The Vermont Statutes Online
Subchapter 002 : REPORTING ABUSE OF CHILDREN(Cite as: 33 V.S.A. § 4921)
§ 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.
(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.)