Title 33: Human Services
Chapter 69: REPORTS OF ABUSE, NEGLECT, AND EXPLOITATION OF VULNERABLE ADULTS
Sub-Chapter 01: Reports Of Abuse Of Vulnerable Adults
33 V.S.A. § 6911. Records of abuse, neglect, and exploitation
§ 6911. Records of abuse, neglect, and exploitation
(a) Information obtained through reports and investigations, including the identity of the reporter, shall remain confidential and shall not be released absent a court order, except as follows:
(1) The investigative report shall be disclosed only to: the Commissioner or person designated to receive such records; persons assigned by the Commissioner to investigate reports; the person reported to have abused, neglected, or exploited a vulnerable adult; the vulnerable adult or his or her representative; the Office of Professional Regulation when deemed appropriate by the Commissioner; the Secretary of Education when deemed appropriate by the Commissioner; a law enforcement agency, the state's attorney, or the Office of the Attorney General, when the Department believes there may be grounds for criminal prosecution or civil enforcement action, or in the course of a criminal or a civil investigation. When disclosing information pursuant to this subdivision, reasonable efforts shall be made to limit the information to the minimum necessary to accomplish the intended purpose of the disclosure, and no other information, including the identity of the reporter, shall be released absent a court order.
(2) Relevant information may be disclosed to the Secretary of Human Services, or the Secretary's designee, for the purpose of remediating or preventing abuse, neglect, or exploitation, to assist the Agency in its monitoring and oversight responsibilities, and in the course of a relief from abuse proceeding, guardianship proceeding, or any other court proceeding when the Commissioner deems it necessary to protect the victim, and the victim or his or her representative consents to the disclosure. When disclosing information pursuant to this subdivision, reasonable efforts shall be made to limit the information to the minimum necessary to accomplish the intended purpose of the disclosure, and no other information, including the identity of the reporter, shall be released absent a court order.
(b) The Commissioner shall maintain a Registry which shall contain the following information: the names of all the individuals found on the basis of a substantiated report to have abused, neglected, or exploited a vulnerable adult; the date of the finding; and the nature of the finding. In addition, the Commissioner shall require that, aside from a person's name, at least one other personal identifier is listed in the Registry to prevent the possibility of misidentification.
(c) The Commissioner or the Commissioner's designee may disclose registry information only to:
(1) the state's attorney or the Attorney General;
(2) the public as required by the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1986 and regulations thereunder;
(3) an employer if such information is used to determine whether to hire or retain a specific individual providing care, custody, treatment, transportation, or supervision of children or vulnerable adults. "Employer," as used in this section, means a person or organization who employs or contracts with one or more individuals to care for or provide transportation services to children or vulnerable adults, on either a paid or volunteer basis. The employer may submit a request concerning a current employee, volunteer, grantee, or contractor or an individual to whom the employer has given a conditional offer of a contract, volunteer position, or employment. The request shall be accompanied by a release signed by the current or prospective employee, volunteer, grantee, or contractor. If that individual has a record of a substantiated report, the Commissioner shall provide the Registry information to the employer;
(4) a person or organization serving vulnerable adults by assisting with employer functions, offering, providing, or arranging for home sharing, or providing personal care services, developmental services, or mental health services for vulnerable adults. The person or organization may submit a request concerning an individual who has applied to provide such services or an individual who is already so engaged. The request shall be in writing and shall be accompanied by a release from the person applying for or already providing such services. If the person has a record of a substantiated report, the Commissioner shall provide the Registry information;
(5) the Commissioner for Children and Families, or the Commissioner's designee, for purposes related to the licensing or registration of facilities regulated by the Department for Children and Families;
(6) the Commissioner of Health, or the Commissioner's designee, for purposes related to oversight and monitoring of persons who are served by or compensated with funds provided by the Department of Health, including persons to whom a conditional offer of employment has been made;
(7) upon request or when relevant to other states' adult protective services offices;
(8) the Board of Medical Practice for the purpose of evaluating an applicant, licensee, or holder of certification pursuant to 26 V.S.A. § 1353; and
(9) the Secretary of Education or the Secretary's designee, for purposes related to the licensing of professional educators pursuant to 16 V.S.A. chapter 5, subchapter 4 and chapter 51.
(d) An employer providing transportation services to children or vulnerable adults may disclose Registry records obtained pursuant to subdivision (c)(3) of this section to the Agency of Human Services or its designee for the sole purpose of auditing the records to ensure compliance with this chapter. An employer shall provide such records at the request of the agency or its designee. Only Registry records regarding individuals who provide direct transportation services or otherwise have direct contact with children or vulnerable adults may be disclosed.
(e) A person may, at any time, apply to the Human Services Board for relief if he or she has reasonable cause to believe that the contents of the Registry or investigative records are being misused.
(f) A person may at any time apply to the Department for expungement of his or her name from the Registry. The petitioner shall have the burden of showing why his or her name should be expunged from the Registry.
(g) Any person who violates this section shall be fined not more than $500.00.
(h) Volunteers shall be considered employees for purposes of this section. (Added 1979, No. 150 (Adj. Sess.); amended 1985, No. 78, § 11; 1989, No. 76, § 3; 1993, No. 100, § 6; 1995, No. 51, § 1; 1995, No. 138 (Adj. Sess.), § 14, eff. May 1, 1996; 1995, No. 171 (Adj. Sess.), § 10, eff. May 15, 1996; 2001, No. 135 (Adj. Sess.), § 7, eff. June 13, 2002; 2003, No. 66, § 136c; 2005, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 132; 2007, No. 77, § 2, eff. June 7, 2007; 2011, No. 61, § 8, June 2, 2011; 2011, No. 141 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 2013, No. 56, §§ 7a, 7b.)