Mobile app provides guidance on sharing children’s records
Do you know how to obtain children’s educational, court, or health records? Do you know under what circumstances you can share these records with others? There is a mobile app to help you with these complex questions: the Information Sharing Guide.
The Commission on Improving the Status of Children’s Data Sharing and Mapping Committee asked these and other questions in a 2015 survey to child welfare stakeholders. Most participants agreed on the need to obtain information on children in order to gain a full understanding of the child and to allow them to meet the needs of children and families.
However, many participants lacked a clear understanding about confidentiality laws such as “HIPAA” (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and “FERPA” (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). When may they share information with other entities who are working with the same children and families? When may they only share information after obtaining a release or a court order?
Many survey participants reported that they seek to obtain, or share, information based on existing relationships. They more often share information if they have a regular working relationship rather than based on a solid understanding of the law. Unless there is an existing relationship, there are usually delays that create less-informed decision-making and other results detrimental to children and families.
Because of these challenges, the Data Sharing and Mapping Committee gathered a group of subject matter experts to develop an Information Sharing Guide, or ISG, to assist various agencies and individuals who need to obtain or share records about children.
The ISG is a 200-page white paper containing a summary of various areas of law regarding the confidentiality of children’s records. The experts working on the ISG wanted to make this information readily available to workers in the field, such as teachers, probation officers, police officers, and Department of Child Services family case managers. The ISG is a user-friendly mobile app that is accessible without an internet connection, after downloading.
Users simply download the app and select the child-serving entity they represent, including education, healthcare, DCS, GAL/CASA, Courts, probation, law enforcement, and parents. They then select the information needed from a list of the most commonly requested records.
The app identifies if the record is readily available, or if a court order or release is needed. The app also contains sample consent forms, definitions for various child-related acronyms, frequently asked questions, links to legal resources, and other useful information about sharing records.
The Indiana Attorney General’s office reviewed the content of the white paper for accuracy and endorsed the ISG. Casey Family Programs provided grants to fund the legal research for the ISG and the development of the mobile app.
Goals of the App and Website
- Provide guidance to those in the field as to what, when, and how information can be shared
- Ensure consistency in the sharing of information
- Facilitate the timely exchange of information between agencies working with children and families
For additional information on the ISG or mobile app, please contact Ruth Reichard, at 317-232-2542, or firstname.lastname@example.org
To find the app for Apple (iOS) devices, go to the App Store and search for the term “Information Sharing Guide” Download the app: tinyurl.com/information-sharing-guide
To find the app for Android devices, go to the Google Play store and search for the term “Information Sharing Guide” Download the app: tinyurl.com/information-sharing-guide-gogl
Desktop version of the app: publicaccess.courts.in.gov/isg/
Links to these resources available online: in.gov/children