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Minnesota Department of Human Services Combined Manual
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CLIENT RIGHTS, PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL DATA

ISSUE DATE: 12/2014

Data collected and maintained by county agencies about people are private, unless specifically classified otherwise by law. Private data are accessible to the subject of the data or the subject’s authorized representative.

State law classifies some data collected and maintained by county agencies as confidential. Confidential data is not accessible to the subject of the data.

County human service, corrections, public health, and veterans services agencies within a county may inform each other when a person or family is currently being served by the county unit, without the consent of the subject of the data. Beyond informing of involvement with these county units, data sharing is limited to name, telephone number, and last known address of the data subject, and the identification and contact information regarding personnel of the county unit responsible for working with the person or family. If additional information is needed, the county may share if the unit is authorized by state statute or federal law, or if the person gives written, informed consent.

Refer to the Data Practices Manual issued by DHS for further information. This manual is not available in printed copy.

Clients may review private records which contain information on them. Only the information classified as private or public is available for review by the client. Private or public data must be actually shown to the subject of the data and not summarized.

Honor requests for review as soon as possible, but no later than 10 days following the request. Do not count weekends and holidays in the 10-day period. When the county agency tells the client during the initial 10 days it needs more time, it may take up to an additional 10 days with a mutual agreement with the client. The county agency may set the place and time of review.

Data on 2 or more people maintained in a common file because of family relationships are "joint records". Delete material in joint records about the person not requesting the review to protect that person’s privacy. Parents may view records of their minor children, unless:

There is a court order preventing access to the data.

OR

The minor children request in writing that the agency deny parental access to the data, and the agency determines that accessing the data by the parent(s) is not in the best interest of the children.


Provide copies of original documents when requested by the subject of the data or the subject’s authorized representative. Provide 1 free copy of a document and additional copies at the cost of reproduction.


MFIP, DWP:

County agencies and Employment Services Providers (ESPs) are required to follow data privacy procedures. It is important that counties, tribes, and ESPs ensure confidentiality to victims of family violence. This is critical when the victim of family violence lives with the abuser. You should consult with your county attorney regarding your county’s data practices policy if you are uncertain how to apply this policy.

Obtain a release of information from the client prior to talking to a family violence advocate about the client’s issues relating to family violence. Financial workers and job counselors must consult with the client to determine where mail should be sent or phone calls made. Do not assume that mail can be sent or phone calls can be made to the client’s residence as often the abuser is still in the home or has access to the home.

All requirements related to data privacy and confidentiality that apply to other MFIP cases also apply to MFIP cases that have been approved for a hardship extension. Clients have a legal right to review the data we collect and maintain on them. A stamp of "confidential" by the health care provider (authorized licensed medical or mental health professional) does not change that right, EXCEPT under rare circumstances when the health care provider specifically requests that the information be withheld from the client because it is determined that:

Certain information contained in the record may be detrimental to the physical or mental health of the client.

OR

Certain information is likely to cause the client to inflict self harm or harm to others.


Inform health care providers that the client will be allowed access to all of the information they submit unless the health care provider specifically identifies that the information be withheld as described above.


SNAP, MSA, GA, GRH:

Follow general provisions.

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