STATE OF WISCONSIN
The U.S. Department of Health and Family Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF) recently issued an Information Memorandum on the impact of federal confidentiality law on the responsibility of mandatory reporters to report child abuse and neglect. Information Memorandum, ACYF-CB-IM-05-07, is attached to this memo and can be found at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/laws_policies/policy/im/im0507.htm
ACF addresses HIPAA, The Privacy Rule; Title X of the Public Health Service Act, which addresses family planning information; and alcohol and drug abuse patient records. The ACF Information Memorandum states:
Nothing in the Federal privacy rules or law prohibits mandatory reporters from reporting child abuse and neglect to the appropriate authorities. In fact, the Federal privacy law explicitly allows reporting of child abuse and neglect consistent with State law as an exception to general rules requiring the confidentiality of health records.
ACF indicates that the Information Memorandum was issued because it had received reports that federal privacy laws were being used by mandatory reporters as a reason to not report child abuse and neglect. Although we are not aware of any instances of mandatory reporters refusing to follow Wisconsin law regarding reporting child abuse and neglect because of privacy or confidentiality concerns, we believe this information is important and may be helpful to agency staff and supervisors if faced with this situation.