New York Consolidated Laws, Social Services Law - SOS § 372. Records and reports

1. Every court, and every public board, commission, institution, or officer having powers or charged with duties in relation to abandoned, delinquent, destitute, neglected or dependent children who shall receive, accept or commit any child shall provide and keep a record showing:

(a) the full and true name of the child,

(b) his sex and date and place of birth, if ascertainable, or his apparent age,

(c) the full and true names and places of birth of his parents, and their actual residence if living, or their latest known residence, if deceased or whereabouts unknown and the name and actual residence of any other person having custody of the child, as nearly as the same can reasonably be ascertained,

(d) the religious faith of the parents and of the child,

(e) the name and address of any person, agency, institution or other organization to which the child is committed, placed out, boarded out, or otherwise given into care, custody or control,

(f) the religious faith and occupation of the head or heads of the family with whom the child is placed out or boarded out and their relationship, if any, to the child,

(g) if any such child shall die, the date and cause of death and place of burial,

(h) any further disposition or change in care, custody or control of the child,

(i) the date or dates of reception and of any subsequent disposition or change in care, custody or control and, in case of adoption, the name and title of the judge or surrogate making the order of adoption, the date of such order and the date and place of filing of such order,

(j) the reasons for any act performed in reference to such child herein required to be recorded, together with such further information as the department may require;  and shall make to the department upon blanks provided by the department reports of each such child placed out, or boarded out, containing the information herein required to be kept;  and shall furnish such information to any authorized agency to which any such child shall be committed or otherwise given into custody.

2. Every charitable, eleemosynary, reformatory, or correctional institution, public or private, incorporated or unincorporated, and every agency, association, corporation, institution, society or other organization which shall receive, accept, or admit any child whether or not in receipt of payments from public funds for the support of such child shall provide and keep a record as described in subdivision one, and also showing how, by whom and for what reason such child shall have been given into its custody or committed to it and shall make reports of each such child to the department upon blanks provided by the department giving all the information required by subdivision one to be recorded together with such further information as the department may require.  Except as to children placed out, boarded out or surrendered or for whom guardianship is accepted or adoption provided, the requirement of this section shall not apply to hospitals, day nurseries, eleemosynary day schools, and summer and vacation homes and camps, or to institutions for the care of convalescent, anaemic, under-nourished or cardiac children, preventoria, working boys' homes, emergency shelters and schools for the blind and for the deaf, but all such hospitals, homes and institutions shall keep such records and make to the department such reports as the department may require.

3. Such records maintained by the department or an authorized agency, including a local social services district, regarding such children are confidential, provided, however, that such records are subject to the provisions of article thirty-one of the civil practice law and rules.  When either the subject foster child, or such child's parent, or such child's guardian if any, is not a party to the action, a copy of the notice or motion for discovery shall be served upon such parent, guardian, and child and, if the child is still a minor, the child's attorney.  Such persons may thereafter appear in the action with regard to such discovery.  Where no action is pending, upon application by a parent, relative or legal guardian of such child or by an authorized agency, after due notice to the institution or authorized agency affected and hearing had thereon, the supreme court may by order direct the officers of such institution or authorized agency to furnish to such parent, relative, legal guardian or authorized agency such extracts from the record relating to such child as the court may deem proper.  The department through its authorized agents and employees may examine at all reasonable times the records required by this section to be kept.

4. (a) All such records relating to such children shall be open to the inspection of the board and the department at any reasonable time, and the information called for under this section and such other data as may be required by the department shall be reported to the department, in accordance with the regulations of the department.  Such records kept by the department shall be deemed confidential and shall be safeguarded from coming to the knowledge of and from inspection or examination by any person other than one authorized, by the department, by a judge of the court of claims when such records are required for the trial of a claim or other proceeding in such court or by a justice of the supreme court, or by a judge of the family court when such records are required for the trial of a proceeding in such court, after a notice to all interested persons and a hearing, to receive such knowledge or to make such inspection or examination.  No person shall divulge the information thus obtained without authorization so to do by the department, or by such judge or justice.

(b)(i) Notwithstanding any inconsistent provision of law to the contrary, records relating to children kept pursuant to this section shall be made available to officers and employees of the state comptroller or of the city comptroller of the city of New York, or of the county officer designated by law or charter to perform the auditing function in any county not wholly contained within a city, for the purposes of a duly authorized performance audit, provided that such comptroller shall have certified to the keeper of such records that he or she has instituted procedures developed in consultation with the department to limit access to client-identifiable information to persons requiring such information for purposes of the audit, that such persons shall not use such information in any way except for purposes of the audit and that appropriate controls and prohibitions are imposed on the dissemination of client-identifiable information obtained in the conduct of the audit.  Information pertaining to the substance or content of any psychological, psychiatric, therapeutic, clinical or medical reports, evaluations or like materials or information pertaining to such child or the child's family shall not be made available to such officers and employees unless disclosure of such information is absolutely essential to the specific audit activity and the department gives prior written approval.

(ii) Any failure to maintain the confidentiality of client-identifiable information shall subject such comptroller or officer to denial of any further access to records until such time as the audit agency has reviewed its procedures concerning controls and prohibitions imposed on the dissemination of such information and has taken all reasonable and appropriate steps to eliminate such lapses in maintaining confidentiality to the satisfaction of the department.  The department shall establish the grounds for denial of access to records contained under this section and shall recommend, as necessary, a plan of remediation to the audit agency.  Except as provided in this section, nothing in this paragraph shall be construed as limiting the powers of such comptroller or officer to access records which he is otherwise authorized to audit or obtain under any other applicable provision of law.  Any person given access to information pursuant to this paragraph who releases data or information to persons or agencies not authorized to receive such information shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

4-a. Notwithstanding any provisions of law to the contrary, social services districts shall provide a written summary of services rendered to a child upon the request of a probation service conducting an investigation pursuant to the provisions of section 351.1 of the family court act .  Information provided to a probation service pursuant to the provisions of this subdivision shall be maintained by such service according to the provisions of subdivision five of section 351.1 of the family court act .

4-b. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, foster care information governed by this section may be released by the department or an authorized agency to a person, agency or organization for purposes of a bona fide research project.  Identifying information shall not be made available, however, unless it is absolutely essential to the research purpose and the department gives prior approval.  Information released pursuant to this subdivision shall not be re-disclosed except as otherwise permitted by law and upon the approval of the department.

5. The requirements of this section to keep records and make reports shall not apply to the birth parent or parents, or relatives within the second degree of such parents.

6. The provisions of this section as to records and reports to the department shall apply also to the placing out, adoption or boarding out of a child and the acceptance of guardianship or of surrender of a child.

7. An authorized agency as defined in paragraphs (a) and (b) of subdivision ten of section three hundred seventy-one of this chapter or any primary or secondary school or an office of the division for youth, except agencies operating pursuant to article nineteen-H of the executive law, who shall receive, accept, enroll or commit any child under such circumstances as shall reasonably indicate that such child may be a missing person shall make inquiries of each such child to the division of criminal justice services in a manner prescribed by such division;  provided that as used in this subdivision a court shall not be included within the definition of an authorized agency.  If such child appears to match a child registered with the statewide central register for missing children as described in section eight hundred thirty-seven-e of the executive law , or one registered with the national crime information center register, such agency shall immediately contact the local law enforcement agency.

8. In any case where a child is to be placed with or discharged to a relative or other person legally responsible pursuant to section ten hundred seventeen or ten hundred fifty-five of the family court act , such relative or other person shall be provided with such information by an authorized agency as is provided to foster parents pursuant to this section and applicable regulations of the department.

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