Parents have recently inquired of me as to how they can find out if your name is on the child abuse registry. The registry is maintained by the Department of Children and Families (DCF). These agency records are confidential pursuant to statute. See, N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.10a.
However, in certain limited circumstances, one may find out information that is otherwise confidential per statute.
If a parent or guardian is involved in a division matter, confidential information may be released to the extent necessary to help negotiate a case plan or discuss services for a family. N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.10a(b)(19).
If the matter is in active litigation, the parent’s attorney may have access to the confidential information. N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.10a(b)(17). Finally, if the information is sought while no litigation is pending by the division, but other litigation exists or is contemplated, the parent may seek a court order to compel the release of the information. N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.10a(b)(6)
Can a parent appeal a child abuse allegation?
If a parent is listed on the registry, they are entitled to appeal this administrative finding. The division will notify the parent in writing of the administrative right to appeal, which must be taken within 20 days of receiving written notification by the agency of its finding.
For this reason, the division typically will advise the parent of the existence of a substantiated finding, even if the written notification has been sent to the parent. If the parent has not timely appealed, the division may choose to allow an administrative right to appeal; however, if not, the parent’s only recourse is to proceed to the Appellate Division to compel the agency to allow an administrative appeal.
For more information about gaining access to the registry and other confidential information, please contact our office and schedule a consultation to discuss your particular circumstances.