Guide on the disclosure of confidential information: Appendix B

Appendix B: Glossary

Table of Contents

Acronyms / abbreviations

CASA: Court Appointed Special Advocate

C&P: Care and Protection

CMR: Code of Massachusetts Regulations

CRA: Child Requiring Assistance

DA: District Attorney

FERPA: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

GAL:  Guardian ad Litem

HIPAA: Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

G.L.: Massachusetts General Laws

Mass. R. Prof. C.: Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct

SRO: School Resource Officer

Massachusetts agencies referred to in this guide:

Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS): The state-funded organization that provides attorneys for indigent individuals in any cases where there is a right to counsel. 

Department of Children and Families (DCF): The Massachusetts administrative agency charged with protecting children from abuse and neglect, and in partnership with families and communities, ensuring children are able to grow and thrive in a safe and nurturing environment. Formerly known as the Department of Social Services (DSS).

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE): The Massachusetts administrative agency responsible for overseeing the state’s system of K-12 education.  This includes strengthening standards, curriculum, instruction, and assessment; promoting educator development; supporting students' social-emotional learning, health, and safety; turning around the lowest performing districts and schools; and enhancing resource allocation and data use.

Department of Mental Health (DMH): The Massachusetts administrative agency responsible for setting the standards for the operation of mental health facilities and community residential programs and for providing clinical, rehabilitative and supportive services for adults with serious mental illness, and children and adolescents with serious mental illness or serious emotional disturbance.  In addition, in collaboration with the Administrative Office of the Juvenile Court, DMH oversees the Juvenile Court Clinics providing behavioral health evaluation and consultation to each Juvenile Court division.

Department of Youth Services (DYS): The Massachusetts administrative agency responsible for providing delinquency prevention programming and services and facilities for the study, diagnosis, care, treatment, including physical and behavioral health and social services, education, training and rehabilitation of all children and youth referred or committed to the Department by the courts on delinquency or youthful offender matters.

Massachusetts Probation Service: Probation includes 105 Probation Departments in Boston Municipal, District, Superior, Juvenile, and Probate and Family Courts.  In Juvenile Court, Probation Officers supervise children, adolescents, and young adults involved in delinquency, youthful offender and child requiring assistance matters, as well as, monitor the welfare of children who are before the Juvenile Court as subjects of parental abuse and neglect. In Probate and Family Court, Probation Officers assist the court, including by investigating custody issues, resolving disputes regarding visitation, and enforcing court orders regarding child support in a variety of civil matters such as divorce, paternity, guardianship and adoption.


51A report: Pursuant to G.L. c. 119, §51A, a report made to the Department of Children and Families alleging abuse or neglect of a child.

51B: Pursuant to G.L. c. 119, §51B, the investigation conducted by DCF of suspected child abuse or neglect that makes a written determination of the child's safety and risk and whether the report is substantiated.

Adjudication: The process of judicially deciding a case. In a delinquency or youthful offender case, the finding of “delinquent” or “not delinquent” or “youthful offender” or “not youthful offender” or "guilty" or "not guilty." In Care and Protection cases, the determination by the court whether a child is in need of care and protection.

Authorization for disclosure/Release of information (ROI): A document that legally authorizes entities to disclose protected information. An authorization/ROI may also be called a written consent. See also Signed Release.

Care and Protection Case (C&P): A court proceeding alleging abuse or neglect of a child in which a judge decides whether a child is in need of care and protection and whether to terminate parental rights.

Caregiver Authorization Affidavit: A document which allows the caregiver to make decisions and access records related to a child’s education and health care, but the parent, legal guardian or legal custodian shares decision making authority. It must be signed by both the caregiver and the child’s parent, legal guardian or legal custodian and notarized. The parent, legal guardian or legal custodian may cancel it at any time. (See Appendix E for sample).

Child: Any person under the age of 18.

Child Requiring Assistance (CRA): Child Requiring Assistance is a court case involving a child between the ages of 6 and 18 who repeatedly runs away from home and/or repeatedly fails to obey their parent or legal guardian or is a sexually exploited child; or a child between the ages of 6 and 16 who is alleged to be habitually truant from school or repeatedly fails to obey school rules. Previously called a “Child In Need of Services” or "CHINS."

Court Activity Record Information (CARI): A computerized database maintained by the Office of the Commissioner of Probation containing a record of all criminal, and some civil court actions related to a particular person, including delinquency and youthful offender cases. A CARI report lists a particular individual's involvement as a party in all of the courts of the Commonwealth.

Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI): Data maintained by the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services detailing an individual’s criminal history, including charges and dispositions. A CORI report is a computer printout of an individual's CORI data.

Commitment (DYS): The order of a youth to either the care or the physical custody of the Department of Youth Services by a court in conjunction with a delinquency complaint, youthful offender indictment or probation violation. Youth committed to DYS care are detained awaiting resolution of their pending matters; youth are committed to DYS custody as a resolution to their pending delinquency, youthful offender or probation matters. 

Confidential communication: Information exchanged between two people who have a relationship in which private communications are protected by law including between doctor and patient and between attorney and client.

Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA):  A trained volunteer who is appointed by a judge to promote the best interests of a child in a Care and Protection proceeding.

Court Investigator: A person appointed by the judge to investigate the conditions affecting the child and family in a Care and Protection proceeding and make a report to the court under oath.

Court order: A directive of the court.

Court records: The official report of the proceedings in a case, including the filed papers, docket entries, transcript, recordings and tangible exhibits.

DCF Custody: When DCF is given the responsibility to exercise the custodial powers enumerated in G.L. c. 119, §21.   

Delinquency, delinquency case, delinquency matter: Proceedings to decide whether a child between the ages of 12 and 18 violated a law of the Commonwealth or a city ordinance or town by-law. Delinquency proceedings are usually conducted by the Juvenile Court, in a few instances, by the District Court.

Detention: The temporary physical care provided by the Department of Youth Services in lieu of bail for a youth awaiting resolution of a pending delinquency complaint, youthful offender indictment or Probation violation, upon order by a court. Detained youth are committed to the care of DYS, pursuant to G.L. c. 119, §68.

Disclosure: The release of information (oral or written) about a person or entity.

Due Process: A fundamental principle of fairness in all legal matters. The universal guarantee of due process is in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and is applied to all states by the 14th Amendment. It tells us what process is due to an individual when the state seeks to interfere with a constitutionally protected liberty interest.  

Eligible Student: A student who can consent to the release/disclosure of student record information by virtue of being at least either age 14 or in the 9th grade.

Guardian of a minor: A guardian is a person appointed by the court to make decisions for a child, just as a parent would.  A person can be appointed guardian of a child if the child’s parents are unable or unavailable to care for the child.  G.L. c 190B 5-201 et seq.

Guardian ad litem (GAL): An objective and independent professional, appointed by the court to participate in court proceedings on behalf of a child or incompetent person.

Individualized Education Program (IEP): A written statement, developed and approved in accordance with federal special education law in a form established by DESE that identifies a student's special education needs and describes the services a school district shall provide to meet those needs. For students with disabilities who do not require specialized instruction but need the assurance that they will receive equal access to public education and services, a 504 Plan is created to provide accommodations that the student needs.

Informed consent: Permission granted with the knowledge of the possible consequences, risks, and benefits.

Juvenile Court: The Juvenile Court Department is a statewide court with general jurisdiction over delinquency and youthful offender cases, adoptions, care and protection cases, termination of parental rights cases, and children requiring assistance (CRA).

Juvenile Court Clinician (JCC): A mental health professional who provides evaluations and consultations for the Juvenile Court.

Juvenile Court Probation Officer (PO): Juvenile Court Probation Officers supervise children, adolescents and young adults involved in youthful offender, delinquent, and Child Requiring Assistance (CRA) matters, as well as monitor the welfare of children who are before the Juvenile Court as subjects of Care and Protection cases.

Keeper of records: A unit or individual within an agency or entity that responds to requests for records.

Lamb Warning: A notification given to an individual by a clinician, prior to an evaluation, that the individual’s participation is voluntary and may be terminated at any time, and that any communications made during the course of the evaluation will not be privileged and may be disclosed in court proceedings. A Lamb Warning is only valid if the individual knowingly and voluntarily agrees to waive the privilege upon receiving such notification. Commonwealth v. Lamb, 365 Mass. 265 (1974).

Mandated reporters: Individuals in certain professions who come in contact with a child who, in their professional capacity, have reasonable cause to believe that a child is suffering from abuse or neglect and therefore must file a report of abuse or neglect with the Department of Children and Families. G.L. c. 119, §§ 21 and 51A.

Mental health service providers: A person, partnership, or professional corporation comprised of appropriately licensed professionals such as social workers, counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists.

Party: A participant in a legal proceeding.

Personal Representative (per HIPAA): A person authorized (under state or other applicable law, e.g., tribal or military law) to act on behalf of the individual in making health care related decisions.

Privilege: In legal proceedings, a person's right to refuse to disclose and to prevent other persons from disclosing confidential information.

Probate and Family Court: The Department of the Trial Court with jurisdiction over family-related matters such as divorce, separate support, paternity, child support, custody, visitation, adoption, termination of parental rights and abuse prevention and probate matters such as wills, trusts, administrations, guardianships, medical treatment cases, conservatorships and change of names.

Re-disclosure: Releasing information acquired from another to a third party. Also called disclosure of third party records.

Signed release (or written consent, written authorization, or release of information): A document that legally authorizes an entity or individual to disclose protected information.

Standing Order: A court order which is in force until specifically changed or withdrawn. 

Student: A child or young adult attending a school.

Subpoena: A written request for the production of documents for court or for the appearance of a witness in court.

Third party record: A document or other record prepared by an individual or agency other than the record holder.

Waiver: A voluntary surrender of a claim, right or privilege.

Young Adult: DCF: A person between the ages of 18 and 23.

Youthful Offender proceedings: A class of cases where certain children between the ages of 14 and 18 can receive a juvenile, adult or combination sentence. G.L. 119, §§ 54 & 58.

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