Children, youth, and families involved with the child welfare system have a right to the privacy of their records and personal information, except under certain circumstances. Developing and coordinating a system of policies and practices that guides information sharing among the agencies that serve families is an important part of providing sound and ethical services. The following resources address the ethical issues that surround the confidentiality of personal information, including State and local examples.
CAPTA, Assurances and Requirements, Access to Child Abuse and Neglect Information, Confidentiality
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau
In Child Welfare Policy Manual
Outlines confidentiality requirements and provisions in Federal child welfare laws.
The Complexities of Client Privacy, Confidentiality, and Privileged Communication
Social Work Today, February
Discusses key distinctions between confidentiality and privileged communication within the child welfare system, specifically within the context of family court proceedings.
Confidentiality Toolkit (PDF - 2,160 KB)
Administration for Children and Families (2014)
Discusses how advances in technology have provided opportunities for information sharing among human services programs.
Data & Information Sharing
Legal Center for Foster Care & Education
Provides a series of videos, trainings, factsheets, and publications detailing data-sharing practices, including the role of new legislation in supporting collaboration with and the confidentiality of children and youth in care.
Data Sharing for Courts and Child Welfare Agencies
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau & Capacity Building Center for Courts (2018)
Supports courts and child welfare agencies in creating collaborative data-sharing practices while maintaining privacy standards.
Disclosure of Confidential Child Abuse and Neglect Records
Privacy, HIPAA, and Information Sharing Fact Sheet: How to Make HIPAA Your Friend (PDF - 416 KB)
National Indian Child Welfare Association (2014)
Discusses best practices for sharing health information across health information systems while still maintaining confidentiality among children, youth, and families.
Social Media: Tips for Foster Care Workers
Social Media: Tips for Foster Parents and Caregivers
Writing Children’s Narratives
Outlines the specific information that should or should not be included when using photolistings to recruit adoptive families and protect the privacy of children and youth.
Colorado Child Welfare Training System (2017)
Explains the aspects of personal information covered by confidentiality laws in the Colorado child welfare system.
Confidentiality of Child Welfare Records, Files, Papers and Communications
Reviews Oregon legislation detailing the handling of child welfare records throughout the casework process.
Guide on the Disclosure of Confidential Information for Professionals in Massachusetts Working With Children, Youth and Families (PDF - 743 KB)
Massachusetts Confidentiality Guide Project Team (2018)
Provides guidance to professionals in Massachusetts related to Federal and State laws and policies regarding confidentiality and interagency collaboration.
Information Sharing Between Child Welfare and Schools: Maintaining Privacy and Promoting Educational Success (PDF - 710 KB)
Supreme Court of Texas Children’s Commission Foster Care & Education Confidentiality Workgroup (2017)
Facilitates the implementation of effective practices designed to support children in foster care who are transitioning to new schools. This resource provides guidance on confidentiality laws in order to support communication between school and child welfare systems in Texas.
Section 5, Chapter 3 (Record Access), Subsection 7 - Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
Missouri Department of Social Services (2019)
Describes how HIPAA intersects with Missouri laws governing the maintenance of confidentiality, including minimum necessity requirements for sharing protected health information.