DCFS INFO MEMO 2006 - 04

      February 14, 2006

Department of Health and Family Services
Division of Children and Family Services

To:  Area Administrators/Human Service Area Coordinators
Bureau Directors
County Departments of Community Programs Directors
County Departments of Developmental Disabilities Services Directors
County Departments of Human Services Directors
County Departments of Social Services Directors
Section Chiefs/Licensing Chiefs
Tribal Chairpersons/Human Services Facilitators
From: Burnie Bridge
Re: ACF Memo on Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect


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.

P.O. Box 8916
Madison, WI 53708-8916
Phone: 608-267-2073
E-Mail: connoc1@dhfs.state.wi.us


cc: County Child Protective Services Supervisors
County Foster Care Coordinators
Tribal Child Welfare Contact Persons


The Department of Children and Families, protecting children, strengthening families, building communities.