POST UPDATED: 4/26/16
I wanted to share this updated info because some CoCs wanted to know if they could monitor client case files at DV shelters if they had client consent. Please see below regarding special instances where DV clients may consent to sharing info. It seems to be reserved for only legal or statutory (child abuse) related matters. Listed at the bottom are updated federal docs related to VAWA 2013 (Violence Against Women Act), FVPSA (Family Violence Prevention and Services Act), and OVW (Office on Violence Against Women).
VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) 2013:
‘‘(4) CONFIDENTIALITY.—Any information submitted to a public housing agency or owner or manager under this subsection, including the fact that an individual is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking shall be maintained in confidence by the public housing agency or owner or manager and may not be entered into any shared S. 47—53 database or disclosed to any other entity or individual, except to the extent that the disclosure is— ‘‘(A) requested or consented to by the individual in writing; ‘‘(B) required for use in an eviction proceeding under subsection (b); or ‘‘(C) otherwise required by applicable law.
OVW (Office on Violence Against Women):
(B) Nondisclosure - Subject to subparagraphs (C) and (D), grantees and subgrantees shall not—(i) disclose, reveal, or release any personally identifying information or individual information collected in connection with services requested, utilized, or denied through grantees’ and subgrantees’ programs, regardless of whether the information has been encoded, encrypted, hashed, or otherwise protected; or (ii) disclose, reveal, or release individual client information without the informed, written, reasonably time-limited consent of the person (or in the case of an unemancipated minor, the minor and the parent or guardian or in the case of legal incapacity, a court-appointed guardian) about whom information is sought, whether for this program or any other Federal, State, tribal, or territorial grant program, except that consent for release may not be given by the abuser of the minor, incapacitated person, or the abuser of the other parent of the minor. If a minor or a person with a legally appointed guardian is permitted by law to receive services
without the parent’s or guardian’s consent, the minor or person with a guardian may release information without additional consent.
(C) Release - If release of information described in subparagraph (B) is compelled by statutory or court mandate— (i) grantees and subgrantees shall make reasonable attempts to provide notice to victims affected by the disclosure of information; and (ii) grantees and subgrantees shall take steps necessary to protect the privacy and safety of the persons affected by the release of the information.
(D) Information sharing -
(i) Grantees and subgrantees may share—(I) nonpersonally identifying data in the aggregate regarding services to their clients and nonpersonally identifying demographic information in order to comply with Federal, State, tribal, or territorial reporting, evaluation, or data collection requirements; (II) court-generated information and law enforcement-generated information contained in secure, governmental registries for protection order enforcement purposes; and (III) law enforcement-generated and prosecution-generated information necessary for law enforcement and prosecution purposes.
(ii) In no circumstances may—
(I) an adult, youth, or child victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or
stalking be required to provide a consent to release his or her personally identifying information
as a condition of eligibility for the services provided by the grantee or subgrantee;
(II) any personally identifying information be shared in order to comply with Federal, tribal, or
State reporting, evaluation, or data collection requirements, whether for this program or any
other Federal, tribal, or State grant program.
ORIGINAL POST: 3/30/16
Based on my quick research, it looks like no one outside of the client and their DV case manager are supposed to view the client file as per federal guidelines. Not even the board members of the shelter are supposed to have access. Although some states may have varying privacy laws, it seems this is pretty prevalent throughout the nation. I copied and pasted the info below.
Quote from PDF link below: "Domestic violence programs should maintain the limited records they do keep in secured filing cabinets, providing access only to designated staff. Program records, such as financial documents or personnel files, should be kept separately from case files (i.e., shelter intake files). Only designated staff should have authority to review case files and/or make notations in case files. Board members should not have access to case files or program records, except in specific situations determined by the Executive Director along with the program’s attorney, if applicable. Funders and researchers should have access only to aggregate statistical information and the domestic violence program should consider having such people sign confidentiality agreements as an added protection."