September 28, 2018

 

Licensing records are considered open records, with certain exceptions.

Upon written request, information that is not considered confidential must be released to the public.

Texas Government Code, Title 5, Ch. 552, Public Information Act

Licensing staff provide information about child care and regulation upon request. Making the community aware of the minimum level of care required by licensing increases the safety of the children in the community:

Staff may receive inquiries from:

  • persons subject to regulation (see 2000 Handling Inquiries About the Licensing Process and Exemptions);
  • parents;
  • HHSC staff;
  • staff from other agencies;
  • the media;
  • legislators; and
  • the public.

The method the worker uses to release information depends on:

  • the source of the request;
  • type of information requested;
  • amount of information requested; and
  • resources HHSC has available.

Charging for Materials

Licensing must sometimes charge a fee when providing printed copies of HHSC materials.

 

8100 Information for General Release

September 28, 2018

 

 

8110 Referring Requestors to the CCL Public Website

September 28, 2018

 

Procedure

Licensing staff refer a requestor to the Child Care Licensing (CCL) public website when the requestor requests publicly available information, such as:

  • proposed changes to HHSC rules;
  • minimum standards and guidelines for child day care;
  • minimum standards and guidelines for residential child care;
  • addresses and phone numbers for local Licensing offices; and
  • the Child Care Licensing Policy and Procedures Handbook.

 

8120 Providing Information About Child Care Operations

September 28, 2018

 

Procedure

Licensing staff refer the requestor to the CCL public website if the requestor requests a list of operations or requests information about a specific operation, including information about:

  • The status of an operation’s license or registration;
  • Type of operation;
  • Name of the permit holder;
  • An operation’s address and phone number;
  • An operation’s capacity, the ages it serves, and its hours, days, and months of operation; and
  • Details about an operation’s violations of minimum standards.

For any other information about an operation, Licensing staff instruct the requestor to submit a request for open records by emailing the HHSC Open Records mailbox.

See also:

8210 Confidential Information Not for Release to the Public

8500 Releasing Information to the Media

 

8200 Protecting Confidential Information

September 28, 2018

 

If Licensing staff receive a request for information that is not publicly available on the CCL website, including requests for confidential information, Licensing staff:

  • instruct the requestor to submit a request for open records by emailing the HHSC Open Records mailbox; and
  • explain that the information must be screened and the confidential material must be removed before the information can be released.

 

8210 Confidential Information Not for Release to the Public

September 28, 2018

 

A judge may order the release of confidential material in a court hearing or by court order. If the request for records is the result of a subpoena, the Licensing staff handling the subpoena discusses the release of information with the HHSC Legal Department.

If it appears necessary to share information with a permit holder that is not subject to disclosure, Licensing staff consults with the supervisor and the HHSC Legal Department.

The table below identifies the information that must not be released to the public, provides the rationale for not releasing the information, and lists any applicable exceptions to the restrictions:

Confidential (Not for Release) Exceptions
The name of reporter and the reporter’s identifying information.
Rationale
The Attorney General’s Open Records Decision No. 176, September 9, 1977, states that the identity of a reporter alleging a possible violation of minimum standards at a child care operation may not be disclosed.
Information identifying the person who made a report resulting in an investigation may only be released as provided in 8220 Confidential Information That May Be Released in Certain Situations.
The name and identifying information about someone contacted during an investigation who makes a new allegation that is unrelated to the report being investigated. See 6260 Confidentiality of the Reporter’s Identity.
Rationale
This person is a reporter with respect to the new allegation, so Open Records Decision No. 177 is applicable, even if Licensing investigates the new allegation as a part of the original investigation.
Information identifying the person who made a report resulting in an investigation may only be released as provided in 8220 Confidential Information That May Be Released in Certain Situations.
Information obtained through criminal history checks regarding conviction, indictment, criminal complaint, or deferred adjudication.
Rationale
Government Code §411.114 prohibits the release of criminal history checks to unauthorized persons or entities.
Authorized persons or entities may receive criminal history information in certain situations. See Government Code §411.114(a)(6) and (7).
Information received from another agency, division, or person, if that information is confidential under law.
Examples are:
  • CPS and APS files on abuse or neglect investigations, including the name of the alleged, designated, or sustained perpetrator in an abuse or neglect report;
  • police investigation reports; and
  • medical records, including records of psychological examinations.
Rationale
The information is confidential according to statutes and may not be released.
The findings related to child and adult protective services are released to a child care operation, when appropriate.

See:
10240 Acting on Abuse or Neglect Findings in DFPS Central Registry

7727 Emergency Release
Certain private information may be constitutionally protected, including:
  • documentation for risk evaluations; and
  • information pertaining to pending court cases to which the state is a party.
When requests for this information are received, the worker must immediately ask a Licensing attorney to send a written request to the Office of the Attorney General for an opinion on the private nature of the information.
Rationale
Government Code, Title 5, Chapter 552, Public Information Act prohibits the release of certain private information to unauthorized persons or entities.
Exceptions to the Public Information Act may include the release of:
  • private information to certain authorized persons or entities;
  • information related to litigation of a criminal or civil nature; and
  • settlement negotiations to which the state is a party.
Pending investigations.
Rationale
Government Code, Title 5, Chapter 552, Public Information Act prohibits the disclosure of information pertaining to an open investigation, but does require disclosure of investigations upon completion of the investigation.
 
The Social Security number of anyone in an operation.
Rationale
Due to identity theft concerns, social security numbers are confidential.
N/A
Information that may interfere with an ongoing law enforcement investigation or prosecution.
Rationale
40 TAC §745.8493 indicates CCL may not release portions of Licensing records to anyone if the information may interfere with an ongoing law enforcement investigation or prosecution.
Any information in a Licensing record that may interfere with an ongoing law enforcement investigation or prosecution may only be released as provided in 8220 Confidential Information That May Be Released in Certain Situations.

40 TAC §745.8493(a)(1)
The location of a family violence shelter or information pertaining to a person who was provided family violence services.
Rationale
Information pertaining to the location of a family violence shelter or a person who was provided family violence services is confidential according to 40 TAC §745.8493.
Information pertaining to the location of a family violence shelter or a person who was provided family violence services may only be released as provided in 8231 Confidential Information That May Be Released in Certain Situations

40 TAC §745.8493(a)(3) and (4)
The location of a “victims of trafficking shelter center” (as defined in Government Code §552.138) or information about a person who was provided services at a victims of trafficking shelter center.
Rationale
Information pertaining to the location of victims of trafficking shelter center or a person who was provided services at a victims of trafficking shelter center is confidential according to 40 TAC §745.8493.
Information pertaining to the location of a victims of trafficking shelter center or a person who was provided services at a victims of trafficking shelter center may only be released as provided in 8220 Confidential Information That May Be Released in Certain Situations.

40 TAC §745.8493(a)(5) and (6)
Photographs or audio or visual recordings, depictions, or documentations of a child in Licensing records.
Rationale
Photographs or audio or visual recordings, depictions, or documentations of a child in Licensing records are confidential according to 40 TAC §745.8495.
We may provide a copy of a photograph or an audio or visual recording, depiction, or documentation of a child in Licensing records to the following parties in the relevant situation:
  1. DFPS staff, including volunteers, as necessary to perform their assigned duties;
  2. law enforcement for the purpose of investigating allegations of child abuse or neglect, failure to report child abuse or neglect, or false or malicious reporting of alleged child abuse or neglect;
  3. an administrative law judge or a judge of a court of competent jurisdiction in a criminal or civil case to which the inspection or investigation is relevant;
  4. the parent of the child; and
  5. any other person authorized by state or federal law to have a copy.
The following persons may review a photograph or an audio or visual recording, depiction, or documentation of a child in Licensing records, but may not have a copy:
  1. an attorney ad litem, guardian ad litem, or court appointed special advocate of the child;
  2. the operation;
  3. a single-source continuum contractor (SSCC) for foster-care redesign that subcontracts with the operation, but only with a signed release from the operation; and
  4. a prospective adoptive parent of the child, as provided in Texas Family Code §162.006.
40 TAC §745.8495

 

8220 Confidential Information That May Be Released In Certain Situations

September 28, 2018

 

The following information is confidential and may not be released except in certain situations:

  1. the name of the reporter and the reporter’s identifying information, including anyone who makes new allegations during the course of the investigation that are unrelated to the report being investigated;
  2. information that may interfere with an ongoing law enforcement investigation or prosecution;
  3. the location of a family violence shelter or information pertaining to a person who was provided family violence services; or
  4. the location of a “victims of trafficking shelter center” (as defined in Government Code §552.138) or information pertaining to a person who was provided services at a victims of trafficking shelter center.

This information may only be released to the following parties in the relevant situations:

  1. to DFPS staff, including volunteers, as necessary to perform their assigned duties;
  2. to law enforcement for the purpose of investigating allegations of child abuse or neglect or false or malicious reporting of alleged child abuse or neglect;
  3. to a member of the state legislature when necessary to carry out that member’s official duties; and
  4. to any other individuals ordered by an administrative law judge or judge of a court of competent jurisdiction.

CCL staff, in consultation with the Office of the General Counsel, may withhold any information in its records if the release of that information would endanger the life or safety of any individual.

40 TAC §745.8493

 

8221 How to Determine if a Person is a Prospective Adoptive Parent

September 28, 2018

 

Before releasing any confidential information listed in 8230 Confidential Information Not for Release to the Public to a prospective adoptive parent, HHSC staff must first determine that the requestor is a prospective adoptive parent by verifying with the CPA:

  • that the person has been selected as the prospective adoptive parent for the child; or
  • that the person has shown interest in being the prospective adoptive parent of the child.

 

8230 How to Respond to Requests for Information from DFPS Investigations

September 28, 2018

 

If Licensing staff receive a request for information from an abuse, neglect, or exploitation investigation conducted by DFPS at a child care operation, staff refer the requestor to DFPS.

 

8300 Responding to Requests From Parents and Managing Conservators

September 28, 2018

 

Licensing staff assist parents and managing conservators by providing information to help them make informed decisions.

Licensing staff respond to parents’ or a managing conservator’s request for information about how an operation is regulated.

Staff also provide information when parents report alleged violations of the law or rules.

Procedure

Licensing staff provide certain types of information, as explained in the table below.

If parents … then Licensing staff …
request educational materials … follow the procedures explained in Appendix 8000-1: Educational Materials.
need permits or forms …
  • refer parents to the CCL public website for information about the permit and inspections; or
  • advise parents to request from the permit holder or operator a copy of the operation inspection forms or follow-up letters.
have a child in DFPS conservatorship … must share all information with CPS staff.
need general information … must follow the procedures in 8100 Information for General Release.
allege that a child care operation has violated the law or minimum standards … must follow the procedures in 6200 Assessing and Processing Intake Reports.

See 8210 Confidential Information Not for Release to the Public if a parent requests information related to:

  1. an investigation;
  2. a photograph,
  3. an audio or visual recording; or
  4. other depictions or documentations of a child.

 

8400 Responding to Requests from HHSC/DFPS Staff and Other Agencies

September 28, 2018

 

Licensing staff do not require a formal request in order to provide information to other HHSC/DFPS staff or to respond to routine requests from other government agencies (including law enforcement) when there is a job-related need for the information and the release of information is consistent with HHSC policy and rules.

 

8410 Releasing to HHSC/DFPS Staff

September 28, 2018

 

Licensing staff may share any information with any HHSC/DFPS staff person who makes the request for the information without redacting confidential information.

 

8420 Releasing to Other Agencies

September 28, 2018

 

Licensing staff may share information with other government agencies, as long as:

  • the release of information is consistent with HHSC policy and rules; and
  • the requestor provides written assurance that any confidential information will be protected and that the information will be used only for the purpose and function of the division or agency requesting it.

Licensing staff note in the record:

  1. the information provided;
  2. to whom the information was provided; and
  3. the purpose of providing it.

Questionable Requests

For requests for information from other governmental agencies (including law enforcement) that are questionable, not job-related, unusual, unclear, or not routine, staff must:

  • obtain a written request on the requesting agency's letterhead; and
  • verification from a regional attorney that the release is authorized.

 

8500 Releasing Information to the Media

September 28, 2018

 

 

8510 Routine Contact with the Media

September 28, 2018

 

In routine situations, any or all of the following staff may authorize Licensing staff to provide information to the media:

  • the district director; or
  • the director of day care licensing or residential child care licensing.

 

8511 Requests Beyond General Release

September 28, 2018

 

If a representative of a news organization contacts Licensing staff with questions beyond what is afforded in accordance with 8100 Information for General Release, Licensing staff refer the representative to Child Care Licensing (CCL) State Office.

CCL State Office will work with the HHSC chief press officer, or that person's designee, to release information to the media that goes beyond what is afforded in 8100 Information for General Release. Before obtaining information that goes beyond general release, the requestor must complete a request for open records.

 

8600 Responding to Requests from Legislators

September 28, 2018

 

If Licensing staff must respond to receive a request for information from a government official, a member of a government official’s staff, or a member, agency, or committee of the Texas Legislature, Licensing staff refer the requestor to CCL State Office as soon as possible. CCL State Office will work with the HHSC Government and Stakeholder Relations office to respond to the request.

 

8610 Responding to Requests About Complaints or Legislative Issues

September 28, 2018

 

Procedure

If Licensing staff receive a general complaint about HHSC staff or a decision made by HHSC staff, staff refer the person making the complaint to CCL State Office.  CCL State Office will work with the HHSC Consumer Rights and Services to respond to the complaint.

If Licensing staff receive a request about HHSC’s position on proposed legislation or other legislative issues, staff refer the requestor to CCL State Office. CCL State Office will work with the HHSC Government and Stakeholder Relations department to respond to the request.

 

8700 Responding to Requests from Disability Rights Texas

September 28, 2018

 

Disability Rights Texas is the federally funded and authorized protection and advocacy system for Texans with disabilities.

The federal Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act allows HHSC to release confidential records to Disability Rights Texas when it is representing an individual or investigating crimes related to:

  • a complaint about the treatment of an HHSC or DFPS client; or
  • a complaint about a DFPS client’s abuse or neglect case (including APS and CPS cases).

The Act grants Disability Rights Texas staff special access to Licensing records to carry out their duties. Employees of Disability Rights Texas are not required to formally request information related to a Disability Rights Texas client.

42 USC §§15041-15045

Procedure

Licensing staff must take the following steps:

  • Respond promptly when Disability Rights Texas requests information related to a Disability Rights Texas client. Expedite the response, regardless of whether Disability Rights Texas requests an expedited response.
    When it is not clear whether a request for information is client-related, contact the program specialist responsible for releasing information. (Disability Rights Texas staff do not have the same rights to Licensing records when they request information on behalf of a friend or family member, rather than as part of their work with Disability Rights Texas)
  • Send all Disability Rights Texas requests to the HHSC Open Records mailbox.