CR: 1 Confidentiality of Applicant and Participant Information/Release of Information (New)

Effective Date: 01/04 Downloads: PDF Version    Revised Date: 07/15
   

Policy

To ensure compliance with USDA Federal Regulations (FNS Instruction 800-1), State laws, and to protect the rights to privacy of WIC applicants/participants, applicant/participant information will be kept confidential.

Procedure

Confidentiality of Applicant/Participant Information

 Confidential applicant/participant information is any information about an applicant or participant (whether it is obtained from the applicant or participant, another source, or generated as a result of WIC application, certification, or participation) that individually identifies those individuals and/or a family member(s). (FNS Instructions 800-1, 7 C.F.R. §246.26(d) (1))

Local WIC program staff and any person that works with the WIC Program in any capacity such as interns, volunteers and WIC Program partners shall be made aware of the confidentiality of participant’s records.  All WIC employees and affiliated personnel with the WIC Program must sign the “WIC Staff/Volunteer Statement of Confidentiality” as a condition of employment.

WIC staff and those that work with the WIC Program in any capacity that intentionally violate State WIC Policies and Procedures in relation to all confidentiality and privacy statements may be terminated, required to pay back funds to the agency if pertinent to the situation, and may face possible prosecution.

Use for the Administration and enforcement of the WIC Program

Applicant/participant information may only be used and disclosed to the following:

  1. Persons directly connected with the administration and enforcement of any WIC Program;
  2. Representatives of public organizations designated by the Administrator of the Division of Public and Behavioral Health , who is the State health Officer (or the governing authority in the case of Indian State agencies) which administer health or welfare programs that serve persons categorically eligible for any WIC Program. The chief State health officer must designate in writing the permitted non-WIC uses of the information and the names of the organizations to which such information may be disclosed (FNS Instruction 800-1, 7 C.F.R. §246.26 (h) (1)); and
  3. The Controller General of the United States for audit and examination.  (FNS Instruction 800-1, 7 C.F.R. §246.26 (h) (1))

When confidential applicant/participant information is used for the administration or enforcement of the WIC Program, it may only be used by the persons who have a need to know the information.  Local Agencies and each local WIC Program are responsible for restricting the use or disclosure of the information obtained from program applicants/participants. (FNS Instruction 800-1, 7 C.F.R. §246.25(a) (4))

Exceptions to WIC applicant/participant information disclosure rules: 

  1. The parent/authorized guardian/sponsor/participant may release any or all information contained within the participant file, as desired. The sections may be released to the authorized person or agency specified. A Release of Information Form must be completed, specifying which sections of the participant file are to be released.  This form must be retained within the participant’s file.
  2. The applicant/participant or parent/guardian must be provided a copy of any section of their file upon written request. However, information not obtained from the applicant/participant, such as information which serves as staff assessment or the participant’s condition or observations of behavior, such as documented within Progress Notes or information provided by a third party, need not be provided.
  3. Investigations related to suspected dual participation in more than one WIC clinic, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, or verification of income is permissible. Discussion of information otherwise considered confidential, such as names and birthdates, is allowed to the extent that it is required in the investigation.
  4. Suspected child abuse or neglect must be reported to the appropriate child protection agency as specified in N.R.S. 432B.220. In the reporting and subsequent investigation, the requirements of N.R.S., 432B.280 will be followed.
  5. All court ordered subpoenas for participant files or staff appearance in court must first be reported to the State WIC Program Manager for review on a case-by-case basis. This includes court ordered subpoenas for information related to the investigation of suspected child abuse not reported by the WIC clinic. The state WIC Program Manager will then advise the local agency/clinic of the next procedure to follow.
  6. The release of de-identified statistical information may be made without exception. For example, local WIC Programs may disclose information to persons engaged in scientific research, program evaluation, peer review, quality assurance, and fiscal audits as long as the released information excludes any items that would identify program participants or applicants. Before releasing any information local agencies must contact the state WIC office.
  7. Local WIC Programs may disclose confidential applicant and participant information to public organizations for use in the administration of their programs that serve persons eligible for the WIC Program in accordance with the following;
    • Prior to sharing confidential participant information, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) must be signed between WIC and the receiving agency. The MOU must state the purpose(s) for which the confidential information will be used.
    • The Chief State health officer (or in the case of an Indian State Agency, the governing authority) must designate in writing the permitted non-WIC uses of the information and the names of the organizations to which such information may be disclosed.
    • The applicant or participant must be notified either at the time of application or through subsequent notice by signing the Rights and Responsibilities Form.
  8. Information regarding actual or suspected alcohol or drug abuse may be shared only if the participant has signed a Release of Information Form specifying agreement to this release.
  9. Transfers of information between WIC clinics in other states and the State of Nevada WIC clinics are permitted without a written authorization from the participant.

Security of applicant/participant Information

Local agency/clinic personnel with access to WIC applicant/participant information will be limited to WIC staff, managers, and State WIC Program administration.

At all times, applicant/participant information will be kept confidential and protected in the following manner:

  1. WIC staff must ensure that all applicant/participant information is secured in a locked file when not in use.
  2. Participant information will not be accessible to other participants. Participant charts must not be left on desks or other areas where other participants could view the information. This includes covering previous participant signatures on the Nevada WIC EBT Card Issuance / Inventory Log. Interviews with participants should be done in private areas (separate offices, cubicles, dividers).
  3. WIC staff may discuss applicant/participant information with other WIC staff in private areas, where the information cannot be overheard by other applicant/participants, staff from other programs or the general public.
  4. WIC staff will ensure that a professional attitude is maintained at all times regarding applicant/participant information. Only use information from participant records for the care of the participant and not for personal reasons.
  5. WIC computer application is password protected, always log off or lock your computer before leaving your work station.
  6. Keep JPMorgan application password in a secure location and never share your password(s) with anyone.

Release of Information

The Release of Information Form is used to ensure that applicant/participant consent is given before their information is released. When the participant requests release of their information, the local agency/clinic is instructed to obtain

a completed and signed Release of Information Form from the applicant/ participant, stating what information they are authorizing to be released. After the information is sent to the authorized recipient, the Release of Information Form will be placed in the participant’s record.

A signed Release of Information form is not required when exchanging WIC VOC information with another state, or within the State of Nevada.