Why do we need guidelines to share information?
One of the goals of the OJJDP project ‘Information Sharing to Prevent Delinquency’ and now the National Juvenile Information Sharing Initiative, is to remove barriers to information exchange – such as misunderstandings about legal constraints – and share information better to achieve improved services for children, youth and families. Guidance on sharing information has not always been readily available, easily understood or well promoted in the at-risk youth and juvenile justice community. The Guidelines for Juvenile Information Sharing help remove the necessity for distinct information sharing agreements and protocols between agencies and organizations by providing a set of overarching principals and practices that are complementary to existing memoranda of understanding. This reduces the risk of conflicting information sharing practice between groups of agencies and providers and increases the likelihood that the actions taken on behalf of children and youth are based on the best and fullest understanding of their circumstances and needs. In this way, youth serving agencies limit the possibility of working at cross purposes to each other or, missing a vital piece of information that could expose the youth or others to new or increased danger.
As a stakeholder within a jurisdiction that should be sharing information, how do I get agencies to begin the initial steps towards improving outcomes for our youth and children in our systems?
Information sharing across systems that work with children, youth and families require the development and implementation of several processes. Those include: Agency agreements for the purpose of information sharing by all the participating agencies; training and resources on privacy and confidentiality requirements and the implementation of proven framework for data exchanges and information sharing. This should include the maintenance, use and disclosure of information. The review and monitoring of information practices between participating agencies to ensure compliance with relevant laws including: federal, state and local are also critical to the success of any multi system information sharing initiative.
What are some of the key principals to sharing personally identifiable information of youth and families between youth serving agencies?
Incorporating established information sharing protocols into practices and organizational procedures is one key principal when sharing personally identifiable information on youth and families. Established protocols for information sharing help ensure that all participating agencies are clear about their information exchange responsibilities and liabilities. Ensuring responsible information sharing practices promotes trust between partnering organizations and the public.
Why do we need to set up protocols? Can’t they hamper data exchange, especially when we need a number of them in place for all the organizations we share data with?
Protocols are important to ensure that all those participating in data sharing agreements are clear as to their responsibilities and liabilities. Protocols also serve to promote trust between partner organizations and the public.
Are there exceptions to FERPA that allow the sharing of information without written consent?
Yes, there are exceptions. For example, personally identifiable information from an education record of a student may be disclosed without written consent:
• To school officials, including teachers, with legitimate educational interests;
• To officials of another school where the student seeks to enroll;
• To comply with a court order or lawfully issued subpeoena
• In a health or safety emergency. To see the full Act – go to:
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from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.
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