Children's Bureau Safety, Permanency, Well-being  Advanced
 Search

Search for:   in 

8.4E TITLE IV-E, General Title IV-E Requirements, Confidentiality

Items with a star (*) and gray background have been modified from previous record.

Question Number 4:
06/13/2013 - Current
QuestionUnder what authority may the Department review closed or sealed foster care records, particularly for those children who have been adopted?
AnswerSection 471(a)(8) of the Social Security Act requires a title IV-E plan to provide safeguards restricting use and disclosure of information concerning individuals assisted by the title IV-E programs. It also indicates that a title IV-E plan must provide: Safeguards which restrict the use of information concerning individuals assisted under the Plan to purposes directly connected with... (C) the administration of any other federal or federally assisted program which provides assistance, in cash or in kind, or services, directly to individuals on the basis of need, and (D) any audit or similar activity conducted in connection with the administration of any such plan or program by any governmental agency which is authorized by law to conduct such audit or activity; and the safeguards so provided shall prohibit disclosure, to any committee or legislative body (other than an agency referred to in (D), with respect to any activity referred to in such clause), of any information which identifies by name or address any such applicant or recipients except that nothing contained herein shall preclude a State or Tribe from providing standards which restrict disclosures to purposes more limited than those specified herein, or which in the case of adoptions, prevent disclosure entirely.

While the language of section 471(a) (8) (D) provides that States and Tribes may restrict disclosure entirely of adoption assistance records, that subsection, read in its entirety and in harmony with other sections of the Act, indicates that Congress did not intend to restrict access to federal auditors of information essential for audits under the title IV-E programs.

In particular, section 471(a) (8) (D) itself provides for disclosure of information concerning individuals assisted by the title IV-E programs for purposes directly connected with audits conducted by the Federal Government and otherwise authorized by law.

The authority for Federal audits of the title IV-E programs is expressly provided for under section 471 (a)(6). That section requires that a Plan, in order to qualify for FFP for title IV-E, provide that the appropriate agency will make such reports, in such form and containing such information as the Secretary may from time to time find necessary to assure the correctness and verification of such reports.

The legislative history of section 471(a)(8) also reveals that while Congress was concerned about providing safeguards which limited access to information on individuals assisted by the title IV-E programs, it did not intend to hinder the essential function of Federal audits. Thus, while Congress extended to States and Tribes the option of imposing restrictions broader than those imposed in the past on the disclosure of information for the protection of the confidentiality of recipients of adoption assistance, it did not impede essential auditing functions by those authorized to conduct such audits.

Accordingly, in the case of reviews of the eligibility of foster care and adoption assistance claims, the title IV-E agency must make available foster care and adoption records (including sealed foster care and adoption records) in order to document the eligibility of the beneficiaries (children) and related costs of administration. If the requested records cannot or are not made available, all payments made on behalf of the children whose records have not been made available for review and associated costs will be disallowed.

Source/DateACYF-PA-85-02 (12/19/85) (revised 6/6/13)
Legal and Related References*Social Security Act - sections 471 (a)(6) and (8) and 479Bb; H.R. Rep. Conf. No. 96-900, 96th Congress 2nd Session 44 (1980)

Back to top


06/11/2013 - 06/13/2013
QuestionUnder what authority may the Department review closed or sealed foster care records, particularly for those children who have been adopted?
Answer*Section 471(a)(8) of the Social Security Act requires a title IV-E plan to provide safeguards restricting use and disclosure of information concerning individuals assisted by the title IV-E programs. It also indicates that a title IV-E plan must provide: Safeguards which restrict the use of information concerning individuals assisted under the Plan to purposes directly connected with... (C) the administration of any other federal or federally assisted program which provides assistance, in cash or in kind, or services, directly to individuals on the basis of need, and (D) any audit or similar activity conducted in connection with the administration of any such plan or program by any governmental agency which is authorized by law to conduct such audit or activity; and the safeguards so provided shall prohibit disclosure, to any committee or legislative body (other than an agency referred to in (D), with respect to any activity referred to in such clause), of any information which identifies by name or address any such applicant or recipients except that nothing contained herein shall preclude a State or Tribe from providing standards which restrict disclosures to purposes more limited than those specified herein, or which in the case of adoptions, prevent disclosure entirely.

While the language of section 471(a) (8) (D) provides that States and Tribes may restrict disclosure entirely of adoption assistance records, that subsection, read in its entirety and in harmony with other sections of the Act, indicates that Congress did not intend to restrict access to federal auditors of information essential for audits under the title IV-E programs.

In particular, section 471(a) (8) (D) itself provides for disclosure of information concerning individuals assisted by the title IV-E programs for purposes directly connected with audits conducted by the Federal Government and otherwise authorized by law.

The authority for Federal audits of the title IV-E programs is expressly provided for under section 471 (a)(6). That section requires that a Plan, in order to qualify for FFP for title IV-E, provide that the appropriate agency will make such reports, in such form and containing such information as the Secretary may from time to time find necessary to assure the correctness and verification of such reports.

The legislative history of section 471(a)(8) also reveals that while Congress was concerned about providing safeguards which limited access to information on individuals assisted by the title IV-E programs, it did not intend to hinder the essential function of Federal audits. Thus, while Congress extended to States and Tribes the option of imposing restrictions broader than those imposed in the past on the disclosure of information for the protection of the confidentiality of recipients of adoption assistance, it did not impede essential auditing functions by those authorized to conduct such audits.

Accordingly, in the case of reviews of the eligibility of foster care and adoption assistance claims, the title IV-E agency must make available foster care and adoption records (including sealed foster care and adoption records) in order to document the eligibility of the beneficiaries (children) and related costs of administration. If the requested records cannot or are not made available, all payments made on behalf of the children whose records have not been made available for review and associated costs will be disallowed.

Source/Date*ACYF-PA-85-02 (12/19/85) (revised 6/6/13)
Legal and Related References*Social Security Act - section 471 (a)(6) and (8) and 479Bb; H.R. Rep. Conf. No. 96-900, 96th Congress 2nd Session 44 (1980)

Back to top


09/15/2000 - 06/11/2013 (Original Record)
QuestionUnder what authority may the Department review closed or sealed foster care records, particularly for those children who have been adopted?
AnswerSection 471(a)(8) of the Social Security Act requires a State Plan to provide safeguards restricting use and disclosure of information concerning individuals assisted by the foster care and adoption assistance programs. It also indicates that a State Plan must provide: Safeguards which restrict the use of information concerning individuals assisted under the State Plan to purposes directly connected with... (C) the administration of any other federal or federally assisted program which provides assistance, in cash or in kind, or services, directly to individuals on the basis of need, and (D) any audit or similar activity conducted in connection with the administration of any such plan or program by any governmental agency which is authorized by law to conduct such audit or activity; and the safeguards so provided shall prohibit disclosure, to any committee or legislative body (other than an agency referred to in (D), with respect to any activity referred to in such clause), of any information which identifies by name or address any such applicant or recipients except that nothing contained herein shall preclude a State from providing standards which restrict disclosures to purposes more limited than those specified herein, or which in the case of adoptions, prevent disclosure entirely.

While the language of section 471(a) (8) (D) provides that States may restrict disclosure entirely of adoption assistance records, that subsection, read in its entirety and in harmony with other sections of the Act, indicates that Congress did not intend to restrict access to federal auditors of information essential for audits under the title IV-E foster care and adoption assistance programs.

In particular, section 471(a) (8) (D) itself provides for disclosure of information concerning individuals assisted by the foster care and adoption assistance programs for purposes directly connected with audits conducted by the Federal Government and otherwise authorized by law.

The authority for Federal audits of the foster care and adoption assistance programs is expressly provided for under section 471 (a)(6). That section requires that a State Plan, in order to qualify for FFP for foster care and adoption assistance, provide that the appropriate State agency will make such reports, in such form and containing such information as the Secretary may from time to time find necessary to assure the correctness and verification of such reports.

The legislative history of section 471(a)(8) also reveals that while Congress was concerned about providing safeguards which limited access to information on individuals assisted by the title IV-E programs, it did not intend to hinder the essential function of Federal audits. Thus, while Congress extended to States the option of imposing restrictions broader than those imposed in the past on the disclosure of information for the protection of the confidentiality of recipients of adoption assistance, it did not impede essential auditing functions by those authorized to conduct such audits.

Accordingly, in the case of reviews of the eligibility of foster care and adoption assistance claims, the State Agency must make available foster care and adoption records (including sealed foster care and adoption records) in order to document the eligibility of the beneficiaries (children) and related costs of administration. If the requested records cannot or are not made available, all payments made on behalf of the children whose records have not been made available for review and associated costs will be disallowed.

Source/DateACYF-PA-85-02 (12/19/85)
Legal and Related ReferencesSocial Security Act - section 471 (a)(6) and (8); H.R. Rep. Conf. No. 96-900, 96th Congress 2nd Session 44 (1980)

Back to top