(a) For the purposes of this section, the following words shall have the following meanings, respectively:

Terms Used In Alabama Code 26-14-8

  • Complaint: A written statement by the plaintiff stating the wrongs allegedly committed by the defendant.
  • Evidence: Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other.
  • following: means next after. See Alabama Code 1-1-1
  • Grand jury: agreement providing that a lender will delay exercising its rights (in the case of a mortgage,
  • Guardian: A person legally empowered and charged with the duty of taking care of and managing the property of another person who because of age, intellect, or health, is incapable of managing his (her) own affairs.
  • Misdemeanor: Usually a petty offense, a less serious crime than a felony, punishable by less than a year of confinement.
  • person: includes a corporation as well as a natural person. See Alabama Code 1-1-1
  • state: when applied to the different parts of the United States, includes the District of Columbia and the several territories of the United States. See Alabama Code 1-1-1
  • Testimony: Evidence presented orally by witnesses during trials or before grand juries.

(1) INDICATED. When credible evidence and professional judgment substantiates that an alleged perpetrator is responsible for child abuse or neglect.

(2) NOT INDICATED. When credible evidence and professional judgment does not substantiate that an alleged perpetrator is responsible for child abuse or neglect.

(b) The Department of Human Resources shall establish a statewide central registry for reports of child abuse and neglect made pursuant to this chapter. The central registry shall contain, but shall not be limited to:

(1) All information in the written report;

(2) Record of the final disposition of the report, including services offered and services accepted;

(3) The names and identifying data, dates, and circumstances of any persons requesting or receiving information from the registry; provided, however, that requests for information and responses where no report exists may be destroyed after three years from the date of the request;

(4) The plan for rehabilitative treatment; and

(5) Any other information which might be helpful in furthering the purposes of this chapter.

(c) The Department of Human Resources shall establish and enforce reasonable rules and regulations governing the custody, use, and preservation of the reports and records of child abuse and neglect. Child abuse and neglect reports and records shall be limited to the purposes for which they are furnished and by the provisions of law under which they may be furnished. The reports and records of child abuse and neglect and related information or testimony shall be confidential, and shall not be used or disclosed for any purposes other than:

(1) To permit their use to prevent or to discover abuse or neglect of children through the information contained therein, except reports or records in cases determined to be “not indicated” shall not be used or disclosed for purposes of employment or other background checks; or

(2) For investigation of child abuse or neglect by the police or other law enforcement agency; or

(3) For use by a grand jury upon its determination that access to such reports and records is necessary in the conduct of its official business; or

(4) For use by a court where it finds that such information is necessary for the determination of an issue before the court; or

(5) For use by any person engaged in bona fide research who is authorized to have access to such information by the Commissioner of the Department of Human Resources; or

(6) For use by any person authorized by a court to act as a representative for an abused or neglected child who is the subject of a report; or

(7) For use by a physician who has before him a child whom he reasonably suspects may be abused or neglected; or

(8) For use by an attorney or guardian ad litem in representing or defending a child or its parents or guardians in a court proceeding related to abuse or neglect of the child; or

(9) For use by federal, state, or local governmental entities, social service agencies of another state, or any agent of such entities, having a need for the information in order to carry out their responsibilities under law to protect children from abuse and neglect; or

(10) For use by child abuse citizen review or quality assurance or multidisciplinary review panels; or

(11) For use by child fatality review panels; or

(12) For public disclosure of the findings or information about the case of child abuse or neglect which has resulted in a child fatality or near fatality; the term “near fatality” means an act that, as certified by a physician, places the child in serious or critical condition. Information identifying by name persons other than the victim shall not be disclosed.

(d) The names of persons or information in the investigative report placed on the state’s central registry which may be made available to the alleged perpetrator’s employer, prospective employer, or others are those cases that the Department of Human Resources or the investigative hearing officer has determined child abuse or neglect to be indicated.

(e) In the case of any child abuse or neglect investigation which is determined to be “not indicated,” the alleged perpetrator may request after five years from the completion of the investigation that his or her name be expunged from the central registry so long as the Department of Human Resources has received no further reports concerning the alleged perpetrator during the five years, at which time the department shall expunge the name.

(f) Nothing in this section shall be construed as restricting the ability of a department to refuse to disclose identifying information concerning the individual initiating a report or complaint alleging suspected instances of child abuse or neglect, except that the department may not refuse such a disclosure in cases in which a court orders such disclosure after the court has reviewed, in camera, the record of the department related to the report or complaint and has determined that it has reason to believe that the person making the report knowingly made a false report.

(g) Any person receiving reports or records of child abuse or neglect or related information under this section shall maintain the confidentiality of the documents and information and not disclose it except as authorized by law.

(h) Any violation of the provision of confidentiality shall be a Class A misdemeanor.

(Acts 1975, No. 1124, p. 2213, §1; Acts 1992, 2nd Ex. Sess., No. 92-704, p. 176, §2; Act 98-371, p. 673, §1.)