ACCESS TO INFORMATION IN JUVENILE COURT PROCEEDINGS
The three principle types of cases handled by the court are child protection, delinquency, and status offenses.
In child protection cases, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) files a petition at the juvenile court containing allegations that a child has been abused, uncared for, or neglected by a parent or caregiver. The court hears the matter and determines what needs to happen in order to protect and safeguard the child from harm. See Child Protection Proceedings for more information.
In a delinquency case, a child is arrested for an alleged violation of a federal or state law, municipal or local ordinance, or order of the Superior Court. From the initial arrest, the juvenile justice system's mandate is to provide children in these cases with individualized supervision, care, accountability and treatment in a manner consistent with public safety. See Delinquency Proceedings for more information.
Status offenses involve a minor who has behavioral problems such as truancy or running away from home. The primary goal in these cases is to resolve the issues by referring the family to community-based programs and services and, in this way, to prevent the child from becoming involved in criminal conduct. These cases are more commonly known in Connecticut as Families with Service Needs (FWSN). See Status Offense Proceedings for more information.
In delinquency and FWSN cases, the juvenile court is assisted by the Court Support Services Division (CSSD) of the Judicial Branch. The juvenile probation officers of CSSD may, in some cases, resolve the case without formal court proceedings.
When a child is involved in a juvenile court case, the court receives information from numerous sources. This information concerns the child’s conduct, health, family situation, education and anything else that will assist in determining the appropriate resolution of the case. Before a case comes before a judge, many entities may have been involved, such as:
They all generate records concerning the juvenile matter that will be used by the judge and other court personnel in resolving the case.
Access to the information concerning the case is governed by state statute, which says that records of cases of juvenile matters are "confidential and for the use of the court in juvenile matters."1 Disclosure is allowed to those who are involved with the case and to others who may have a legitimate need for the information. Redisclosure is strictly limited.
This section is a brief summary of the provisions of state law that protect information concerning juvenile court proceedings, discussing the following:
WHAT INFORMATION IS PROTECTED?
For purposes of establishing confidentiality for court proceedings involving children, the legislature has broadly defined "court records" to include all information generated as a result of the court proceeding, whether it is physically maintained by the court clerk or some other entity. The primary categories of information are:
WHO CAN ACCESS THE INFORMATION?
In all cases, the parents or guardians of the child who is the subject of the case have access to the information
in the court record until the child is 18 or emancipated, after which he or she may access the records.
Child Protection and FWSN matters
REDISCLOSURE OF THE INFORMATION
Any records of cases of juvenile matters provided to any persons, governmental and private agencies, and institutions may not be disclosed, directly or indirectly, to any third party except, where permitted, as provided by court order.