63-353     Confidentiality

 

Table of Contents
 
Section
General
353.1
Policy and Procedures
353.2
Confidential Information
353.3
Collateral Contacts
353.4
Unauthorized Disclosure of Confidential Information
353.5
Penalty for Disclosing AIDS Test Results
353.6
Case Records
353.7
Quality Control (QC)—Federal and State
353.8

 

63-353.1
General

Confidentiality regulations were created to protect the applicant/recipient against identification, exploitation, or embarrassment that could result from the release of information identifying them as having applied for, or having received, public assistance.

Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) employees are encouraged to respond to inquiries by providing information regarding HHSA policies and procedures. However, care must be taken to preserve the confidentiality of HHSA case records, including those stored electronically. 

 

63-353.2
Policy and Procedures

This chapter provides staff with policies and procedures regarding the confidentiality of HHSA records and the release of information to qualified agencies and persons. CDSS Manual of Policies and Procedures (MPP) divisions 19-000 and 63-201.3 address confidentiality. They also outline under what circumstances and to whom such information may be released. These regulations pertain to all case records, electronic files, papers and communications administered, or supervised by HHSA pertaining to CalFresh, including the CalFresh Employment and Training Program and the Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD) Work Project.

The purpose of this policy is to protect the agency’s records while providing the 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.

Staff is advised to review both of these sections and the material contained in this chapter 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.

 

63-353.3
Confidential Information

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

 

63-353.4
Collateral Contacts

To protect the confidentiality of an individual public assistance applicant/recipient, the individual must be afforded the opportunity to provide needed information or verification in a manner that does not identify the individual as a public assistance applicant/recipient. Before collateral contact is initiated, the applicant/recipient 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 PAFD staff, the applicant/recipient’s written consent must be obtained and made part of the case record prior to initiating collateral contacts.

 

63-353.5
Unauthorized Disclosure of Confidential Information

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

 

63-353.6
Penalty for Disclosing AIDS Test Results

Any person who willfully or negligently discloses AIDS test results to a third party without written permission from the applicant/recipient, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the County Jail for up to one year, or a fine of up to $10,000.00.

 

63-353.7
Case Records

As a general policy, case records are the original and permanent records of HHSA and are maintained for reference and audit purposes to document eligibility. As a general policy, case records and original documents should be either at the assigned Family Resource Center (FRC) or in Records Library.  All information in case records will be considered confidential and will be safeguarded.  

Unless approved by the FRC Manager, no case record will be removed from HHSA. 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., PAFD, State Medi-Cal Investigators, OSU, Appeals, Quality Control, Fiscal, Internal Security, etc.) without approval of the FRC manager.

Separate procedures apply to subpoenaed records (see Section 63-358) or criminal act committed in an HHSA office (see Section 63-355).

 

63-353.8
Quality Control (QC)—Federal and State

State and Federal Quality Control may borrow HHSA cases for their Quality Control reviews without prior approval. The requests for cases may be made directly to the FRC or through the Quality Control Section.