The Value of Parent Consent…

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...and by value, we mean necessity. If your programs are collecting data about the children and youth enrolled, you have hopes of sharing that data outside of your organization and you know parent consent is needed, here are some things to think about.

We work with a lot of organizations who collect data and ask us to help them understand how to share that data with another organization (a partner, a funder, a school district, etc.). We usually explain to them that the how of sharing the data is almost always doable. There is often time and cost involved but connecting two data sources is not an impossible task. There also need to be legal agreements in place to share data between the organizations (more on that topic here). However, often the hardest part which not everyone considers, is securing parent permission to share that data.

A few tips we’ve shared with customers related to parent permission include:

  • Permission first. Secure parent permission to share data from the start. Include consent forms for data sharing with your sign-up /registration process and secure that permission up front. This saves you from having to go back later on and connect with parents one-by-one to get permission.
  • Think ahead. If you’re going to ask for permission to share data, you need to be specific, but also think ahead. If two years from now you’re hoping to connect with the school district, ask for permission to share with them now. This saves you from having to go back and ask permission or amend your forms down the road.
  • Be specific.  Finally, you need to be specific about what data you’re going to share and who you are going to share it with. The language needs to be clear to the parents. A blanket consent to share any and all data with whomever you choose won’t work out well (at least, this what the lawyers tell us).

At COMET, we work with our customers to the best of our ability to help them through thinking about what parent consent they’ll need, how best to collect it and where to store that information. We can't advise on all of the legal requirements and we always encourage organizations to consult with their lawyer, but we can talk about the experiences we've had with others and we're happy to share sample agreements and recommendations.

If your organization is thinking about sharing data with other groups to help improve outcomes for kids, check out our Resources page for more materials on data sharing. 

Still have questions? Contact us!

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