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Family Violence (FV) Indicator Override

DCL-98-122

Published: November 25, 1998
Information About:
State/Local Child Support Agencies
Topics:
Family Services & Referrals, Family Violence Collaboration, Federal Systems, Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS)
Types:
Policy, Dear Colleague Letters (DCL)
Tags:
Location Systems

TO: All State IV-D Directors

RE: FCR/SCR Policy and Technical Representatives

Dear Colleague:

Section 454(26) of the Social Security Act (the Act) sets forth certain State plan requirements regarding the confidentiality of information. That section, coupled with federal regulations (See 63 Fed. Reg. 44795 45 CFR 307.11) lays the foundation for efforts: 1) to create the Federal and State Case Registries (FCR and SCR); and, 2) to protect location information when the safety of parties or children could be jeopardized by disclosure.

The issue of safeguarding information due to family violence raises a variety of questions. One issue which has been consistently posed is the process set forth in section 454(26)(E) of the Act which allows a court with proper authority as defined by section 453(c)(2) or section 463(d)(2)(B) to receive information from the FPLS despite the presence of a family violence indicator. This aspect of the FPLS-- referred to as the "family violence (FV) indicator override" -- has resulted in the preparation of several documents to assist States.

Attached are the following materials related to the FV indicator override process:

1. Attachment 1: FCR Family Violence Indicator Override Process Description;

2. Attachment 2: FCR Family Violence Indicator Override Process -- Flowchart; and

3. Attachment 3: Sample Cover Letter -- Family Violence Indicator Override Request.

Thank you for your continued efforts on behalf of America's children.

Sincerely,

David Gray Ross

Commissioner

Office of Child Support Enforcement

Attachment 1

FCR FAMILY VIOLENCE INDICATOR
OVERRIDE PROCESS

Description

Step 1:9The State IV-D Agency Initiates a Locate Request to the FPLS

A. A State IV-D agency, through its State Parent Locator Service (SPLS), initiates a locate request to the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) pursuant to sections 453 and 463 of the Act.

B. If a family violence (FV) indicator has been placed on the individual who is the subject of the locate request, the requesting State will receive a Disclosure Prohibited (DP) code. The DP code indicates that the FPLS is not permitted to comply with the locate request because of the placement of the FV indicator.

Step 2:9The SPLS Receives a Court Order to Commence the Override Process

A. Upon notification from FPLS that disclosure is prohibited, an authorized person as defined by sections 453(c) and 463(d)(2) of the Act may petition a State court, pursuant to section 453(b)(2)(B). This action begins the override process. The requester would ask the court to order or request the SPLS to obtain a one-time override of the FV indicator, so that it can secure the sought-after information from the FPLS. (The State court will make the ultimate decision regarding the disclosure of that information to the requester once obtained from the FPLS.)

B. The court will decide to grant or to deny the requester's petition. If the decision is to deny the request, the process ends here. If the court grants the petition, it will prepare an order or request to that effect, as specified by State law or procedure, and provide the FV override request to the SPLS.

Step 3: The SPLS Initiates the Override Request Process

An SPLS, which has been ordered or requested by a State court to initiate the FV indicator override process, is expected to perform certain functions in accordance with 45 CFR 303.70.

A.The SPLS shall conduct an analysis to determine whether the entity making the request for information is an authorized person, as defined by sections 453(c) or 463(d)(2). The State IV-D Director must attest to his/her review of the facts and the authority of the requester to seek the information.

-Section 453(c) defines an authorized person to be:

(1) any agent or attorney of any State having in effect a plan approved under this part, who has the duty or authority under such plans to seek to recover any amounts owed as child and spousal support (including, when authorized under the State plan, any official of a political subdivision);

(2) the court which has authority to issue an order or to serve as the initiating court in an action to seek an order against a noncustodial parent of the support and maintenance of a child, or any agent of such court;

(3) the resident parent, legal guardian, attorney, or agent of a child (other than a child receiving aid under part A of this subchapter) (as determined by regulation prescribed by the Secretary) without regard to the existence of a court order against a noncustodial parent who has a duty to support and maintain any such child;

(4) a State agency that is administering a program operated under a State plan subpart 1 of part B, or a State plan approved under subpart B or under part E.

- Section 463(d)(2) defines an authorized person to be:

(A) any agent or attorney of any State having an agreement under this section, who has the duty or authority under the law of such State to enforce a child custody or visitation determination;

(B) any court having jurisdiction to make or enforce such a child custody or visitation determination, or any agent of such court; and

(C) any agent or attorney of the United States, or of a State having an agreement under this section, who has the duty or authority to investigate, enforce, or bring a prosecution with respect to the unlawful taking or restraint of a child.

B. Upon determination that the requester meets the statutory definition of authorized person, the SPLS will confirm that the information is being sought for an authorized purpose. Authorized purposes for release of FPLS information are set out at sections 453(a)(2) and 463(b). The State IV-D Director must attest to his/her review of the facts and the apparent appropriateness of the purpose for which the information is sought.

C. Requests for an FV override are to be forwarded to the FPLS. The SPLS should send to OCSE: 1) the court request for locate information, and 2) a cover letter. Attachment 2 provides the required information to be transmitted to OCSE. An SPLS request for FV indicator override should be sent, via a special delivery mechanism (e.g., Federal Express), to the following address:

Office of Child Support Enforcement Attn: Ella Lawson Federal Parent Locator Service 370 L'Enfant Promenade, SW 4th Floor Washington, D.C. 20447

States should not designate these packages for delivery without a recipient signature. Questions or concerns about actual override requests should be directed to the appropriate person as designated by OCSE. Ella Lawson may be reached at (202) 401-4946.

Step 4: OCSE Processes the Override Request

A. OCSE will receive, review, and verify each FV indicator override request. In reviewing the requests, OCSE will confirm that:

1. the request is made by an authorized person;

2. the request is made for an authorized purpose; and

3. the SPLS cover letter includes the required information pursuant to 45 CFR 303.70.

B. Based on the review of the request, OCSE will make one of three possible determinations -- 1) the request is incomplete; 2) the request is approved; or 3) the request is disapproved. A brief description of each category follows.

1. Incomplete -- If the request is incomplete, or poses questions that require resolution before OCSE can process the request, OCSE will call the requesting SPLS. The purpose of the call will be to attempt to secure the missing information or to resolve questions.

2. Approved -- A request, which is complete and which meets the statutory requirements of FPLS information release, will be approved. OCSE will communicate the approved status to the requesting SPLS by phone, and then will proceed to process the override.

3. Disapproved -- A request, which fails to meet the statutory requirements for FPLS information release, will be disapproved. OCSE will return the original request package, and a disapproval letter, to the requesting SPLS via a special delivery service (e.g., Federal Express). The OCSE letter will explain the reason for disapproval. If the request is disapproved, OCSE will take no further action, unless a new request is submitted by the SPLS.

Step 5: OCSE Performs the Override and Forwards Information to the Requesting SPLS

A. Once OCSE approves an override request, OCSE will perform a one-time manual override of the family violence indicator, using the requested locate sources. OCSE will review the information retrieved pursuant to this process. OCSE will perform only one override per request.

B. OCSE will return the locate information with a cover letter. In addition to the information secured through the override, OCSE also will include the identity of the State that imposed the FV indicator for the individual.

C. OCSE then will forward the letter to the requesting SPLS in a secure package. The package will be addressed to a specific representative at the requesting SPLS and sent via a special delivery mechanism (e.g., Federal Express). OCSE will not designate these packages for delivery without a recipient signature.

D. OCSE will notify the State that originally placed the family violence indicator of the State making the override request.

Step 6: The SPLS Notifies the Court and Proceeds Pursuant to the State Disclosure Process

A. Upon receipt of the package from OCSE, the SPLS must disclose the information to the State Court that ordered the FV indicator override. Section 453(b)(2)(B)(i) requires the State court to determine if the disclosure of the information to any other person could be harmful to the parent or child. The court should consider contacting the State IV-D agency that imposed the family violence indicator for more information.

B. If the State court decides that release of the information could be harmful to the parent or child, the court shall deny the request and not release the information. The court and/or the State IV-D agency should consider procedures for the destruction of the information retrieved from the FPLS.

C. If the State court decides that the information from the FPLS would be unlikely to cause the parent or child harm, it may release the information to the authorized person who requested the information. The State court and/or IV-D agency should develop procedures for the release of the information. Other issues which the States may consider include: notification to the person whose location information has been requested; notification to the requester of the confidential nature of the information and its limited use; and the destruction or seal of records, containing the information, following its release pursuant to the court-authorized request.

Attachment 2

Attachment 3

FCR FAMILY VIOLENCE INDICATOR

OVERRIDE PROCESS

Sample Cover Letter for Use by State IV-D Agencies Requesting FV Override)

[DATE]

Office of Child Support Enforcement
Attn: OCSE Designated Representative
Federal Parent Locator Service
370 L'Enfant Promenade
4th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20447

Dear [NAME]:

This office has submitted a locate request to the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) for the subject(s) listed below. Access to the requested information was prohibited because of a disclosure prohibited (DP) code.

Attached is a court order or request from [COURT NAME] requiring this office to commence the FV indicator override process. Accordingly, accept this letter as a formal request for override.

To assist OCSE in processing this override request, this office provides the following information:

  • Name of Requester:
  • SSN of Requester (if an individual):
  • Relationship of Requester to Subject:
  • Basis for State Finding that
    1. Requester is an authorized person; and
    2. Request is made for a permissible purpose:
  • Name(s) of Subject(s):
  • SSN(s) of Subject(s):
  • Member ID(s) (if applicable):

Specify Requested Locate Sources:

  • All available locate sources
  • DOD and OPM
  • FBI employmet files
  • IRS (non-1099)
  • SSA
  • DVA
  • DNH
  • FCR

Specify Locate Request Type

  • Adoption or foster care purposes
  • IV-D purposes
  • Custody and visitation establishment or enforcement purposes
  • Parental Kidnapping
  • Name of SPLS Representative
  • Street Address of SPLS Representative
  • Direct Dial Phone Number of SPLS Representative

Sincerely,

[Name]
[Title]