Juvenile Law Center

Child Welfare and Foster Care|Juvenile and Criminal Justice

Information Sharing

Collecting and sharing information is critical to achieving better outcomes for youth involved in the child welfare and justice systems. For example, to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system, multiple partners must collect, share, and analyze data to target appropriate decision-making points for intervention. Child welfare agencies, juvenile probation offices, schools, and treatment providers need to timely share accurate information to coordinate case plans for children in their care. All of these agencies need data to determine which interventions work most effectively with the children they serve. Information collection and sharing is at the heart of many reform initiatives on behalf of our most vulnerable youth.

Child-serving professionals and agencies face many challenges in deciding how and when to share information. Multiple federal and state laws govern the collection and sharing of information about youth and their families. Misunderstanding of these laws sometimes causes professionals not to share information when they legally can; at other times, information is inappropriately released. Highly sensitive information can harm youth when put in the wrong hands or used for the wrong purpose. See Protecting and Expunging Juvenile Records.

Juvenile Law Center works to advance responsible and legal information sharing that:

  1. respects the privacy, due process and other rights of system-involved youth, and
  2. promotes opportunities for coordinated case planning for individual youth and aggregates data for policy and program development and evaluation purposes.

Juvenile Law Center provides various tools, training, and technical assistance to the field to achieve these goals. With our partners at the Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice (RFK), Juvenile Law Center launched the Second Edition of the Models for Change Information Sharing Tool Kit.

Funded by the MacArthur Foundation as part of the Models for Change initiative, the online Tool Kit provides practitioners with a comprehensive review of confidentiality laws, interactive scenarios based on real-life information sharing challenges, case studies, principles, and step-by-step guidelines to implement successful information sharing initiatives.

Juvenile Law Center serves as consultant to an RFK project to create an online training curriculum on confidentiality laws for attorneys and also partners with RFK and the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) at Georgetown University to offer the Information Sharing Certificate Program. This training and technical assistance program enables leaders in the juvenile justice, child welfare, education, behavioral health and other child-serving fields to develop and implement information sharing projects.

Juvenile Law Center also works to enact laws and court rules that protect youth from self-incrimination when undergoing screening, assessment and treatment for mental health problems.  See Mental Health Treatment and Self-Incrimination.


Last updated: 2/8/2015

Support Juvenile Law Center

One of the most important lessons from our 40 years of experience is that children involved with the justice and foster care systems need zealous legal advocates. Your support for our work is more important now than ever before. Support