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Tip of the Week: Case Management Standard 2 – Information Sharing

By Natasha Begin, M.Ed., Content Developer, TNG Consulting, LLC

The NABITA Case Management Standards and Best Practices guides members and practitioners and provides a structure for case management delivery. The standards anchor consistency and equity in settings with decentralized case management responsibilities across multiple professionals or offices as well as institutions that employ dedicated case managers. This article is from our Tips of the Week: Case Management Standards series. To read part 1, please click here.

Standard 2: Case managers share and document information in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The case manager’s scope of privacy under FERPA is clearly defined, outlined, and explained to students prior to engaging in case management services.

FERPA categorizes non-clinical case management records and electronic communications as education records, subjecting such records to its privacy requirements. FERPA allows more information sharing than laws and professional ethics governing clinical and counseling records. Non-clinical case managers should help students understand that their case management services are not confidential. Students likely are not familiar with FERPA. However, students must understand that case managers may share students’ information internally within the institution for limited reasons.

FERPA permits disclosing information in education records to school officials with a legitimate educational interest, even without the student’s consent. Often, other school officials have a legitimate educational interest when their role is to provide support to students, educational resources, and maintain a safe environment for their development, education, and caring intervention.

Although FERPA’s sharing rules are permissive when officials share information internally, institutions cannot release information contained in education records outside the institution unless specific exceptions apply. There are a few applicable exceptions relating to external disclosures that case managers will likely wish to discuss with students. Those exceptions include receiving consent or permission from the student, being dependent for tax-related purposes, or having a health and safety emergency.

It is critical that case managers or school officials serving case management roles proactively share how FERPA operates. Transparency is key when defining your scope of services and privacy under Case Management Standard 2. Provide an explanation of your scope of services and expectations for privacy at the outset and provide reminders throughout the duration of the case. Steps could include 1) explaining and clarifying privacy expectations during the first appointment and 2) explaining privacy expectations on intake paperwork, marketing materials, and the departmental website. Use student-friendly language and allow space for students, parents, and administrators to ask questions.

Eager to learn more about case management best practices? NABITA invites you to consider attending the two-day Case Management Standards & Best Practices training course. Click here for more information.

Continue to read Standard 3.