Ethics Committee Update – All Records versus Relevant Records

EC60: Ethics Committee Minute
Spring 2019: Volume 75, Number 1

When CPS is investigating an allegation of child abuse, they often send form letters to providers asking for “any information that may be in your records to aid the current CPS investigation.”  The letters reference a Washington law (although the number cited is inaccurate*) that mandates providers to give them access to “all relevant records of the child.”  The Ethics Committee is concerned that some psychologists may read such letters as a request for “all records” rather than “relevant records.”

It is important to make the distinction between “all records” and those which are “relevant.” Moreover, the referenced RCW specifically refers to “relevant records of the child” (not the parents).  Therefore, information in the record regarding the parents and/or nonrelevant information regarding the child should be redacted. 

*The correct reference number is RCW 26.44.030 (14) (ii)  which states that … In conducting an investigation … the department or law enforcement agency “Shall have access to all relevant records of the child in the possession of mandated reporters and their employees.”

If you have questions about this, please feel free to contact one of the Ethics Committee consultants found on the Ethics Consultation webpage.

Note: An Ethics Consultation is a free WSPA member benefit and is not available to non-members.