Section 51F. The department shall maintain a central registry of information sufficient to identify children whose names are reported under sections 51A to 51B. Data and information relating to individual cases in the central registry shall be confidential and shall be made available only with the approval of the commissioner or upon court order; provided, however, that the department, upon request, may release this data and information to 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. The commissioner shall establish rules and regulations governing the availability of such data and information. Pursuant to chapter 18C, the child advocate shall have access to the information in the registry.
A child welfare agency of another state may, upon request, and upon the approval of the commissioner, receive information from the central registry 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 characteristics relating to any child which is contained in the central registry, or to his parents or guardian, shall be removed 1 year after the department determines, after investigation, 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. If the department determines during the initial screening period of an investigation that said report under section 51A is frivolous, or other absolute determination that abuse or neglect has not taken place, then said report shall be declared as “allegation invalid”. If such reports are declared “allegation invalid”, the name of the child, or identifying characteristics relating to the child, or the names of his parents or guardian or any other person relevant to the report, shall not be placed in the central registry, nor under any other computerized program utilized in the department. Nothing in this section shall prevent the department from keeping information on unsubstantiated reports to assist in future risk and safety assessments of children and families.
Any person employed in the central registry who permits the data and information stored in the registry to be released without authorization to persons other than those specified in the rules and regulations shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000 or by imprisonment for not more than 21/2 years, or both.