INSTRUCTIONS TO STAFF 340:75-1-44
1. Disclosure of confidential information procedures.
(1) All disclosures are documented in the Child Welfare (CW) case record.
(2) Confidential information is not released based on telephone contact because Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) staff is not assured of the caller's identity.
(3) Requests for information from out-of-state agencies are referred to the Child Protective Services (CPS) Section of the Children and Family Services Division (CFSD).
(4) Necessary discussion of case information is allowed between authorized OKDHS staff, in person or by telephone.
2. Disclosure to attorney representing a party. A summary of CW information regarding a client is shared with the client's attorney in deprived proceedings only. Before sharing information, the CW specialist verifies the attorney is the legal representative for the client. Any information shared with the client, such as child abuse or neglect allegations, findings, and individualized service plan recommendations, may also be shared with the client's legal representative.
(1) To verify that the attorney requesting confidential information is representing the client, the CW specialist checks the court file or asks the attorney to put the request for information in writing.
(2) The client may provide verification to the CW specialist that the attorney is the client's legal representative.
3. Confidentiality. CW staff:
(1) discusses with each client why information is gathered, the purpose for the information, and the circumstances under which the information is released. The client is advised that:
(A) information about the client may be shared with the client's counselors or therapists for treatment purposes and to assist the client to resolve problems; and
(B) counselors are required to observe confidentiality requirements; and
(2) protects the client's privacy when contacting a collateral person. The CW specialist explains to the collateral person:
(A) the reason for the contact;
(B) the need for information in a specific area;
(C) how the information received will be used; and
(D) does not reveal any other information about the client's situation.
4. Disclosure to a person 18 years of age or older who was previously in OKDHS custody.
(1) Youth or adults are not authorized to review the CW case file. When a youth 18 years of age or older exits care, the CW specialist responsible for the youth:
(A) obtains information from public and private partners when necessary to update the youth's paper case with current information including, but not limited to, health and education records;
(B) provides to the youth, his or her:
(i) health records;
(ii) education records;
(iii) birth certificate; and
(iv) Social Security card, when the original is in the case record; and
(C) when requested, provides a summary of the youth's CW involvement.
(2) Youth, 18 years of age or older, leaving out-of-home placement, or an adult who was in the custody of OKDHS as a child, is entitled to limited information from the case record.
(A) The youth or adult is not given the case file to read, but is provided a summary of information regarding his or her own CW involvement, medical, and social history.
(B) A copy of the summary is placed in the CW record.
(3) The county of jurisdiction at the time the youth exited care is responsible for providing the information to the youth at exit from care or to the adult upon request.
(4) Records stored locally are provided to the youth or adult within 30 days of receipt of request.
(5) Records requiring retrieval from storage are provided within 90 days of receipt of the request and the youth or adult is provided an explanation of the delay within two weeks of the request.
5. Disclosure of confidential information when a child is in need of services.
(1) Any client information or record may be disclosed without a court order to any person or agency when the disclosure of confidential information is necessary to:
(A) secure appropriate care, treatment, protection, or supervision for a child; and
(B) conduct any investigation to determine whether a child is taken into protective custody or otherwise come within the authority of the court with jurisdiction over deprived matters.
(2) Disclosure is limited to summaries or information reasonably necessary for the purpose of securing needed services or conducting an investigation.
6. Protocol for media contact.
(1) Field staff refer media inquiries to the county director for determination of the appropriate OKDHS spokesperson. The Office of Communications is advised by the county director of each inquiry at 405-521-3027.
(2) Media inquiries to CFSD are referred to the programs manager responsible for the particular program(s) under inquiry and the Office of Communications is advised of the inquiry.
(3) Media inquiries regarding the person responsible for the child who is criminally charged with the child's death or near-death are referred to the designated OKDHS spokesperson per OAC 340:75-1-44.
(4) Inquiries for information regarding a child death or near-death are referred to CFSD CPS Section and information is not disclosed by field staff. The CFSD CPS Section prepares the written disclosure information in consultation with the appropriate field staff and legal division per OAC 340:75-3-9.1.
(4) When case-specific information obtained by the media from district attorneys, court records, attorneys for the parents of the child, or the parents is made public, confidentiality is still maintained by OKDHS.
(5) Media recruitment for specific program needs, such as foster home and adoptive home recruitment, is preplanned with the CFSD program areas and the Office of Communications.