3.7 Family Violence Indicator


Chapter Federal Authority
Confidentiality and Safeguarding Information Social Security Act
             XXX
45 CFR XXX
Subject State Authority
Family Violence Indicator Wyo. Stat. § 9-1-636 Division of victim services; created; appointment of director and deputy director; administrative and clerical employees; definitions
Wyo. Stat. § 14-3-202 Definitions (Child Protective Services)
Wyo. Stat. § 20-6-101 et. seq. Child Support Enforcement Act
Wyoming Child Support Enforcement Rules
            Chapter 13 Safeguarding and Disclosure of Confidential Information
Policy Number Effective Date
3.7 October 1, 2010

Overview

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), also known as the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, establishes the Federal Case Registry (FCR) and the State Case Registry (SCR).  Both are data warehouses used for storage of case and person information regarding child support orders. The SCR in Wyoming is also known as Parental Obligation System for Support Enforcement (POSSE).  POSSE is the automated statewide child support computer system linking the State CSE Office, the District CSE Offices, and the Clerks of District Court Offices together for the common goal of collecting child support for children.

PRWORA requires each state to submit person and case information contained in the SCR to the FCR.   Through the FCR, states are notified when they have people in common.  One of the requirements of PRWORA and the FCR is the safeguarding of specific information, in this instance, the risk of family violence and the release of information to other states.

Each state will have safeguards in place on their automated systems to protect against the release of information when there is a risk of harm to a parent or child.  Further, when a state becomes aware of such a risk of harm, it will notify the federal OCSE to safeguard information within the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS). 

One important component of POSSE is the Family Violence Indicator (FVI) which the state uses to notify the federal OCSE of safety concerns.  The FVI can be attached to the record of any person who may be a victim of domestic violence and/or child abuse as defined by the criteria listed below.  The purpose of the FVI is to prevent the disclosure of information about a protected person to the FPLS.  On POSSE, the indicator is marked on the Person Maintenance screen for each person who may be at risk of domestic violence and/or child abuse.  

Policy

The District CSE Office may be notified of a situation of domestic violence and/or child abuse by the victim, the victim's family, the police department, and/or the Department of Family Services (DFS) field office when determining eligibility for POWER benefits.  Any notification should not be taken lightly and should be followed up with strict confidentiality.  Communication among all parties should be taken seriously and remain confidential.  The District CSE Office will use DFS Form 563b, to communicate all instances of family violence and/or child abuse to the DFS field office when a POWER recipient is involved.  The following guidelines are to be followed when using the FVI.  

Setting and Removing the FVI  

1) Only designated supervisors in each District CSE Office may set or remove the FVI from the person maintenance screen on POSSE using intra-office procedures.  

2) The FVI will be placed on a person record and any relevant child(ren) person records only if it is so ordered by the court, or it is requested by a party to the case and at least one of the following criteria is met:

a. A protective order or restraining order exists or existed against a person on the case with respect to another person on the case.  The indicator will be placed on the custodial parent and all children in a case even if the protective order or restraining order does not mention the child(ren) specifically.  The person requesting the FVI will provide a copy of the protective order or restraining order to the District CSE Office.

b. A court order exists or existed with a finding of child abuse against a person on the case regarding a child on the case or a substantiated finding of child abuse by the DFS or another state child protection agency.  The FVI will be placed on the custodial parent and the child(ren) against whom the child abuse occurred. 

c. A claim of good cause is approved by the Department of Family Services (DFS) Economic Assistance Division.  The child support applicant may apply for good cause from the DFS Economic Assistance Division if he/she believes that cooperating with the District CSE Office would result in physical harm to him/her, physical harm to his/her child(ren), or the child(ren) was conceived as a result of incest or forcible rape.  Although there are additional reasons for applying for good cause, these are the only reasons for which a FVI may be marked on the person record.  The FVI will be placed on the custodial parent and the child(ren) in the case for whom the claim of good cause was approved by the DFS Economic Assistance Division.

d. There is either a non-disclosure order or a determination by another state that release or disclosure of information would be harmful to either party and/or the children in the case.  The FVI will be placed on the custodial parent and the child(ren) in the case even if the order does not mention the child(ren) specifically. 

e. An "Affidavit and Report of Family Violence" Form, provided by the District CSE Office, is completed and signed by the injured party on the case.  This form will be notarized.  

3) The FVI may be removed from a person record and any relevant child(ren) person records only if an "Affidavit Requesting Removal of Family Violence Indicator" is completed by the person who requested the FVI, or by court order.

4) The District CSE Office will enter activity log notes on the person record and/or the case record on POSSE when performing any function in relation to the FVI.

FVI Override Process

1) If a locate request is submitted to the FPLS, and the custodial parent, non-custodial parent, or child has the FVI set by a different state on his/her person record, the requesting state (Wyoming) will receive notification through the FCR that disclosure of such information is prohibited.  The case worker will receive an informational alert that disclosure of information on the person for whom the locate was sent is prohibited.  At that point, the following steps may be taken to persuade the federal OCSE to release the information.  

a. The District CSE Office attorney may petition the local court to issue an order requesting the protected information be released through the FPLS.  The court will decide to grant or to deny the requestor's petition.  If the court grants the request and an order is obtained, it is sent to the State CSE Office for review.  If the court denies the request, no further action can be taken and disclosure of the information will not be pursued. 

b. The State CSE Office will forward the order and a cover letter to federal OCSE for its review and possible release of the protected information.  OCSE will make one of three possible determinations:  

i. The request is incomplete.  If federal OCSE has questions or determines the request is incomplete, a Federal OCSE staff member will call the State CSE Office to secure any missing information.

ii. The request is approved.  In this situation, the federal OCSE will call the State CSE Office to approve the request and then process the override.  The federal OCSE will return the locate information (hard copy) to the State CSE Office with a cover letter.  The cover letter will identify the state that originally set the FVI.  The federal OCSE will also notify the state that originally set the FVI that Wyoming has made the override request.  Upon receipt of the information from the federal OCSE, the State CSE Office will disclose the information to the court originally ordering the FVI override.  The court will then determine if release of the information may be harmful to the parent or child.  If so, the court will deny the request and not release the information.  If not, the court will release the information to the authorized person making the original request.  All information received from the federal OCSE as a result of the override process will be destroyed after its use.  

iii. The request is disapproved.  A request which fails to meet the statutory requirements will be disapproved.  The federal OCSE will return the request package and send a disapproval letter to the State CSE Office.  The federal OCSE will not take further action unless a new request is submitted by the State CSE Office.  The information will be sent to the State CSE Office in the form of hard copy and not through the automated system.  Wyoming will ensure the information received from the FPLS remains secure.

Key Definitions

Domestic Abuse - Wyoming Statute §9-1-636(d)(v) defines domestic abuse as follows: "Domestic abuse means physical abuse, threats of physical abuse or acts which unreasonably restrain the personal liberty of any household member by any other household member."

Child Abuse - Wyoming Statute  §14-3-202(a)(ii) defines child abuse as follows: "Abuse with respect to a child means inflicting or causing physical or mental injury, harm or eminent danger to the physical or mental health or welfare of a child other than by accidental means, including abandonment, excessive or unreasonable corporal punishment, malnutrition, or substantial risk thereof by reason of intentional or unintentional neglect, and the commission or allowing the commission of a sexual offense against a child as defined by law."


Cross Reference

None


Version Number Last Revised Date
2 July 1, 2014