If the subject of the report is “indicated”, takes it to a fair hearing and the state then “unfounds” the report, or if the report is “unfounded” from the beginning, the report of the investigation and the notes regarding it are “sealed”. This means that it is not available to anyone like an employer or when a check is done to be a foster or adoptive parent. BUT the “sealed record” is not destroyed and it is available if the person or the children or siblings to the children are reported in the future. The CPS worker on the subsequent report will be informed that there is a prior unfounded report and will look at the investigation notes of that prior report.
There is a very limited process where those unfounded reports can actually be destroyed (“expunged”) but that requires the subject to bring a different kind of proceedings with the state and requires the subject to prove that there is clear and convincing evidence that the incident did not in fact occur. Sometimes, even though a report is sealed, there may be other ways employers and potential agencies regarding foster and adoptive status know of the incident – maybe there were criminal charges or someone tells them about an incident and the incident itself – not the sealed report – becomes a reason why someone may not be willing to hire them.
For more information see: Child Abuse and Neglect Reports The State Central Register and How to Seal or Expunge Them, From South Brooklyn Legal Services
© Margaret A. Burt, Esq.