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.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (2021)
Discusses how responsibly sharing records between agencies can enhance service-delivery and record-sharing processes and confidentiality considerations.
Data & Information Sharing
Legal Center for Foster Care and 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
How Can Data Sharing Across Child- and Family-Serving Systems Be Implemented Effectively
Casey Family Programs (2022)
Explores how sharing data across systems can lead to more community-based, proactive support for families.
Social Media: Tips for Child Welfare Workers
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.
Confidentiality (PDF - 463 KB)
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (2022)
Explores aspects of personal information covered by confidentiality laws in the Michigan child welfare system.
Confidentiality and Information Sharing Practice Guide (PDF - 50 KB)
Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (2018)
Presents information-sharing guidelines for child welfare professionals in Louisiana and reviews common myths about information that can not be released.
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.
Respecting the Confidentiality of Children in Care and Their Families (PDF - 536 KB)
Coalition for Children, Youth and Families and the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (2018)
Examines Wisconsin’s laws that protect the private information of children and families involved with the child welfare system.
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.
Sharing Health Information for Children in Foster Care (PDF - 401 KB)
Judicial Council of California (2019)
Provides information for agencies and professionals on ways to ensure partners obtain the information they need to make informed decisions for children in foster care while still honoring the core principle of confidentiality.