Home visiting programs collect a wealth of data from families and clients throughout their participation in home visiting services. This information is critical to inform eligibility, tailor services provided, and identify needs for referrals. States may be interested in linking these types of data with data on the same families from other sources (e.g., child welfare system, child care subsidy system, or social service programs). As states begin to integrate home visiting data on families, they will need to first identify which regulations, data sharing agreements, or requirements exist that protect the privacy of families’ data when integrating data from different sources. This information will help states determine whether and when family consent is needed to use and share data.
Once states identify the requirement(s) for family consent, they will need to develop a process for obtaining this consent. For this purpose, consent is permission provided by a parent or legal guardian to collect, document, access, use, or share data collected from, or about, the child or family. Often, families participating in home visiting or other early childhood programs are already providing consent for data to be collected and used for other purposes. When a parent provides consent, they are acknowledging that they allow for their information to be used or shared by whomever collects it. The consent may also clarify the purpose of data collected, and under what circumstances a program may be required (or plan) to disclose a family’s information. When families choose not to provide consent, their information cannot be used or shared, with some exceptions per state or federal law. These exceptions can also be due to particular funder requirements.
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