Notice of Privacy Practices
This notice describes how your Personally Identifiable Information may be used and disclosed. Please review it carefully.
This notice is effective March 29, 2021
Pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes § 8-807, the Department of Child Safety (DCS) has the authority to gather information when conducting investigations of child abuse and neglect, and when coordinating the activities related to children in the care of the Department. This information often includes “personally identifiable information” (PII), defined as any information that could reasonably be used to identify a person, including name, address, telephone number, email address, Social Security number, birth date, etc. Because DCS recognizes that the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of PII can directly affect an individual’s right to privacy, protecting the confidentiality of information belonging to children, youth, and families is of paramount importance to the Department.
DCS reports and records include all information (electronic, written, or oral) maintained by the Department pertaining to the initial report of child abuse or neglect and subsequent child welfare services. Case records contain written and/or multi-media information that personally identifies individuals.
At all times, DCS Specialists shall take steps to protect client confidentiality. When interviewing collateral sources and contacts, DCS Specialists only pose questions that are necessary to obtain the required information and shares information only on a “need to know” basis. All client information that is collected, both hard copy and electronic, shall be protected in accordance with applicable state and federal law. If DCS makes any changes to practices or policies that impact privacy, this notice shall be amended before, or as soon as practicable after, the changes.
Disclosure, defined as providing copies or permitting review of written records or providing an oral summary of records maintained by DCS, generally requires client consent. Consent means permission given in writing to disclose specified information within a limited time period to specifically identified individuals or entities. Whenever possible, DCS Specialists will ask individuals to sign a consent form when they are first asked to provide PII. This consent may be revoked at any time. However, disclosure of information without a client's consent is sometimes permissible or mandated by statute. DCS may disclose client information, in either verbal or documentary form, in the normal course of their duties to:
- the child in an open case;
- a child’s parent or legal guardian in an open case;
- a child’s attorney or other authorized representative in an open case;
- other DCS staff with a business reason to know;
- an Assistant Attorney General;
- the Juvenile Court for purposes of a court hearing related to a specific case;
- a Foster Care Review Board or Court Appointed Special Advocate;
- a service provider to assist in family strengthening and/or reunification;
- any third party for whom there is a signed and current release of information from the client or the client’s authorized representative.
Additionally, DCS may disclose PII to a law enforcement agency to prosecute any violation involving child abuse or neglect, to assert the rights of a child as a victim of a crime, or to help prosecute any violation involving domestic violence or sexual assault. Other reasons to disclose information may be found in Arizona Revised Statutes § 8-807 and include assisting a family court in promoting the safety and well-being of children.
Before DCS information is released, the Department shall take whatever precautions are reasonably necessary to protect the identity and safety of the reporting source and to protect any other person the Department believes would be endangered or harmed by the disclosure. These precautions include the redaction of PII related to the reporting source and the identity of any person whose life may be endangered by the disclosure. The Department is not required to release DCS information if the Department can demonstrate that disclosure would cause a specific, material harm to a DCS or criminal investigation.
To summarize, PII is disclosed either with the informed and voluntary authorization of the person the information relates to (or someone such as a parent or guardian legally authorized to consent) or pursuant to an explicit exception to the consent requirement under applicable federal and state laws.
Loss of PII
If a DCS employee suspects or is aware that any confidential information has been lost or stolen, the loss or theft must immediately be reported to the employee’s supervisor and an Unusual Incident Report shall be submitted. A person who releases confidential DCS information in violation of ARS §8-807 is guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor.
Redress and Complaints
Individuals may obtain access to their PII. If you believe that personally identifiable information has been improperly disclosed by the Department, or that the PII contains factually incorrect information, please contact the DCS Privacy Officer at [email protected] or:
Arizona Department of Child Safety
3003 N. Central Ave.
Phoenix AZ 85012
The DCS Privacy Officer will send you a written notification when this completed form is received. If additional information is needed to investigate your complaint, that information will be requested in the notification. The DCS Privacy Officer will conduct a timely and impartial investigation of your complaint. Upon completion of the investigation, you will receive a written response to your complaint.
If you have questions about our Agency’s Privacy Notice, please do not hesitate to contact us.