Persons served, birth families, foster children and their extended families rely upon the privilege of confidentiality in approaching and cooperating with Washington County Children Services (WCCS) for services and help.
A. Ohio law makes child abuse and neglect reports confidential and provides that “any person who permits or encourages the unauthorized dissemination of its content is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree.”
B. Confidentiality is so vital to the work of WCCS that any breach of confidentiality shall be sufficient reason for termination of a foster caregiver license or dismissal from the Agency.
C. Any breach of confidentiality will be assessed by the Agency and determined by the Agency to be a rule violation.
D. Any identifying information of a personal nature that would tend to reveal or expose a person served to the community must be kept in the strictest confidence.
E. A foster caregiver shall not disclose or knowingly allow the disclosure of any information regarding a foster child or the foster child’s family to persons NOT DIRECTLY involved in the foster child’s care and treatment on an official basis.
F. Confidentiality is of prime concern of WCCS, however, it is also recognized that foster caregivers and staff are considered mandated reporters, and therefore; must comply with the Ohio Revised Code Section 2151.421.
Confidentiality of records is dictated by federal and state laws and by good practice. Some records, such as those of general Agency business, are defined as public record, per the Ohio Public Records Act, which mandates that all public records be promptly prepared and made available for inspection by anyone who requests them. That request does not have to be made in writing, nor does the requestor need to identify himself. Thus, public records, such as some parts of our personnel records, are not confidential. Social Security numbers are not public records, and are confidential information.
Child welfare case records are not public records. They must have confidentiality preserved in order to protect the rights of the child and of the child’s parents or guardians, per federal requirements connected with the Social Security Act.