FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECSION

 

Helen McKee Dodge,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 88‑270

 

Commissioner, State of Connecticut Department of Human Resources and State of Connecticut Department of Human Resources,

 

Respondents October 26, 1988

 

The above‑captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 23, 1988, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.

 

After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found:

 

1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1‑18a(a), G.S.

 

2. Section 46a‑15(c), G.S. provides that any person having reasonable cause to believe that an elderly person is being abused may report such information to the Commissioner on Aging. For purposes of the statute, "elderly person" means any resident of Connecticut who is sixty years of age or older.

 

3. Section 46a‑16(a), G.S. provides that the Commissioner on Aging, upon receiving a report of abuse, shall cause an evaluation to be made through the appropriate regional ombudsman.

 

4. Section 46a‑17(a), G.S. provides that if it is determined that an elderly person is in need of protective services, the regional ombudsman of the Department on Aging shall refer the case to the respondent department for the provision of necessary services.

 

5. The Department on Aging, for between seven and eight years, has investigated allegations, made by the complainant, of abuse of the complainant's mother, Emma McKee, an elderly person.

 

Docket #FIC 88‑270 Page Two

 

6. In September, 1987, pursuant to 46a‑17(a), G.S., the Department on Aging referred Emma McKee's case to the respondent department.

 

7. In October, 1987, the Winsted probate court, pursuant to 46a‑20(a) and (c), G.S., appointed the respondent commissioner to be the conservator of the person for Emma McKee.

 

8. By letter dated June 23, 1988 the complainant made a request of the respondents for a copy of the respondent department's complete file on Emma McKee.

 

9. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on July 6, 1988 the complainant appealed the respondents' failure to provide the requested records.

 

10. It is found that among the records in the respondents' file on Emma McKee are the documents forwarded to the respondents by the Department on Aging's regional ombudsman.

 

11. It is found that 46a‑16(c), G.S. provides that neither the original report of abuse of an elderly person nor the evaluation report of the regional ombudsman shall be deemed a public record or be subject to the provisions of 1‑19, G.S.

 

12. It is concluded that the records forwarded to the respondents by the Department on Aging's regional ombudsman are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 46a‑16(c) and 1‑19(a), G.S. and that, with respect to such records, the respondents did not deny the complainant access to inspect or copy a public record within the meaning of 1‑15 or 1‑19(a), G.S.

 

13. It is found that 17‑31u, G.S. provides that, notwithstanding the provisions of 1‑19, G.S., the respondents shall not disclose personally identifiable information concerning any person participating as a client in any department program.

 

14. It is found that Emma McKee participates as a client in the respondents' protective services program.

 

15. It is concluded that information in the respondents' files which is identifiable as pertaining to Emma McKee is exempt from disclosure pursuant to 17‑31u and 1‑19(a), G.S.

 

16. It is further concluded that the respondents' failure to provide the requested records did not violate 1‑15 or 1‑19(a), G.S.

 

Docket #FIC 88‑270 Page Three

 

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above‑captioned complaint.

 

1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of October 26, 1988.

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission