Disclosure of Records for Children Transferring within the Massachusetts EI System  

Policy Clarification on the Disclosure of Records for Children Transferring within the Massachusetts EI System    

DPH would like to provide some additional guidance on the “Policy Clarification on the Disclosure of Records for Children Transferring within the Massachusetts EI System” and guidance document sent by email on 9/19/2014 and reviewed during the October webinar.

DPH amended Section IX B. of the EIOS to permit the disclosure of records from one Massachusetts EI program to another Massachusetts EI program without written consent because both programs fulfill the definition of “participating agency” under Part C.

Since then, DPH has been contacted with some concerns about requests without any direct assurance from parents that the parent(s) agree with the disclosure noting the records might include content related to risk factors or other sensitive information.

It is DPH’s goal to ensure IFSP services remain as consistent as possible when an unanticipated transition occurs. While the disclosure of records without written consent is permissible under Part C, specifically, the IFSP, Written Notice of Eligibility, EIIS information and number of assessment hours used/evaluation anniversary date, DPH considers the following as best, routine program practice:

Whenever possible, obtain a written consent for the release of information from another EI program. This should be done at the initial (intake) visit. Submit the request by fax to the EI program which holds the records requesting a timely response.

The EI program who holds the record should respond without delay to the faxed request, recognizing an eligible child has moved out of their service area or is requesting a transfer (if within the same catchment area. If within the same catchment area, the holder of the record should attempt to contact the parent to ensure the parents are truly looking to transfer services. If this is the case, the program can document the parent(s)’s request for transfer and close the case within EIIS).

Anticipate some hesitation from the EI program that holds the record if the program wants some direct assurance from the family that the disclosure without written consent meets with their approval – particularly if there is sensitive content. Assist the holder of the record by providing updated contact information.

DPH’s intent, as stated in the policy update is to “balance disclosures without written consent with maintaining some degree of respect for a parent’s wish for privacy. Occasionally, parents may want a ‘fresh start’ with a new provider and decline a program’s offer to forward records,” keeping in mind, the program that holds the record doesn’t really have any idea if the parent has agreed to the disclosure. This is a change in program practice and we realize that it might take some time for the system to work through the process. Please be in touch with Mary Dennehy-Colorusso (mary.dennehy-colorusso@state.ma.us) or your Regional Specialist if you have any additional questions, thoughts or would like an opportunity for further discussion and clarity at an upcoming webinar.