February 7, 2014

Hot Report: Access to Information in Birth Certificates

OLR Report 2014-R-0030 answers several questions. Who has access under state law to information in birth certificates fewer than 100 years old? How would a public agency that does not currently have access gain it? You indicated that a local board of education would like access to names and addresses to conduct outreach to incoming kindergarten classes. 

By law, only specified “eligible parties” may obtain, access, examine, or disclose information contained in copies of birth records and certificates fewer than 100 years old.  Further, the law prohibits anyone, including eligible parties, from receiving information contained in the “information for health and statistical use only” or “administrative purposes only” sections of a birth certificate, unless specifically authorized by the Department of Public Health (DPH) for statistical or research purposes. Similarly, the Social Security number of a parent listed on a birth certificate cannot be released, except to parties authorized by state or federal law.  And confidential files on paternity, adoption, gender change, or gestational agreements cannot be released, except upon court order (CGS § 7-51).  Local boards of education are not designated as eligible parties.

DPH also releases identifiable health data it collects, including information contained in birth certificates, to other entities, but only for bona fide medical or scientific research purposes (CGS § 19a-25 and Conn. Agencies Regs. § 19a-25-3). 

According to DPH, releasing birth certificate data, like names or addresses, to a local board of education would not meet this medical or scientific research standard. 

Thus, it appears legislation would be necessary to give an entity, such as a local board of education described above, access to information in birth certificates fewer than 100 years old. The General Assembly could, for example, amend CGS § 7-51 to make such an entity an eligible party.
For more information, read the full report.