Category One: Information Sharing for Purposes of Individual Case Planning and Decision-making
Category One Information Sharing involves the collection and sharing of personally identifiable information to better coordinate case planning on behalf of individual children and the child’s family. By sharing such information, child-serving systems can reduce the duplication of efforts (i.e., subjecting families to multiple assessments) and gain an enhanced understanding of the child’s needs and circumstances.
Stakeholders need an understanding of the federal and state laws that govern individual information held by all participating agencies, including any legal prohibitions on disclosure/use as well as when (under what circumstances) and with whom certain information can be shared. However, stakeholders often have different levels of understanding and misunderstanding of these laws. This, in turn, can lead to the under- and over-sharing of information and its inappropriate uses as well as missed opportunities for coordinated case planning. It is sometimes difficult for stakeholders, who represent different interests in the system, to come to agreement as to key issues with respect to information sharing for individual case management purposes, including:
- Purposes and value to youth of information sharing;
- Limits on sharing such that sharing is done to meet a real need, and done only during relevant time periods; and
- How to minimize the potential negative collateral consequences of information sharing including:
- The use of self incriminating statements in shared documents as evidence against the youth in delinquency adjudications or criminal trials.
- Net widening as youth become involved in multiple systems.
Information sharing between multiple agencies requires the development and implementation of various documents and processes including:
- Memoranda of understanding (MOUs) that delineate the roles and responsibilities of participating agencies;
- Uniform consents/releases that are honored by all participating agencies;
- Training on legal requirements for maintenance, use and disclosure of information; and
- Monitoring practices to ensure compliance with the relevant laws and any information sharing MOUs.