspected Child Abuse (CY-47); the ChildLine Report of Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect For ChildLine Use Only (CY-47C); the Child Protective Service Investigation Report (CY-48); and the Child Protective Service Supplemental Report (CY-49) on file at ChildLine involving the subject child, the child’s siblings and their parents.

     (ii)   If the court requests specific files or information that is not on file at ChildLine, ChildLine will notify the county agency administrator to provide the information directly to the court.

   (6)  A standing committee of the General Assembly, under section 6384 of the CPSL (relating to legislative oversight).

   (7)  The Attorney General.

   (8)  Federal auditors, if required for Federal financial participation in funding of agencies, but Federal auditors may not remove identifiable reports or copies of them from the Department or county agencies.

   (9)  Law enforcement officials of any jurisdiction inside or outside of this Commonwealth if the information is relevant in the course of investigating cases of:

     (i)   Homicide, sexual abuse or exploitation, or serious bodily injury perpetrated by persons whether or not related to the victim.

     (ii)   Suspected child abuse perpetrated by persons who are not family members.

     (iii)   Repeated physical injury to a child under circumstances which indicate that the child’s health or welfare is harmed or threatened.

     (iv)   A missing child report.

   (10)  Law enforcement officials who shall immediately receive reports of suspected child abuse from the county agency, when the initial report or initial review by the county agency gives evidence that the alleged child abuse is one of the following:

     (i)   Homicide, sexual abuse or exploitation, or serious bodily injury perpetrated by persons whether or not related to the child.

     (ii)   Child abuse perpetrated by persons who are not family members.

   (11)  Designated county officials in reviewing the competence of the county agency or its employes under the CPSL and this chapter. Officials under this paragraph are limited to the following:

     (i)   The board of commissioners in counties other than counties of the first class.

     (ii)   The mayor of a city of the first class under the act of April 21, 1949 (P. L. 665, No. 155), known as the First Class City Home Rule Act.

     (iii)   An individual serving as a county chief executive as designated by a county home rule charter or optional plan form of government under the act of April 13, 1972 (P. L. 184, No. 62), known as the Home Rule Charter and Optional Plans Law.

   (12)  A subject of the report upon written request.

   (13)  A person, agency or institution, upon written consent of all subjects of the report may receive a copy of the reports on file with the county agency and ChildLine.

   (14)  Individuals authorized by the Department to conduct studies of data, if the study does not contain the name or other information by which the subjects of reports may be identified.

   (15)  Required reporters of suspected child abuse whose access to information is limited to the following:

     (i)   The final status of the report following the investigation, whether it be indicated, founded or unfounded.

     (ii)   Services provided or arranged by the county agency to protect the child from further child abuse. This information may be released to the required reporter at any time after the report of suspected child abuse has been made.

   (16)  A prospective adoptive parent, approved by an adoption agency, when considering adopting an abused child in the custody of a county agency. The adoption agency and the county agency having custody of the child shall determine the scope and detail of information which shall be provided so that the prospective parent may make an informed decision to adopt.

   (17)  Members of a local or State child fatality review team authorized under sections 6340(a)(4) and 6343(b) of the CPSL (relating to release of information in confidential reports; and investigating performance of county agency), formally organized for the purpose of assisting in the investigation of child death or the development and promotion of strategies to prevent child death. The information shall be provided only through staff of the county agency or Department who are members of the team.

 (b)  Prospective child care service employe applicants, prospective adoptive and foster parents, prospective administrators and prospective operators of child care services, and any person seeking voluntary certification may request and receive information concerning whether there exists on file in the Statewide Central Register indicated or founded reports of child abuse naming the person as perpetrator of child abuse under section 6344 of the CPSL (relating to information relating to prospective child-care personnel).

 (c)  Information on file at the Statewide Central Register as a result of a request to amend or expunge a founded or indicated report of child abuse under § §  3490.105 and 3490.105a (relating to request by the subject of a founded or indicated report for expunction or amendment of an abuse report when the report was received by ChildLine prior to July 1, 1995; and request by a perpetrator to amend or expunge an indicated report of child abuse received by ChildLine after June 30, 1995) may only be released to the Secretary or Secretary’s designees in the course of their official duties and the Attorney General when conducting an audit under section 6345 of the CPSL (relating to audits by Attorney General).

 (d)  A person, including a law enforcement official, who willfully breaches the confidentiality or security of information that the person received under this subsection, in addition to other civil or criminal penalties provided by law, shall be denied access to any confidential child abuse information in the future.

Source

   The provisions of this §  3490.91 adopted December 20, 1985, effective January 1, 1986, 15 Pa.B. 4547; amended April 27, 1990, effective April 28, 1990 and apply retroactively to January 5, 1988, 20 Pa.B. 2286; amended July 2, 1999, effective July 3, 1999, 29 Pa.B. 3513. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (211739) to (211740) and (229421).

Notes of Decisions

   Children in File—Disclosure of File

   A child placed in foster care, who alleges abuse while in care, has the right to access documents that pertain to the foster care stay; however, the child does not have an unlimited right to access the entire file. S. M. ex rel. R.M. v. Children & Youth Services of Delaware County, 686 A.2d 872 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1996).

   Statute Has Priority Over Conflicting Regulation

   Where there is a conflict between the statute and a regulation purporting to implement the provisions of that statute, the regulation must give way. Dauphin v. Department of Public Welfare, 855 A.2d 159, 165 note 6 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2004)

Cross References

   This section cited in 55 Pa. Code §  3490.92 (relating to requests by and referrals to law enforcement officials); 55 Pa. Code §  3490.93 (relating to requests by designated county officials); 55 Pa. Code §  3490.94 (relating to release of the identity of a person who made a report of child abuse or cooperated in a subsequent investigation); 55 Pa. Code §  3490.95 (relating to release of information to required reporters); 55 Pa. Code §  3490.193 (relating to other provisions); and 55 Pa. Code §  3800.20 (relating to confidentiality of records).



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