Before adding a person suspected of child abuse or neglect (person) to the automated child welfare system (system), the bill requires the department of human services (state department) to provide a written notice to the person of the opportunity for a hearing. The person must request a hearing no later than 90 days after the date of the written notice.
The bill prohibits the state department from releasing a finding of a person responsible for child abuse or neglect or the state department or a law enforcement entity from releasing information about the person or the allegations against the person to a third party until all administrative appeals are either exhausted or waived.
When a hearing is requested, the bill requires an administrative law judge (ALJ) to contact the parties to schedule the hearing no later than 120 days after the date the person requests a hearing.
If the ALJ finds that there is sufficient evidence to support the state department's allegations, the bill requires:
- The state department to enter the substantiated findings against the person into the system for a period of time proportionate to the severity of the findings; and
- Any law enforcement entity that created a record of the alleged incident of child abuse or neglect to retain the record pursuant to certain restrictions.
If the ALJ finds there is insufficient evidence to support the state department's allegations, the bill requires:
- The ALJ to order the state department to amend the state department's findings accordingly and order that allegation not be entered into the system; and
- Any law enforcement entity that created a record of the alleged incident of child abuse or neglect to mark the record as unsubstantiated and retain and release the record pursuant to certain restrictions.
The bill prohibits a finding from being entered against a person who is less than 13 years of age.
The bill authorizes the state department, county departments of human and social services (county departments), and law enforcement entities to retain information concerning unsubstantiated reports of child abuse and neglect in casework files to assist in future risk and safety assessments; except that the state department, county departments, and law enforcement entities shall not release any information contained in any records that are accessible to the public or are used for purposes of employment or background checks in cases determined to be unsubstantiated or false.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)