Laws of New York, 1996
Chapter 12
Elisa's Law


EXPLANATION—Matter in italics is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted.


LAWS OF NEW YORK, 1996
CHAPTER 12

AN ACT to amend the social services law, the domestic relations law, the
family court act and the mental hygiene law, in relation to disclosure
of information in the statewide central register of child abuse and
maltreatment and disclosure of reports investigating the deaths of
certain children

Became a law February 12, 1996, with the approval of the Governor.
Passed by a majority vote, three-fifths being present.

The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-
bly, do enact as follows:

Section 1. Legislative intent. The legislature finds that the deaths
of children due to abuse, neglect and maltreatment despite the involve-
ment of government agencies charged with protecting these children is
intolerable and unacceptable, and finds equally unacceptable laws which
bar legitimate and appropriate inquiries about the activities of such
agencies in these cases, for they frustrate the ability of the legisla-
ture to set informed policy and act in an appropriate oversight capaci-
ty; impair the ability of independent government agencies to determine
the effectiveness of services, staff and funding; corrode public trust;
and undermine the right of the public to determine whether abused chil-
dren are being adequately protected.
The legislature therefore finds a compelling need to reform the confi-
dentiality laws and declares its intent, by enactment of this act, to
increase the capacity for oversight and monitoring of the child welfare
system, and to increase information available to the public, and to
increase accountability among the agencies involved in the system.
The legislature finds that the privacy of children and their families
in child abuse, neglect and maltreatment cases must be safeguarded, but
that the interests of children, their families, and the public are best
protected by increased knowledge and oversight concerning the system,
and by greater accountability, and therefore declares that such privacy
must be balanced with the appropriate release of information concerning
such cases.
§ 2. Short title. This act shall be known as and may be cited as
"Elisa's Law Child Protective Services Reform Act of 1996".
§ 3. Subdivision 5 of section 20 of the social services law, as added
by chapter 749 of the laws of 1989, is amended to read as follows:
5. (a) In the case of the death of a child whose care and custody or
custody and guardianship has been transferred to an authorized agency,
or in the case of a report made to the central register involving the
death of a child, the department shall (i) investigate or provide for an
investigation of the cause of and circumstances surrounding such death,
(ii) review such investigation, and (iii) prepare and issue a report on
such death.
(b) Such report shall include (i) the cause of death, whether from
natural or other causes, (ii) identification of child protective or
other services provided or actions taken regarding such child and his or
her family, (iii) any extraordinary or pertinent information concerning
the circumstances of the child's death, (iv) whether the child or the
child's family had received assistance, care or services from the social
services district prior to such child's death, (v) any action or further
investigation undertaken by the department or by the local social
services district since the death of the child, and (vi) as appropriate,
recommendations for local or state administrative or policy changes.
[Such report shall contain no information that would identify the
deceased child, his or her siblings, the parent, parents or other person
legally responsible for the child, any other members of the deceased
child's household, or any employee of a social services district. ]
Such report shall contain no information that would identify the name
of the deceased child, his or her siblings, the parent or other person
legally responsible for the child or any other members of the child's
household, but shall refer instead to the case, which may be denoted in
any fashion determined appropriate by the department or a local social
services district. In making a fatality report available to the public
pursuant to paragraph (c) of this subdivision, the department may
respond to a child specific request for such report if the commissioner
determines that such disclosure is not contrary to the best interests of
the deceased child's siblings or other children in the household, pursu-
ant to subdivision five of section four hundred twenty-two-a of this
chapter. Except as it may apply directly to the cause of the death of
the child, nothing herein shall be deemed to authorize the release or
disclosure to the public of the substance or content of any psycholog-
ical, psychiatric, therapeutic, clinical or medical reports, evaluations
or like materials or information pertaining to such child or the child's
family.
(c) No later than six months from the date of the death of such child,
the department shall forward its report to the social services district,
chief county executive officer, [and ] chairperson of the local legisla-
tive body of the county where the child's death occurred[, ] and the
social services district which had care and custody or custody and guar-
dianship of the child, if different. The department shall notify the
temporary president of the senate and the speaker of the assembly as to
the issuance of such reports and, in addition to the requirements of
section seventeen of this chapter, shall submit an annual cumulative
report to the governor and the legislature incorporating the data in the
above reports and including appropriate findings and recommendations.
Such reports concerning the death of a child and such cumulative reports
shall immediately thereafter be made available to the public after such
forwarding or submittal.
(d) To enable the department to prepare such report, the department
may request and shall timely receive from departments, boards, bureaus
or other agencies of the state, or any of its political subdivisions, or
any duly authorized agency, or any other agency which provided assist-
ance, care or services to the deceased child such information as they
are authorized to provide.
§ 4. The opening paragraph of subdivision 4 of section 372 of the
social services law is designated paragraph (a) and a new paragraph (b)
is added to read as follows:
(b)(i) Notwithstanding any inconsistent provision of law to the
contrary, records relating to children kept pursuant to this section
shall be made available to officers and employees of the state comp-
troller or of the city comptroller of the city of New York, or of the
county officer designated by law or charter to perform the auditing
\ function in any county not wholly contained within a city, for the
purposes of a duly authorized performance audit, provided that such
comptroller shall have certified to the keeper of such records that he
or she has instituted procedures developed in consultation with the
department to limit access to client-identifiable information to persons
requiring such information for purposes of the audit, that such persons
shall not use such information in any way except for purposes of the
audit and that appropriate controls and prohibitions are imposed on the
dissemination of client-identifiable information obtained in the conduct
of the audit. Information pertaining to the substance or content of any
psychological, psychiatric, therapeutic, clinical or medical reports,
evaluations or like materials or information pertaining to such child or
the child's family shall not be made available to such officers and
employees unless disclosure of such information is absolutely essential
to the specific audit activity and the department gives prior written
approval.
(ii) Any failure to maintain the confidentiality of client-identifia-
ble information shall subject such comptroller or officer to denial of
any further access to records until such time as the audit agency has
reviewed its procedures concerning controls and prohibitions imposed on
the dissemination of such information and has taken all reasonable and
appropriate steps to eliminate such lapses in maintaining confidentiali-
ty to the satisfaction of the department. The department shall establish
the grounds for denial of access to records contained under this section
and shall recommend, as necessary, a plan of remediation to the audit
agency. Except as provided in this section, nothing in this paragraph
shall be construed as limiting the powers of such comptroller or officer
to access records which he is otherwise authorized to audit or obtain
under any other applicable provision of law. Any person given access to
information pursuant to this paragraph who releases data or information
to persons or agencies not authorized to receive such information shall
be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
§ 5. Section 409-a of the social services law is amended by adding a
new subdivision 9 to read as follows:
9. (a) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, records
relating to children pursuant to this section shall be made available to
officers and employees of the state comptroller, or of the city comp-
troller of the city of New York, or of the county officer designated by
law or charter to perform the auditing function in any county not wholly
contained within a city, for purposes of a duly authorized performance
audit, provided, however that such comptroller or officer shall have
certified to the keeper of such records that he or she has instituted
procedures developed in consultation with the department to limit access
to client-identifiable information to persons requiring such information
for purposes of the audit, that such persons shall not use such informa-
tion in any way except for purposes of the audit and that appropriate
controls and prohibitions are imposed on the dissemination of client-i-
dentifiable information obtained in the conduct of the audit. Informa-
tion pertaining to the substance or content of any psychological,
psychiatric, therapeutic, clinical or medical reports, evaluations or
like materials or information pertaining to such child or the child's
family shall not be made available to such officers and employees unless
disclosure of such information is absolutely essential to the specific
audit activity and the department gives prior written approval.
(b) Any failure to maintain the confidentiality of client-identifia-
ble information shall subject such comptroller or officer to denial of
any further access to records until such time as the audit agency has
reviewed its procedures concerning controls and prohibitions imposed on
the dissemination of such information and has taken all reasonable and
appropriate steps to eliminate such lapses in maintaining confidentiali-
ty to the satisfaction of the department. The department shall estab-
lish the grounds for denial of access to records contained under this
section and shall recommend as necessary a plan of remediation to the
audit agency, except as provided in this section, nothing in this subdi-
vision shall be construed as limiting the powers of such comptroller or
officer to records which he is otherwise authorized to audit or obtain
under any other applicable provision of law, any person given access to
information pursuant to this subdivision who released data or informa-
tion to persons or agencies not authorized to receive such information
shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
§ 6. Section 409-f of the social services law is amended by adding a
new subdivision 3 to read as follows:
3. (a) Notwithstanding any inconsistent provision of law to the
contrary, records relating to children pursuant to this section shall be
made available to officers and employees of the state comptroller or of
the city comptroller of the city of New York, or of the county officer
designated bylaw or charter to perform the auditing function in any
county not wholly contained within a city, for purposes of a duly
authorized performance audit; provided, however, that such comptroller
or officer shall have certified to the keeper of such records that he or
she has instituted procedures developed in consultation with the depart-
ment to limit access to client-identifiable information to persons
requiring such information for purposes of the audit, that such persons
shall not use such information in any way except for purposes of the
audit and that appropriate controls and prohibitions are imposed on the
dissemination of client-identifiable information obtained in the conduct
of the audit. Information pertaining to the substance or content of any
psychological, psychiatric, therapeutic, clinical or medical reports,
evaluations or like materials or information pertaining to such child or
the child's family shall not be made available to such officers and
employees unless disclosure of such information is absolutely essential
to the specific audit activity and the department gives prior written
approval.
(b) Any failure to maintain the confidentiality of client-identifia-
ble information shall subject such comptroller or officer to denial of
any further access to records until such time as the audit agency has
reviewed its procedures concerning controls and prohibitions imposed on
the dissemination of such information and has taken all reasonable and
appropriate steps to eliminate such lapses in maintaining confidentiali-
ty to the satisfaction of the department. The department shall estab-
lish the grounds for denial of access to records contained under this
section and shall recommend as necessary a plan of remediation to the
audit agency. Except as provided in this section, nothing in this subdi-
vision shall be construed as limiting the powers of such comptroller or
officer to access records which he is otherwise authorized to audit or
obtain under any other applicable provision of law. Any person given
access to information pursuant to this subdivision who releases data or
information to persons or agencies not authorized to receive such infor-
mation shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
§ 7. Section 419 of the social services law, as amended by chapter 120
of the laws of 1984, is amended to read as follows:
§ 419. Immunity from liability. Any person, official, or institution
participating in good faith in the providing of a service pursuant to
section four hundred twenty-four of this title, the making of a report,
the taking of photographs, [or ] the removal or keeping of a child pursu-
ant to this title, or the disclosure of child protective services infor-
mation in compliance with sections twenty, four hundred twenty-two and
four hundred twenty-two-a of this chapter shall have immunity from any
liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise result by reason of
such actions. For the purpose of any proceeding, civil or criminal, the
good faith of any such person, official, or institution required to
report cases of child abuse or maltreatment or providing a service
pursuant to section four hundred twenty-four or the disclosure of child
protective services information in compliance with sections twenty, four
hundred twenty-two and four hundred twenty-two-a of this chapter shall
be presumed, provided such person, official or institution was acting in
discharge of their duties and within the scope of their employment, and
that such liability did not result from the willful misconduct or gross
negligence of such person, official or institution.
§ 8. Paragraph (A) of subdivision 4 of section 422 of the social
services law, as amended by chapter 32 of the laws of 1992, subparagraph
(k) as amended by chapter 707 of the laws of 1992, subparagraph (t) as
amended and subparagraph (u) as added by chapter 441 of the laws of
1993, is amended to read as follows:
(A) Reports made pursuant to this title as well as any other informa-
tion obtained, reports written or photographs taken concerning such
reports in the possession of the department, local departments, or the
commission on quality of care for the mentally disabled, shall be confi-
dential and shall only be made available to:
(a) a physician who has before him or her a child whom he or she
reasonably suspects may be abused or maltreated;
(b) a person authorized to place a child in protective custody when
such person has before him or her a child whom he or she reasonably
suspects may be abused or maltreated and such person requires the infor-
mation in the record to determine whether to place the child in protec-
tive custody;
(c) a duly authorized agency having the responsibility for the care or
supervision of a child who is reported to the central register of abuse
and maltreatment;
(d) any person who is the subject of the report or other persons named
in the report;
(e) a court, upon a finding that the information in the record is
necessary for the determination of an issue before the court;
(f) a grand jury, upon a finding that the information in the record is
necessary for the determination of charges before the grand jury;
(g) any appropriate state legislative committee responsible for child
protective legislation;
(h) any person engaged in a bona fide research purpose[, ] provided,
however, that no information identifying the subjects of the report or
other persons named in the report shall be made available to the
researcher unless it is absolutely essential to the research purpose and
the department gives prior approval;
(i) a provider agency as defined by subdivision three of section four
hundred twenty-four-a of this chapter, or a licensing agency as defined
by subdivision four of section four hundred twenty-four-a of this chap-
ter, subject to the provisions of such section;
(j) the state commission on quality of care for the mentally disabled
in connection with an investigation being conducted by the commission
pursuant to article forty-five of the mental hygiene law;
(k) a probation service conducting an investigation pursuant to arti-
cle three or seven or section six hundred fifty-three of the family
court act where there is reason to suspect the child or the child's
sibling may have been abused or maltreated and such child or sibling,
parent, guardian or other person legally responsible for the child is a
person named in an indicated report of child abuse or maltreatment and
that such information is necessary for the making of a determination or
recommendation to the court; or a probation service regarding a person
about whom it is conducting an investigation pursuant to article three
hundred ninety of the criminal procedure law, or a probation service or
the state division of parole regarding a person to whom the service or
division is providing supervision pursuant to article sixty of the penal
law or section two hundred fifty-nine-a of the executive law, where the
subject of investigation or supervision has been convicted of a felony
under article one hundred twenty, one hundred twenty-five or one hundred
thirty-five of the penal law or any felony or misdemeanor under [arti-
cles ] article one hundred thirty, two hundred thirty-five, two hundred
forty-five, two hundred sixty or two hundred sixty-three of the penal
law, or has been indicated for any such felony and, as a result, has
been convicted of a crime under the penal law, where the service or
division requests the information upon a certification that such infor-
mation is necessary to conduct its investigation, that there is reason-
able cause to believe that the subject of an investigation is the
subject of an indicated report and that there is reasonable cause to
believe that such records are necessary to the investigation by the
probation service or the state division of parole, provided, however,
that only indicated reports shall be furnished pursuant to this subdivi-
sion;
(l) a district attorney, an assistant district attorney or investi-
gator employed in the office of a district attorney, a sworn officer of
the division of state police, of a city police department, or of a coun-
ty, town or village police department or county sheriff's office or
department when such official requests such information stating that
such information is necessary to conduct a criminal investigation or
criminal prosecution of a person, that there is reasonable cause to
believe that such person is the subject of a report, and that it is
reasonable to believe that due to the nature of the crime under investi-
gation or prosecution, such person is the subject of a report, and that
it is reasonable to believe that due to that nature of the crime under
investigation or prosecution, such records may be related to the crimi-
nal investigation or prosecution;
(m) the New York city department of investigation[, ] provided however,
that no information identifying the subjects of the report or other
persons named in the report shall be made available to the department of
investigation unless such information is essential to an investigation
within the legal authority of the department of investigation and the
state department of social services gives prior approval;
(n) chief executive officers of authorized agencies, directors of day
care centers and directors of facilities operated or supervised by the
department of education, the division for youth, the office of mental
health or the office of mental retardation and developmental disabili-
ties, in connection with a disciplinary investigation, action, or admin-
istrative or judicial proceeding instituted by any of such officers or
directors against an employee of any such agency, center or facility who
is the subject of an indicated report when the incident of abuse or
maltreatment contained in the report occurred in the agency, center,
facility[, ] or program, and the purpose of such proceeding is to deter-
mine whether the employee should be retained or discharged; provided,
however, a person given access to information pursuant to this subpara-
graph (n) shall, notwithstanding any inconsistent provision of law, be
authorized to redisclose such information only if the purpose of such
redisclosure is to initiate or present evidence in a disciplinary,
administrative or judicial proceeding concerning the continued employ-
ment or the terms of employment of an employee of such agency, center or
facility who has been named as a subject of an indicated report and, in
addition, a person or agency given access to information pursuant to
this subparagraph (n) shall also be given information not otherwise
provided concerning the subject of an indicated report where the commis-
sion of an act or acts by such subject has been determined in
proceedings pursuant to article ten of the family court act to consti-
tute abuse or neglect;
(o) a provider or coordinator of services to which a child protective
service or social services district has referred a child or a child's
family or to whom the child or the child's family have referred them-
selves at the request of the child protective service or social services
district, where said child is reported to the register when the records,
reports or other information are necessary to enable the provider or
coordinator to establish and implement a plan of service for the child
or the child's family, or to monitor the provision and coordination of
services and the circumstances of the child and the child's family, or
to directly provide services; provided, however, that a provider of
services may include appropriate health care or school district person-
nel, as such terms shall be defined by the department; provided however,
a provider or coordinator of services given access to information
concerning a child pursuant to this subparagraph (o) shall, notwith-
standing any inconsistent provision of law, be authorized to redisclose
such information to other persons or agencies which also provide
services to the child or the child's family only if the consolidated
services plan prepared and approved pursuant to section thirty-four-a of
this chapter describes the agreement that has been or will be reached
between the provider or coordinator of service and the local district.
An agreement entered into pursuant to this subparagraph shall include
the specific agencies and categories of individuals to whom redisclosure
by the provider or coordinator of services is authorized. Persons or
agencies given access to information pursuant to this subparagraph may
exchange such information in order to facilitate the provision or coor-
dination of services to the child or the child's family;
(p) a disinterested person making an investigation pursuant to section
one hundred sixteen of the domestic relations law, provided that such
disinterested person shall only make this information available to the
judge before whom the adoption proceeding is pending;
(q) a criminal justice agency conducting an investigation of a missing
child where there is reason to suspect such child or such child's
sibling, parent, guardian or other person legally responsible for such
child is a person named in an indicated report of child abuse or
maltreatment and that such information is needed to further such inves-
tigation;
(r) in relation to a report involving a child in residential care, the
director or operator of the residential facility or program and, as
appropriate, the local social services commissioner or school district
placing the child, the division for youth, the department of education,
the commission on quality of care for the mentally disabled, the office
of mental health, the office of mental retardation and developmental
disabilities, and any law guardian appointed to represent the child
whose appointment has been continued by a family court judge during the
term of the placement, subject to the limitations contained in subdivi-
sions nine and ten of this section and subdivision five of section four
hundred twenty-four-c of this title;
(s) a child protective service of another state when such service
certifies that the records and reports are necessary in order to conduct
a child abuse or maltreatment investigation within its jurisdiction of
the subject of the report and shall be used only for purposes of
conducting such investigation and will not be redisclosed to any other
person or agency; [and ]
(t) a law guardian, appointed pursuant to the provisions of section
ten hundred sixteen of the family court act, at any time such appoint-
ment is in effect, in relation to any report in which the respondent in
the proceeding in which the law guardian has been appointed is the
subject or another person named in the report, pursuant to sections ten
hundred thirty-nine-a and ten hundred fifty-two-a of the family court
act; [and ]
(u) a child care resource and referral program subject to the
provisions of subdivision six of section four hundred twenty-four-a of
this title;
(v)(i) officers and employees of the state comptroller or of the city
comptroller of the city of New York, or of the county officer designated
by law or charter to perform the auditing function in any county not
wholly contained within a city, for purposes of a duly authorized
performance audit, provided that such comptroller shall have certified
to the keeper of such records that he or she has instituted procedures
developed in consultation with the department to limit access to client-
identifiable information to persons requiring such information for
purposes of the audit and that appropriate controls and prohibitions are
imposed on the dissemination of client-identifiable information
contained in the conduct of the audit. Information pertaining to the
substance or content of any psychological, psychiatric, therapeutic,
clinical or medical reports, evaluations or like materials or informa-
tion pertaining to such child or the child's family shall not be made
available to such officers and employees unless disclosure of such
information is absolutely essential to the specific audit activity and
the department gives prior written approval.
(ii) any failure to maintain the confidentiality of client-identifia-
ble information shall subject such comptroller or officer to denial of
any further access to records until such time as the audit agency has
reviewed its procedures concerning controls and prohibitions imposed on
the dissemination of such information and has taken all reasonable and
appropriate steps to eliminate such lapses in maintaining confidentiali-
ty to the satisfaction of the department. The department shall establish
the grounds for denial of access to records contained under this section
and shall recommend as necessary a plan of remediation to the audit
agency. Except as provided in this section, nothing in this subparagraph
shall be construed as limiting the powers of such comptroller or officer
to access records which he is otherwise authorized to audit or obtain
under any other applicable provision of law. Any person given access to
information pursuant to this subparagraph who releases data or informa-
tion to person* or agencies not authorized to receive such information
shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
After a child, other than a child in residential care, who is reported
to the central register of abuse or maltreatment reaches the age of
eighteen years, access to a child's record under subparagraphs (a) and
(b) of this paragraph shall be permitted only if a sibling or off-spring
of such child is before such person and is a suspected victim of child
abuse or maltreatment. In addition, a person or official required to
make a report of suspected child abuse or maltreatment pursuant to
section four hundred thirteen of this chapter shall receive, upon
request, the findings of an investigation made pursuant to this title or
section 45.07 of the mental hygiene law. However, no information may be
released unless the person or official's identity is confirmed by the
department. If the request for such information is made prior to the
completion of an investigation of a report, the released information
shall be limited to whether the report is "indicated", "unfounded" or
"under investigation", whichever the case may be. If the request for
such information is made after the completion of an investigation of a
report, the released information shall be limited to whether the report
is "indicated" or[, if the report has been expunged pursuant to subdivi-
sion five, six or eight of this section that there is "no record of such
report ] "unfounded", whichever the case may be. A person given access
to the names or other information identifying the subjects of the
report, or other persons named in the report, except the subject of the
report or other persons named in the report, shall not divulge or make
public such identifying information unless he or she is a district
attorney or other law enforcement official and the purpose is to initi-
ate court action or the disclosure is necessary in connection with the
investigation or prosecution of the subject of the report for a crime
alleged to have been committed by the subject against another person
named in the report. Nothing in this section shall be construed to
permit any release, disclosure or identification of the names or identi-
fying descriptions of persons who have reported suspected child abuse or
maltreatment to the statewide central register or the agency, institu-
tion, organization, program or other entity where such persons are
employed or the agency, institution, organization or program with which
they are associated without such persons' written permission except to
persons, officials, and agencies enumerated in subparagraphs (e), (f),
(h), (j), (l) [and ], (m) and (v) of this paragraph.
To the extent that persons or agencies are given access to information
pursuant to subparagraphs (a), (b), (c), (j), (k), (l), (m), (o) and (q)
of this paragraph, such persons or agencies may give and receive such
information to each other in order to facilitate an investigation
conducted by such persons or agencies.
§ 9. Subdivision 5 of section 422 of the social services law, as
amended by chapter 634 of the laws of 1988, is amended to read as
follows:
5. Unless an investigation of a report conducted pursuant to this
title or subdivision (c) of section 45.07 of the mental hygiene law
determines that there is some credible evidence of the alleged abuse or
maltreatment, all information identifying the subjects of the report and
other persons named in the report shall be [expunged ] legally sealed
forthwith [from ] by the central register and [from the records of ] any
local child protective services or the state agency which investigated
————————————————————————————————————
* So in original. ("person" should be "persons".)

the report. Such unfounded reports may only be unsealed and made avail-
able to a local child protective service or to the department, the
commission on quality of care for the mentally disabled, division for
youth, or the department of mental hygiene, when investigating a subse-
quent report of suspected abuse or maltreatment involving a child named
in the unfounded report; and to the subject of the report, provided that
the subject requests the report within ninety days of being notified
that the report was unfounded. The local child protective service or
state agency shall not indicate the subsequent report solely based upon
the existence of the prior unfounded report or reports. Notwithstanding
section four hundred fifteen of this chapter, section one thousand
forty-six of the family court act, or any other provision of law to the
contrary, an unfounded report shall not be admissible in any judicial or
administrative proceeding or action. Legally sealed unfounded reports
shall be expunged ten years after the eighteenth birthday of the young-
est child named in the report. Whenever the department determines that
there is some credible evidence of abuse or maltreatment as a result of
an investigation of a report conducted pursuant to subdivision (c) of
section 45.07 of the mental hygiene law, the department shall notify the
commission on quality of care for the mentally disabled.
§ 10. Subdivision 6 of section 422 of the social services law, as
amended by chapter 717 of the laws of 1986, is amended to read as
follows:
6. In all other cases, the record of the report to the central regis-
ter shall be expunged ten years after the eighteenth birthday of the
youngest child named in the report. In the case of a child in residen-
tial care as defined in subdivision seven of section four hundred twelve
of this chapter, the record of the report to the central register shall
be expunged ten years after the reported child's eighteenth birthday. In
any case and at any time, the commissioner may amend [or expunge ] any
record upon good cause shown and notice to the subjects of the report
and other persons named in the report.
§ 11. Subdivision 8 of section 422 of the social services law, as
amended by chapter 634 of the laws of 1988, is amended to read as
follows:
8. (a) (i) At any time subsequent to the completion of the investi-
gation but in no event later than ninety days after the subject of the
report is notified that the report is indicated the subject may request
the commissioner to amend [or expunge ] the record of the report. If the
commissioner does not amend [or expunge ] the report in accordance with
such request within ninety days of receiving the request, the subject
shall have the right to a fair hearing, held in accordance with para-
graph (b) of this subdivision, to determine whether the record of the
report in the central register should be amended [or expunged ] on the
grounds that it is inaccurate or it is being maintained in a manner
inconsistent with this title.
(ii) Upon receipt of a request to amend [or expunge ] the record of a
child abuse and maltreatment report the department shall immediately
send a written request to the child protective service or the state
agency which was responsible for investigating the allegations of abuse
or maltreatment for all records, reports and other information main-
tained by the service or state agency pertaining to such indicated
report. The service or state agency shall as expeditiously as possible
but within no more than twenty working days of receiving such request,
forward all records, reports and other information it maintains on such
indicated report to the department. The department shall as expe-
ditiously as possible but within no more than fifteen working days of
receiving such materials from the child protective service or state
agency, review all such materials in its possession concerning the indi-
cated report and determine, after affording such service or state agency
a reasonable opportunity to present its views, whether there is some
credible evidence to find that the subject committed the act or acts of
child abuse or maltreatment giving rise to the indicated report and
whether, based on guidelines developed by the department pursuant to
subdivision five of section four hundred twenty-four-a of this title,
such act or acts could be relevant and reasonably related to employment
of the subject of the report by a provider agency, as defined by subdi-
vision three of section four hundred twenty-four-a of this title, or
relevant and reasonably related to the subject of the report being
allowed to have regular and substantial contact with children who are
cared for by a provider agency, or relevant and reasonably related to
the approval or disapproval of an application submitted by the subject
of the report to a licensing agency, as defined by subdivision four of
section four hundred twenty-four-a of this title.
(iii) If it is determined at the review held pursuant to this para-
graph (a) that there is no credible evidence in the record to find that
the subject committed an act or acts of child abuse or maltreatment, the
department shall [expunge ] amend the record to indicate that the report
is "unfounded" and notify the subject forthwith.
(iv) If it is determined at the review held pursuant to this paragraph
(a) that there is some credible evidence in the record to find that the
subject committed such act or acts but that such act or acts could not
be relevant and reasonably related to the employment of the subject by a
provider agency or to the subject being allowed to have regular and
substantial contact with children who are cared for by a provider agency
or the approval or disapproval of an application which could be submit-
ted by the subject to a licensing agency, the department [shall not
expunge the record but ] shall be precluded from informing a provider or
licensing agency which makes an inquiry to the department pursuant to
the provisions of section four hundred twenty-four-a of this title
concerning the subject that the person about whom the inquiry is made is
the subject of an indicated report of child abuse or maltreatment. The
department shall notify forthwith the subject of the report of such
determinations and that a fair hearing has been scheduled pursuant to
paragraph (b) of this subdivision. The sole issue at such hearing shall
be whether the subject has been shown by some credible evidence to have
committed the act or acts of child abuse or maltreatment giving rise to
the indicated report.
(v) If it is determined at the review held pursuant to this paragraph
(a) that there is some credible evidence in the record to prove that the
subject committed an act or acts of child abuse or maltreatment and that
such act or acts could be relevant and reasonably related to the employ-
ment of the subject by a provider agency or to the subject being allowed
to have regular and substantial contact with children cared for by a
provider agency or the approval or disapproval of an application which
could be submitted by the subject to a licensing agency, the [department
shall not expunge the record. The ] department shall notify forthwith the
subject of the report of such determinations and that a fair hearing has
been scheduled pursuant to paragraph (b) of this subdivision.
(b) (i) If the department, within ninety days of receiving a request
from the subject that the record of a report be amended [or expunged ],
does not amend [or expunge ] the record in accordance with such request,
CHAP. 12 12

the department shall schedule a fair hearing and shall provide notice of
the scheduled hearing date to the subject, the statewide central regis-
ter and, as appropriate, to the child protective service or the state
agency which investigated the report.
(ii) The burden of proof in such a hearing shall be on the child
protective service or the state agency which investigated the report, as
the case may be. In such a hearing, the fact that there is a family
court finding of abuse or neglect against the subject in regard to an
allegation contained in the report shall create an irrebuttable presump-
tion that said allegation is substantiated by some credible evidence.
(c) (i) If it is determined at the fair hearing that there is no cred-
ible evidence in the record to find that the subject committed an act or
acts of child abuse or maltreatment, the department shall [expunge ]
amend the record [and notify the subject forthwith of the determination
and ] to reflect that such a finding was made at the administrative hear-
ing, order any child protective service or state agency which investi-
gated the report to [expunge ] similarly amend its records of the report,
and shall notify the subject forthwith of the determination.
(ii) Upon a determination made at a fair hearing held on or after
January first, nineteen hundred eighty-six scheduled pursuant to the
provisions of subparagraph (v) of paragraph (a) of this subdivision that
the subject has been shown by some credible evidence to have committed
the act or acts of child abuse or maltreatment giving rise to the indi-
cated report, the hearing officer shall determine, based on guidelines
developed by the department pursuant to subdivision five of section four
hundred twenty-four-a of this chapter, whether such act or acts are
relevant and reasonably related to employment of the subject by a
provider agency, as defined by subdivision three of section four hundred
twenty-four-a of this title, or relevant and reasonably related to the
subject being allowed to have regular and substantial contact with chil-
dren who are cared for by a provider agency or relevant and reasonably
related to the approval or disapproval of an application submitted by
the subject to a licensing agency, as defined by subdivision four of
section four hundred twenty-four-a of this title.
Upon a determination made at a fair hearing that the act or acts of
abuse or maltreatment are relevant and reasonably related to employment
of the subject by a provider agency or the subject being allowed to have
regular and substantial contact with children who are cared for by a
provider agency or the approval or denial of an application submitted by
the subject to a licensing agency, the [department shall not expunge the
report and the ] department shall notify the subject forthwith. The
department shall inform a provider or licensing agency which makes an
inquiry to the department pursuant to the provisions of section four
hundred twenty-four-a of this title concerning the subject that the
person about whom the inquiry is made is the subject of an indicated
child abuse or maltreatment report.
The failure to determine at the fair hearing that the act or acts of
abuse and maltreatment are relevant and reasonably related to the
employment of the subject by a provider agency or to the subject being
allowed to have regular and substantial contact with children who are
cared for by a provider agency or the approval or denial of an applica-
tion submitted by the subject to a licensing agency shall preclude the
department from informing a provider or licensing agency which makes an
inquiry to the department pursuant to the provisions of section four
hundred twenty-four-a of this title concerning the subject that the
person about whom the inquiry is made is the subject of an indicated
child abuse or maltreatment report.
(d) The commissioner or his or her designated agent is hereby author-
ized and empowered to make any appropriate order respecting the amend-
ment [or expungement ] of a record to make it accurate or consistent with
the requirements of this title.
(e) Should the department grant the request of the subject of the
report pursuant to this subdivision either through an administrative
review or fair hearing to amend an indicated report to an unfounded
report. Such report shall be legally sealed and shall be released and
expunged in accordance with the standards set forth in subdivision five
of this section.
§ 12. The social services law is amended by adding a new section
422-a to read as follows:
§ 422-a. Child abuse and neglect investigations; disclosure. 1.
Notwithstanding any inconsistent provision of law to the contrary, the
commissioner or a city or county social services commissioner may
disclose information regarding the abuse or maltreatment of a child as
set forth in this section, and the investigation thereof and any
services related thereto if he or she determines that such disclosure
shall not be contrary to the best interests of the child, the child's
siblings or other children in the household and any one of the following
factors are present:
(a) the subject of the report has been charged in an accusatory
instrument with committing a crime related to a report maintained in the
statewide central register; or
(b) the investigation of the abuse or maltreatment of the child by the
local child protective service or the provision of services by such
service has been publicly disclosed in a report required to be disclosed
in the course of their official duties, by a law enforcement agency or
official, a district attorney, any other state or local investigative
agency or official or by judge of the unified court system; or
(c) there has been a prior knowing, voluntary, public disclosure by an
individual concerning a report of child abuse or maltreatment in which
such individual is named as the subject of the report as defined by
subdivision four of section four hundred twelve of this title; or
(d) the child named in the report has died.
2. For the purposes of this section, the following information may be
disclosed:
(a) the name of the abused or maltreated child;
(b) the determination by the local child protective service or the
state agency which investigated the report and the findings of the
applicable investigating agency upon which such determination was based;
(c) identification of child protective or other services provided or
actions, if any, taken regarding the child named in the report and his
or her family as a result of any such report or reports;
(d) whether any report of abuse or maltreatment regarding such child
has been "indicated" as maintained by the statewide central register;
(e) any actions taken by the local child protective service and the
local social services district in response to reports of abuse or
maltreatment of the child to the statewide central register including
but not limited to actions taken after each and every report of abuse or
maltreatment of such child and the dates of such reports;
(f) whether the child or the child's family has received care or
services from the local social services district prior to each and every
report of abuse or maltreatment of such child;
(g) any extraordinary or pertinent information concerning the circum-
stances of the abuse or maltreatment of the child and the investigation
thereof, where the commissioner or the local commissioner determines
such disclosure is consistent with the public interest.
3. Information may be disclosed pursuant to this section as follows:
(a) information released prior to the completion of the investigation
of a report shall be limited to a statement that a report is "under
investigation";
(b) when there has been a prior disclosure pursuant to paragraph (a)
of this subdivision, information released in a case in which the report
has been unfounded shall be limited to the statement that "the investi-
gation has been completed, and the report has been unfounded";
(c) if the report has been "indicated" then information may be
released pursuant to subdivision two of this section.
4. Any disclosure of information pursuant to this section shall be
consistent with the provisions of subdivision two of this section. Such
disclosure shall not identify or provide an identifying description of
the source of the report, and shall not identify the name of the abused
or maltreated child's siblings, the parent or other person legally
responsible for the child or any other members of the child's household,
other than the subject of the report.
5. In determining pursuant to subdivision one of this section whether
disclosure will be contrary to the best interests of the child, the
child's siblings or other children in the household, the commissioner or
a city or county social services commissioner shall consider the inter-
est in privacy of the child and the child's family and the effects which
disclosure may have on efforts to reunite and provide services to the
family.
6. Whenever a disclosure of information is made pursuant to this
section, the city or county social services commissioner shall make a
written statement prior to disclosing such information to the chief
county executive officer where the incident occurred setting forth the
paragraph in subdivision one of this section upon which he or she is
basing such disclosure.
7. Except as it applies directly to the cause of the abuse or
maltreatment of the child, nothing in this section shall be deemed to
authorize the release or disclosure of the substance or content of any
psychological, psychiatric, therapeutic, clinical or medical reports,
evaluations or like materials or information pertaining to such child or
the child's family. Prior to the release or disclosure of any psycho-
logical, psychiatric or therapeutic reports, evaluations or like materi-
als or information pursuant to this subdivision, the city or county
social services commissioner shall consult with the local mental hygiene
director.
§ 13. Subdivision 6 of section 424 of the social services law, as
amended by chapter 676 of the laws of 1985, is amended to read as
follows:
6. upon receipt of such report, commence or cause the appropriate
society for the prevention of cruelty to children to commence, within
twenty-four hours, an appropriate investigation which shall include an
evaluation of the environment of the child named in the report and any
other children in the same home and a determination of the risk to such
children if they continue to remain in the existing home environment, as
well as a determination of the nature, extent and cause of any condition
enumerated in such report and the name, age and condition of other chil-
dren in the home, and, after seeing to the safety of the child or chil-
dren, forthwith notify the subjects of the report and other persons
named in the report in writing of the existence of the report and their
respective rights pursuant to this title in regard to amendment [or
expungement ];
§ 14. Subparagraphs (i), (ii) and (iii) of paragraph (e) of subdivi-
sion 1 of section 424-a of the social services law, subparagraph (i) as
amended by chapter 441 of the laws of 1993 and subparagraphs (ii) and
(iii) as amended by chapter 634 of the laws of 1988, are amended to read
as follows:
(i) Subject to the provisions of subparagraph (ii) of this paragraph,
the department shall inform the provider or licensing agency, or child
care resource and referral programs pursuant to subdivision six of this
section whether or not the person is the subject of an indicated child
abuse and maltreatment report only if: (a) the time for the subject of
the report to request an amendment [or expungement ] of the record of the
report pursuant to subdivision eight of section four hundred twenty-two
has expired without any such request having been made; or (b) such
request was made within such time and a fair hearing regarding the
request has been finally determined by the commissioner and the record
of the report has not been amended to unfound the report or delete the
person as a subject of the report [or expunged ].
(ii) If the subject of an indicated report of child abuse or maltreat-
ment has not requested an amendment [or expungement ] of the record of
the report within the time specified in subdivision eight of section
four hundred twenty-two of this title or if the subject had a fair hear-
ing pursuant to such section prior to January first, nineteen hundred
eighty-six and an inquiry is made to the department pursuant to this
subdivision concerning the subject of the report, the department shall,
as expeditiously as possible but within no more than ten working days of
receipt of the inquiry, determine whether, in fact, the person about
whom an inquiry is made is the subject of an indicated report. Upon
making a determination that the person about whom the inquiry is made is
the subject of an indicated report of child abuse and maltreatment, the
department shall immediately send a written request to the child protec-
tive service or state agency which was responsible for investigating the
allegations of abuse or maltreatment for all records, reports and other
information maintained by the service or state agency on the subject.
The service or state agency shall, as expeditiously as possible but
within no more than twenty working days of receiving such request,
forward all records, reports and other information it maintains on the
indicated report to the department. The department shall, within fifteen
working days of receiving such records, reports and other information
from the child protective service or state agency, review all records,
reports and other information in its possession concerning the subject
and determine whether there is some credible evidence to find that the
subject had committed the act or acts of child abuse or maltreatment
giving rise to the indicated report.
(iii) If it is determined, after affording such service or state
agency a reasonable opportunity to present its views, that there is no
credible evidence in the record to find that the subject committed such
act or acts, the department shall [expunge ] amend the record to indicate
that the report was unfounded and notify the inquiring party that the
person about whom the inquiry is made is not the subject of an indicated
report. If the subject of the report had a fair hearing pursuant to
subdivision eight of section four hundred twenty-two of this title prior
to January first, nineteen hundred eighty-six and the fair hearing had
been finally determined by the commissioner and the record of the report
had not been amended to unfound the report or delete the person as a
subject of the report [or expunged ], then the department shall determine
that there is some credible evidence to find that the subject had
committed the act or acts of child abuse or maltreatment giving rise to
the indicated report.
§ 15. Paragraph (d) of subdivision 2 of section 424-a of the social
services law, as amended by chapter 634 of the laws of 1988, is amended
to read as follows:
(d) At any such hearing, the sole question before the department shall
be whether the applicant, employee, prospective consultant, volunteer,
or person who was denied access to the children cared for by a provider
agency has been shown by a fair preponderance of the evidence to have
committed the act or acts of child abuse or maltreatment giving rise to
the indicated report. In such hearing, the burden of proof on the issue
of whether an act of child abuse or maltreatment was committed shall be
upon the local child protective service or the state agency which inves-
tigated the report, as the case may be. The failure to sustain the
burden of proof at a hearing held pursuant to this section shall not
result in the expungement or unfounding of an indicated report but shall
be noted on the report maintained by the state central register and
shall preclude the department from notifying a party which subsequently
makes an inquiry to the department pursuant to this section that the
person about whom the inquiry is made is the subject of an indicated
report.
§ 16. Subdivision 5 of section 424-c of the social services law, as
amended by chapter 634 of the laws of 1988, is amended to read as
follows:
5. Upon receipt of such report, commence within twenty-four hours, an
appropriate investigation which shall include but not be limited to an
evaluation of the residential care facility or program in which the
child resides who is named in the report and a determination of the risk
to such child if he or she continues to remain in the existing residen-
tial care facility or program as well as a determination of the nature,
extent and cause of any condition enumerated in such report and, after
seeing to the safety of the child and, to the maximum extent feasible,
the other children in the facility, forthwith: (a) notify the subject
of the report and other persons named in the report in writing of the
existence of the report and their respective rights pursuant to this
title in regard to amendment [or expungement ]; and (b) notify the facil-
ity or program and, as appropriate, the division for youth, department
of education, and the local social services commissioner or school
district placing the child of the existence of such report including the
name of any child alleged to be abused or maltreated, the name of the
subject of the report of child abuse or maltreatment, and any other
information which may be necessary to ensure the health and safety of
the children in the residential facility;
§ 17. Subdivision 1-a of section 240 of the domestic relations law,
as added by chapter 452 of the laws of 1988, is amended to read as
follows:
1-a. In any proceeding brought pursuant to this section to determine
the custody or visitation of minors, a report made to the statewide
central register of child abuse and maltreatment, pursuant to title six
of article six of the social services law, or a portion thereof, which
is otherwise admissible as a business record pursuant to rule forty-five
hundred eighteen of the civil practice law and rules shall not be admis-
sible in evidence, notwithstanding such rule, unless an investigation of
such report conducted pursuant to title six of article six of the social
services law has determined that there is some credible evidence of the
alleged abuse or maltreatment and that the subject of the report has
been notified that the report is indicated. [If ] In addition, if such
report has been reviewed by the state commissioner of social services or
his designee and has been [expunged ] determined to be unfounded, it
shall not be admissible in evidence. If such report has been so reviewed
and has been amended to delete any finding, each such deleted finding
shall not be admissible. If the state commissioner of social services or
his designee has amended the report to add any new finding, each such
new finding, together with any portion of the original report not
deleted by the commissioner or his designee, shall be admissible if it
meets the other requirements of this subdivision and is otherwise admis-
sible as a business record. If such a report, or portion thereof, is
admissible in evidence but is uncorroborated, it shall not be sufficient
to make a fact finding of abuse or maltreatment in such proceeding. Any
other evidence tending to support the reliability of such report shall
be sufficient corroboration.
§ 18. Section 651-a of the family court act, as added by chapter 452
of the laws of 1988, is amended to read as follows:
§ 651-a. Reports of child abuse and maltreatment; admissibility. In
any proceeding brought pursuant to this section to determine the custody
or visitation of minors, a report made to the statewide central register
of child abuse and maltreatment, pursuant to title six of article six of
the social services law, or a portion thereof, which is otherwise admis-
sible as a business record pursuant to rule forty-five hundred eighteen
of the civil practice law and rules shall not be admissible in evidence,
notwithstanding such rule, unless an investigation of such report
conducted pursuant to title six of article six of the social services
law has determined that there is some credible evidence of the alleged
abuse or maltreatment, that the subject of the report has been notified
that the report is indicated [and that such report, or a portion there-
of, has not been amended or expunged by the state commissioner of social
services or his designated agent ]. [If ] In addition, if such report has
been reviewed by the state commissioner of social services or his desig-
nee and has been [expunged ] determined to be unfounded, it shall not be
admissible in evidence. If such report has been so reviewed and has
been amended to delete any finding, each such deleted finding shall not
be admissible. If the state commissioner of social services or his
designee has amended the report to add any new finding, each such new
finding, together with any portion of the original report not deleted by
the commissioner or his designee, shall be admissible if it meets the
other requirements of this section and is otherwise admissible as a
business record. If such a report, or portion thereof, is admissible in
evidence but is uncorroborated, it shall not be sufficient to make a
fact finding of abuse or maltreatment in such proceeding. Any other
evidence tending to support the reliability of such report shall be
sufficient corroboration.
§ 19. Subparagraph e of paragraph 2 of subdivision (c) of section
45.07 of the mental hygiene law, as amended by chapter 32 of the laws of
1992, is amended to read as follows:
e. upon receipt of such report of child abuse or maltreatment,
commence within twenty-four hours, an appropriate investigation which
shall include but not be limited to an evaluation of the residential
care facility in which the child resides who is named in the report and
a determination of the risk to such child if he or she continues to
remain in the existing residential care facility as well as a determi-
nation of the nature, extent and cause of any condition enumerated in
such report and, after seeing to the safety of the child and, to the
maximum extent feasible, the other children in the facility forthwith:
(i) notify the subject of the report and other persons named in the
report in writing of the existence of the report and their respective
rights pursuant to title six of article six of the social services law
in regard to amendment [or expungement ]; and (ii) notify the director or
operator of the residential facility and the office of mental health or
the office of mental retardation and developmental disabilities of the
existence of such report including the name of any child alleged to be
abused or maltreated, the name of the subject of the report of child
abuse or maltreatment, and any other information which may be necessary
to assure the health and safety of the children in the residential care
facility;
§ 20. Separability. If any clause, sentence, paragraph, subdivision,
section or part of this act shall be adjudged by a court of competent
jurisdiction to be invalid, such judgment shall not affect impair or
invalidate the remainder thereof, but shall be confined in its operation
to the clause, sentence, paragraph, subdivision, section or part of this
act directly involved in the controversy in which such judgment shall
have been rendered.
§ 21. The commissioner of the department of social services shall be
authorized to promulgate regulations on an emergency basis for the
purpose of implementation of this act.
§ 22. This act shall take effect immediately; provided however,
sections eight through eleven and thirteen through nineteen of this act
shall apply to reports of suspected child abuse or maltreatment regis-
tered on or after the effective date of this act. With respect to
sections eight through eleven and thirteen through nineteen of this act,
the provisions of the social services law in effect prior to the effec-
tive date of this act shall apply to reports of suspected child abuse or
maltreatment registered prior to such effective date. The department of
social services shall immediately commence to implement the provisions
effected by sections eight through eleven and thirteen through nineteen
of this act and shall complete such implementation no later than January
1, 1997. Nothing in this act shall preclude the disclosure of indicated
reports authorized pursuant to section twelve of this act determined
prior to the effective date of this act. The provisions of section three
of this act shall apply to fatality reports issued by the department on
or after December 1, 1995.

The Legislature of the STATE OF NEW YORK ss:
Pursuant to the authority vested in us by section 70-b of the Public
Officers Law, we hereby jointly certify that this slip copy of this
session law was printed under our direction and, in accordance with such
section, is entitled to be read into evidence.

JOSEPH L. BRUNO SHELDON SILVER
Temporary President of the Senate Speaker of the Assembly


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