Public Records Act
Public Records Act. The Public has a right to inspect and/or obtain copies of public records maintained by state and local agencies pursuant to the California Public Records Act (PRA). While many records are accessible, the PRA as well as other statutes may protect (exempt) records from disclosure, including but not limited to, confidential records such as medical records, investigative records, private information about other people (such as foster families), trade secrets, advice from Department lawyers, records in connection with pending litigation, etc. The Department must review requested records to determine if an exemption applies before a record may be inspected or copied. In addition, many records are readily available on the Department’s Website at www.cdss.ca.gov.
Request for Inspection or Copies of Public Records: In order to help the Department provide records promptly, requestors should provide specific information about the records they seek. When a record cannot be identified by name, the requestor should attempt to be as specific as possible in describing the record, based on its content. If known, requestors should indicate the office, division, branch or section of the Department that created or maintains the records. When a request is not sufficiently specific, Department staff will help the requestor to identify the information, describe how the records are maintained or their physical location, and provide suggestions on how to overcome practical barriers to disclosure. The Department does not supplement responses to previous requests when new records are created or received. A separate request must be submitted each time records are sought.
PRA Submission Portal: To ensure accuracy in responding to a request for public records, the Department encourages the submission of all requests through its online portal. Submissions may be made by clicking the “Public Records Act”. You will be encouraged to create an account to submit your request. By creating an account, you will have the ability to track the status of your request, receive email communications from CDSS relating to your request, and download responsive records.
Response Time: Records that are not exempt from disclosure shall be available in a reasonable period of time. The Department will notify you within ten calendar days of receipt of your request if the Department has records that can be disclosed, in whole or in part. Under some circumstances the Department is allowed up to 14 additional calendar days to determine what records exist and what can be disclosed. By the end of this period, the Department will notify you whether and when records will be produced. If some or all of the records you requested cannot be released because they are exempt under law, the Department will let you know what exemptions apply.
Public Records Act