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Balancing Information Sharing and Confidentiality: Providing Services for Children in the Juvenile Justice System

NCJ Number
Date Published
58 pages
This is a report on the findings and recommendations of a Virginia project that explored issues and problems regarding information-sharing and confidentiality pertinent to juvenile offenders.
The project focused on collecting information on the implementation of information-sharing policies and how information sharing is viewed as being addressed within existing Virginia laws and regulations; the identification of impediments to information sharing; the identification of liability issues in current information-sharing processes; and the identification of ways, based on provider feedback, to improve information-sharing among agencies. The project addressed both the human and legal aspects of information-sharing among agencies who serve youth involved with the court. The project conducted four focus groups with professionals in three regions of the State, as well as one with parents of youth who were or had been involved with the court. Each focus group consisted of 8-16 people. The focus groups discussed confidentiality and information-sharing in their communities in the context of both formal policies and informal processes, as well as the impact of these procedures on service delivery, community safety, and confidentiality protections. The legal analysis featured a review of Federal and State regulations, formal agency policies, professional codes of ethics, and case law pertinent to information-sharing and confidentiality. Project findings are detailed in this report. Based on the findings, this report recommends a study to assess the effects on youth of the statutes that mandate Department of Juvenile Justice reporting to the schools on certain delinquency petitions and dispositions. It further recommends the development of interagency training on the use and exchange of information, as well as providing to parents complete information about the process and purpose of information-sharing, their right to have copies of the records before they are released, and their right to refuse to release records. Further, the report recommends that the proposed workshop on information sharing discuss issues related to the content and management of an interagency database of juvenile information. Recommended long-term goals are to revise code provisions that govern juvenile records to ensure consistency of management and dissemination, as well as to standardize criminal penalties for breach of confidentiality regulations. Appended supplementary information on project methodology and findings

Date Published: January 1, 2001