All information concerning children in out-of-home placements, the child’s family, the circumstances of placement, or future planning for the child must be kept confidential and must not be shared outside of the resource family. This includes not talking about these things with relatives, friends or neighbors. If the child is recognized or questions are asked when the resource family is out in public or at a gathering of friends or acquaintances, it is appropriate for resource parents, to indicate they are not free to discuss the child’s situation.
Photographs identifying the child as a child in foster care must not be used for any newspapers, magazines, or other print or TV media without the express written permission of the child’s Child Welfare Specialist.
Confidential information about the child and the child’s family will be given to resource parents to assist in:
- Making an informed decision whether to accept the child into the resource home for the planned duration of care
- Anticipating the child’s initial behavior when entering the resource home
- Understanding and meeting the individual needs of the child after the child enters the resource home
- Dealing effectively with problems that may arise from relationships between the child and the child’s parents, between the child and the resource parents and between the child and the resource parents’ own children
- Working effectively as a team member with Child Welfare, biological parents and the child toward family reunification or an alternate permanent plan
The resource parent will treat all information regarding the child and family as confidential, sharing only the information necessary to obtain services for the child or sharing information only with persons who are directly involved with the case. Information in the Individual Service Plan includes the child’s strengths and needs, as well as general behavior and the circumstances that made placement necessary; plus important life experiences the child may discuss in the resource home. Resource parents are required to keep all this information confidential and are bound by the same confidentiality restrictions that apply to DHS by state and federal law. Misuse of confidential information may result in closure of the resource home.
Pertinent information about a child in out-of home care may be shared with:
- Properly identified law enforcement officers performing an investigation
- The child’s attorney
- Doctors providing authorized medical care for children
- Members of the District Attorney’s staff
- The Court and Post Adjudicatory Review Boards
- Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)
- Properly identified employees of DHS
- Counselors, therapists, school personnel and other agencies or individuals professionally involved with the child
Maintaining Confidentiality of Client Information
All Child Welfare records and information are confidential pursuant to State and Federal statutes and regulations. [Oklahoma State Statutes, Title 10A, Sections 1-6-102, 1-6-107 and 45 CFR Part 1340] These statutes mandate that agency records with regard to a child who is or has been under its care, custody, or supervision or to a family member or other person living in the home of such child are confidential. Any record made in the course of an investigation or inquiry by the agency to determine whether a child is or may be deprived is confidential and not open to public inspection. Agency records include any study, plan, recommendation, assessment, report or other information describing history, diagnosis, condition, care, treatment or custody. Agency records would also include any record either obtained or maintained by the resource parent, such as school records, information regarding the child’s health, Life Books or journaling by the resource parent regarding the child in out-of-home care. The contents of the agency’s record cannot be disclosed without an order of the court except to certain persons or entities. Child Welfare case-specific information is not subject to the Oklahoma Open Records Act. Child Welfare’s policy is neither to confirm nor to deny that any specific child abuse or neglect investigation is in process or that any Child Welfare services are being provided to a specific child or family member unless the criteria specified in DHS rule is met regarding death or near death of a child.
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