Charging Fees for Copies of Records

Policy to Practice: Charging Fees for Copies of Records

Question: May a program charge parents a fee to copy records of a child who has been discharged from the program?

The federal regulations state that a program must “make available to parents an initial copy of the child’s early intervention record at no cost to the parents” (34 CFR 303.400(c), EIOS XIII, F.5). The fact that the child is no longer receiving EI services would not determine if a fee would be assessed. The child did receive services from the program, and if it’s still within seven years of discharge, the program still maintains the record.

In order to determine what/if a fee could be assessed, the program should:

  • Determine the records a parent actually seeks.

Remember, the definition if an Early Intervention record is very broad:

“A record is any information, regardless of location, recorded in any way, maintained by an agency or Early Intervention service provider or any party acting on behalf of the agency or Early Intervention service providers”.(EIOS XIII.E.1 – see also XIII.E.2).

By definition, the EI record could include transportation trip sheets, billing records, and medical records. It’s not uncommon for parents to ask for the “entire” record, but they also might not realize the breadth of the definition in terms of the actual records they seek. A parent has the right to come in to access the record if that would help inform their decision about which records they might truly want (and copying 3 years’ worth of progress notes that were already provided may come at an unanticipated cost).

  • Determine which records have been provided:

Programs are responsible for providing parents with “a copy of each evaluation, assessment of the child, family assessment and IFSP as soon as possible after each IFSP meeting” at no cost to parents (303.409(c), EIOS Section VII.H. and Section XIII.F.6.).

As long as the program can document that a copy of each IFSP (including IFSP review pages), evaluations, child or family assessment have been provided, the program may assess a fee for subsequent copies. Providing a copy of the above would be considered an “initial copy”. If the program provides a copy of progress notes (via NCR paper) to the parent, these would be considered an “initial copy”.

Does the EI program have methods through its policies, procedures, flow charts, checklists or documentation on progress when a copy of something in the child’s record was provided to a parent?

Other general reminders:

  • The program may not charge a fee to search for or retrieve a record.
  • A parent’s right to a copy of the record includes any information that is maintained with that EI record. That would include records from outside sources (for example, hospital records, records from other community social service agencies)
  • Programs should review the language on their consent for the disclosure of information forms to ensure that sending agencies (hospitals, community agency/service providers) are aware that their information, once received and held (“maintained”) by the EI program, is subject to parent access and re-disclosure with parental consent (EIOS XII. F.3.).
  • A copy of the record may be provided via an external device such as a thumb drive if the parent indicates they have a computer which could accommodate this device. Scanning a record onto a thumb drive may be more efficient for the program from a personnel/resource perspective.

If you have any questions, please call Mary Dennehy-Colorusso 978-851-7261 ext. 1994016 or mary.dennehy-colorusso@state.ma.us