CHILD WELFARE MANUAL

Section 5, Chapter 3 (Record Access), Subsection 6 – Resource Provider Records

Effective Date:  8-28-20

 

Records shall be established for the following out-of-home care providers who are licensed/approved, or under the supervision of CD:

  • Foster family and large family resource homes;
  • Relative or kinship providers;
  • Respite care providers; and
  • Adoptive families.

3.6.1 Foster Family, Relative, Kinship, and Respite Record Access

The licensing records of all resource provider homes are considered closed records under Chapter 610 RSMo.

Access to information on the suspension or revocation of a foster home license within the record is covered under Chapter 210.498 RSMo.  The determination of whether license suspension or revocation information may be released should be made by the Division of Legal Services (DLS).

Any parent or legal guardian of a child in foster care may have access to investigation records kept by the division regarding suspension or revocation of the license of a foster home in which the child was placed.

The information contained within a provider file that is protected and may not be released includes:

  • Any identifying information regarding any person other than the person to whom a foster home license was denied or revoked.
  • Financial information
  • Medical information
  • Personal information relating the resource parent provider or the provider’s family, unless the division determines that the information is directly relevant to the disposition of the investigation and report
  • Child Abuse/Neglect reports
  • Foster child information (at the request of biological parent, the information on their child can be released but not on the other children in the foster home)

In order for a foster child’s parent or legal guardian to have access to investigation records regarding suspension or revocation of the foster home in which the child was placed, the person must make the request for the release of such information to the division director or designee. This request must be made in writing by the parent or legal guardian of the child and shall be accompanied by a signed and notarized release form from the person who does or may provide care or services to the child. The request must include the full name of the provider, date of birth and Social Security number. If they do not meet these criteria, the information may not be released.

If the requestor of the file is the individual of whom the file is regarding, it is not necessary to redact the personal information.

The redacted file is then sent to Children’s Division Privacy Officer at Central Office in Jefferson City for review. If the request was a “Sunshine” request, the Privacy Officer will then forward the file to the Division of Legal Services for additional review.

Upon receipt of a request from the parent or legal guardian of the foster child for investigation records pertaining to denial or revocation of the foster home license where the foster child was placed, staff are to send the request immediately by scan or by fax to the Department Privacy Officer and the Division Privacy Officer.

Criminal History

The record may only be released to the individual named on the record.

  • The person must make the request in writing and provide photo identification to receive a copy. 
  • They must also sign a statement stating they received a copy of their record.  This statement should be maintained in their file. 
  • The Division may release records only to the person to whom it belongs. 
  • The Division also requires criminal history records on household members age 17 and those under 17 who have been certified as adults by the court.  These records cannot be released to anyone other than the individual on whom the record was requested. 
  • The parent of the household may not receive copies of these individuals’ records as they are considered adults.
  • The Circuit Manager or designee must notify the foster parent(s) of the request for a copy of their record and by whom.

3.6.2 Adoptive Family Record Access

The Children’s Service Worker shall inform adoptive parent(s), prospective or otherwise, of their right to view their adoptive records.

  • Should an adoptive parent(s) request to view their record, the worker shall immediately acknowledge the receipt of their request with a letter including an appointment date and time to review the record no later than ten (10) working days from original date of request.
  • At that appointment the Children’s Service Worker shall verify the identity of the adoptive family and provide a private area for viewing.  Do not permit review of any identifying information or non-identifying information of child or biological family if the adoption has been completed and the child and adoptive parent(s)’ records have been combined.
  • Background information about the child important to the child’s placement should have been shared at the time of placement.  If they wish confirmation of this information, complete the CS-50 and follow the appropriate steps.
  • The Children’s Service Worker shall provide the adoptive family with a copy of the adoptive family assessment if they have never been given one. 
  • The worker will then document in the narrative, within five (5) working days, the time, place and person with whom the record was reviewed and/or material copied.

This does not affect the written procedures governing the summary of information shared with the prospective adoptive parent(s) at the time the child is placed.

3.6.3 Adopted Adult Requesting Information

This Procedure is Based on 453.121, RSMo:

The adopted adult is the only person who can petition the court for a release of identifying information, unless the adopted adult is deceased, in which case lineal descendants may petition the court.  “Lineal descendants” as defined in Section 472.010 RSMo.

Any adopted adult whose adoption was completed in this state or whose biological parents had their parental rights terminated in the state may request the court to secure and disclose identifying information concerning a biological parent or an adult sibling.

Notwithstanding any provision of law, all information, including identifying information, shall be released to an adopted adult if the adopted adult’s biological parent lost his or her parental rights through a nonconsensual termination of parental rights proceeding.

When the adopted adult makes a written request to the court, identifying information about biological parents or siblings is released only by the court which granted the adoption.

The Circuit Court having original jurisdiction will:

  • Within ten (10) days notify in writing the child-placing agency of the request. 
  • Within three (3) months after receiving notice of the request, the court will receive a report from the child-placing agency stating if the biological parents were located and given the required information.
  • Receive information from the child-placing agency if the biological parents were unable to be notified.
  • Disclose identifying information if the biological parent has filed a release with the court or if the biological parent is found to be deceased, the court will disclose identifying information as to that biological parent to the adopted adult, or the adopted adult’s lineal descendants if the adopted adult is deceased, provided that the other biological parent is either:
    • unknown;
    • known but cannot be found and notified;
    • deceased;
    • has filed with the court an affidavit authorizing the release of information; or
    • the adopted adult’s biological parent lost his or her parental rights through a nonconsensual termination of parental rights proceeding.
  • Disclose identifying information pertaining exclusively to the biological sibling upon consent of that biological sibling.
  • Not accept additional requests for the same information within one year from the end of the (3) three month period, provided that the biological parents were unable to be notified, unless a good cause is shown and leave of court is granted.
  • Not accept additional requests within (3) three years of the time the biological parent fails or refuses to give consent authorizing the release of identifying information.

The Children’s Service Worker will:

  • Receive written notice from court that an adopted adult has made written request for release of identifying information about biological parents or siblings.
    • If appropriate, report to court that the information requested was made by an adopted adult who made a similar request less than (1) one year from the date of current request and the biological parent/siblings could not be located at the time of the previous request.
    • If appropriate, report to court that the adopted adult made a similar request within the last three (3) years and the biological parent/siblings refused to consent to the release of identifying information.

NOTE: 453.121, RSMo, does not require another search until the above time frames have elapsed.

  • Review appropriate Division records to gather identifying information on adopted adult, biological parents, adoptive parents, and biological siblings.
  • Make reasonable efforts to notify the biological parents or the biological siblings of the request of adopted adult through a “confidential and personal” contact, which may include contact by telephone or face to face contact.
    • Determine that either or both biological parents are deceased and document information source regarding this fact.
    • Determine that a biological parent is unknown, after review and search of adoption records and other materials, and document the information source regarding this information.
    • Determine that a biological parent is known, but cannot be located, and document the attempts to locate the specific biological parent.
    • Determine that the biological parent has previously filed an affidavit with the court, if the biological parent indicates this has been done, and obtain identifying information about the court receiving the affidavit.
    • Request assistance from another county office or state if biological parent is located out of state. Inform person contacted of need for confidential contact.
    • Determine that either or both biological parents lost his or her parental rights through a nonconsensual termination of parental rights proceeding.
  • Inform the biological parent(s) at the time of notification of the following:
    • A report to the court will be made which includes the following information:
      • The nature of the identifying information contained in Division records.
      • The nature of the non-identifying information contained in Division records.
      • The date of the request of the adopted adult.
      • That the Division has informed the biological parent of the necessity to file an affidavit with the court permitting the release of identifying information.
      • That the Division informed the biological parent of the effect of a failure to file an affidavit consenting to the release of identifying information.
    • The necessity to file an affidavit with the court which granted the adoption stating that the identifying information should be disclosed.
    • That identifying information will not be released to the adopted adult if the affidavit is not filed with the court.
    • The identifying information will be released only by the court to the adopted adult.
  • File report with the court at the end of three (3) months, or as soon as information is secured, which includes the following information:
    • That each biological parent was/was not located.
    • The nature of the identifying information requested.
    • The date of the request of the adopted adult.
    • The fact that the biological parent was informed of the right to file an affidavit with the court stating that identifying information should be disclosed.
    • The fact that the biological parent was informed of the effect of a failure to file the affidavit.

NOTE: “Effect of a failure” is that identifying information cannot be released to the adopted adult.

    • A summary of the discussion with each biological parent, if applicable.
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  • Record all activities in the case narrative within ten (10) working days in the adoptive parent(s) case record:
    • File copies of reports and other correspondence in the “Adopted Adult Information Request” section of the case record.

3.6.4 Release of Information in Adoptions

3.6.4.1 Confirming the Identity of Individuals Requesting the Release of Information in Adoptions

The methods selected to confirm the identity should be appropriate to the category of the individual making the request for release of information, and might include:

      • Requesting the individual to supply a copy of a birth certificate or viewing the birth certificate and recording in narrative the birth certificate number.
      • Requesting the individual to supply a copy of the adoption decree or viewing the decree and recording the court file number.
      • Requesting the individual to supply a copy of their driver’s license.
      • Viewing the legal papers awarded to the guardian(s) of the person when non-identifying information is requested.

3.6.4.2 Searching for a Biological Parent

Do not contact the Attorney, Physician, Minister or Priest who assisted in the original consent for adoption or termination of parental rights. Contacts between these persons and biological parents are considered a privileged communication and are not available as an aid in searching for parents.

            The definition of reasonable effort to notify biological parents includes:

      • A minimum of two (2) calls (by telephone and/or in person at last known address) at varying times between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. at the location if the Children’s Service Worker believes the biological parent has been identified and located.
      • It is preferred that contact not be made at their place of employment unless this is the only avenue available for the confidential notification.

Any or all of the following steps in attempting to locate biological parents should be taken until the Children’s Service Worker believes that the parent(s) cannot be located. These steps include:

        1. Reviewing all information provided by the court regarding the request of the adopted adult;
        2. Contacting the court for release of any last known information the court may have, if the request from the court does not include information regarding the biological parent;
        3. Examine the Division’s internal sources of information such as:
          • Income Maintenance family records and information via IM workers;
          • Food stamp records and information via those workers;
          • Children’s Services family records and information via those workers;
          • Appropriate DSS system screens (i.e., SCLR, IBTH, IDTH AND IDSS); and
          • The Adoption Information Registry in central office.
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NOTE: If the Social Security Number (SSN) is known, the registry staff can assist in identifying the state in which the parent was last known to be located. Requests can then be forwarded to the child welfare office in that state for assistance in locating a biological parent. Information in the request should include any last known identifying information regarding the biological parent (i.e., date and place of birth, parents’ names and, if possible, the mother’s maiden name).

      • Examine external sources of information such as:
        • Postmaster: The local post office will have a form for requesting address information. This may be completed and sent to the postmaster of the post office serving the biological parent’s last known address.
        • Public utilities: If previous address and name on account are known.
        • Directories: Telephone, city, street, trade, labor, and professional, etc.
        • Other public agencies in Missouri:
          • Employment Security screens (IMES). Requests should be made to the local Employment Security office.
          • Division of Motor Vehicles, Driver License Bureau. Complete the CD88 Request for Location Services form and submit to the designated staff in your region who has security clearance to complete the search.

            Requests can also be made in writing to the Driver License Bureau, 301 West High Street, Jefferson City, MO 65101. On Division letterhead include the person’s name, date of birth and last known address.

        • Court/county records:
          • County and city officials including recorders of deeds, county clerks, county commissioners, appraiser, collector, Board of Election, etc.

NOTE: The reason for the inquiry must not be released and workers are not required to give the reason since the above information is public and accessible to anyone.

        • If the worker has reason to believe either of the biological parents are involved in any civil court proceedings, he/she may contact the local court to obtain the parent(s)’s last known address.
        • If the court refers the worker to the attorney, contact the attorney. The attorney will not disclose information without the client’s consent; but, even in such cases, it may lead to a voluntary contact by the biological parent with the worker.
        • If the contact with the attorney does not produce the necessary information, the worker may make a contact with court again.
          • Societies or lodges (Does not include church organizations).
          • Bureau of Indian Affairs.
        • Requests should include all available identifying information about the adopted adult and the biological parents. Requests can be expedited if the tribe is known and included in the request. Requests on Division letterhead should be sent to:

Bureau of Indian Affairs
Eastern Area Office
1951 Constitution Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20245
(202) 343-5582

NOTE: Under Federal law an adopted Indian child at age 18 has the right, upon application, to be informed of the following: the tribal affiliation, if any; the names of the biological parents; and any other information necessary to protect any rights flowing from the individual’s tribal membership.

          • Missouri Department of Corrections, if you have reason to believe the biological parent is or ever has been in prison. Requests should be made to the facility holding the individual.
          • Missouri Department of Mental Health, if you have reason to believe the biological parent has been or is currently a recipient of their services. Requests should be made to the last known facility.

3.6.5 Adopted Adult Requesting Non-Identifying Information

This Procedure is Based on SUBSECTION 453.121, RSMo.

All adopted adults, adoptive parent(s), or legal guardians will be given non-identifying information, if known, regarding the biological parents and siblings of the specific adopted child, who is the subject of the request, upon providing proper identification and, in the instance of an adopted adult request, proof of age (must be age 18 and over).

If the adopted adult is deceased, the adopted adult’s lineal descendants may also receive non-identifying information concerning undisclosed biological parents or siblings.  “Lineal descendants” as defined in Section 472.010 RSMo.

Non-identifying information includes information that is not identifying information.

Section 453.121 does not authorize for release any other types of non-identifying information. See definitions for further guidance regarding medical history.

A written request via completion of form CS-50 is required.

Requests for non-identifying information should be referred to the circuit court if the local office is unable to identify that the adopted child, who is the subject of the request, was placed for adoption by the Division.

Release of non-identifying information is permitted on adoptions completed before and after August 13, 1986.

For closed adoption records, the Children’s Service Worker would:

  • Receive request for non-identifying information from adopted adult, adoptive parent(s) or legal guardian. See Children’s Services Forms Manual, instructions for CS-50. Request for Release of Non-Identifying Information/Completed Adoptions.

NOTE: The adopted child does not have to be 18 years of age if adoptive parent(s) are requesting non-identifying information.

      • Secure proof of identification of individual making request and proof of age, if adopted adult is making the request. See 2.6.4.1 for methods of securing proof. Refuse the request if the adopted individual is making the request and is unable to provide proof of being age 18 and over.
      • Secure proof of identification from the lineal descendant by requiring additional documentation to verify the relationship of the requester to the adoptee such as:
        1. Photocopy of state-issued birth certificate, or
        2. Certified copy of a court document stating relationship.
      • A certified copy of the adoptee’s state-issued death certificate is also required.
      • Determine that record exists regarding the adopted adult who is the subject of the request.
      • Make request of county holding the adoption record if it is determined that the adoption was completed in another county; or
        1. Refer requestor to circuit court of residence of the adopted child if it is determined that the Division did not place the child.
      • Prepare CS-50 with the available non-identifying information.
      • Document within ten (10) working days, on CS-50 in the adoptive parent’s record, the time, place and person to whom CS-50 was provided and retain copy in the case file.
      • Record all activities in the case narrative, and insert all forms, reports and other correspondence in the “Adopted Adult Information Request” section of the adoptive parent(s) case record.
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  • 3.6.6 Adoption Information Registry  “The Adoption Information Registry, located in Central Office, will accept registrations via the CD-51a Adopted Adult Registration, CD-51b Biological Parent Registration or the CD-51c Adult Sibling Registration form through the mail or direct delivery in an envelope marked “Confidential.”
      • This Procedure is Based on SUBSECTION 453.121, RSMo.
      • The Registry can accept applications from adopted adults who were adopted in Missouri or whose biological parents had their parental rights terminated in Missouri.  The Registry also processes application from those biological parents who relinquish a child for adoption in Missouri as well as adult siblings wishing to have contact with the adopted adult.
      • The Missouri Adoption Information Registry, operated by the Children’s Division, is a service by which adopted adults and biological parents or adult siblings may indicate their desire to be contacted by each other.
  • The adopted adult must be age 18 or over before registration is permitted.
  • Biological parents can register any time following termination of parental rights.
  • Adult siblings may register when they are 18 or over.

Adopted adults may obtain identifying information on adult siblings with the sibling’s consent without the court having to find that such information is necessary for health-related purposes.

When a “match” occurs and both parents have not registered and the other is located, the located parent must file an affidavit authorizing the release of identifying information with the court which granted the adoption or register with the “Adoption Information Registry.”

If a biological parent authorizes the release of information or if a biological parent is found to be deceased, the court shall disclose the identifying information as to that biological parent to the adopted adult as long as the other biological parent is:

  • unknown;
  • known but cannot be found and notified;
  • deceased; or
  • has filed with the court an affidavit authorizing the release of information.

The Children’s Service Worker shall:

    • Receive request for information from biological parents, adult sibling(s), or adopted adult.
    • Give the CD-51a Adopted Adult Registration, CD-51b Biological Parent Registration or CD-51c Adult Sibling Registration to the interested party along with the brochure about the registry.
    • Receive request from Central Office to aid in identification of and/or search for other biological parent in the event a “match” has occurred.
    • Search Division files for identification of the other biological parent and possible location.
      1. Complete confidential notification of other biological parent if identified and located.
      2. Provide information regarding option, i.e., registration with the Adoption Information Registry or filing an affidavit with the court which granted the adoption indicating identifying information may be released.
      3. NOTE: Failure to do one of the above options will prohibit the release of information about any of the registrants.
    • Report outcome of identification and status of biological parent’s consent via CD-51b within five (5) days to the Adoption Information Registry in a confidential envelope.
    • Record all activities in the case narrative of the adoptive parent(s)’s case file within (10) ten days of the point action is completed.  Then file all forms, reports and other correspondence in the “Adopted Adult Information Request:” section of the adoptive parent(s) case record.

Related Practice Alerts and Memos:

8-28-2020 – CD20-38- Adoption Records Disclosure