October 1, 2014

Elyria
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Glitch reveals sealed adoption records

COLUMBUS — A glitch in Ohio’s troubled child-welfare system is revealing information from sealed adoption records, a data breach some child advocates say is a massive violation of confidentiality.

The data breach involves children who were adopted out of the foster-care system and now are enrolled in a children’s health insurance program in 35 Ohio counties, said Dennis Evans, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Those counties issue Medicaid cards through the new Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System, which draws information from health records before adoptions, Evans said.

In some cases, when medical personnel use the number on the Medicaid cards to look up health records, the system emits sealed data such as a birth mother’s name. That information is supposed to be secret, Evans said.

The state has not yet determined how many children are directly affected, although several counties have registered complaints. The agency is working to pinpoint the problem, Evans said.

Child advocates and adoptive parents say the disclosure of sealed information raises concerns about the integrity of private medical records.