TCSEP staff is given access to highly confidential information regarding Child Support participants. Use or Disclosure of any participant information that is received by the TCSEP is strictly limited to purposes directly connected with the administration of the Tribal Child Support Enforcement Program, Tribal TANF and Medicaid. Specifically, participant information can only be used for the purposes of establishing paternity, establishing or modifying Child Support Orders, and collecting and distributing Child Support Obligations.
Unauthorized use or disclosure of participant information constitutes terms for immediate termination of employment and may result in any other disciplinary action allowed by CS&KT Tribal Ordinance 69C or Federal law. TCSEP has a department-specific Non-Disclosure Statement that shall be signed by each employee, contractors and subcontractors. (See Appendix A—Forms).
TCSEP employees should adhere to the following guidelines to ensure participant confidentiality:
1) Share information only when it is specifically related to the process of establishing paternity, or establishing, enforcing, modifying or distributing Child Support Orders, or locating parents or assets.
2) Use caution (volume, language, content) when discussing Child Support case information to other staff; and
3) Not share any specific financial information (tax return, credit card, etc.), any State or Tribal numerical identifying information (SSN, Tribal ID), and/or other information deemed protected by any law, without appropriate release or Court order, to those people not necessary for performing the duties of the TCSEP or IV-D Program.
Other Safeguarding Procedures
DHRD TCSEP will maintain files in locking, fireproof cabinets with strict access. In addition to the physical protection of files containing confidential information, staff will also be cautious to safeguard information that is shared with other staff or with other Tribal IV-D, or Titles IV-A and XIX with administration of other programs. Any staff or Tribal IV-D, or Titles IV-A and XIX with administration of other programs having access to private information will be required to sign a confidentiality form in which they acknowledge that they may not share any information in the files with any unauthorized persons. Staff within will also have to sign out files to review at their desks.
Release of Information
DHRD TCSEP will not share case information with any person or entity unless the party completes and signs the Consent for Release of Information form (see Appendix A – Forms). Once signed, the Consent for Release of Information form will be maintained in the case file in accordance with Tribal policy.
Even with a release form on file, staff is restricted from divulging personal information regarding other participants on a case. If the participant has authorized a representative to obtain information or documents, only case-specific information regarding the Child Support case for which the release applies may be given.
In circumstances where another, non-IV-D Program is requesting information about a case or the participants in the case, employees must receive a signed Consent for Release of Information (see Appendix A—Forms) form before divulging any information. Consent for Releases of Information are valid for a specific period of time (i.e., consent for release of information is valid from beginning date to end date). Employees must verify the expiration dates on forms already on file before discussing a case. Only information relevant to the requesting Program will be released.
TCSEP staff will attend National conferences and training sessions specific to IV-D and Tribal IV-D programs in order to remain updated with the changing regulations. Staff will remain in contact with other Region VIII CSE Programs along with the Tribes Program Specialist. DHRD TCSEP assures that procedures are met and in place to meet all requirements.
All disclosures made shall be documented in the case file, including the date of disclosure, person or entity receiving information, nature of information disclosed and reasons for disclosure. If the information was not disclosed, there shall be a statement documenting why the information was not disclosed.
Confidentiality in Domestic Violence (DV) Cases
TCSEP recognizes the need to protect victims and children of domestic violence and encourages collaborative effort with DV programs and other Tribal programs to ensure their safety.
Any participant who seeks TCSEP services will be required to complete a section on domestic violence in the application. These forms will be utilized as the department’s tools for determining the level of danger, if any, to the participant. TCSEP Case Manager will review the information and determine the level of harm, if any, that might be posed to the participant if TCSEP services are pursued.
If there is a protection order in place, a copy of the order will be requested from the CP or the issuing Court and a copy of that order will be kept in the file. In cases where there is no protection order in place, but TCSEP staff suspect domestic violence is an issue that will pose potential danger to a child(ren) or parent if TCSEP services are pursued, the case will be sent to the TCSEP Project Director for further review for case consultation with the DV program.
If it is determined that there is a protection order in place and/or that the release of information on the whereabouts of one participant or the child(ren) to the other participant, TCSEP will take extra precautions to ensure that no locating information is released. These physical case files will have a distinctive mark and will be appropriately tagged by being placed in a RED file folder and in the automated system to ensure that addresses are blocked on notices and other mailing documents. This system will alert all TCSEP staff members to proceed with extra discretion in the case. Participants will also be referred to the local DV program for guidance and support.