Know Your Rights Guide: Chapter 8 - Health Care, Child Welfare and Adoption Records: Confidentiality and Accessibility

Jennifer Pokempner,

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Your records contain a lot of important information about you and the treatment and services you receive.  These records can help you understand your past and get what you need for the future.  This chapter gives you information about your child welfare, health, behavioral health, and adoption records.  

Who can release or control access to my health records?

  • At age 18, you have control of your own health records, which include physical and behavioral health. Before then, a parent or guardian usually controls access to those records.  
  • There are some important exceptions to this rule.  Remember that there are some treatments and care you can consent to on your own without a parent, guardian, or the court.  In those cases, you control the release of records related to those services. 
  • Even if your medical records aren’t released, the services you receive can show up on your medical insurance or medical bills.

Records and Confidentiality

Who gets to see my child welfare case record and what’s in it? 

How can I request to see my child welfare case record? 

Can my caseworker release information in my records without my permission?

  • In most situations, only a few people and agencies can have access to your family case record. This includes your lawyer, your parents, your parents’ lawyer(s), and the judge. County executives may also request to see your file.5
  • Your caseworker can release, even without your or your parents’ consent, some general information to:
  • However, records of specific types of medical treatment in your file can only be released with your consent.

What information is in my adoption record? 

I was adopted in Pennsylvania. When and how can I access information in my adoption records? 



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