Sunday, March 12, 2000

How child abuse registries work

        • “Central registries” of child maltreatment allegations, created by state laws, exist in about 42 states — although the databases aren't linked.

        • Typically, the registries are used to aid social service agencies in investigation, treatment and prevention of child abuse.

        • Some states do not allow unfounded or unsubstantiated reports to be registered, while others do.

        • The length of time the data is retained varies from three months to 10 years or more; procedures for expungement also vary.

        • All jurisdictions consider the data confidential. Many statutes specifically describe who may access the records and under what conditions. Generally, those are people with a direct interest in a case or someone who is the subject of a report.


        Type of data kept: Names of alleged perpetrators, names of alleged child victims and other involved parties; unsubstantiated claims may be included.

        How long data remains: Three months for “unsubstantiated” or low risk of abuse; five years for “indicated” abuse or moderate risk; 10 years for “substantiated” or high risk.

        How data is removed: Automatically after expiration of time limits; some cases have been removed by court order.

        Data available to: Other child protective agencies; person whose name is registered.

        Notification of inclusion: Each county decides whether to notify a person whose name is being added to the list. A person who wants to know whether his or her name appears on the registry must inquire in writing to the Ohio Department of Human Services, which maintains the registry.


        Type of data kept: Substantiated cases only. Names of alleged perpetrators and child victims.

        How long data remains: Unspecified.

        How data is removed: A person may contest inclusion via an administrative hearing.

        Data available to: Child protective agencies and employers in child-care professions; possibly others in specified circumstances.

        Notification of inclusion: Agencies must notify persons whose names are included in the registry.


        Type of data kept: All allegations of abuse and neglect.

        How long data remains: Once substantiated, the information remains in the allegations database indefinitely.

        How data is removed: Unsubstantiated claims must be expunged within 180 days.

        Data available to: Child protective agencies, law enforcement and prosecutors. Also, a parent of an alleged child victim may request a copy in writing.

        Notification of inclusion: Agencies must notify persons whose names are included in the list.

        Sources: National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information, state departments in charge of child protective services


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