Sonoma County Protocol Governing Information Sharing by Sonoma County Homeless Adult and Family Multidisciplinary Personnel Teams Convened Pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code Section 18999.8 (AB 210 Protocol)
Assembly Bill 210, now codified at California Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) section 18999.8, expresses the State Legislature’s recognition that the exchange of otherwise confidential information is critically important for multidisciplinary personnel teams identifying and assessing homeless adults and families and linking them to housing and supportive services within a county.
Sonoma County (County) similarly recognized the importance of sharing information by authorizing the Accessing Coordinated Care to Empower Self Sufficiency (ACCESS) initiative, which establishes an interdepartmental multidisciplinary team (IMDT) to improve the well-being, self-sufficiency, and recovery of vulnerable residents, including homeless residents.
1.0 Purpose and Scope of this Protocol
This protocol applies to the sharing of confidential information by AB 210 MDTs under the authority of WIC section 18999.9. The sharing of confidential information pursuant to this protocol is intended to facilitate the expedited identification, assessment, and linkage of homeless individuals to housing and supportive services within the County and to allow provider agencies to share confidential information for the purpose of coordinating housing and supportive services to ensure continuity of care. This protocol is also intended to ensure that confidential information gathered by the team is not disclosed in violation of State or federal law.
County and each of the agencies on an AB 210 MDT are committed to preserving and maintaining the confidentiality of the information by limiting the disclosure of such information to that which has been determined to be generally relevant to the identification, assessment, and linkage of homeless individuals and families to housing and supportive services; by preventing unauthorized access to or disclosure of such information; and by ensuring safeguards are in place to protect the confidentiality and security of such information.
1.1 Relationship to ACCESS Sonoma Initiative
3.0 Participating Agencies
- 3.1 Sonoma County Departments, their contracted agency providers, other governmental agency partners, and any other agencies/organizations that has, as one of its purposes, the identification, assessment, and linkage of homeless individuals to housing and supportive services to homeless adults or families within the County, may become “Participating Agencies” subject to this protocol. Pursuant to WIC 18999.8(b)(3), Participating Agencies in the County may include:
- • Sonoma County Community Development Commission (CDC)
- • Department of Health Services (DHS)
- • Human Services Department including Veterans’ Services (HSD)
- • Sonoma County Probation Department (Probation)
- • Sonoma County Public Defender (PD)
- • Sonoma County District Attorney (DA)
- • Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office (SO)
- • Chief Administrator’s Office (CAO)
- • Sonoma County Counsel (C.C.)
- • Sonoma County Information Services Department (ISD)
- 3.2 Additional County Departments, Contracted Agencies, Governmental Agencies, and Partner Agencies may be added as a Participating Agency upon approval by Sonoma County Safety Net Collaborative and compliance with applicable terms herein.
- 3.4 All Participating County Departments will receive notice if a Participating County Department elects to cease participation or when an additional County Department becomes a Participating Agency.
4.0 Establishment of the Multidisciplinary Personnel Teams
Workforce Members of any Participating Agency who meet the criteria set forth in WIC 18999.8(b)(2) shall be eligible to participate as members of a homeless adult and family multidisciplinary team. The multidisciplinary personnel team may include any or all of those categories of persons listed in WIC section 18999.8(b)(2). An AB 210 MDT may include the Workforce Members identified in Attachment B to this protocol.
5.0 Information/Data Items that May be Disclosed and Exchanged among Members of the Homeless Adult and Family Multidisciplinary Personnel Team
- 5.1 The members of the homeless adult and family multidisciplinary personnel team may disclose to and exchange with one another, information that may be designated as confidential under State law, if the members of the homeless adult and family multidisciplinary personnel team possessing that information reasonably believe it is generally relevant to the identification, assessment, and linkage of homeless adults and families to housing and supportive services, provided that no information may be shared in a manner prohibited by federal law or regulations.
- 5.1.1 “Relevant” information shall include any information that has any tendency to assist a homeless adult and family multidisciplinary personnel team to identify, assess, and link homeless adults and families to housing and supportive services. The categories of relevant information that may be shared are set forth in <u>Attachment A</u> to this protocol.
- 5.1.2 Representatives of domestic violence victim service organizations, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 1037.1 of the Evidence Code, shall obtain a domestic violence victim’s informed consent, in accordance with all applicable state and federal confidentiality laws, before disclosing information regarding a domestic violence victim or the victim’s family.
- 5.1.3 Unless there is written authorization, in accordance with all applicable laws, by the patient, information provided by DHS and its contractors concerning substance abuse treatment shall be limited to indicating that there is no record of a particular individual in the Behavioral Health Substance Use Disorder Services (SUD) records.
- 5.2 Participating Agencies shall take reasonable steps to ensure information is complete, accurate, and up to date to the extent necessary for the agency’s intended purposes and that the information has not been altered or destroyed in an unauthorized manner.
- 5.3 No confidential information or writings shall be disclosed to persons who are not members of the homeless adult and family multidisciplinary personnel team, except to the extent required or permitted under applicable law.
- 5.4 Information and writings shared pursuant to this protocol are confidential. Testimony concerning the information and writings shared pursuant to this protocol is not admissible in any criminal, civil, or juvenile court proceeding. Further, information and writings shared pursuant to this protocol shall be protected from discovery and disclosure by all applicable statutory and common law protections. In addition, law enforcement shall not use any information obtained via AB 210 for purposes other than to identify, assist, and link homeless individuals and families with housing and supportive services.
6.0 How Information May be Shared
- 6.1 Information may be shared by and between MDT members in person, telephonically, via facsimile or electronically in a manner consistent with WIC 18999.8(c)(2).
- 6.2 Electronic sharing of information/data under this Protocol will be facilitated by existing electronic data systems and electronic data systems that are under development (Data Systems).
- 6.3 Participating Agencies shall comply with the applicable information retention schedule established by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors in accordance with applicable laws.
7.0 Use of Shared Information
Information shared pursuant to this protocol will be used to facilitate the identification and assessment of homeless adults and families and their linkage to the most appropriate housing and supportive services. The information will be used to keep Participating Agencies informed about the services homeless adults and families are currently receiving or have received in the past.
Shared information will be used to coordinate care, ensure continuity of care, and reduce duplication and fragmentation of services.
8.0 Policies and Procedures
9.0 Ensuring Confidentiality
- 9.1 Participating Agencies shall employ security controls that meet applicable federal and state standards, including reasonable administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to ensure data confidentiality, integrity, and availability and to prevent unauthorized or inappropriate access, use, or disclosure.
- 9.2 Every member of the homeless adult and family multidisciplinary personnel team who receives information or records regarding adults and families in his or her capacity as a member of the team shall sign the ACCESS Sonoma IMDT Confidentiality Agreement. Such members shall be under the same privacy and confidentiality obligations and subject to the same confidentiality penalties as the person disclosing or providing the information or records. The information or records obtained shall be maintained in a manner that ensures the maximum protection of privacy and confidentiality rights.
- 9.3 Information and records communicated or provided to the team members by all providers and agencies shall be deemed private and confidential and shall be protected from discovery and disclosure by all applicable statutory and common law protections. Existing civil and criminal penalties shall apply to the inappropriate disclosure of information held by the team members.
10.0 Implementation and Oversight
The Sonoma County Safety Net Collaborative will provide oversight and coordination of activities under this protocol and the development and implementation that supports this protocol, in addition to serving as a Participating Agency.
The Sonoma County Information Services Department will assist in the development and implementation of any new County government information system that directly supports the exchange of information under this protocol.
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