C. REQUEST FOR INFORMATION

 

Questionable
Requests/
Closed Cases

 

 

When a request for information does not appear to be reasonably related to the responsibilities of the requesting office, a written statement or contact concerning the request and the circumstances must be forwarded to the HHSA CalWORKs Strategic Planning and Operational Support (SPOS) Manager.

 

Inquiries from agencies and persons listed on the Authorized Disclosure List for cases that have been closed and forwarded to Record Library are to be referred to the Public Assistance Information Unit.

 

 

Board of Supervisors/
Other Political
Entities

Inquiries from agencies and persons not listed on the Authorized Disclosure List will be handled as follows:

 

Board of Supervisors and Other Political Entities

 

Most inquiries from the Board of Supervisors or other political entities are referred to SPOS; however some inquires may be referred to the Family Resource Center (FRC) Manager, Assistant Manager or Employment Manager for resolution.  These inquiries may include:

 

·        General requests for information on program or office procedures.

·        Requests based on complaints by a client pertaining to HHSA handling of his/her situation.

·        Requests based on any anonymous complaint pertaining to case handling or to a particular client.

 

The manager will respond to the inquiry or attempt to resolve the issue without releasing information concerning a specific client.  Usually, these inquiries can be handled by the manager by providing general program information or procedures.

 

If the individual making the inquiry requests information about a specific client or the results of follow-up action with a client, the client’s consent (verbal or written) is required prior to the release of information.  If the issue or result cannot be resolved, the FRC Manager, Assistant Manager or Employment Program Manager will contact the SPOS CalWORKs Program Manager or Assistant Deputy Director for additional clarification and direction needed to respond to the inquiry.            

 

 

Absent Parents, Client’s Family or Friends

Release of information to absent parents, the client’s family, or friends requires the written consent of the client.  In handling such requests the following procedure must be followed:

 

The Human Services Specialist (HSS) will not acknowledge to the requesting person that the client or the client’s child(ren) have applied for or are receiving aid or services.

 

·        The HSS will advise the requesting person that he/she must submit a written request for any information.  The request must include his/her address and phone number.

 

·        When the HSS receives the written request he/she will notify the client of the request for information.  The client may then provide the information directly to the requesting person.

 

·        If the client does not wish to provide the information directly but will provide written authorization to release the information, the HSS will provide the information to the requesting person.  The written authorization must be received first and the requesting person must provide proof of identity before the HSS provides the information.

 

·        Should the client refuse consent, the information will not be released.  The requesting person may then, as appropriate, contact the DA or a private attorney and use legal recourse.

 

·        If a non-custodial parent alleges that the aided parent has kidnapped, abused, or neglected the child(ren), the case must be referred to Child Protective Services for appropriate action.  The HSS must report the allegation to the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-858-560-2191.  The HSS should also provide the non-custodial parent with the hotline number for future reference.

 

 

Defense Attorneys and Businesses

The HSS will refer requests from defense attorneys, including Legal Aid Society and the Public Defender, that do not include a client authorized release, to the SPOS Subpoena Liaison for an explanation of how to subpoena records.  

 

Release of information to businesses is only authorized when HHSA has a written and dated authorization from the client.  Valid business inquiries may include grant and address information to establish a client’s credit but do not include inquiries to pursue collection on a delinquent account.

 

 

Law Enforcement Officials

Representatives of official law enforcement agencies can receive confidential case information in specific instances.  In releasing information to law enforcement, the following procedures must be observed:

 

 

1.        All requests must be made in writing by the head of the agency or his/her designee, on their agencies stationary, and must specify that an arrest warrant has been issued for an applicant/recipient for the commission of a felony or misdemeanor.  The request must be for an individual, unless warrants have been issued for several persons in the same case.  A faxed request is acceptable.

 

2.      The disposition of each request must be notated (case name/number; name of manager; type of response; name of person to whom information was released) and the original maintained in a central control file by site management.  If information is released, a copy of the request is to be filed under the MISC tab of the case folder.

 

3.        Requests for information from local law enforcement agencies (i.e., Sheriff’s Department, a city Police Department, Probation Department, etc) are to be referred to the manager of the office in which the case is currently (or was last) active. Only a manager or their designee may release information.

 

4.        Requests for information from Federal or State law enforcement agencies (i.e., the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Parole Officers, Military Police, etc) and any requests from other law enforcement-related sources (i.e., bounty hunters, court orders, etc.) are to be referred to the office of the SPOS Deputy Director of the Health and Human Services Agency at 1700 Pacific Highway, San Diego 92101, for disposition.

 

 

 

 

 
Circumstance

 

The specific circumstances in which information may be released are  listed below:

 

1.    Criminal Acts Impacting Department/Employee

 

Confidential information about an applicant or recipient may be released to a law enforcement agency investigating or gathering information regarding a violation of federal, state or local law committed:

 

·        In a FRC or Employment Services office;

·        Against any department, agency or agency contracted employee when the employee was involved in the administration of public social services; or

·        Against any off-duty department, agency or agency contracted employee in retaliation for an act performed by the employee as a job duty.

 

Information released must be limited to the client’s name, physical description and address. Only site Management or SPOS may release this information (W & I Code, Section 10850).

 

2.   Other Criminal Activity

 

If an HHSA employee or contracted provider observes an applicant/recipient engaged in a crime in progress that is unrelated to the performance of the employee’s duties, the employee may report the crime, but not release confidential information (client’s name, address, etc.).  If further information is requested by law enforcement, contact the SPOS Program Manager who will handle on a case-by-case basis in consultation with County Counsel.

 

3.   Deceased Applicants/Recipients

 

This section is limited to information in the CalWORKs case records.  Disclosure of information from Medi-Cal or Food Stamp only case records is strictly prohibited.  This section must not be construed to authorize the release of a general list, which identifies individuals applying for or receiving public social services.

 

·        CalWORKs confidential information may be released to any law enforcement agency when the applicant/recipient is deceased. Information released must be limited to the client’s name, address, telephone number, birth date, social security number and physical description.

·        This information may only be released upon written request from the head of the law enforcement agency specifying that the applicant/recipient is deceased and that the agency is otherwise unable to adequately identify the deceased. 

·        This information may be released by telephone upon the condition that the head of the law enforcement agency submits a request in writing within five (5) days of the disclosure.

 

4.    Felony and or Misdemeanor Arrest Warrants

 

This section is aid specific; and applies only to CalWORKs applicants or recipients.  State law  (W & I code 10850.3) requires that applicants and recipients be informed that confidential information from their own case records will not be protected from disclosure to a law enforcement agency should a felony and/or misdemeanor arrest warrant be issued in their name.  This information is currently provided on the Statement of Facts coversheet and shall be reviewed with the applicant or recipient at Intake, at Redetermination, and whenever an adult is added to the case.

 

 

 

 

Private Organization/
Person

Private organizations and individuals not on the authorized disclosure list who request case information, including whether or not a person is receiving or has received aid, must be informed about the regulations regarding confidentiality of case records. If the inquiry is not case specific, general statistics or specific program information can often resolve the inquiry.

 

·     No case information is to be released without the written authorization of the client.

·     All media inquiries are to be referred directly to site manager, who when necessary, will refer the media to the HHSA Media Coordinator.