Healthcare Center for Children’s (HCC) child protection policy and confidentiality agreements: designed to protect the privacy and confidentiality of clients
Name: Mr. Ven Savoeun
Email address: hcc.adm.fin(at)online.com.kh, hcc.ed(at)online.com.kh
Date of profile: October 2011
Tools: Child protection policy and confidentiality agreements
To protect the privacy, confidentiality, dignity and rights of all clients affected by human trafficking, exploitation and abuse
To develop trust and the disclosure of accurate information between the client and case worker
Background and context:
These policies were developed and implemented due to concerns that the confidentiality and privacy of clients residing in HCC’s shelters could be compromised by visitors, volunteers and staff.
In order to provide safety, confidentiality and privacy at every part of the re-integration process for clients, the child protection policy and additional confidentiality agreements for visitors, volunteers, donors, sponsors and researchers were developed.
Confidentiality is essential at all stages of the recovery and re-integration process during referral, assessment, counselling, service provision, family mediation, legal proceedings and when using information for the purposes of report writing, research, evaluation, training and fundraising.
Since conception, the policies have been regularly revisited and refined. The current policy is now in its fifth edition.
What the tools do:
The child protection policy and confidentiality agreements aim to protect clients who are under HCC’s care at all stages of their recovery and re-integration. The policies also aim to inform staff, volunteers, consultants and all visitors of what are appropriate responses and behaviours when working and visiting HCC centres.
The child protection policy and confidentiality agreements cover the following areas:
Recruitment – All staff are screened, receive background checks and undergo an orientation and training on the child protection policy and procedures. All staff are required to sign to acknowledge they have read and understood the policy.
Behaviour standards – The policy outlines appropriate and inappropriate behaviour for staff and volunteers. This covers language, actions, relationships and contact with children and other clients.
Procedures for reporting and investigating alleged child abuse – This includes guidelines for reporting and responding.
Guidelines for visitors – All visitors, including researchers, sponsors and donors must be signed in and out, be monitored and accompanied at all times.
Guidelines on the use of photography and film – This section includes a ‘youth media consent form’ for children to consent to being interviewed, photographed or filmed.
Documentation and information security – The confidentiality agreements contain thorough guidelines on who may access what information, what information is confidential, how information should be securely stored and the need for informed consent from clients before information can be shared.
Monitoring and revisions – The implementation of the policy is done through self-monitoring and the policy and agreements are revised when necessary.
The following outcomes have been reported by HCC staff:
Greater trust between the client and case worker
More accurate information, as clients are more likely to give truthful and detailed accounts of their experiences
More information is shared between the client and case manager, which leads to a clearer assessment of a client?s needs and a better response
A higher level of safety and security to clients in the re-integration process
Individuals have more control over the use and exchange of their information with other parties
Non-discrimination and an individual response:
The policy is in place for all clients served by HCC and for all staff, volunteers and visitors who come into contact with the clients. The confidentiality agreements are in place partly to minimise stigma and discrimination by staff, other clients, visitors and the public.
All clients are made aware of the confidentiality agreements and that release of information about them requires their informed consent as well as that of their guardians. Clients are also advised that they have the right to access information held about them by HCC.
Protection and the best interests of the child:
The policy and agreements are based on the child?s right to safety, protection, confidentiality and dignity.
Sustainability and replication:
The child protection and confidentiality agreements could be replicated in different contexts. In order to replicate, organisations would need to conduct sufficient privacy and confidentiality training, produce a secure policy and agreements and monitor the implementation of these policies. The organisation should also frequently revisit and re-evaluate the policies and the methods of training in order to ensure they are up to date.
The key factors that make this practice effective:
Frequent access to training for staff on the policy and guidelines
Sufficient understanding of staff on the importance of this practice
Frequent monitoring of the policy and agreements
Regular reflection on and updating of the policy and agreements
Some staff may fear breaching confidentiality of clients and therefore they do not include all the necessary information in reports and evaluations
It is difficult to monitor staff when they are engaged in informal discussions regarding clients. Staff members who spend a significant amount of time with the client often forget that speaking about them with other staff members may breach their confidentiality
It is important to provide at least bi-annual refresher training to all staff on the policies and on confidentiality
When clients return home to their communities HCC can’t ensure confidentiality and the client may face stigma and discrimination if family and community members are aware of their situation
In some cases where there is a significant risk of harm to the client or others around them, confidentiality must be broken as protection may override the right to confidentiality
Information stored on computers can be a risk if individuals are able to hack in and access confidential files
The practice rests largely on the idea of self-regulation. Staff, volunteers and visitors are expected to abide by the policies but there are limitations to monitoring behaviours and actions
When staff leave HCC, it is difficult to ensure that they uphold the confidentiality of the clients that they worked with