Skip to navigation Skip to content Skip to subnav
Searching 2021-2022 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online

 

Title 33: Human Services

Chapter 049: CHILD WELFARE SERVICES

  • Subchapter 001: General Provisions
  • § 4901. Statement of purposes

    The Department may cooperate with the appropriate federal agency for the purpose of establishing, extending, and strengthening services which supplement or substitute for parental care and supervision including:

    (1) preventing, remedying, or assisting in the solution of problems which may result in neglect, abuse, exploitation, or delinquency of children;

    (2) protecting and caring for homeless, dependent, or neglected children;

    (3) protecting and promoting the welfare of children of working parents;

    (4) otherwise protecting and promoting the welfare of children, including the strengthening of their homes where possible or, where needed, providing adequate care away from their homes in child-care facilities; and

    (5) assisting youth in a successful transition to an independent adulthood, including the avoidance of homelessness, incarceration, and substance abuse. (Added 1967, No. 147, § 5; amended 2005, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 117; 2007, No. 74, § 1, eff. June 6, 2007.)

  • § 4902. Definitions

    Unless otherwise specifically provided, as used in this chapter:

    (1) "Child" means a person under 18 years of age committed by the Juvenile Court to the Department for Children and Families.

    (2) "Commissioner" means the Commissioner for Children and Families.

    (3) "Department" means the Department for Children and Families.

    (4) "Foster care" means care of a child, for a valuable consideration, in a child care institution or in a family other than that of the child's parent, guardian, or relative. (Added 1967, No. 147, § 5; amended 1973, No. 152 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 22, 31, eff. April 14, 1974; 1981, No. 171 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. April 20, 1982; 1983, No. 248 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; 1989, No. 42, eff. May 5, 1989; 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 2005, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 118; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 74, eff. May 20, 2014.)

  • § 4903. Responsibility of Department

    The Department may expend, within amounts available for the purposes, what is necessary to protect and promote the welfare of children and adults in this State, including the strengthening of their homes whenever possible, by:

    (1) Investigating complaints of neglect, abuse, or abandonment of children.

    (2) Providing aid and services to the extent necessary for the purpose of permitting children to remain in their own homes.

    (3) Supervising and controlling children committed to it by a court.

    (4) Providing substitute parental care and custody for a child upon application of his or her parent, guardian, or any person acting in behalf of the child, when after investigation it is found that the care and custody will be in the best interest of the child. The acceptance of a child by the Department shall not abrogate parental rights or responsibilities, but the Department may accept from the parents temporary delegation of certain rights and responsibilities necessary to provide care and custody for a period of up to six months under conditions agreed upon by the parents and the Department. Upon a stipulation approved by the Juvenile Court, the period may be extended for additional periods of up to six months each, provided that each extension is first determined by the parties to be necessary, and that it is in the best interest of the child.

    (5) Providing financial aid to persons who were committed to the Department at the time they attained the age of majority and who are completing an educational, vocational, or technical training program designed to equip them for gainful employment.

    (6) Providing aid to certain adopted children who prior to their adoption were in the care and custody of the Department.

    (7) Providing aid to a child in the permanent guardianship of a relative if the child was in the care and custody of the Department and was placed in the home of the relative for at least six months prior to the creation of the guardianship. (Added 1967, No. 147, § 5; amended 1971, No. 206 (Adj. Sess.); 1975, No. 19; 1981, No. 243 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 2005, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 119; 2009, No. 97 (Adj. Sess.), § 2.)

  • § 4904. Foster care; transitional youth services

    (a) As used in this section, "youth" means a person between 18 and 22 years of age who either:

    (1) attained his or her 18th birthday while in the custody of the Commissioner for Children and Families; or

    (2) while he or she was between 10 and 18 years of age, spent at least five of those years in the custody of the Commissioner for Children and Families.

    (b)(1) The Department shall provide foster care services as described in subsection (c) of this section to:

    (A) any youth who elects to continue receiving such services after attaining the age of 18;

    (B) any individual under the age of 22 who leaves State custody after the age of 16 and at or before the age of 18 or any youth provided he or she voluntarily requests additional support services.

    (2) The Department shall require a youth receiving services under this section to be employed, to participate in a program to promote employment or remove barriers to employment, or to attend an educational or vocational program, and, if the youth is working, require that he or she contribute to the cost of services based on a sliding scale, unless the youth meets the criteria for an exception to the employment and educational or vocational program requirements of this section based on a disability or other good cause. The Department shall establish rules for the requirements and exceptions under this subdivision.

    (c) The Commissioner shall establish by rule a program to provide a range of age-appropriate services for youth to ensure a successful transition to adulthood, including foster care and other services provided under this chapter to children as appropriate, housing assistance, transportation, case management services, assistance with obtaining and retaining health care coverage or employment, and other services. At least 12 months prior to a child attaining his or her 18th birthday, the Department shall assist the child in developing a transition plan. When developing the transition plan, the child shall be informed about the range of age-appropriate services and assistance available in applying for or obtaining these services.

    (d) [Repealed.]  (Added 2007, No. 74, § 2, eff. June 6, 2007; amended 2009, No. 97 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 3, 4; 2013, No. 142 (Adj. Sess.), § 102.)

  • § 4905. Foster care and placement licensing

    (a) A person other than an employee of a department within the Agency of Human Services shall not place any child in foster care for more than 15 consecutive days unless the person has a license from the Department to do so or is an employee of a child-placing agency licensed by that Department.

    (b) A person shall not receive, board, or keep any child in foster care for more than 15 consecutive days unless he or she has a license from the Department to do so. This subsection shall not apply to foster homes approved by a department within the Agency of Human Services or by a licensed child-placing agency, nor shall it apply to those facilities where educational or vocational training is the primary service and foster care is a supportive service only.

    (c) This section shall not restrict the right of a court, parent, guardian, or relative to place a child, nor the right of a person not in the business of providing foster care or child care to receive, board, and keep a child when a valuable consideration is not demanded or received for the child's care and maintenance. (Added 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 75.)

  • § 4906. Foster care; reasonable and prudent parent standard

    (a) As used in this section:

    (1) "Caregiver" means a foster parent, including a kinship foster parent or residential treatment or other program, with whom a child or youth in the custody of the Commissioner for Children and Families has been placed.

    (2) "Reasonable and prudent parent standard" means the standard characterized by careful and sensible parental decisions that maintain the health, safety, and best interests of a child or youth in the custody of the Commissioner while at the same time encouraging the emotional and developmental growth of the child that a caregiver shall use when determining whether to allow a child in the custody of the Commissioner to participate in extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, and social activities.

    (b) A caregiver shall use the reasonable and prudent parent standard when determining whether to allow a child in the custody of the Commissioner to participate in extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, and social activities.

    (c) A caregiver shall not be liable for injuries to a child in the custody of the Commissioner that occur as a result of acting in accordance with the reasonable and prudent parent standard. A caregiver acting in good faith in compliance with the reasonable and prudent parent standard shall be immune from civil liability arising from such action. (Added 2017, No. 106 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)


  • Subchapter 002: Reporting Abuse of Children
  • § 4911. Purpose

    The purpose of this subchapter is to:

    (1) protect children whose health and welfare may be adversely affected through abuse or neglect;

    (2) strengthen the family and make the home safe for children whenever possible by enhancing the parental capacity for good child care;

    (3) provide a temporary or permanent nurturing and safe environment for children when necessary; and for these purposes require the reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect, an assessment or investigation of such reports and provision of services, when needed, to such child and family;

    (4) establish a range of responses to child abuse and neglect that take into account different degrees of child abuse or neglect and which recognize that child offenders should be treated differently from adults; and

    (5) establish a tiered child protection registry that balances the need to protect children and the potential employment consequences of a registry record for persons who are substantiated for child abuse and neglect. (Added 1981, No. 207 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. April 25, 1982; amended 2007, No. 168 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

  • § 4912. Definitions

    As used in this subchapter:

    (1) "Abused or neglected child" means a child whose physical health, psychological growth and development, or welfare is harmed or is at substantial risk of harm by the acts or omissions of his or her parent or other person responsible for the child's welfare. An "abused or neglected child" also means a child who is sexually abused or at substantial risk of sexual abuse by any person and a child who has died as a result of abuse or neglect.

    (2) "Assessment" means a response to a report of child abuse or neglect that focuses on the identification of the strengths and support needs of the child and the family and any services they may require to improve or restore their well-being and to reduce the risk of future harm. The child and family assessment does not result in a formal determination as to whether the reported abuse or neglect has occurred.

    (3) "Child" means an individual under the age of majority.

    (4) "Child Protection Registry" means a record of all investigations that have resulted in a substantiated report on or after January 1, 1992.

    (5) "Emotional maltreatment" means a pattern of malicious behavior which results in impaired psychological growth and development.

    (6) "Harm" can occur by:

    (A) Physical injury or emotional maltreatment.

    (B) Failure to supply the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or health care. As used in this subchapter, "adequate health care" includes any medical or nonmedical remedial health care permitted or authorized under State law. Notwithstanding that a child might be found to be without proper parental care under chapters 51 and 53 of this title, a parent or other person responsible for a child's care legitimately practicing his or her religious beliefs who thereby does not provide specified medical treatment for a child shall not be considered neglectful for that reason alone.

    (C) Abandonment of the child.

    (7) "Investigation" means a response to a report of child abuse or neglect that begins with the systematic gathering of information to determine whether the abuse or neglect has occurred and, if so, the appropriate response. An investigation shall result in a formal determination as to whether the reported abuse or neglect has occurred.

    (8) "Member of the clergy" means a priest, rabbi, clergy member, ordained or licensed minister, leader of any church or religious body, accredited Christian Science practitioner, or person performing official duties on behalf of a church or religious body that are recognized as the duties of a priest, rabbi, clergy, nun, brother, ordained or licensed minister, leader of any church or religious body, or accredited Christian Science practitioner.

    (9) "Multidisciplinary team" means a group of professionals, paraprofessionals, and other appropriate individuals impaneled by the Commissioner under this chapter for the purpose of assisting in the identification and review of cases of child abuse and neglect, coordinating treatment services for abused and neglected children and their families, and promoting child abuse prevention.

    (10) "Person responsible for a child's welfare" includes the child's parent, guardian, foster parent, any other adult residing in the child's home who serves in a parental role, an employee of a public or private residential home, institution, or agency, or other person responsible for the child's welfare while in a residential, educational, or child care setting, including any staff person.

    (11) "Physical injury" means death or permanent or temporary disfigurement or impairment of any bodily organ or function by other than accidental means.

    (12) "Redacted investigation file" means the intake report, the investigation activities summary, and case determination report that are amended in accordance with confidentiality requirements set forth in section 4913 of this title.

    (13) "Registry record" means an entry in the Child Protection Registry that consists of the name of an individual substantiated for child abuse or neglect, the date of the finding, the nature of the finding, and at least one other personal identifier, other than a name, listed in order to avoid the possibility of misidentification.

    (14) "Risk of harm" means a significant danger that a child will suffer serious harm by other than accidental means, which harm would be likely to cause physical injury, or sexual abuse, including as the result of:

    (A) a single, egregious act that has caused the child to be at significant risk of serious physical injury;

    (B) the production or preproduction of methamphetamines when a child is actually present;

    (C) failing to provide supervision or care appropriate for the child's age or development and, as a result, the child is at significant risk of serious physical injury;

    (D) failing to provide supervision or care appropriate for the child's age or development due to use of illegal substances, or misuse of prescription drugs or alcohol;

    (E) failing to supervise appropriately a child in a situation in which drugs, alcohol, or drug paraphernalia are accessible to the child; and

    (F) a registered sex offender or person substantiated for sexually abusing a child residing with or spending unsupervised time with a child.

    (15) "Sexual abuse" consists of any act or acts by any person involving sexual molestation or exploitation of a child, including:

    (A) incest;

    (B) prostitution;

    (C) rape;

    (D) sodomy;

    (E) lewd and lascivious conduct involving a child;

    (F) aiding, abetting, counseling, hiring, or procuring of a child to perform or participate in any photograph, motion picture, exhibition, show, representation, or other presentation which, in whole or in part, depicts sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse involving a child;

    (G) viewing, possessing, or transmitting child pornography, with the exclusion of the exchange of images between mutually consenting minors, including the minor whose image is exchanged;

    (H) human trafficking;

    (I) sexual assault;

    (J) voyeurism;

    (K) luring a child; or

    (L) obscenity.

    (16) "Substantiated report" means that the Commissioner or the Commissioner's designee has determined after investigation that a report is based upon accurate and reliable information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the child has been abused or neglected.

    (17) "Serious physical injury" means, by other than accidental means:

    (A) physical injury that creates any of the following:

    (i) a substantial risk of death;

    (ii) a substantial loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ;

    (iii) a substantial impairment of health; or

    (iv) substantial disfigurement; or

    (B) strangulation by intentionally impeding normal breathing or circulation of the blood by applying pressure on the throat or neck or by blocking the nose or mouth of another person. (Added 1981, No. 207 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. April 25, 1982; amended 1985, No. 211 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 1, 2; 1989, No. 295 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 1, 2; 1991, No. 141 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 1995, No. 145 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; 2001, No. 135 (Adj. Sess.), § 15, eff. June 13, 2002; 2003, No. 43, § 2, eff. May 27, 2003; 2003, No. 66, § 136a; 2007, No. 77, § 1, eff. June 7, 2007; 2007, No. 168 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2007, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § 18; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 76, eff. May 20, 2014; 2015, No. 60, § 3.)

  • § 4913. Reporting child abuse and neglect; remedial action

    (a) A mandated reporter is any:

    (1) health care provider, including any:

    (A) physician, surgeon, osteopath, chiropractor, or physician assistant licensed, certified, or registered under the provisions of Title 26;

    (B) resident physician;

    (C) intern;

    (D) hospital administrator in any hospital in this State;

    (E) registered nurse;

    (F) licensed practical nurse;

    (G) medical examiner;

    (H) emergency medical personnel as defined in 24 V.S.A. § 2651(6);

    (I) dentist;

    (J) psychologist; and

    (K) pharmacist;

    (2) individual who is employed by a school district or an approved or recognized independent school, or who is contracted and paid by a school district or an approved or recognized independent school to provide student services, including any:

    (A) school superintendent;

    (B) headmaster of an approved or recognized independent school as defined in 16 V.S.A. § 11;

    (C) school teacher;

    (D) student teacher;

    (E) school librarian;

    (F) school principal; and

    (G) school guidance counselor;

    (3) child care worker;

    (4) mental health professional;

    (5) social worker;

    (6) probation officer;

    (7) employee, contractor, and grantee of the Agency of Human Services who have contact with clients;

    (8) police officer;

    (9) camp owner;

    (10) camp administrator;

    (11) camp counselor; or

    (12) member of the clergy.

    (b) As used in subsection (a) of this section, "camp" includes any residential or nonresidential recreational program.

    (c) Any mandated reporter who reasonably suspects abuse or neglect of a child shall report in accordance with the provisions of section 4914 of this title within 24 hours of the time information regarding the suspected abuse or neglect was first received or observed.

    (d)(1) The Commissioner shall inform the person who made the report under subsection (a) of this section:

    (A) whether the report was accepted as a valid allegation of abuse or neglect;

    (B) whether an assessment was conducted and, if so, whether a need for services was found; and

    (C) whether an investigation was conducted and, if so, whether it resulted in a substantiation.

    (2) Upon request, the Commissioner shall provide relevant information contained in the case records concerning a person's report to a person who:

    (A) made the report under subsection (a) of this section; and

    (B) is engaged in an ongoing working relationship with the child or family who is the subject of the report.

    (3) Any information disclosed under subdivision (2) of this subsection shall not be disseminated by the mandated reporter requesting the information. A person who intentionally violates the confidentiality provisions of this section shall be fined not more than $2,000.00.

    (4) In providing information under subdivision (2) of this subsection, the Department may withhold:

    (A) information that could compromise the safety of the reporter or the child or family who is the subject of the report; or

    (B) specific details that could cause the child to experience significant mental or emotional stress.

    (e) Any other concerned person not listed in subsection (a) of this section who has reasonable cause to believe that any child has been abused or neglected may report or cause a report to be made in accordance with the provisions of section 4914 of this title.

    (f)(1) Any person other than a person suspected of child abuse, who in good faith makes a report to the Department shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability which might otherwise be incurred or imposed as a result of making a report.

    (2) An employer or supervisor shall not discharge; demote; transfer; reduce pay, benefits, or work privileges; prepare a negative work performance evaluation; or take any other action detrimental to any employee because that employee filed a good faith report in accordance with the provisions of this subchapter. Any person making a report under this subchapter shall have a civil cause of action for appropriate compensatory and punitive damages against any person who causes detrimental changes in the employment status of the reporting party by reason of his or her making a report.

    (g) The name of and any identifying information about either the person making the report or any person mentioned in the report shall be confidential unless:

    (1) the person making the report specifically allows disclosure;

    (2) a Human Services Board proceeding or a judicial proceeding results therefrom;

    (3) a court, after a hearing, finds probable cause to believe that the report was not made in good faith and orders the Department to make the name of the reporter available; or

    (4) a review has been requested pursuant to section 4916a of this title, and the Department has determined that identifying information can be provided without compromising the safety of the reporter or the persons mentioned in the report.

    (h)(1) A person who violates subsection (c) of this section shall be fined not more than $500.00.

    (2) A person who violates subsection (c) of this section with the intent to conceal abuse or neglect of a child shall be imprisoned not more than six months or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both.

    (3) This section shall not be construed to prohibit a prosecution under any other provision of law.

    (i) Except as provided in subsection (j) of this section, a person may not refuse to make a report required by this section on the grounds that making the report would violate a privilege or disclose a confidential communication.

    (j) A member of the clergy shall not be required to make a report under this section if the report would be based upon information received in a communication which is:

    (1) made to a member of the clergy acting in his or her capacity as spiritual advisor;

    (2) intended by the parties to be confidential at the time the communication is made;

    (3) intended by the communicant to be an act of contrition or a matter of conscience; and

    (4) required to be confidential by religious law, doctrine, or tenet.

    (k) When a member of the clergy receives information about abuse or neglect of a child in a manner other than as described in subsection (j) of this section, he or she is required to report on the basis of that information even though he or she may have also received a report of abuse or neglect about the same person or incident in the manner described in subsection (j) of this section.

     [Subsection (l) effective July 1, 2021.]

    (l) A mandated reporter as described in subdivision (a)(2) of this section shall not be deemed to have violated the requirements of this section solely on the basis of making condoms available to a secondary school student in accordance with 16 V.S.A. § 132. (Added 1981, No. 207 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. April 25, 1982; amended 1983, No. 169 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 1985, No. 208 (Adj. Sess.), § 19, eff. June 30, 1986; 1989, No. 295 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 1993, No. 156 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2003, No. 43, § 3, eff. May 27, 2003; 2005, No. 101 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2007, No. 77, § 1, eff. June 7, 2007; 2007, No. 168 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. Jan. 1, 2009; 2007, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § 19; 2009, No. 1, § 45; 2011, No. 156 (Adj. Sess.), § 28, eff. May 16, 2012; 2011, No. 159 (Adj. Sess.), § 7; 2015, No. 60, § 4; 2019, No. 157 (Adj. Sess.), § 6, eff. July 1, 2021.)

  • § 4914. Nature and content of report; to whom made

    A report shall be made orally or in writing to the Commissioner or designee. The Commissioner or designee shall request the reporter to follow the oral report with a written report, unless the reporter is anonymous. Reports shall contain the name and address or other contact information of the reporter as well as the names and addresses of the child and the parents or other persons responsible for the child's care, if known; the age of the child; the nature and extent of the child's injuries together with any evidence of previous abuse and neglect of the child or the child's siblings; and any other information that might be helpful in establishing the cause of the injuries or reasons for the neglect as well as in protecting the child and assisting the family. If a report of child abuse or neglect involves the acts or omissions of the Commissioner or employees of the Department, then the report shall be directed to the Secretary of Human Services who shall cause the report to be investigated by other appropriate Agency staff. If the report is substantiated, services shall be offered to the child and to his or her family or caretaker according to the requirements of section 4915b of this title. (Added 1981, No. 207 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. April 25, 1982; amended 1989, No. 187 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; 1989, No. 295 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 1995, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 2005, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 120; 2007, No. 77, § 1, eff. June 1, 2007; 2007, No. 168 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 2015, No. 60, § 4a.)

  • § 4915. Assessment and investigation

    (a) Upon receipt of a report of abuse or neglect, the Department shall promptly determine whether it constitutes an allegation of child abuse or neglect as defined in section 4912 of this title. The Department shall respond to reports of alleged neglect or abuse that occurred in Vermont and to out-of-state conduct when the child is a resident of or is present in Vermont.

    (b) If the report is accepted as a valid allegation of abuse or neglect, the Department shall determine whether to conduct an assessment as provided for in section 4915a of this title or to conduct an investigation as provided for in section 4915b of this title. The Department shall begin either an assessment or an investigation within 72 hours after the receipt of a report made pursuant to section 4914 of this title, provided that it has sufficient information to proceed. The Commissioner may waive the 72-hour requirement only when necessary to locate the child who is the subject of the allegation or to ensure the safety of the child or social worker.

    (c) The decision to conduct an assessment shall include consideration of the following factors:

    (1) the nature of the conduct and the extent of the child's injury, if any;

    (2) the accused person's prior history of child abuse or neglect, or lack thereof; and

    (3) the accused person's willingness or lack thereof to accept responsibility for the conduct and cooperate in remediation.

    (d) The Department shall conduct an investigation when an accepted report involves allegations indicating substantial child endangerment. For purposes of this section, "substantial child endangerment" includes conduct by an adult involving or resulting in sexual abuse, and conduct by a person responsible for a child's welfare involving or resulting in abandonment, child fatality, malicious punishment, or abuse or neglect that causes serious physical injury. The Department may conduct an investigation of any report.

    (e) The Department shall begin an immediate investigation if, at any time during an assessment, it appears that an investigation is appropriate.

    (f) The Department may collaborate with child protection, law enforcement, and other departments and agencies in Vermont and other jurisdictions to evaluate risk to a child and to determine the service needs of the child and family. The Department may enter into reciprocal agreements with other jurisdictions to further the purposes of this subchapter.

    (g) The Department shall report to and receive assistance from appropriate law enforcement in the following circumstances:

    (1) investigations of child sexual abuse by an alleged perpetrator 10 years of age or older;

    (2) investigations of serious physical abuse or neglect requiring emergency medical care, resulting in death, or likely to result in criminal charges;

    (3) situations potentially dangerous to the child or Department worker; and

    (4) an incident in which a child suffers:

    (A) serious bodily injury as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 1021, by other than accidental means; and

    (B) potential violations of:

    (i) 13 V.S.A. § 2602 (lewd or lascivious conduct with child);

    (ii) 13 V.S.A. chapter 60 (human trafficking);

    (iii) 13 V.S.A. chapter 64 (sexual exploitation of children); and

    (iv) 13 V.S.A. chapter 72 (sexual assault). (Added 1981, No. 207 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. April 25, 1982; amended 1995, No. 178 (Adj. Sess.), § 300; 1999, No. 78 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2007, No. 77, § 1, eff. June 7, 2007; 2007, No. 168 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; 2015, No. 60, § 17.)

  • § 4915a. Procedures for assessment

    (a) An assessment, to the extent that is reasonable under the facts and circumstances presented by the particular valid allegation of child abuse or neglect, shall include the following:

    (1) An interview with the child's parent, guardian, foster parent, or any other adult residing in the child's home who serves in a parental role. The interview shall focus on ensuring the immediate safety of the child and mitigating the future risk of harm to the child in the home environment.

    (2) An evaluation of the safety of the subject child and any other children living in the same home environment. The evaluation may include an interview with or observation of the child or children. Such interviews shall occur with the permission of the child's parent, guardian, or custodian.

    (3) In collaboration with the family, identification of family strengths, resources, and service needs, and the development of a plan of services that reduces the risk of harm and improves or restores family well-being.

    (b) The assessment shall be completed within 45 days. Upon written justification by the Department, the assessment may be extended, not to exceed a total of 60 days.

    (c) Families have the option of declining the services offered as a result of the assessment. If the family declines the services, the case shall be closed unless the Department determines that sufficient cause exists to begin an investigation or to request the State's Attorney to file a petition pursuant to chapters 51 and 53 of this title. In no instance shall a case be investigated solely because the family declines services.

    (d) When an assessment case is closed, there shall be no finding of abuse or neglect and no indication of the intervention shall be placed in the Registry. However, the Department shall document the outcome of the assessment. (Added 2007, No. 168 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; amended 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 77, eff. May 20, 2014.)

  • § 4915b. Procedures for investigation

    (a) An investigation, to the extent that it is reasonable under the facts and circumstances presented by the particular allegation of child abuse, shall include all of the following:

    (1) A visit to the child's place of residence or place of custody and to the location of the alleged abuse or neglect.

    (2) An interview with or observation of the child reportedly having been abused or neglected. If the investigator elects to interview the child, that interview may take place without the approval of the child's parents, guardian, or custodian, provided that it takes place in the presence of a disinterested adult who may be, but shall not be limited to being, a teacher, a member of the clergy, a child care provider regulated by the Department, or a nurse.

    (3) Determination of the nature, extent, and cause of any abuse or neglect.

    (4) Determination of the identity of the person alleged to be responsible for such abuse or neglect.

    (5)(A) The identity, by name, of any other children living in the same home environment as the subject child. The investigator shall consider the physical and emotional condition of those children and may interview them, unless the child is the person who is alleged to be responsible for such abuse or neglect, in accordance with the provisions of subdivision (2) of this subsection.

    (B) The identity, by name, of any other children who may be at risk if the abuse was alleged to have been committed by someone who is not a member of the subject child's household. The investigator shall consider the physical and emotional condition of those children and may interview them, unless the child is the person who is alleged to be responsible for such abuse or neglect, in accordance with the provisions of subdivision (2) of this subsection.

    (6) A determination of the immediate and long-term risk to each child if that child remains in the existing home or other environment.

    (7) Consideration of the environment and the relationship of any children therein to the person alleged to be responsible for the suspected abuse or neglect.

    (8) All other data deemed pertinent.

    (b) For cases investigated and substantiated by the Department, the Commissioner shall, to the extent that it is reasonable, provide assistance to the child and the child's family. For cases investigated but not substantiated by the Department, the Commissioner may, to the extent that it is reasonable, provide assistance to the child and the child's family. Nothing contained in this section or section 4915a of this title shall be deemed to create a private right of action.

    (c) The Commissioner, designee, or any person required to report under section 4913 of this title or any other person performing an investigation may take or cause to be taken photographs of trauma visible on a child who is the subject of a report. The Commissioner or designee may seek consultation with a physician. If it is indicated appropriate by the physician, the Commissioner or designee may cause the child who is subject of a report to undergo a radiological examination without the consent of the child's parent or guardian.

    (d) Services may be provided to the child's immediate family whether or not the child remains in the home.

    (e) [Repealed.]

    (f) The Department shall not substantiate cases in which neglect is caused solely by the lack of financial resources of the parent or guardian. (Added 2007, No. 168 (Adj. Sess.), § 7; amended 2015, No. 60, § 16.)

  • § 4916. Child Protection Registry

    (a)(1) The Commissioner shall maintain a Child Protection Registry which shall contain a record of all investigations that have resulted in a substantiated report on or after January 1, 1992. Except as provided in subdivision (2) of this subsection, prior to placement of a substantiated report on the Registry, the Commissioner shall comply with the procedures set forth in section 4916a of this title.

    (2) In cases involving sexual abuse or serious physical abuse of a child, the Commissioner in his or her sole judgment may list a substantiated report on the Registry pending any administrative review after:

    (A) reviewing the investigation file; and

    (B) making written findings in consideration of:

    (i) the nature and seriousness of the alleged behavior; and

    (ii) the person's continuing access to children.

    (3) A person alleged to have abused or neglected a child and whose name has been placed on the Registry in accordance with subdivision (2) of this subsection shall be notified of the Registry entry, provided with the Commissioner's findings, and advised of the right to seek an administrative review in accordance with section 4916a of this title.

    (4) If the name of a person has been placed on the Registry in accordance with subdivision (2) of this subsection, it shall be removed from the Registry if the substantiation is rejected after an administrative review.

    (b) A Registry record means an entry in the Child Protection Registry that consists of the name of an individual substantiated for child abuse or neglect, the date of the finding, the nature of the finding, and at least one other personal identifier, other than a name, listed in order to avoid the possibility of misidentification.

    (c) The Commissioner shall adopt rules to permit use of the Registry records as authorized by this subchapter while preserving confidentiality of the Registry and other Department records related to abuse and neglect.

    (d) For all substantiated reports of child abuse or neglect made on or after the date the final rules are adopted, the Commissioner shall create a Registry record that reflects a designated child protection level related to the risk of future harm to children. This system of child protection levels shall be based upon an evaluation of the risk the person responsible for the abuse or neglect poses to the safety of children. The risk evaluation shall include consideration of the following factors:

    (1) the nature of the conduct and the extent of the child's injury, if any;

    (2) the person's prior history of child abuse or neglect as either a victim or perpetrator;

    (3) the person's response to the investigation and willingness to engage in recommended services; and

    (4) the person's age and developmental maturity.

    (e) The Commissioner shall develop rules for the implementation of a system of Child Protection Registry levels for substantiated cases. The rules shall address:

    (1) the length of time a person's name appears on the Registry;

    (2) when and how names are expunged from the Registry;

    (3) whether the person is a juvenile or an adult;

    (4) whether the person was charged with or convicted of a criminal offense arising out of the incident of abuse or neglect; and

    (5) whether a Family Division of the Superior Court has made any findings against the person.

    (f) [Repealed.]  (Added 1981, No. 207 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. April 25, 1982; amended 1989, No. 295 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; 1991, No. 159 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 2007, No. 77, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2007; 2007, No. 168 (Adj. Sess.), § 8; 2007, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § 20; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 238.)

  • § 4916a. Challenging placement on the Registry

    (a) If an investigation conducted in accordance with section 4915b of this title results in a determination that a report of child abuse or neglect should be substantiated, the Department shall notify the person alleged to have abused or neglected a child of the following:

    (1) the nature of the substantiation decision, and that the Department intends to enter the record of the substantiation into the Registry;

    (2) who has access to Registry information and under what circumstances;

    (3) the implications of having one's name placed on the Registry as it applies to employment, licensure, and registration;

    (4) the right to request a review of the substantiation determination by an administrative reviewer, the time in which the request for review shall be made, and the consequences of not seeking a review; and

    (5) the right to receive a copy of the Commissioner's written findings made in accordance with subdivision 4916(a)(2) of this title if applicable.

    (b) Under this section, notice by the Department to a person alleged to have abused or neglected a child shall be by first class mail sent to the person's last known address.

    (c)(1) A person alleged to have abused or neglected a child may seek an administrative review of the Department's intention to place the person's name on the Registry by notifying the Department within 14 days of the date the Department mailed notice of the right to review in accordance with subsections (a) and (b) of this section. The Commissioner may grant an extension past the 14-day period for good cause, not to exceed 28 days after the Department has mailed notice of the right to review.

    (2) The administrative review may be stayed upon request of the person alleged to have committed abuse or neglect if there is a related case pending in the Criminal or Family Division of the Superior Court which arose out of the same incident of abuse or neglect for which the person was substantiated. During the period the review is stayed, the person's name shall be placed on the Registry. Upon resolution of the Superior Court criminal or family case, the person may exercise his or her right to review under this section by notifying the Department in writing within 30 days after the related court case, including any appeals, has been fully adjudicated. If the person fails to notify the Department within 30 days, the Department's decision shall become final and no further review under this subsection is required.

    (d) The Department shall hold an administrative review conference within 35 days of receipt of the request for review. At least 10 days prior to the administrative review conference, the Department shall provide to the person requesting review a copy of the redacted investigation file, notice of time and place of the conference, and conference procedures, including information that may be submitted and mechanisms for providing information. There shall be no subpoena power to compel witnesses to attend a Registry review conference. The Department shall also provide to the person those redacted investigation files that relate to prior investigations that the Department has relied upon to make its substantiation determination in the case in which a review has been requested.

    (e) At the administrative review conference, the person who requested the review shall be provided with the opportunity to present documentary evidence or other information that supports his or her position and provides information to the reviewer in making the most accurate decision regarding the allegation. The Department shall have the burden of proving that it has accurately and reliably concluded that a reasonable person would believe that the child has been abused or neglected by that person. Upon the person's request, the conference may be held by teleconference.

    (f) The Department shall establish an administrative case review unit within the Department and contract for the services of administrative reviewers. An administrative reviewer shall be a neutral and independent arbiter who has no prior involvement in the original investigation of the allegation.

    (g) Within seven days of the conference, the administrative reviewer shall:

    (1) reject the Department's substantiation determination;

    (2) accept the Department's substantiation; or

    (3) place the substantiation determination on hold and direct the Department to further investigate the case based upon recommendations of the reviewer.

    (h) If the administrative reviewer accepts the Department's substantiation determination, a Registry record shall be made immediately. If the reviewer rejects the Department's substantiation determination, no Registry record shall be made.

    (i) Within seven days of the decision to reject or accept or to place the substantiation on hold in accordance with subsection (g) of this section, the administrative reviewer shall provide notice to the person of his or her decision. If the administrative reviewer accepts the Department's substantiation, the notice shall advise the person of the right to appeal the administrative reviewer's decision to the human services board in accordance with section 4916b of this title.

    (j) Persons whose names were placed on the Registry on or after January 1, 1992 but prior to September 1, 2007 shall be entitled to an opportunity to seek an administrative review to challenge the substantiation.

    (k) If no administrative review is requested, the Department's decision in the case shall be final, and the person shall have no further right of review under this section. The Commissioner may grant a waiver and permit such a review upon good cause shown. Good cause may include an acquittal or dismissal of a criminal charge arising from the incident of abuse or neglect.

    (l) In exceptional circumstances, the Commissioner, in his or her sole and nondelegable discretion, may reconsider any decision made by a reviewer. A Commissioner's decision that creates a Registry record may be appealed to the Human Services Board in accordance with section 4916b of this title. (Added 2007, No. 77, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2007; amended 2007, No. 168 (Adj. Sess.), § 9, eff. Sept. 1, 2008; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 221; 2015, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. May 10, 2016.)

  • § 4916b. Human Services Board hearing

    (a) Within 30 days after the date on which the administrative reviewer mailed notice of placement of a report on the Registry, the person who is the subject of the substantiation may apply in writing to the Human Services Board for relief. The Board shall hold a fair hearing pursuant to 3 V.S.A. § 3091. When the Department receives notice of the appeal, it shall make note in the Registry record that the substantiation has been appealed to the Board.

    (b)(1) The Board shall hold a hearing within 60 days after the receipt of the request for a hearing and shall issue a decision within 30 days after the hearing.

    (2) Priority shall be given to appeals in which there are immediate employment consequences for the person appealing the decision.

    (3)(A) Article VIII of the Vermont Rules of Evidence (Hearsay) shall not apply to any hearing held pursuant to this subchapter with respect to statements made by a child 12 years of age or under who is alleged to have been abused or neglected and the child shall not be required to testify or give evidence at any hearing held under this subchapter. Evidence shall be admissible if the time, content, and circumstances of the statements provide substantial indicia of trustworthiness.

    (B) Article VIII of the Vermont Rules of Evidence (Hearsay) shall not apply to any hearing held pursuant to this subchapter with respect to statements made by a child who is at least 13 years of age and under 16 years of age who is alleged to have been abused or neglected and the child shall not be required to testify or give evidence at any hearing held under this subchapter in either of the following circumstances:

    (i) The hearing officer determines, based on a preponderance of the evidence, that requiring the child to testify will present a substantial risk of trauma to the child. Evidence of trauma need not be offered by an expert and may be offered by any adult with an ongoing significant relationship with the child. Evidence shall be admissible if the time, content, and circumstances of the statements provide substantial indicia of trustworthiness.

    (ii) The hearing officer determines that the child is physically unavailable to testify or the Department has made diligent efforts to locate the child and was unsuccessful. Evidence shall be admissible if the time, content, and circumstances of the statements provide substantial indicia of trustworthiness.

    (4) Convictions and adjudications that arose out of the same incident of abuse or neglect for which the person was substantiated, whether by verdict, by judgment, or by a plea of any type, including a plea resulting in a deferred sentence, shall be competent evidence in a hearing held under this subchapter.

    (c) A hearing may be stayed upon request of the petitioner if there is a related case pending in the Criminal or Family Division of the Superior Court that arose out of the same incident of abuse or neglect for which the person was substantiated.

    (d) If no review by the Board is requested, the Department's decision in the case shall be final, and the person shall have no further right for review under this section. The Board may grant a waiver and permit such a review upon good cause shown. (Added 2007, No. 77, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2007; amended 2007, No. 168 (Adj. Sess.), § 10; 2009, No. 1, § 29; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 222; 2017, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

  • § 4916c. Petition for expungement from the Registry

    (a)(1) Except as provided in this subdivision, a person whose name has been placed on the Registry prior to July 1, 2009 and has been listed on the Registry for at least three years may file a written request with the Commissioner, seeking a review for the purpose of expunging an individual Registry record. A person whose name has been placed on the Registry on or after July 1, 2009 and has been listed on the Registry for at least seven years may file a written request with the Commissioner seeking a review for the purpose of expunging an individual Registry record. The Commissioner shall grant a review upon request.

    (2) A person who is required to register as a sex offender on the State's Sex Offender Registry shall not be eligible to petition for expungement of his or her Registry record until the person is no longer subject to Sex Offender Registry requirements.

    (b)(1) The person shall have the burden of proving that a reasonable person would believe that he or she no longer presents a risk to the safety or well-being of children.

    (2) The Commissioner shall consider the following factors in making his or her determination:

    (A) the nature of the substantiation that resulted in the person's name being placed on the Registry;

    (B) the number of substantiations;

    (C) the amount of time that has elapsed since the substantiation;

    (D) the circumstances of the substantiation that would indicate whether a similar incident would be likely to occur;

    (E) any activities that would reflect upon the person's changed behavior or circumstances, such as therapy, employment, or education;

    (F) references that attest to the person's good moral character; and

    (G) any other information that the Commissioner deems relevant.

    (3) The Commissioner may deny a petition for expungement based solely on subdivision (2)(A) or (2)(B) of this subsection.

    (c) At the review, the person who requested the review shall be provided with the opportunity to present any evidence or other information, including witnesses, that supports his or her request for expungement. Upon the person's request, the review may be held by teleconference.

    (d) A person may seek a review under this section no more than once every 36 months.

    (e) Within 30 days of the date on which the Commissioner mailed notice of the decision pursuant to this section, a person may appeal the decision to the Human Services Board. The person shall be prohibited from challenging his or her substantiation at such hearing, and the sole issue before the Board shall be whether the Commissioner abused his or her discretion in denial of the petition for expungement. The hearing shall be on the record below, and determinations of credibility of witnesses made by the Commissioner shall be given deference by the Board.

    (f) The Department shall take steps to provide reasonable notice to persons on the Registry of their right to seek an expungement under this section. Actual notice is not required. Reasonable steps may include activities such as the production of an informative fact sheet about the expungement process, posting of such information on the Department website, and other approaches typically taken by the Department to inform the public about the Department's activities and policies. The Department shall send notice of the expungement process to any person listed on the Registry for whom a Registry check has been requested. (Added 2007, No. 77, § 1, eff. June 7, 2007; amended 2007, No. 168 (Adj. Sess.), § 11; 2015, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. May 10, 2016.)

  • § 4916d. Automatic expungement of Registry records

    Registry entries concerning a person who was substantiated for behavior occurring before the person reached 10 years of age shall be expunged when the person reaches the age of 18, provided that the person has had no additional substantiated Registry entries. A person substantiated for behavior occurring before the person reached 18 years of age and whose name has been listed on the Registry for at least three years may file a written request with the Commissioner seeking a review for the purpose of expunging an individual Registry record in accordance with section 4916c of this title. (Added 2007, No. 77, § 1, eff. June 7, 2007; amended 2007, No. 168 (Adj. Sess.), § 12.)

  • § 4916e. Notice to minors

    If the person alleged to have abused or neglected a child is a minor, any notice required pursuant to this subchapter shall be sent:

    (1) to the minor's parents or guardian; or

    (2) if the child is in the custody of the Commissioner, to the social worker assigned to the child by the Department and the child's counsel of record. (Added 2007, No. 77, § 1, eff. June 7, 2007.)

  • § 4917. Multidisciplinary teams; empaneling

    (a) The Commissioner or his or her designee may impanel a multidisciplinary team or a special investigative multitask force team or both wherever in the State there may be a probable case of child abuse or neglect which warrants the coordinated use of several professional services. These teams shall participate and cooperate with the local special investigation unit in compliance with 13 V.S.A. § 5415.

    (b) The Commissioner or his or her designee, in conjunction with professionals and community agencies, shall appoint members to the multidisciplinary teams which may include persons who are trained and engaged in work relating to child abuse or neglect such as medicine, mental health, social work, nursing, child care, education, law, or law enforcement. The teams shall include a representative of the Department of Corrections. Additional persons may be appointed when the services of those persons are appropriate to any particular case.

    (c) The empaneling of a multidisciplinary or special investigative multi-task force team shall be authorized in writing and shall specifically list the members of the team. This list may be amended from time to time as needed as determined by the Commissioner or his or her designee. (Added 1981, No. 207 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. April 25, 1982; amended 2007, No. 168 (Adj. Sess.), § 13; 2007, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § 21; 2007, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 17; 2009, No. 1, § 18, eff. March 4, 2009.)

  • § 4918. Multidisciplinary teams; functions; guidelines

    (a) Multidisciplinary teams shall assist local district offices of the Department in identifying and treating child abuse or neglect cases. With respect to any case referred to it, the team may assist the district office by providing:

    (1) case diagnosis or identification;

    (2) a comprehensive treatment plan; and

    (3) coordination of services pursuant to the treatment plan.

    (b) Multidisciplinary teams may also provide public informational and educational services to the community about identification, treatment, and prevention of child abuse and neglect. It shall also foster communication and cooperation among professionals and organizations in its community, and provide such recommendations or changes in service delivery as it deems necessary. (Added 1981, No. 207 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. April 25, 1982; amended 2007, No. 168 (Adj. Sess.), § 14.)

  • § 4919. Disclosure of Registry records

    (a) The Commissioner may disclose a Registry record only as follows:

    (1) To the State's Attorney or the Attorney General.

    (2) To the owner or operator of a facility regulated by the Department for the purpose of informing the owner or operator that employment of a specific individual may result in loss of license, registration, certification, or authorization as set forth in section 152 of this title.

    (3) To an employer if such information is used to determine whether to hire or retain a specific individual providing care, custody, treatment, transportation, or supervision of children or vulnerable adults. The employer may submit a request concerning a current employee, volunteer, grantee, or contractor or an individual to whom the employer has given a conditional offer of a contract, volunteer position, or employment. The request shall be accompanied by a release signed by the current or prospective employee, volunteer, grantee, or contractor. If that individual has a record of a substantiated report, the Commissioner shall provide the Registry record to the employer. The employer shall not disclose the information contained in the Registry report.

    (4) To the Commissioners of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living and of Mental Health or their designees for purposes related to the licensing or registration of facilities regulated by those Departments.

    (5) To the Commissioners of Health, of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living and of Mental Health or their designees for purposes related to oversight and monitoring of persons who are served by or compensated with funds provided by those Departments, including persons to whom a conditional offer of employment has been made.

    (6) Upon request or when relevant to other states' adult protective services offices.

    (7) Upon request or when relevant to other states' child protection agencies.

    (8) To the person substantiated for child abuse and neglect who is the subject of the record.

    (9) To the Commissioner of Corrections in accordance with the provisions of 28 V.S.A. § 204a(b)(3).

    (10) To the Board of Medical Practice for the purpose of evaluating an applicant, licensee, or holder of certification pursuant to 26 V.S.A. § 1353.

    (b) An employer providing transportation services to children or vulnerable adults may disclose Registry records obtained pursuant to subdivision (a)(3) of this section to the Agency of Human Services or its designee for the sole purpose of auditing the records to ensure compliance with this subchapter. An employer shall provide such records at the request of the Agency or its designee. Only Registry records regarding individuals who provide direct transportation services or otherwise have direct contact with children or vulnerable adults may be disclosed.

    (c) Volunteers shall be considered employees for purposes of this section.

    (d) Disclosure of Registry records or information or other records used or obtained in the course of providing services to prevent child abuse or neglect or to treat abused or neglected children and their families by one member of a multidisciplinary team to another member of that team shall not subject either member of the multidisciplinary team, individually, or the team as a whole, to any civil or criminal liability notwithstanding any other provision of law.

    (e) "Employer," as used in this section, means a person or organization who employs or contracts with one or more individuals to care for or provide transportation services to children or vulnerable adults, on either a paid or volunteer basis.

    (f) In no event shall Registry records be made available for employment purposes other than as set forth in this subsection, or for credit purposes. Any person who violates this subsection shall be fined not more than $500.00.

    (g) Nothing in this subsection shall limit the Department's right to use and disclose information from its records as provided in section 4921 of this chapter. (Added 1981, No. 207 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. April 25, 1982; amended 1983, No. 169 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 1991, No. 159 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 1993, No. 100, § 7; 2001, No. 135 (Adj. Sess.), § 16, eff. June 13, 2002; 2003, No. 66, § 136b; 2005, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 121; 2007, No. 77, § 1, eff. June 7, 2007; 2007, No. 168 (Adj. Sess.), § 15; 2009, No. 1, § 37; 2011, No. 61, § 7, eff. June 2, 2011.)

  • § 4920. Repealed. 2007, No. 168 (Adj. Sess.), § 16.

  • § 4921. Department's records of abuse and neglect

    (a) The Commissioner shall maintain all records of all investigations, assessments, reviews, and responses initiated under this subchapter. The Department may use and disclose information from such records in the usual course of its business, including to assess future risk to children, to provide appropriate services to the child or members of the child's family, or for other legal purposes.

    (b) The Commissioner shall promptly inform the parents, if known, or guardian of the child that a report has been accepted as a valid allegation pursuant to subsection 4915(b) of this title and the Department's response to the report. The Department shall inform the parent or guardian of his or her ability to request records pursuant to subsection (c) of this section. This section shall not apply if the parent or guardian is the subject of the investigation.

    (c) Upon request, the redacted investigation file shall be disclosed to:

    (1) the child's parents, foster parent, or guardian, absent good cause shown by the Department, provided that the child's parent, foster parent, or guardian is not the subject of the investigation;

    (2) the person alleged to have abused or neglected the child, as provided for in subsection 4916a(d) of this title; and

    (3) the attorney representing the child in a child custody proceeding in the Family Division of the Superior Court.

    (d) Upon request, Department records created under this subchapter shall be disclosed to:

    (1) the Court, parties to the juvenile proceeding, and the child's guardian ad litem if there is a pending juvenile proceeding or if the child is in the custody of the Commissioner;

    (2) the Commissioner or person designated by the Commissioner to receive such records;

    (3) persons assigned by the Commissioner to conduct investigations;

    (4) law enforcement officers engaged in a joint investigation with the Department, an Assistant Attorney General, or a State's Attorney; and

    (5) other State agencies conducting related inquiries or proceedings.

    (6) [Repealed.]

    (e)(1) Upon request, relevant Department records or information created under this subchapter shall be disclosed to:

    (A) a person, agency, or organization, including a multidisciplinary team empaneled under section 4917 of this title, authorized to diagnose, care for, treat, or supervise a child or family who is the subject of a report or record created under this subchapter, or who is responsible for the child's health or welfare;

    (B) health and mental health care providers working directly with the child or family who is the subject of the report or record;

    (C) educators working directly with the child or family who is the subject of the report or record;

    (D) licensed or approved foster caregivers for the child;

    (E) mandated reporters as defined by section 4913 of this subchapter, making a report in accordance with the provisions of section 4914 of this subchapter and engaging in an ongoing working relationship with the child or family who is the subject of the report;

    (F) a Family Division of the Superior Court involved in any proceeding in which:

    (i) custody of a child or parent-child contact is at issue pursuant to 15 V.S.A. chapter 11, subchapter 3A;

    (ii) a parent of a child challenges a presumption of parentage under 15C V.S.A. § 402(b)(3); or

    (iii) a parent of a child contests an allegation that he or she fostered or supported a bonded and dependent relationship between the child and a person seeking to be adjudicated a de facto parent under 15C V.S.A. § 501(a)(2);

    (G) a Probate Division of the Superior Court involved in guardianship proceedings;

    (H) other governmental entities for purposes of child protection.

    (2) Determinations of relevancy shall be made by the Department.

    (3) In providing records or information under this subsection (e), the Department may withhold:

    (A) information that could compromise the safety of the reporter or the child or family who is the subject of the report; or

    (B) specific details that could cause the child to experience significant mental or emotional stress.

    (4) In providing records or information under this section, the Department may also provide other records related to its child protection activities for the child.

    (5) Any persons or agencies authorized to receive confidential information under this section may share such information with other persons or agencies authorized to receive confidential information under this section for the purposes of providing services and benefits to the children and families those persons or agencies mutually serve.

    (f) Upon request, relevant Department information created under this subchapter may be disclosed to a parent with a reasonable concern that an individual who is residing at least part time with the parent requestor's child presents a risk of abuse or neglect to the requestor's child. As it is used in this subsection, "relevant Department information" shall mean information regarding the individual that the Department determines could avert the risk of harm presented by the individual to the requestor's child. If the Department denies the request for information, the requestor may petition the Family Division of the Superior Court, which may, after weighing the privacy concerns of the individuals involved with the parent's right to protect his or her child, order the release of the information.

    (g) Any records or information disclosed under this section and information relating to the contents of those records or reports shall not be disseminated by the receiving persons or agencies to any persons or agencies, other than to those persons or agencies authorized to receive information pursuant to this section. A person who intentionally violates the confidentiality provisions of this section shall be fined not more than $2,000.00. (Added 2007, No. 168 (Adj. Sess.), § 17; amended 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 238a, eff. Feb. 1, 2011; 2015, No. 60, § 5; 2017, No. 162 (Adj. Sess.), § 3.)

  • § 4922. Rulemaking

    (a) The Commissioner shall develop rules to implement this subchapter. These shall include:

    (1) rules setting forth criteria for determining whether to conduct an assessment or an investigation;

    (2) rules setting out procedures for assessment and service delivery;

    (3) rules outlining procedures for investigations;

    (4) rules for conducting the administrative review conference;

    (5) rules regarding access to and maintenance of Department records of investigations, assessments, reviews, and responses; and

    (6) rules regarding the tiered Registry as required by section 4916 of this title.

    (b) The rules shall strike an appropriate balance between protecting children and respecting the rights of a parent or guardian, including a parent or guardian with disabilities, and shall recognize that persons with a disability can be successful parents. The rules shall include the possible use of adaptive equipment and supports.

    (c) These rules shall be adopted no later than July 1, 2009. (Added 2007, No. 168 (Adj. Sess.), § 18.)

  • § 4923. Reporting

    The Commissioner shall publish an annual report regarding reports of child abuse and neglect no later than June 30, for the previous year. The report shall include:

    (1) The number of reports accepted as valid allegations of child abuse or neglect.

    (2) The number of reports that resulted in an investigative response; particularly:

    (A) the number of investigations which resulted in a substantiation;

    (B) the types of maltreatment substantiated;

    (C) the relationship of the perpetrator to the victim, by category; and

    (D) the gender and age group of the substantiated victims.

    (3) The number of reports that resulted in an assessment response; particularly:

    (A) the general types of maltreatment alleged in cases which received an assessment response; and

    (B) the number of assessments that resulted in the recommendation of services.

    (4) Trend information over a five-year period. Beginning with the adoption of the assessment response and continuing over the next five years, the report shall explain the impact of the assessment response on statistical reporting. (Added 2007, No. 168 (Adj. Sess.), § 19.)