Every day we read of privacy violations, identity theft, and other incidences of our personal data and information being released into the wrong hands. Be it the hacking of computer systems jeopardizing our finances, or other types of identity theft, the problem is real, serious, and a concern for many Americans.
This reality is even a greater threat for many resource (foster, kinship, adoptive) parents throughout many parts of our country. Sadly it is not uncommon to see the files of these parents left open on desktops where they are easily accessible to the public. Conversations regarding these files are often overheard in elevators and restrooms amongst caseworkers and child welfare professionals.
Resource parents are required to disclose large amounts of personal, financial, and family data and information to receive licensing and approval to help with our nation's children trapped in the child welfare system. Sadly their privacy can be violated and compromised if procedures are not in place to protect them.
Below is a suggested privacy statement from the National Foster Parent Association (NFPA) addressing this critical issue. Please consider adopting this policy or creating similar protections throughout your organization. The linchpin to providing services to America's displaced children is an active and involved core of resource parents. Your assistance in strengthening the ability of these individuals to provide necessary services is crucial.
Thank you for your time and efforts on behalf of children and resource parents.
123.12 - Privacy of Foster Parent of Information
Whereas foster parent's information contained within any state agency is personal and private and whereas such information should remain confidential from all persons except those persons authorized to obtain such information.
Whereas such information includes but is not limited to social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, income and financial information, health insurance, drivers license, marriage and divorce history, information gleaned from pre-service training classes.
Whereas foster parents have a detrimental reliance on appropriate safeguards being set in place to protect such information with regard to agency policy and procedures.
Therefore be it resolved; the National Foster Parent Association encourages all foster parent licensing agencies to establish clear policies which safeguard electronic, written and oral transmission of foster parent information within their respective states and beyond. Further we ask for the agency to set in place policy that limits who can view and access such information supported by requisite training programs for employees regarding the importance of protecting the privacy of foster parent’s records. Be it further resolved that foster parents have a right to examine any and all information in their respective files upon request.
David Sharp is the Public Policy chair for NFPA. You may also find this and other Position Statements on NFPA's website.