As the Director, I take my responsibilities very seriously. Two of my most important responsibilities are the protection of vulnerable children, and the protection of the confidential, personal and private information of Oregonians.
Oregon state law and federal laws, passed and signed by elected representatives, set out very clear requirements for the confidentiality of information in child welfare cases -- and other DHS cases, too. The purpose of these laws is to ensure that the highly personal and sensitive information of the individuals involved is released only when parties to the case agree to make their own information public.
There are times when the public has a great desire to know more, and the laws make exceptions in certain circumstances. A good example is the CIRT process – that is, the Critical Incident Response Team process that happens when a child who is known to DHS is seriously injured or killed by abuse or neglect. In those tragic circumstances, Oregon law requires the state to release information about the agency’s actions with the child and family.
Nearly all of the rest of the information we receive and gather is protected – and it should be. We understand the delicate balance between the public's desire to know and the need to protect confidential information, but we follow the laws of this state and nation regarding the protection of the privacy, especially of children who have already been victimized by adults in their lives.
As a state agency, we have incredible power to change lives, and I am committed to using that power with a light touch and with reverence for the privacy of children and families we serve.
Thank you for all you do. Have a great week!