340:75-1-44. Disclosure of client information and records without a court order
(a) Authorized persons. Client information or records are, upon request and with verification of the requester's credentials, disclosed without a court order to the persons or entities listed in this subsection, pursuant to Section 1-6-103 of the Oklahoma Statutes of Title 10A. • 1
(1) Courts. Information and records are disclosed to:
(A) the court having the child currently before it in any proceeding pursuant to Title 10 or Title 10A of the Oklahoma Statutes;
(B) any district court or tribal court to which the proceedings may be transferred;
(C) employees and officers of the court in the performance of their duties, including but not limited to the guardian ad litem appointed by the court;
(D) court-appointed special advocates as defined in Section 1-1-105 of Title 10A of the Oklahoma Statutes (10A O.S. § 1-1-105), in the course of their official duties pertaining to recruiting, screening, training, assigning cases, supervising and supporting volunteers in their roles as guardian ad litem pursuant to 10A O.S. § 1-4-306;
(E) post-adjudication review boards who may inspect information that includes, but is not limited to:
(i) psychological and medical records;
(ii) placement history and information, including the names and addresses of foster parents;
(iii) family assessments;
(iv) individualized service plans; and
(v) school records; and
(F) any district court that has ordered a home study by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) in a divorce, annulment, custody matter, guardianship, or any subsequent proceeding. OKDHS may limit disclosure to summaries or information directly necessary for the purposes of the disclosure.
(2) OKDHS employees. Information and records are disclosed to OKDHS employees acting in the course of their official duties performed in connection with the implementation or administration of any program for children, youth, and families. The administration of programs includes:
(A) any activity relating to the review, audit, or monitoring of Child Welfare (CW) service, program, or fiscal performance; and
(B) any activity in connection with potential or actual criminal, civil, or administrative proceedings relating to CW services and programs.
(3) Office of Juvenile System Oversight employees. Any employee of the Office of Juvenile System Oversight acting in the course of his or her official duties performed in connection with any investigation, inquiry, audit, or inspection conducted pursuant to 10 O.S. § 601.6.
(4) DHHS employees. Any employee of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) or the Comptroller General of the United States acting in the course of his or her official duties performed in connection with any investigation, inquiry, audit, or inspection conducted pursuant to federal law.
(5) Office of the District Attorney employees. Any employee of the Office of the District Attorney acting in the course of his or her official duties performed pursuant to Title 10A of the Oklahoma Statutes or in connection with the prosecution of crimes against children or in the capacity of advisor to a grand jury.
(6) Office of the Attorney General or United States Attorney employees. Employees of the Office of the Attorney General or United States Attorney when acting in the course of their official duties performed pursuant to Title 10A.
(7) Attorneys. The attorney representing a child who is the subject of a proceeding conducted pursuant to the provisions of Title 10A of the Oklahoma Statutes or other proceeding where child custody or visitation is at issue. • 2
(8) Law enforcement officers. Any law enforcement officer of Oklahoma or another state, or military enclave with proper identification, who is:
(A) conducting an investigation of a report of known or suspected child abuse or neglect or crimes against children; or
(B) determining whether to place an alleged deprived child in protective custody.
(9) Child protective services agency employees. Employees of child protective services agencies in other states, or military enclave with proper identification, who are:
(A) conducting an investigation of a report of known or suspected child abuse or neglect or crimes against children; or
(B) determining whether to place a child in protective custody.
(10) Indian tribes. Pursuant to the Federal Indian Child Welfare Act, Section 1915 et seq. of Title 25 of the United States Code, and the Oklahoma Indian Child Welfare Act, Section 40 et seq., of Title 10 of the Oklahoma Statutes, a federally recognized Indian tribe:
(A) with proper identification;
(B) in which the child who is the subject of the records filed with the court is a member or is eligible to become a member and is the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe; and
(C) who is performing the official duties of:
(i) investigating a report of known or suspected child abuse or neglect or crimes against children;
(ii) determining whether to place a child into protective custody;
(iii) providing or supervising services to or for the benefit of the child, including but not limited to protective, emergency, medical, and social services; or
(iv) the tribe, tribal court, or tribal CW program by:
(I) taking jurisdiction or intervening in the child's case; or
(II) being a party to the juvenile court proceedings pursuant to the authority provided in the Oklahoma Indian Child Welfare Act.
(11) Employees of a statutorily established juvenile bureau. Employees of a statutorily established juvenile bureau pursuant to 10A O.S. § 2-4-101 with proper identification in the course of their official duties.
(12) Child Death Review Board. The Child Death Review Board upon the Board's request pursuant to 10 O.S. § 1150.2.
(13) Physicians. Any physician examining a child whom the physician suspects is a victim of child abuse or neglect.
(14) Health care or mental health professionals. Any health care or mental health professional involved in the evaluation or treatment of the child, the child's parents, legal guardian, foster parent, custodian, or other family members.
(15) Multidisciplinary child abuse team. Members of multidisciplinary teams or multidisciplinary personnel designated by the administrator of OKDHS Field Operations Division or Children and Family Services Division are authorized to review confidential information to:
(A) investigate a report of known or suspected child abuse or neglect; or
(B) provide services to a child or family who is the subject of the report.
(16) Public or private agency. Any public or private agency or person authorized by OKDHS to diagnose or provide care, treatment, supervision, or other services to a child who is the subject of a report or record of child abuse or neglect. OKDHS may limit the disclosure of information and records to a summary of or the information directly necessary for the purpose of the disclosure.
(17) OHCA. Any employee of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) acting in the course of his or her official duties.
(18) Medical Examiner. A medical examiner when determining the cause of death of a child.
(19) OJA. Any employee of the Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA) acting in the course of his or her official duties.
(20) OCCY. Any employee of the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth (OCCY) acting in the course of his or her official duties.
(21) The Governor of Oklahoma. The Governor or any person the Governor designates in writing.
(22) Legislators. Any member of the legislature approved in writing by the Speaker of the House or the President Pro Tempore of the Senate.
(23) Persons or agencies engaging in research. Persons or agencies engaging in research, provided that the person or agency:
(A) is employed by or under contract with the State of Oklahoma and is authorized by OKDHS to conduct the research; and
(B) ensures that:
(i) all documents containing identifying information are securely maintained to prohibit unauthorized access;
(ii) identifying information is not included in any document generated for the research; and
(iii) identifying information is deleted from documents when the research is completed.
(24) Foster parents. Information and records concerning the social, medical, psychological, or educational needs of a child currently placed with or being considered for placement with foster parents are disclosed to the foster parents. Foster parents with whom a child is currently placed are provided a copy of the court-approved individualized service plan and progress reports.
(25) Schools. A summary of or the information directly necessary for the school to know regarding a child enrolled in the school is disclosed upon the request for the information by the school. Any information disclosed to the school is kept confidential.
(26) Department of Corrections employees. An employee of any federal or state corrections or law enforcement agency in the performance of the official duties of the employee concerning pre-sentence investigations or supervision of a parent of an alleged or adjudicated deprived child or the legal guardian, custodian, or any other adult member of the child's home who is responsible for the health, safety, or welfare of the child.
(27) Adoptions. Any person or agency authorized to receive any paper record pursuant to the Oklahoma Adoption Code pertaining to a child who is the subject of an adoption proceeding or relatives who are related to the child within the third degree of consanguinity.
(28) Child support enforcement employees. Employees of OKDHS Oklahoma Child Support Services or other state child support enforcement agencies in the performance of the official duties of the employee concerning the establishment of paternity or the establishment or enforcement of a child support order or other entitlement for the benefit of a child. Disclosure is limited to information related directly to the purpose of the disclosure.
(29) Parent, legal guardian, or custodian. A parent, legal guardian, or custodian of the child who is the subject of the records, provided that the records disclosed are limited to juvenile court records that are records filed with the court. All other agency records pertaining to or related to any alleged or adjudicated abuse or neglect of the child may not be inspected or disclosed. • 3
- (A) Information about the child is withheld from the parent only when a court order is in effect that prohibits the parent from obtaining information about the child.
(B) The parent may not inspect the case record, but information may be disclosed in accordance with this Section.
(C) If the child is removed from the child's home or placement, the child's parent(s) is informed of the child's general location, but not the specific address.
(D) With the foster parent's consent, the foster parent's name and address are disclosed when requested as part of the family reunification effort.
(30) Youth 18 and older. Any youth leaving out-of-home placement at the age of 18 or older, or an adult who was in OKDHS custody as a child, is entitled to the individual's health and education records maintained in the case record at no cost. • 4
(b) Disclosure when child is in need of services. Pursuant to 10A O.S. 1-6-103, OKDHS may disclose confidential information as necessary to secure appropriate care, treatment, protection, or supervision of a child alleged to be abused or neglected. • 5
(c) Disclosure limited.
(1) Request for disclosure of information must be made in writing to OKDHS per OAC 340:75-1-46 and 10 O.S. §§ 620.1 through 620.4.
(2) Authorized persons receiving information are notified at the time of disclosure that the information remains confidential by law and may not be further disclosed.
(3) Information disclosed is limited to the specific information or record relevant to the need of the person offered or requesting confidential information.
(4) OKDHS does not disclose the identity or location of any person who has reported child abuse or neglect, unless specifically ordered by the court.
(d) Media inquiries. The confidentiality rules for inquiries govern case-specific information and requests from the public and the media. Inquiries may provide opportunities to discuss CW programs and services, in general, with the public or media representatives. • 6
(e) Disclosure in cases of death or near death of a child. • 6 Pursuant to 10A O.S. § 1-6-105, when a person responsible for a child is charged with committing a crime resulting in the child's death or near death, as defined in OAC 340:75-3-2, the best interests of the public are served by public disclosure of information concerning the investigation of the death or near death of the child and any other investigations concerning the child or other children living in the same household.
(1) Any disclosure of information does not identify or provide, other than the identity of the person criminally charged:
(A) an identifying description of any complainant or reporter of child abuse or neglect;
(B) the name of the child victim's siblings or other children living in the same household;
(C) the parent or other person responsible for the child; or
(D) any other member of the household.
(2) At any time seven days after but no more than 45 days, from the date the person responsible for the child is criminally charged, OKDHS, the district attorney, district court clerk, and judge having jurisdiction over the case shall upon request, release to the public:
(A) confirmation by OKDHS that a report has been made concerning the alleged victim or other children living in the same household and whether an investigation has begun;
(B) confirmation by OKDHS as to whether previous reports were made and the dates of the reports and a summary of the previous reports, including:
(i) the dates and outcomes of any investigations or actions taken by OKDHS in response to a previous report of child abuse or neglect;
(ii) the specific recommendation made to the district attorney by OKDHS; and
(iii) any subsequent action taken by the district attorney; and
(C) the dates of any judicial proceeding prior to the child's death or near death, including:
(i) specific recommendations made by OKDHS in any progress reports submitted to the court;
(ii) a summary of each participant's recommendations made at the judicial proceedings, including recommendations made at the hearing as related to the custody or placement of the child; and
(iii) the rulings of the court.
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.
(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.