All records maintained by the Department of Children and Families are confidential and may only be disclosed with the consent of the individual who is the subject of the records or as authorized by the statute.1
Disclosure of information without consent of the individual is permitted, and in some cases, mandated by law, under certain circumstances.
WHAT INFORMATION IS PROTECTED?
DCF client information and records2
records created or obtained in connection with DCF's child protection activities or other activities related to a child while in the care or custody of DCF;
information in the Central Registry of confirmed victims of child abuse and/or neglect;3
Examples include social records, diagnostic evaluations, psychiatric or psychological reports, videotapes, transcripts and audio recordings of a child’s statement of abuse, and medical records.
Note that "other activities related to a child while in the care or custody of DCF" includes
voluntary services and the post-adjudication custody of juveniles who have been convicted as delinquent and committed to the custody of DCF. See Juvenile Justice Records
Records held by DCF concerning these juveniles are protected according to the provisions discussed in this section.
Records can be requested from the Legal
Division of DCF.
HOW IS DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION FROM DCF RECORDS AUTHORIZED BY A PARENT OR CHILD?
A parent can consent in writing to the release of information from their DCF records. An emancipated child or youth age eighteen or older can also provide written consent, as can an attorney or authorized representative of the DCF client.
Clients generally consent by signing an authorization to release information from these records. Consent for disclosure of DCF records is limited to specified information within a limited time period to specifically identified individuals.
Consent requirements may vary depending on the type of record and the purpose for which it may be used. See Consent for more information.
WHEN CAN INFORMATION FROM DCF RECORDS BE DISCLOSED WITHOUT CONSENT
The department is required to disclose records without the consent of the person who is the subject of the record to the following individuals under certain circumstances.4
A person named in the record
A person name in the record, other than the subject of the record, may obtain information under two circumstances:
The information is about that person or that person’s biological or adoptive minor child, if
the person's parental rights to the child
have not been terminated.
The information identifies an individual who reported abuse or neglect of the person
and a court determines that there is reasonable cause to believe the reporter knowingly made a false report or that the interests of justice require disclosure.
All employees have access to records for any purpose reasonably related to
the performance of their duties.
Individuals representing the child or department
These include a guardian ad litem or attorney appointed to represent a child in litigation affecting the best interests of the child or youth, the attorney general while representing the department, the Child Advocate, and the office of the Chief Public Defender.
Records must be disclosed to a state’s attorney or a state or federal law enforcement officer for purposes of investigating and prosecuting an allegation related to child abuse or neglect.
If the child is not being charged with an offense related to child abuse, but is charged with the commission of a delinquent act, the state’s attorney must obtain a release and may only have access during the prosecution of the delinquency case.
Foster or prospective adoptive parents
The department must disclose
records pertaining to a child currently
placed with the foster or prospective
adoptive parent or being considered for placement that are necessary to address the social, medical, psychological or educational needs of the child or youth, provided no information identifying a biological parent is disclosed without the permission of the biological parent.
A judge or employee of a probate court may obtain information necessary to perform official duties of the court.
A judge of the Superior Court may obtain records when needed to determine the appropriate disposition of a child convicted as delinquent or a child who is a member of a family with service needs.
The department must release records in response to a court order or a subpoena for purposes of a review by a judge of the
Superior Court in a criminal prosecution.
In a Superior Court concerning domestic violence involving the child or parent DCF records must be released to the judge and all necessary parties.
A local or regional board of education may have access to educational records created or obtained by the state or DCF.
The superintendent or executive director of a school must be notified when DCF receives a report that implicates an employee of the school
in an allegation of abuse or neglect of a
Other state agencies
Several state agencies have access to DCF records for purposes limited by the statute to information needed for the agency to perform its responsibilities towards children.
DCF has discretion to release information to certain individuals or agencies without a client’s consent if it is determined to be in the client's best interest. These individuals and agencies include:
An employee or former employee of the department may obtain records that are necessary to an administrative or disciplinary proceeding.
Multidisciplinary teams are organized by the Commissioner of DCF in conjunction with law enforcement agencies to review particular cases or coordinate the prevention, intervention and treatment in cases of child abuse.
DCF may disclose records necessary to the work of the team.
The department may disclose information it deems necessary for the provision of services or for identifying and assessing a potential foster or adoptive home for a child or youth.
Information may be disclosed to Connecticut’s Department of Social Services or to a court or public in another jurisdiction for purposes of providing services to children and families.
Health Care Professionals
Information may be disclosed to a physician examining a child with respect to whom abuse or neglect is suspected when the physician requires the information to determine whether to keep the child in protective custody.
Information may be disclosed to an individual or organization who is treating an individual who has either perpetrated abuse or neglect or is unwilling or unable to protect a child or youth from abuse or neglect when the commissioner determines that the disclosure is necessary to accomplish the objectives of diagnosis or treatment.
Information may be disclosed to the individual who made a report of abuse or neglect, limited to the status of the investigation and the general type of action taken by the department.
Information that does not identify the individual may be disclosed for purposes of bona fide research.
Fee collection agencies
Limited information may be disclosed to an individual or agency involved in the collection of fees for services.
If there is reasonable cause to believe that a child is being abused or neglected or at risk of being abused or neglected as a result of any suspected criminal activity, the department may disclose necessary information to law enforcement agencies.
Person(s) part of the investigation
Any individual interviewed as part of an investigation may receive information limited to the general nature of the allegations contained in the reports, the identity of the child, and information necessary to effectively conduct the investigation.
When information concerning an incident of child abuse or neglect has been made public or is likely to become public, the department may disclose information limited to whether the department has received any report and a general description of action taken by the department and the legal status of the case, provided that no individuals are identified.
To help with missing persons
Limited information may be disclosed to any individual for the purpose of locating that person’s missing parent or child.
General information may be disclosed concerning an incident of abuse or neglect that resulted in a child fatality or near fatality, as long as it does not jeopardize a pending investigation.
Records may be disclosed to a court of competent jurisdiction whenever an employee of the department is subpoenaed and ordered to testify about such records.
DCF may provide information to an individual who is not employed by the department who arranges, performs or assists in performing functions or activities on behalf of the department, including, but not limited to, data analysis, processing or administration, utilization reviews, quality assurance, practice management, consultation, data aggregation and accreditation services.
The department may disclose records without the consent of the person who is the subject of the record to the individuals listed below under certain circumstances.5
The department may, however, refuse to disclose the records, if it notifies the individual seeking the information of the reasons for its refusal. The person may then petition the court for release of the information.6