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
Administration for Children & Families, Children’s Bureau In Child Welfare Policy Manual
Outlines confidentiality requirements and provisions in Federal child welfare laws.
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.
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Child Welfare Information Gateway
Download (PDF - 773KB)
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Regulations (FERPA)
U.S. Department of Education (2012)
Presents regulations from this Federal law that protects the privacy of students' education records. Schools must have written consent to release information, except to some parties under certain conditions. Also see policy guidance.
Social Media & Social Work Ethics: Determining Best Practices in an Ambiguous Reality (PDF - 740 KB)
Voshel & Wesala (2015)
Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics, 12(1)
Addresses the importance of developing risk management strategies and contains recommendations for the ethical use of social media.
Social Workers as Mandated Reporters: Conflicted Over Confidentiality? Part IV
The New Social Worker
Explains how legal requirements related to mandated reporting precede ethical responsibilities to clients.
The Confidentiality Policies in Child Protective Services (PDF - 69 KB)
Public Policy Center of Hawaii (2014)
Presents scenarios to guide child welfare workers in deciding what information can be shared about the children they serve.