All court records of Child Protective Act proceedings are exempt from disclosure. I.C.A.R. 32(g)(9)(A); see also I.C. § 16-1626 (court records of Child Protective Act proceedings “shall be available only to parties to the proceeding, persons having full or partial custody of the subject child and authorized agencies providing protective supervision or having legal custody of the child. Any other person may have access to the records only upon permission by the court and then only if it is shown that such access is in the best interests of the child; or for the purpose of legitimate research. If the records are released for research purposes, the person receiving them must agree not to disclose any information which could lead to the identification of the child.”). In addition, all proceedings under the Child Protective Act are closed to the public. I.C. § 16-1613(1) (“Proceedings under this chapter shall be dealt with by the court at hearings separate from those for adults and without a jury. The hearings shall be conducted in an informal manner and may be adjourned from time to time. The general public shall be excluded, and only such persons shall be admitted as are found by the court to have a direct interest in the case. The child may be excluded from hearings at any time at the discretion of the court. If the parent or guardian is without counsel, the court shall inform them of their right to be represented by counsel and to appeal from any disposition or order of the court.”).
Although “juvenile proceedings have traditionally been closed to the public in most jurisdictions,” the Pennsylvania Superior Court has held that the “constitutional presumption of openness applies to juvenile dependency matters.” In re M.B., 819 A.2d 59, 61 (Pa. Super. 2003). Nevertheless, Pennsylvania has a statute that provides detailed rules on when juvenile hearings and records may be closed, and, under that statute, dependency proceedings are generally closed. See 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6336. In accordance with this statute, the Pennsylvania Superior Court has held that a juvenile dependency matter may be closed where the state can establish a compelling interest in protecting the privacy of the children involved, and no less restrictive means other than total closure are available. In re M.B., 819 A.2d at 66 (holding that dependency proceeding was properly closed even though identities of minors were publicized previously).
In addition, the Public Access Policy of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania: Case Records of the Appellate and Trial Courts; No. 477 Judicial Administration requires that certain information in judicial filings concerning minors be kept confidential. Such information includes a minor’s name, date of birth, and educational records. See 204 Pa. Code § 213.81.