Section 51E. The department shall maintain a file of the written reports prepared under this section and sections 51A to 51D, inclusive. These written reports shall be confidential. Upon request and with the approval of the commissioner, copies of written reports of initial investigations may be provided to: (i) the child’s parent, guardian, or counsel, (ii) the reporting person or agency, (iii) the appropriate review board, (iv) a child welfare agency of another state for the purpose of assisting that agency in determining whether to approve a prospective foster or adoptive parent, or (v) a social worker assigned to the case. No such report shall be made available to any persons other than those specified in this section without the written and informed consent of the child’s parent or guardian, the written approval of the commissioner, or an order of a court of competent jurisdiction. Pursuant to chapter 18C, the child advocate shall have access to these reports.
A child welfare agency of another state may, upon request, and upon the approval of the commissioner, receive a copy of the written report of the initial investigation if the agency has a need for such information in order to carry out its responsibilities under law to protect children from abuse and neglect.
The name and all other identifying information relating to any child, or to his parents or guardian, shall be removed from said reports 1 year after the department determines that the allegation of serious physical or emotional injury resulting from abuse or neglect cannot be substantiated, or, if said allegations are substantiated, when the child reaches the age of 18, or 1 year after the date of termination of services to the child or his family, whichever date occurs last; provided, however, that the department may retain information on unsubstantiated reports to assist in future risk and safety assessments of children and families and may release said information to the child welfare agencies of other states upon request of said child welfare agency for the purpose of assisting said child welfare agency in determining whether to approve a prospective foster or adoptive parent.
Any person who permits any information in the files to be released to persons other than those specified in this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000 or by imprisonment for not more than 21/2 years, or both.