G.S. 7B-302

This statute is one of the most important confidentiality laws related to child protective services.
"Strictest Confidence" (G.S. 7B-302(a1))
From the outset, the law establishes a high standard by stating that "all information" received by DSS (including the identity of the reporter) must be held in "the strictest confidence." It allows DSS to disclose in the following circumstances:
Protecting the juvenile: May disclose to government entities or private child placing or adoption agencies licensed by DHHS to protect a juvenile from abuse or neglect. The recipient is required to keep the information confidential and is allowed to disclose it only "for purposes directly connected with carrying out that entity's mandated responsibilities."
Identity of the reporter: Must disclose to government entities if ordered to by a court. May disclose to a government entity if the entity demonstrates a need for the reporter's name to carry out the entity's mandated responsibilities.
Juvenile/GAL: May be disclosed to the juvenile's guardian ad litem (GAL). May also be disclosed to the juvenile who is 18 years of age or older or who is emancipated. 
Court order/Civil: In a civil case in which DSS is not a party, a judge may order disclosure if (1) provides DSS with notice and opportunity to be heard, (2) determines that the requested information is relevant, and (3) determines that the requested information is not available from any other source.
Court order/Criminal or Delinquency: In a criminal or delinquency matter, the judge may order disclosure but only after an in camera review of the records. 
Parent, guardian, etc.: DSS may disclose information to a parent, guardian, custodian, or caretaker as provided in G.S. 7B-700, which governs sharing information with parties in the course of discovery.
Access to Confidential Information (G.S. 7B-302(e))
This statute also addresses when and how DSS may obtain access to confidential information maintained by others.
Notifying the Reporter (G.S. 7B-302(f) & (g))
DSS is required to provide written notice to the person who reported the abuse, neglect or dependency at two points in time:
Within 5 working days of receiving the report, DSS must notify the reporter whether the report was accepted for assessment and whether it was referred to law enforcement.
Within five days of completing the assessment, DSS must notify the reporter as to the findings and whether DSS will take action.
The reporter may ask DSS not to provide one or both of the above notifications.
If DSS decides not to take action by filing a petition, the reporter has the right to request that the prosecutor review DSS's decision. 

Children's Services

State statute

Cross references: