Jurisdictions working to improve practice and outcomes in relation to youth involved in the child welfare and/or juvenile justice system must engage in some level of information and data sharing to achieve its goals. However, information sharing is a complicated issue rooted in the complexity of the laws and regulations that guide its practice. To serve jurisdictions seeking to enhance system performance and youth outcomes, the RFK National Resource Center has developed numerous tools and resources to support information and data sharing reform efforts, and provides on-site technical assistance and consultation to communities throughout the country.

Featured Information Sharing Resources

Information Sharing Tool Kit, Second Edition

Through the support of the MacArthur Foundation, and in close partnership with the Juvenile Law Center (JLC), the RFK National Resource Center developed a model framework to address the complexities of information and data sharing, detailed in the Information Sharing Tool Kit (2008). In 2015, the RFK National Resource Center and JLC released an updated edition of the Tool Kit as a new online resource: www.infosharetoolkit.org

This interactive website is designed to assist jurisdictions in creating and implementing information and data sharing initiatives to achieve better outcomes for youth involved in the juvenile justice system. The Tool Kit guides users through the consideration of relevant laws and policies, the purposes and value of information sharing, the appropriate limits on sharing, and how to minimize the potential negative collateral consequences of information sharing such as self-incrimination and net widening. The framework detailed in the Tool Kit addresses three levels of information and data sharing:

Category One: Information sharing for purposes of individual case planning and decision-making. This involves the collection and sharing of personally identifiable information to better coordinate case planning on behalf of individual children and their families.

Category Two: Data collection and sharing for law, policy and program development. The goal in Category Two is to develop aggregated data on the characteristics of specific case populations to improve policies and practices and better coordinate responses involving multiple agencies.

Category Three: Data collection and sharing for program evaluation and performance measurement. The goal of Category Three is to develop aggregated data to measure performance and the effectiveness of programs and practices designed to improve child and family outcomes.

The Information Sharing Tool Kit provides a section on each category and features a variety of learning resources, including:

  • A comprehensive federal law overview
  • Interactive scenarios based on real-life situations to test your knowledge of the law
  • Multiple tools including templates for interagency agreements and sample release forms
  • Principles or positive values for responsible information sharing
  • Step-by-step guidelines to develop and implement an information/data collection and sharing project
  • Case studies from various jurisdictions

Other useful resources include:

A Guide to Legal and Policy Analysis for Systems Integration
By Jessica Heldman (Child Welfare League of America, 2006)

Federal Law Compilation – Relevant Excerpts from Important Federal Statutes and Consolidated Federal Regulations (updated 2013)

Use of the framework along with onsite training and technical assistance from the RFK National Resource Center has resulted in federal and state statutory reform, state and county information sharing resource guides, and a cadre of tools, resources and instructional curricula that support development of important information sharing agreements, data sharing agreements, and new policies, practices, and protocols. These products include:

Examples of Information Sharing Standards and Resource Guides:

Ohio – Linking Systems of Care for Ohio Youth (2021) – in progress  

Massachusetts – Guide on the Disclosure of Confidential Information (2018)

California – Dual-Status Youth Data Standards (AB 1911): 2017 Report to the Legislature

Louisiana – Developing a Juvenile Justice Information Sharing Agreement: Process and Pitfalls (2013)

Clark County, Washington – Resource Guide for Information Sharing (2012)

King County, Washington – Resource Guide for Information Sharing (2009)

Arizona – Resource Guide for Information Sharing (2008)

Examples of Codified Law and Case Law Reviews:

Minnesota – Codified Law Review (2013)

Florida – Codified Law and Case Law Review (2011)

Nebraska – Codified Law Review (2010)

South Dakota – Codified Law and Case Law Review (2007)

California – Codified Law Review (2006)