Volunteer Services policy review
Volunteer Services is committed to coordinating a quality program with well-trained and knowledgeable volunteers. Periodic review of policies helps us fulfill this commitment.
Respect for privacy and confidentiality is vital in all volunteer assignments. The Minnesota Data Privacy Act is a law that requires agencies to keep information about the clients we work with confidential.
The act identifies three types of data:
- Public data is accessible to anyone. Examples include the number of public assistance clients or program eligibility requirements and grant levels.
- Private data is accessible to the subject of the data and the subject’s authorized representative. Examples of private data include the name and address of a specific client, effective dates for a specific client, and whether or not a specific person is or was ever was a public assistance recipient.
- Confidential data is not accessible to the public or the subject of the data. Examples of confidential data include adoption records, name of a child abuse reporter, medical records marked with a written statement by the doctor or hospital, and data connected with a welfare fraud investigation, but only while that investigation is still proceeding.
Personal information may be obtained from clients requesting volunteer services. This information is necessary for clarifying the types of assistance the client needs and aides in making a compatible assignment for volunteers. Only staff within the agency, contracted agencies, and volunteers have access to this private data. This information can only be shared outside of the agency with the written approval of the client.
Information received directly by the volunteer from the client is subject to the same guidelines, with the exception of information that indicates imminent danger to the client or case, the police or other individuals need to be informed. Volunteers are subject to the same ethical and legal guidelines regarding confidentiality as are agency staff. This obligation also serves to protect the volunteer should they be required to report information in the best interest of the client.
Information Ramsey County receives from volunteers will also be treated as private data and will assist us in determining the most suitable volunteer placement. The Data Practices Act requires us, if requested in writing, to share with you or your designate, information in your file that pertains to you. Our office destroys inactive volunteer files after five years.
If you are ever unsure as to how to handle a privacy or confidentiality issue, please reach out to your volunteer contact person.
For additional information, please contact Volunteer Services at 651-266-4090.