Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) Practice Guidance 4 - Information sharing

This guidance aims to clarify the circumstances in which information can be shared with another agency, the considerations that need to be taken into account to ensure sharing information with another agency is appropriate, and the importance of involving children, young people and families.

7. Transparency in information sharing

GIRFEC is a strengths-based approach that seeks to realise children’s rights on a day to day basis and is therefore underpinned by key values and principles:

  • Placing the child or young person and their family at the heart, and promoting choice, with full participation in decisions that affect them;
  • Working together with families to enable a rights-respecting, strengths-based, inclusive approach;
  • Understanding wellbeing as being about all areas of life including family, community and society;
  • Valuing difference and ensuring everyone is treated fairly;
  • Considering and addressing inequalities;
  • Providing support for children, young people and families when they need it, until things get better, to help them to reach their full potential; and
  • Everyone working together in local areas and across Scotland to improve outcomes for children, young people and their families.

Transparency in information sharing is included in the key data principles set out in UK GDPR (The principles) and is key to working together with children, young people and families, respecting their rights and placing them at the heart.

Where possible, children, young people and families must be informed, from the outset, what personal information the organisation will require, why and what they do with the information. If any routine information sharing is necessary, children, young people and their families must be informed with whom it is shared, why and what the recipient will do with the information. If the organisation shares information without consent in certain circumstances, this should be explained in a way that they understand.

This is usually included in a privacy notice, provided at the time the service collects personal information from children, young people and families. This should be clear and easily understandable and age appropriate. Privacy information can also be given verbally or by other means.

If information has come from a source other than the individual themselves and the child, young person and their family are not already aware that it has been shared for a particular purpose, you will need to inform the child, young person and/or family member concerned:

  • within a reasonable period of obtaining the personal information and no later than one month;
  • if the information is used to communicate with the child, young person and/or family member, at the latest, when the first communication takes place; or
  • if you can foresee a situation where you would need to disclose the information to someone else, at the latest, when you disclose the information.

Privacy information should make it clear that in some circumstances information can be shared immediately and without informing the person first if, for example, providing the information would seriously impair the achievement of the purpose of the processing. This means that if you believe a child or young person may be at risk of physical, mental or emotional harm, information can be shared immediately, and without informing the child, young person and their family first.

More detailed information on privacy notices is available from the Information Commissioner’s Office: Right to be informed.

Additionally, the GIRFEC information sharing charter (Annex B) explains how children, young people and families can expect organisations to manage their personal information and respect their rights under the data protection legislation. The charter can be tailored for the needs of individual services and is available in accessible formats. It is good practice for services that work with children, young people and families to make the charter available.



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