California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 10851

10851. (a) Each county shall establish and maintain a case record for each public social services case and shall retain the record for a period of three years. The three-year retention period begins on the date on which public social services were last provided. The records shall be retained beyond the three-year retention period when the county is notified by the department or the State Department of Health Services, whichever has jurisdiction over the records, to retain records for a longer period of time. The department or the State Department of Health Services, whichever has jurisdiction over the records, shall instruct a county to retain records beyond the three-year period when the retention is necessary to a pending civil or criminal action.

(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), the board of supervisors of any county may authorize the destruction of the case narrative portions of the case record that are over three years old in any case file, active or inactive, only after audit by the department or the State Department of Health Services, whichever has jurisdiction over the record. In addition, the board may also authorize the destruction of those documents contained in the case file that are over three years old and are no longer necessary to document the recipient s continued eligibility for public social services. However, if a civil or criminal action against a person based on alleged unlawful application for, or receipt of, public social services, is commenced before the expiration of the three-year period, no portion of the case record of the person shall be destroyed until the action is terminated.

(c) Each county shall maintain fiscal, statistical, and other records necessary for maintaining accountability and meeting reporting requirements relating to the administration of public social services. These fiscal and reporting records shall be retained for a minimum period of three years from the date of submission of the final expenditure report and shall be retained beyond the three-year period when audit findings have not been resolved.

(d) The retention requirements imposed by subdivisions (a) and (c) of this section are for public social services purposes only and are superseded to the extent another statute requires retention of the same records for a longer period for a different purpose.

(e) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), or any other statutory requirement concerning the retention of public social services records, a child protective services agency may, but need not, retain a child abuse report that has been determined to be an unfounded report, as defined in Section 11165.12 of the Penal Code.

(f) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a county may retain a case record established pursuant to subdivision (a), and retained pursuant to subdivisions (a) and (c), using either electronic or other alternative storage technologies. Permissible alternative storage technologies shall include, but not be limited to, photography, microphotography, electronically recorded video images on magnetic surfaces, electronic data processing systems, optical disk storage, or any other electronic medium that is a trusted system and that does not permit additions, deletions, or changes to the original document and meets Section 12168.7 for recording of permanent records or nonpermanent records. A duplicate copy of any record reproduced shall be deemed an original.

(Amended by Stats. 2000, Ch. 569, Sec. 11. Effective January 1, 2001.)

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Last modified: September 9, 2016