Confidentiality helps build trust and a relationship with an advocate in which a survivor can get emotional support and make decisions among available options. Ideally, programs teach mothers self-advocacy skills that help her decide not only what to share with her CPS worker, but also how to convey information in a way that maximizes CPS’s responsiveness to her and her children’s needs. When a survivor needs assistance from an advocate, a release of information (ROI) is used to define what advocate can share with CPS to inform their intervention and decision-making.
DV programs should provide an explanation (in mother’s first language) of how sharing information may result in better outcomes in her CPS case, as well as cautions about the possibility that it may not work in her favor or as she hopes. This “informed consent” process should be based on knowledge of local CPS staff as well as policies and procedures, and programs should offer to continue to support the mother throughout her involvement in CPS.
- Do staff routinely talk to and strategize with mothers about their CPS cases?
- Do DV staff regularly communicate with CPS workers (with an ROI) to help them make sense of the information they have available to them?
- How does the program provide information to CPS about mother’s participation in services, and her application of what she is learning to her own situation? How are mothers helped to convey what they have learned to their CPS worker?
- Do shelter confidentiality policies allow for CPS visits to see the context in which mother is parenting (stressful, traumatized, crowded, etc)?
Strategies for working together:
- Protocols for information sharing, and jointly developed informed consent guidance and releases of information to meet multiple needs of survivors
- Three-way case meetings (DV advocate, survivor, and CPS)