The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 33: Human Services

Chapter 49: CHILD WELFARE SERVICES

Sub-Chapter 02: Reporting Abuse Of Children

33 V.S.A. § 4916a. Challenging placement on the Registry



§ 4916a. Challenging placement on the Registry

(a) If an investigation conducted in accordance with section 4915b of this title results in a determination that a report of child abuse or neglect should be substantiated, the Department shall notify the person alleged to have abused or neglected a child of the following:

(1) the nature of the substantiation decision, and that the Department intends to enter the record of the substantiation into the Registry;

(2) who has access to Registry information and under what circumstances;

(3) the implications of having one's name placed on the Registry as it applies to employment, licensure, and registration;

(4) the right to request a review of the substantiation determination by an administrative reviewer, the time in which the request for review shall be made, and the consequences of not seeking a review; and

(5) the right to receive a copy of the Commissioner's written findings made in accordance with subdivision 4916(a)(2) of this title if applicable.

(b) Under this section, notice by the Department to a person alleged to have abused or neglected a child shall be by first class mail sent to the person's last known address.

(c)(1) A person alleged to have abused or neglected a child may seek an administrative review of the Department's intention to place the person's name on the Registry by notifying the Department within 14 days of the date the Department mailed notice of the right to review in accordance with subsections (a) and (b) of this section. The Commissioner may grant an extension past the 14-day period for good cause, not to exceed 28 days after the Department has mailed notice of the right to review.

(2) The administrative review may be stayed upon request of the person alleged to have committed abuse or neglect if there is a related case pending in the Criminal or Family Division of the Superior Court which arose out of the same incident of abuse or neglect for which the person was substantiated. During the period the review is stayed, the person's name shall be placed on the Registry. Upon resolution of the Superior Court criminal or family case, the person may exercise his or her right to review under this section.

(d) The Department shall hold an administrative review conference within 35 days of receipt of the request for review. At least 10 days prior to the administrative review conference, the Department shall provide to the person requesting review a copy of the redacted investigation file, notice of time and place of the conference, and conference procedures, including information that may be submitted and mechanisms for providing testimony. The Department shall also provide to the person those redacted investigation files that relate to prior investigations that the Department has relied upon to make its substantiation determination in the case in which a review has been requested.

(e) At the administrative review conference, the person who requested the review shall be provided with the opportunity to present documentary evidence or other information that supports his or her position and provides information to the reviewer in making the most accurate decision regarding the allegation. The Department shall have the burden of proving that it has accurately and reliably concluded that a reasonable person would believe that the child has been abused or neglected by that person. Upon the person's request, the conference may be held by teleconference.

(f) The Department shall establish an administrative case review unit within the Department and contract for the services of administrative reviewers. An administrative reviewer shall be a neutral and independent arbiter who has no prior involvement in the original investigation of the allegation.

(g) Within seven days of the conference, the administrative reviewer shall:

(1) reject the Department's substantiation determination;

(2) accept the Department's substantiation; or

(3) place the substantiation determination on hold and direct the Department to further investigate the case based upon recommendations of the reviewer.

(h) If the administrative reviewer accepts the Department's substantiation determination, a Registry record shall be made immediately. If the reviewer rejects the Department's substantiation determination, no Registry record shall be made.

(i) Within seven days of the decision to reject or accept or to place the substantiation on hold in accordance with subsection (g) of this section, the administrative reviewer shall provide notice to the person of his or her decision. If the administrative reviewer accepts the Department's substantiation, the notice shall advise the person of the right to appeal the administrative reviewer's decision to the human services board in accordance with section 4916b of this title.

(j) Persons whose names were placed on the Registry on or after January 1, 1992 but prior to September 1, 2007 shall be entitled to an opportunity to seek an administrative review to challenge the substantiation.

(k) If no administrative review is requested, the Department's decision in the case shall be final, and the person shall have no further right of review under this section. The Commissioner may grant a waiver and permit such a review upon good cause shown. Good cause may include an acquittal or dismissal of a criminal charge arising from the incident of abuse or neglect.

( l ) In exceptional circumstances, the Commissioner, in his or her sole and nondelegable discretion, may reconsider any decision made by a reviewer. A Commissioner's decision that creates a Registry record may be appealed to the Human Services Board in accordance with section 4916b of this title. (Added 2007, No. 77, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2007; amended 2007, No. 168 (Adj. Sess.), § 9, eff. Sept. 1, 2008; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 221.)