PUBLIC SAFETY AND WELFARE
SERVICES FOR CHILDREN, YOUTH AND FAMILIES
170-G:8-a Record Content; Confidentiality; Rulemaking.
I. The case records of the department consist of all official records, regardless of the media upon which they are retained, created by the department of health and human services in connection with a report received pursuant to RSA 169-C:29, or cases brought under RSA 169-B, 169-C, 169-D, or 463, or services provided to the child or family without a court order pursuant to RSA 170-G:4, including intake and assessment reports, service or case plans, case logs, termination reports and a list of persons or entities providing reports to the department or services to the child or family. Such records do not include:
(a) Records created as part of an action brought pursuant to RSA 170-B or 170-C.
(b) Records submitted to or maintained by the courts, or records created by third parties, such as psychologists, physicians, and police officers, even if such records are prepared or furnished at the request of the department. Requests for access to court records and records created by third parties may be made directly to the court or to the third party who created the record. Nothing in this section shall restrict or limit access to records filed pursuant to RSA 169-C:12-b.
(c) Reports contained in the central registry of abuse and neglect reports maintained pursuant to RSA 169-C:35.
(d) The name of a person who makes a report of suspected abuse or neglect of a child pursuant to RSA 169-C:29, or any information which would identify the reporter.
II. The case records of the department shall be confidential.
(a) The department shall provide access to the case records to the following persons unless the commissioner or designee determines that the harm to the child named in the case record resulting from the disclosure outweighs the need for the disclosure presented by the person requesting access:
(1) The child named in the case record.
(2) The parent of the child named in the case record, as defined in RSA 169-C:3, XXI.
(3) The guardian or custodian of the child named in the case record.
(4) Another member of the family of the child named in the case record, if disclosure is necessary for the provision of services to the child or other family member.
(5) Employees of the department and legal counsel representing employees of the department for the purpose of carrying out their official functions.
(6) Persons made parties to judicial proceedings in New Hampshire relative to the child or family, whether civil or criminal, including the court with jurisdiction over the proceeding, any attorney for any party, and any guardian ad litem appointed in the proceeding.
(7) A grand jury, upon its determination that access to such records is necessary in the conduct of its official business.
(8) The relevant county.
(9) Another state's child welfare agency or other government entity, or any law enforcement agency, including local and out-of-state law enforcement agencies, that requires the information in order to carry out its responsibility under law to protect children from abuse or neglect, including the investigation of child fatalities. For the purposes of this subparagraph, the term "law enforcement agency" shall include the attorney general, a county attorney, a county sheriff, the state police, and any local police department.
(b) The department shall disclose information from case records or provide access to case records to the following persons or entities, if such information or access is not harmful to the child and is necessary in order to enable the person or entity requesting information or access to evaluate or provide services, treatment or supervision to the child named in the case record or to the family:
(1) A person or entity requested by the department or ordered by the court to perform an evaluation or assessment on or to create a service plan for the child named in the case record, the child's family, or an individual member of the child's family.
(2) A person or entity requested by the department or ordered by the court to provide services to the child named in the case record or the child's family.
(3) The superintendent of schools for the school district in which the child named in the case record is then, or will, according to the child's case plan, be attending school.
(4) The person or entity with whom the child resides, if that person is not the child's parent, guardian, or custodian.
(5) The child's primary health care provider.
(6) A licensed medical practitioner who is overseeing the use of psychotropic medication prescribed to the child.
III. The commissioner shall adopt rules, pursuant to RSA 541-A, governing the procedures regulating access to all of the records of the department. Such rules shall contain provisions relative to:
(a) Access to case records by persons named in paragraph II of this section.
(b) Access to case records by a physician who has examined a child who the physician reasonably suspects may be abused or neglected.
(d) Access to case records by a state official who is responsible for the provision of services to children and families, or a legislative official who has been statutorily granted specific responsibility for oversight of enabling or appropriating legislation related to the provision of services to children and families, for the purposes of carrying out their official functions, provided that no information identifying the subject of the record shall be disclosed unless such information is essential to the performance of the official function, and each person identified in the record or the person's authorized representative has authorized such disclosure in writing.
(e) Access to case records by a person conducting a bona fide research or evaluation project, provided that no information identifying the subject of the record shall be disclosed unless such information is essential to the purpose of the research, each person identified in the record or an authorized representative has authorized such disclosure in writing, and the department has granted its approval in writing.
(f) Access to case records by any person making a report of suspected child abuse or neglect pursuant to RSA 169-C:29, provided that such disclosure is limited to information about the status of the report under investigation, or information reasonably required to protect the safety of such person.
(g) Access to all other records of the department which are not case records as defined in paragraph II.
IV. Additional access to case records and all other records of the department shall be granted pursuant to the terms of a final order issued by a court of competent jurisdiction.
V. It shall be unlawful for any person entrusted with information from case records to disclose such records or information contained in them. Notwithstanding the previous sentence, it shall not be unlawful for a parent or child to disclose case records or the information contained in them to persons providing counsel to the child or family. It shall be unlawful for any person who receives case records or the information contained in them from a parent or a child to disclose such records or information. Any person who knowingly discloses case records or information contained in them in violation of this paragraph shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
VI. Notwithstanding the foregoing:
(a) Any person who is entitled to access a case record pursuant to this section may share such information with any other person entitled to access pursuant to this section, unless the commissioner or a designee shall specifically prohibit such additional disclosure in order to prevent harm to a child.
(b) Nothing in this section shall be construed to require access to any records in violation of the order of a court of competent jurisdiction.
Source. 1985, 367:10. 1993, 355:8. 1994, 212:2. 1995, 310:143, 175, 181, 183. 2009, 47:1, eff. July 21, 2009. 2016, 202:2, 3, eff. Aug. 5, 2016. 2019, 45:3, eff. Jan. 1, 2020. 2021, 182:10, eff. Jan. 1, 2022.