No. The 2003 amendments to CAPTA specifically give States the flexibility to determine State policies with respect to open courts, so long as such policies ensure the safety and well-being of the child, parents and families (last paragraph of section 106(b)(2)). There may be other Federal confidentiality restrictions for the State to consider when implementing this CAPTA provision.
The "open courts" provision in CAPTA applies to court proceedings that determine whether child abuse and neglect has occurred. However, section 471(c) of the Social Security Act permits States to provide the public with access to court proceedings that determine child abuse and neglect, or other court hearings held pursuant to titles IV-B or IV-E. In doing so, States must at a minimum, ensure the safety and well-being of the child, parents and family. Since this later-enacted law allows open courts in a broader range of court proceedings, a State may allow open courts in any of the proceedings authorized by section 471(c) of the Act and not be considered out of compliance with CAPTA.
Finally, States also should ensure that they are complying with any other relevant State or Federal confidentiality laws. In particular, entities that are subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) must ensure that they do not disclose confidential information in violation of HIPAA?s privacy regulations. *
* For more detailed information about the circumstances under which State agencies or other covered entities can disclose confidential information under HIPAA's privacy regulations, contact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights or the State Attorney General's Office.
Legal and Related References
Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), as amended (42 U.S.C. 5101 et seq.) ¿ section 106(b)(2); Social Security Act ¿ section 471(c)