It is the policy of Safe Children Coalition (SCC) to ensure confidentiality of clients and accuracy of information presented, as allowed by law. This applies to all requests from media sources of any type. It is important for Case Managers, Supervisors, Program Managers and all staff in the Child Welfare arena to be aware of how to handle media inquiries or issues -- both positive and negative.
Each Provider agency has its own internal policy on how to handle agency specific issues. Those policies work in concert with the SCC policy so all involved persons are clear on the message to be conveyed and the facts that can or cannot be shared, based on confidentiality or contractual requirements.
Only the President/CEO, VP of CBC or designee of the Lead Agency will speak for the CBC or the Lead Agency when approached by the media regarding specific issues, emergency processes, operational/management concerns, positive events such as promotional, non-client specific activities, recruitment of foster/adoptive homes and community collaboration related to those activities.
One well intentioned but misguided statement to the media can destroy an individual employee’s and agency’s reputation, including possible criminal and financial consequences.
How to handle these situations:
If CBC staff is approached by media or any other person (that is not an authorized party to a case) wanting information or asking case specific questions, stop what you are doing and pleasantly address the reporter. Ask them what they need and listen to what they say. Respond by saying you are not the right person to talk to but you will be happy to take their contact information and that you will share this information with the proper contact in the organization. If it is a TV crew, DO NOT put your hand in front of the camera or get up and walk away. Instead, stay calm and pleasant and say you are not the appropriate person to comment but you will pass along their information. You may have to continue to repeat this. Conduct yourself as if everything you do is being video taped. A reporter might ask for your name and what you do. It is okay to share that information. Do NOT say “no comment” to any questions, as that sounds evasive. Instead, simply state you are not an authorized spokesperson but you will pass along their request. The goal is to refer the reporter to the official media spokesperson.
Any time such inquiries occur, staff should contact their Supervisor immediately. The Supervisor will follow both the SCC and the individual agency protocols which include generating an incident report; as well as ensuring that the appropriate SCC staff is immediately notified.