How to Check the Child Abuse Registry
By Jayne Thompson
Updated November 30, 2019
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Most states maintain a statewide child abuse registry, which is a centralized listing of all reports and incidences of child abuse and neglect. The exact format varies from state to state, but a search will usually disclose the name of the child and the perpetrator, along with details of the abuse.
Who Can Check the Child Abuse Registry?
State child abuse registries are confidential so it’s not possible for just anyone to poke around and dig up information on a colleague or a neighbor. In most states, a person can request a child protection registry search
In fact, states have a duty of confidentiality in suspected child abuse cases.
There are exceptions to every rule, and some states permit disclosure to individuals in very specific, very limited circumstances such as if the incident resulted in the fatality of a child. As a general rule, it’s best to assume that an individual can search only for entries relating to themselves.
How to Request a Search of the Child Abuse Registry
- Complete a request form. The form will ask for the applicant’s details and identifying information such as current and past addresses and Social Security number.
- Sign the form in the presence of a notary public.
- Mail the form to the Child Protection Registry and wait for a reply. In Vermont, this takes up to 25 business days.
What Information Does the Child Abuse Registry Contain?
Records vary by state but
- Identifying information about the child and the perpetrator.
- The nature and extent of the abuse, including the child’s injuries.
- Information about other children in the same environment.
The registry may contain additional information such as medical reports and photographs of the child, but it’s unlikely a self-searcher would
Some states only include substantiated reports in the child protection registry, meaning investigators have confirmed the occurrence of abuse or neglect. Others include unsubstantiated reports
Challenging the Child Abuse Records
In about 44 states, a person whose name appears on the registry
In most cases,
Use of Records for Employment Screening
Around 32 states permit employers to access the central registry as part of a background check for employment screening purposes, but only where the job involves significant contact with children, such as a teacher, youth worker or child care provider. There may be a different application process for prospective employers, so check with the state department of health and social services.
- Child Welfare Information Gateway: Establishment and Maintenance of Central Registries for Child Abuse or Neglect Reports
- Child Welfare Information Gateway: Disclosure of Confidential Child Abuse and Neglect Records
- Vermont Agency of Human Services: Request a Registry Check on Yourself
- Child Welfare Information Gateway: Review and Expunction of Central Registries and Reporting Records
- In general, the only individuals allowed access to the information in the Child Abuse Registry are, according to the National Administration for Children and Families, "physicians; researchers; police; judges and other court personnel; the person who is the subject of a report; a person who was an alleged child victim; and the parent, guardian, or guardian ad litem of an alleged victim who is a minor."
A former real estate lawyer, Jayne Thompson writes about law, business and corporate communications, drawing on 17 years’ experience in the legal sector. She holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Birmingham and a Masters in International Law from the University of East London.