Child protective services (CPS) and foster care records are generally confidential and are not made public. Such records can include child identification information, information regarding the child’s biological family, condition reports on the child’s original home, and reports on past abuse and neglect.
Due to the sensitive nature of this information and its potential use in investigations and treatment, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) requires this information to remain confidential to help protect the well-being of the foster child. However, there are circumstances in which foster care records may be disclosed.
For example, a state will grant access to records for those involved in a court case regarding the child, such as a judge. Such records can also be granted to those looking to support a child’s welfare, protection, or medical treatment, such as a physician, medical examiner, or law enforcement. In 37 U.S. states, CPS records can also be shared with placing agencies in an effort to provide the best care and placement possible for a foster child.