Citizens For A Better Norwood

Friday, January 11, 2008

Cincinnati Beacon: How Hamilton Co. advertises its orphans

Should Hamilton County’s Department of Job and Family Services use the internet to publicize medical information about children in their custody who are available for adoption? The Beacon found the profile, including a photo, of a 14-year-old named Taren in last month’s Hamilton County newsletter. It stated in part:

“…Taren participates in an IEP at school, but is academically on-target… Taren needs help with the way she expresses anger and aggression and improving her behavior. A strong father figure who can model appropriate ways to communicate feelings would be beneficial, as would a family who will support her in ongoing therapy. Medication will be a part of Taren’s life, and she will need help coping with separation and loss.”

That’s just one example. There are profiles of many other children on the HCAdoptweb page that similarly provide details about negative behavior, the need for medication, ongoing therapy, and the like. Doesn’t this violate the spirit if not the letter of HIPAA? And should HCJFS have published Taren’s complete profile in the Enquirer as well?

Why aren't these kinds of details privileged information to be shared privately only with screened candidates who want to adopt? What parent would publish this information about his or her own child on the internet? None we suspect, yet HCJFS is doing it to children in their custody, children they are supposed to protect. The Beacon is right to point out the potential hazards of this information falling into the hands of classmates, especially teenage classmates, who might recognize these adoption candidates from their photos. We know all too well from the recent YouTube fight video what teenagers themselves can do on the internet. HCJFS needs to stop this practice immediately.