This joint message from HUD and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Family & Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) provides additional guidance to communities working to integrate RHY grantees into their Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) implementation.
FYSB recently sent a memorandum to all RHY grantees that addresses data sharing at the local level and the bi-annual transfer of client-level RHY data to the national RHY-HMIS system. The memo refers to the RHY regulation that states:
“Confidential information. All information including lists of names, addresses, photographs, and records of evaluation of individuals served by a runaway and homeless youth project shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed or transferred to any individual or to any public or private agency without written consent of the youth and family. Youth served by a runaway and homeless youth project shall have the right to review their records; to correct a record or file a statement of disagreement; and to be apprised of the individuals who have reviewed their records. Procedures shall be established for the training of project staff in the protection of these rights and for the secure storage of records.” [45 CFR §1351.19(b)(1)] and “State law protection. HHS policies regarding confidential information and experimentation and treatment shall not apply if HHS finds that State law is more protective of the rights of runaway or otherwise homeless youth.” [45 CFR §1351.19(b)(4)].
This means that your organization is prohibited from sharing data collected on youth in your HMIS unless you have signed consent. Youth who are age 18 or older (adults) may sign their own consent. For youth under age 18, you may only share their data if you have obtained written parental consent. HUD and HHS recognizes that Continuums of Care (CoCs) and HMIS Leads will have questions including what they should be doing to ensure their policies and procedures reflect the parameters set forth by FYSB and the RHY regulation.
This is what this means for CoCs and HMIS Leads:
- Continue to follow guidance outlined by HUD in the May 4, 2015 announcement, which stated that CoCs should remove the stricter written consent for data entry requirements that were in place;
- Review and update your HMIS policies and procedures and consent forms to ensure the capability exists to share data between programs based on individual client level consent, thereby reflecting the capability to integrate RHY projects into their HMIS;
- Submit any questions to the HMIS Ask a Question help desk on the HUD Exchange; and
- Request technical assistance through the HUD Exchange for challenges integrating RHY providers into their HMIS.
HUD and HHS will continue to work together to provide communities with updated guidance as we move forward with integrating RHY providers into your CoC planning and data collection processes.