19-000.A CONFIDENTALITY OF INFORMATION AND RECORDS

 

Table of Contents

The Confidentiality of Information and Records section includes the following information:

 

Topic

Regulation 19-000

Policies and Procedures

Confidential Information

Collateral Contacts

Unauthorized Disclosure of Confidential Information

Case Records

QC Federal and State

 

 

 

Regulation

19-000

The confidentiality of records chapter was developed to protect applicants and recipients against identification, exploitation or embarrassment that could result from the release of information identifying them as having applied for or having received public assistance.  HHSA employees are encouraged to respond to inquiries by providing information regarding HHSA policies and procedures.  Care must be taken, however, to preserve the confidentiality of HHSA records, including those stored electronically.

 

 

Policies and Procedures

This chapter provides staff with policies and procedures regarding the confidentiality of HHSA records and the release of information to qualified agencies, persons and Medi-Cal providers.  The CalWORKs Program Guide (CPG) section 19-000 and the Food Stamp Program Guide (FSP) 63-201.3 address confidentiality.  Staff is advised to review both of these sections and the following material prior to releasing confidential information to other agencies or individuals.  The unauthorized release and possession of confidential information is in violation of the Welfare and Institutions (WI) code 10850 and can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor.

 

 

Confidential Information

Names, addresses, and all other eligibility information concerning the circumstances of any particular client, including whether that person is or is not an applicant or recipient, will not be disclosed for any purposes not directly related to the administration of public services programs.

 

 

Collateral Contacts

To protect the confidentiality of an individual public assistance applicant or recipient, the individual must be afforded the opportunity to provide needed information or verifications in a manner, which does not identify the individual as a public assistance applicant or recipient.   Before a collateral contact is initiated, the client must be informed of his/her option to obtain the needed information himself/herself without any requirement to use county forms or form letters.  Except for contacts with the Public Assistance Fraud (PAF) staff, the client’s written consent must be obtained prior to initiating collateral contacts.

 

    

Unauthorized Disclosure of Confidential Information

Unauthorized disclosure of confidential information by a county employee or county contracted providers is a misdemeanor and may lead to criminal or civil liability for both the employee, the contracted provider, and the county.  The county may also take disciplinary action against a county employee.

 

 

Case Records

As a general policy, case records and original documents should be either at the assigned Family Resource Center (FRC), Employment Services site, or Record Library.  All information in case records shall be considered confidential and shall be safeguarded.  

 

Unless approved by the site manager, no case record will be removed from the FRC or employment services site.  When requested, case records may be scanned/logged as appropriate and routed to other HHSA divisions or State or county administrative staff for official use (i.e., PAF, State Medi-Cal Investigators, OSU, Appeals, Quality Control, Fiscal, Internal Security, Public Assistance Information Unit, etc.) without site manager approval.

 

 

QC – Federal and State

State and Federal Quality Control may borrow HHSA cases for their Quality Control reviews without prior approval. The request for these cases may be made directly to the FRC, employment site, or through the HHSA Quality Control Manager.  Separate procedures apply to subpoenaed records or cases associated to an individual who may have committed a criminal act in a Department Office.

 

The purpose of this policy is to protect the agency’s records while providing authorized persons access to information.  These policies and procedures do not apply to adoption case records, as information may not be released from adoption case records.