Texas Family Code

Sec. § 261.201
Confidentiality and Disclosure of Information


(a)

Except as provided by Section 261.203 (Information Relating to Child Fatality), the following information is confidential, is not subject to public release under Chapter 552 (Public Information), Government Code, and may be disclosed only for purposes consistent with this code and applicable federal or state law or under rules adopted by an investigating agency:

(1)

a report of alleged or suspected abuse or neglect made under this chapter and the identity of the person making the report; and

(2)

except as otherwise provided in this section, the files, reports, records, communications, audiotapes, videotapes, and working papers used or developed in an investigation under this chapter or in providing services as a result of an investigation.

(b)

A court may order the disclosure of information that is confidential under this section if:

(1)

a motion has been filed with the court requesting the release of the information;

(2)

a notice of hearing has been served on the investigating agency and all other interested parties; and

(3)

after hearing and an in camera review of the requested information, the court determines that the disclosure of the requested information is:

(A)

essential to the administration of justice; and

(B)

not likely to endanger the life or safety of:

(i)

a child who is the subject of the report of alleged or suspected abuse or neglect;

(ii)

a person who makes a report of alleged or suspected abuse or neglect; or

(iii)

any other person who participates in an investigation of reported abuse or neglect or who provides care for the child.

(b-1)

On a motion of one of the parties in a contested case before an administrative law judge relating to the license or certification of a professional, as defined by Section 261.101 (Persons Required to Report; Time to Report)(b), or an educator, as defined by Section 5.001 (Definitions), Education Code, the administrative law judge may order the disclosure of information that is confidential under this section that relates to the matter before the administrative law judge after a hearing for which notice is provided as required by Subsection (b)(2) and making the review and determination required by Subsection (b)(3). Before the department may release information under this subsection, the department must edit the information to protect the confidentiality of the identity of any person who makes a report of abuse or neglect.

(c)

In addition to Subsection (b), a court, on its own motion, may order disclosure of information that is confidential under this section if:

(1)

the order is rendered at a hearing for which all parties have been given notice;

(2)

the court finds that disclosure of the information is:

(A)

essential to the administration of justice; and

(B)

not likely to endanger the life or safety of:

(i)

a child who is the subject of the report of alleged or suspected abuse or neglect;

(ii)

a person who makes a report of alleged or suspected abuse or neglect; or

(iii)

any other person who participates in an investigation of reported abuse or neglect or who provides care for the child; and

(3)

the order is reduced to writing or made on the record in open court.

(d)

The adoptive parents of a child who was the subject of an investigation and an adult who was the subject of an investigation as a child are entitled to examine and make copies of any report, record, working paper, or other information in the possession, custody, or control of the state that pertains to the history of the child. The department may edit the documents to protect the identity of the biological parents and any other person whose identity is confidential, unless this information is already known to the adoptive parents or is readily available through other sources, including the court records of a suit to terminate the parent-child relationship under Chapter 161 (Termination of the Parent-child Relationship).

(e)

Before placing a child who was the subject of an investigation, the department shall notify the prospective adoptive parents of their right to examine any report, record, working paper, or other information in the possession, custody, or control of the department that pertains to the history of the child.

(f)

The department shall provide prospective adoptive parents an opportunity to examine information under this section as early as practicable before placing a child.

(f-1)

The department shall provide to a relative or other individual with whom a child is placed any information the department considers necessary to ensure that the relative or other individual is prepared to meet the needs of the child. The information required by this subsection may include information related to any abuse or neglect suffered by the child.

(g)

Notwithstanding Subsection (b), the department, on request and subject to department rule, shall provide to the parent, managing conservator, or other legal representative of a child who is the subject of reported abuse or neglect information concerning the reported abuse or neglect that would otherwise be confidential under this section if the department has edited the information to protect the confidentiality of the identity of the person who made the report and any other person whose life or safety may be endangered by the disclosure.

(h)

This section does not apply to an investigation of child abuse or neglect in a home or facility regulated under Chapter 42 (Regulation of Certain Facilities, Homes, and Agencies That Provide Child-care Services), Human Resources Code.

(i)

Notwithstanding Subsection (a), the Texas Juvenile Justice Department shall release a report of alleged or suspected abuse or neglect made under this chapter if:

(1)

the report relates to a report of abuse or neglect involving a child committed to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department during the period that the child is committed to that department; and

(2)

the Texas Juvenile Justice Department is not prohibited by Chapter 552 (Public Information), Government Code, or other law from disclosing the report.

(j)

The Texas Juvenile Justice Department shall edit any report disclosed under Subsection (i) to protect the identity of:

(1)

a child who is the subject of the report of alleged or suspected abuse or neglect;

(2)

the person who made the report; and

(3)

any other person whose life or safety may be endangered by the disclosure.

(k)

Notwithstanding Subsection (a), an investigating agency, other than the department or the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, on request, shall provide to the parent, managing conservator, or other legal representative of a child who is the subject of reported abuse or neglect, or to the child if the child is at least 18 years of age, information concerning the reported abuse or neglect that would otherwise be confidential under this section. The investigating agency shall withhold information under this subsection if the parent, managing conservator, or other legal representative of the child requesting the information is alleged to have committed the abuse or neglect.

(l)

Before a child or a parent, managing conservator, or other legal representative of a child may inspect or copy a record or file concerning the child under Subsection (k), the custodian of the record or file must redact:

(1)

any personally identifiable information about a victim or witness under 18 years of age unless that victim or witness is:

(A)

the child who is the subject of the report; or

(B)

another child of the parent, managing conservator, or other legal representative requesting the information;

(2)

any information that is excepted from required disclosure under Chapter 552 (Public Information), Government Code, or other law; and

(3)

the identity of the person who made the report.
Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 93, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 575, Sec. 12, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1022, Sec. 69, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1150, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1390, Sec. 22, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 68, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.
Amended by:
Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268 (S.B. 6), Sec. 1.15, eff. September 1, 2005.
Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 263 (S.B. 103), Sec. 12, eff. June 8, 2007.
Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 713 (H.B. 2876), Sec. 1, eff. June 19, 2009.
Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 779 (S.B. 1050), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2009.
Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1377 (S.B. 1182), Sec. 13, eff. September 1, 2009.
Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1 (S.B. 219), Sec. 1.128, eff. April 2, 2015.
Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 734 (H.B. 1549), Sec. 82, eff. September 1, 2015.
Source

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Jun. 7, 2021