Confidential Child Welfare Records Released on the Internet

In another black eye for Florida’s child-welfare agency, officials acknowledged that confidential records for nearly 4,000 abused and neglected children were available on the Internet until last week.

The files were accessible on the Web site of Kids Central, a privately run child welfare agency. They included the names of foster children, birth dates, Social Security numbers, photographs and case histories. They even provided directions and maps to children’s foster homes.

Kids Central began phasing in the computer system, called CoBRIS, around April or May. It was designed to let private caseworkers access the state’s child welfare computer system, called HomeSafenet, using the Internet.

The confidential information was available because computer help desk officials allowed all support requests to be viewed online, without passwords. Many of the requests came from caseworkers who had trouble gaining access to HomeSafenet. Some of the replies included user names and passwords to access the confidential files.

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