Human service agencies remains as some of the most important agencies in the society. In this regard, these service agencies continue to work on a daily basis to provide services that are geared towards promoting self-sufficiency or rather the welfare of communities, families and individuals in the society in a particular geographical location. However, human service agencies face a lot of challenges on a daily basis. In reference to Grasso & Epstein (1993), multiple problems, especially as it concerns ethical issues confront today's human service agencies leading to delivery of poor services to clients in the society (p.2). One of the ethical issues that human services agencies have to deal with on a daily basis regards the issue of confidentiality.
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To begin with, confidentiality can be defined as the ability of a business or organization to protect information and data that belongs to their clients in relation to its use and disclosure to third parties. According to Darling (2000), most human service agencies require that all personality identifiable information about clients be kept within the agency (p.122). Nevertheless, it is worthy to note that whereas confidentiality of client information and data is one of the most valued aspects among these agencies, more than often, these agencies face ethical dilemmas concerning whether to disclose their clients' information or not. For instance, human service staffs have been challenged on whether to give evidence in courts while at the same time being able to protect the trust that their clients have in them.
Another challenge that concerns confidentiality of client information emanates from the fact that there are networks that have been developed as a result of the introduction of technological devices such as the internet that have linked different human service agencies to assist in multi-agency coordination. Schoech (1999) asserts that the government of the United States has developed or rather formulated very few policies that are geared towards promoting corporate database security as well as confidentiality (p.117). In addition to this, some of the internet services providers whose services are used by human service agencies may not necessarily have in their possession the necessary confidentiality procedures and tools that are needed by these agencies.
With this in mind, whereas human service agencies have developed policies that are geared towards protecting the data and information that belongs to their clients, there are situation that they encounter on a daily basis that have compromised the ethical issues that regards confidentiality. Nonetheless, this does not create a loophole for these agencies to fail to protect the information that belong to their clients. As human service agencies, they have a responsibility of ensuring that they have laid down the necessary policies and structures to ensure that their clients' confidentiality is not compromised. Darling (2000) argues that there are restrictions that need to be typically placed on which staff member is allowed to access to client files, and he or she is expected to desist from discussing such information with others (122).
In summation, whereas there are a lot of ethical challenges that human service agencies face every day in regard to confidentiality of client information, these agencies have a responsibility of ensuring that the trust that their clients have in them is not betrayed. As a result, it is important for them to formulate policies that would protect the data and information of their clients. In addition to this, these agencies need to ensure that their channels of sharing information is secure to prevent this information from getting into custody of unintended third parties. Importantly, they also need to educate their clients that they are not liable to give out any information that they feel may endanger their lives.
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