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786Ratification Number: 369Act Number: 350Introducing Body: SenateSubject: Relating to confidentiality of reports and records of child welfare agencies
(A350, R369, S786)
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 20-7-690, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO CONFIDENTIALITY OF REPORTS AND RECORDS OF CHILD WELFARE AGENCIES, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT INFORMATION COLLECTED IN PROTECTING ABUSED AND NEGLECTED CHILDREN IS CONFIDENTIAL AND TO PROVIDE FOR THE REPORTS AND THE INFORMATION COLLECTED TO BE MADE AVAILABLE TO THE OMBUDSMAN OF THE OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
Records from reports confidential
SECTION 1. Section 20-7-690 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 20-7-690. (A) All reports made and information collected pursuant to this article maintained by the State Department of Social Services, local child protective service agencies and the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect are confidential. Any person who disseminates or permits the unauthorized dissemination of the information is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction must be fined not more than five hundred dollars or be imprisoned for not more than six months, or both.
(B) All reports made and information collected as described in subsection (A) must be made available to the ombudsman of the office of the Governor.
(C) Information contained in reports described in subsection (A) must not be made available to any individual or institution except:
(1) Appropriate staff of the State Department of Social Services, local child
protective services agencies, any person or agency having legal responsibility or authorization to care for, treat, or supervise the child or the child's family, multidisciplinary evaluation teams empaneled by the agencies, and law enforcement agencies investigating suspected cases of abuse and neglect.
(2) Any person who is the subject of a report or that person's attorney, subject to the qualifications provided in subsection (D).
(3) Family courts conducting child abuse and neglect or child protective proceedings.
(4) Any person engaged in a bona fide research purpose, with written permission of and with any limitations imposed by the Commissioner of the State Department of Social Services.
(5) Any person appointed as a child's guardian ad litem pursuant to Section 20-7-110 and the child's attorney.
(D) Any person who is the subject of a report made pursuant to this article must be immediately notified of the fact that his name has been recorded by the State Department of Social Services, the local child protective services agency and, if applicable, the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect. He must also be informed of the findings of the investigation and whether or not his name has been destroyed in accordance with this article. Any person who is the subject of a report must be informed of his right to inspect the report and any substantiating data or evidence and his right to challenge any part of its contents. The only details of the report which must be withheld from the subject's knowledge or inspection are the name, address, occupation, and all other identifying characteristics of the reporter.
(E) For the purpose of this section, 'any person who is the subject of a report' means any person who is alleged or determined to have abused or neglected the child, who is mentioned by name in a report or finding."
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon approval by the Governor.