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2000 Safekeeping of DFPS Records

RMG September 2016

The information in many DFPS records must be protected and maintained in a confidential manner throughout the retention period. A DFPS record can:

  •  contain a profoundly personal and private account of a person’s life;

  •  provide a historical account of financial transactions; and

  •  uphold vendor and employee accountability.

DFPS securely stores DFPS records to support decisions regarding client safety, facilitate internal business processes, and provide records to entitled requesters as mandated by state law. During the normal course of business DFPS determines the most efficient and cost effective way to store a DFPS record. The long-term storage of a record may require conversion from electronic to physical or physical to electronic.

DFPS may contract with a third-party vendor to store electronic or physical files, but DFPS always retains ownership of all paper and electronic files.

Texas Government Code §§441.183 (2); 441.191

2100 Active Definition

RMG September 2016

A record is considered active while it is being used on a day-to-day basis during the normal course of business. This means, as long as new information is accumulated and added to the record, it is considered active.

2200 Inactive Definition

RMG September 2016

A record is considered inactive when it is no longer useful during the normal course of business. Generally, this means that new information is no longer being added to the record. A closed case file is automatically considered to be inactive. 

Exception: New information may be added to an inactive record that spans a substantial period of time. For example, a facility or adoption record may have 10 years of inactive files and two years of active files.

2300 Maintenance of Records

RMG September 2016

Records must be organized according to existing guidelines determined through collaboration between RMG and the department or program area.

2310 Electronic Records

RMG September 2016

DFPS stores electronic records in a format that allows ease of access for the foreseeable future.

Examples include:

  •  Narratives drafted by APS, CCL, CPS, and SWI and held in IMPACT or CLASS

  •  Audio recordings captured by SWI and held in EngageVoice

  •  Documents imaged by RMG and held in OneCase

  •  Contracting records held in the Health and Human Services Contract Administration and Tracking System application

  •  Accounting records held by the Office of Finance on DFPS computers

Electronic records may be stored in the following locations:

  •  DFPS servers, including DFPS applications and computer network drives

  •  Third-party servers

Exception: When servers are not readily accessible or do not meet a specific business need, electronic records are stored on a CD or DVD. DFPS programs including APS, CCL, and CPS use CDs and DVDs to store recordings of interviews, photographs, or other documentation. CDs and DVDs are stored as physical records in accordance with 2320 Physical Records.


APS Handbook, 6110 Obtaining Written Statements

Child Care Investigations Handbook, 2231 Documenting Photographs, Audio, Video, and Scanned Information

Child Care Investigations Handbook, 2232 Storage of Digital Photos, Audio, Video, and Scanned Information

CPS Handbook, 2241.34 Audio and Visual Documentation of a Child’s Interview

CPS Handbook, 2242 Interviewing Parents and Alleged Perpetrators

HHS Imaging Standards

2320 Physical Records

RMG September 2016

Physical records include:

  •  paper documents;

  •  storage media (such as CDs and DVDs); and

  •  microfilm.

Physical files may be stored in agency offices while active or open. When physical records are inactive, RMG receives, scans as applicable, and stores them offsite with a third-party vendor. RMG ensures metadata is effectively used to maintain access to records stored in third-party locations. Inactive physical records are retrieved from storage and scanned (as applicable) to fulfill records requests.

2321 Conversion of Outdated Storage Media

RMG September 2016

As certain media formats become outdated, DFPS adopts new formats and, when necessary, converts existing records to new formats.

Examples of outdated formats that may exist in a physical file include analog or magnetic storage (such as floppy disks), audio cassette tapes, and VHS tapes.

RMG may convert outdated media on a case-by-case basis when requested or on a large scale as needed.

2400 Submitting Inactive Records to RMG

RMG September 2016

Records should be forwarded to RMG, within a timeframe agreed upon by RMG and the program or division, after they become inactive.

2500 Special Instructions for Handling Certain Information

RMG September 2016

Certain information contained in DFPS records requires specific handling with regard to how it is captured, stored, or released, due to the type of information or to comply with legal regulation.

2510 Instant Messages, Text Messages, and Voice Mails

RMG September 2016

Staff must document instant messages, text messages, and voice mails to meet record retention requirements. While all DFPS records have retention requirements, regardless of the medium in which they are created, these specific types of records require their own policy due to current information technology parameters.

When communicating via instant messenger, leaving or receiving a voice mail, or sending or receiving a text message that is official state business, staff must determine whether the content of the communication is a transitory record (see 1230 Transitory Records). This is true regardless of whether the communication is on a personal or DFPS-provided device.

Transitory messages should be deleted after they have served their purpose.

When communicating non-transitory information, staff should use secure email or telephone/voice mail, if the recipient has given permission to leave private information in a voice message. Communicating non-transitory information in a text or instant message should be used only as a last resort.

Staff must not use text messages, instant messages, or voice mails to communicate information that violates local, state, or federal laws. In addition, records associated with a “litigation hold” must be kept until that hold is lifted, regardless of retention time.

2511 Documentation of Instant Messages, Text Messages, and Voice Mails

RMG September 2016

An instant message is an electronic message to one or more persons with minimal delay between the sending and receipt of a message. Like a conversation, instant messaging is a simultaneous give-and-take, but it occurs in writing. In contrast to email, which remains unread in a recipient’s inbox until opened, instant messenger programs notify users when other users are online and available to accept messages.

A voice mail is a recorded message delivered to an interactive computerized system for answering and routing telephone calls.

When non-transitory instant messages or voice mails are sent or received, staff may capture and record a summary of the information. Staff do not need to record the message contents verbatim or retain the original message after capturing. Follow the steps below.

  1. Capture information about the message:

  •  Originator and receiver

  •  Date and time of the communication

  •  Type of message (instant message, text message, or voice mail)

  2. Record the captured information:

  •  Information directly related to frontline casework should be documented in the case record. This is done as a contact in the electronic system of record (IMPACT or CLASS).

  •  Information that is not case-related but must be retained for business purposes should be documented and saved in the employee’s computer H drive.

A text message is a message containing text, picture, or video that is sent from a mobile phone or web interface to other mobile phone users, using the Short Message Service (SMS) or Multimedia Messaging Services (MMS) standards. In accordance with HHS Text Message Policy, staff must capture and retain original non-transitory text messages as soon as possible and no later than one business day after receipt. A staff has two options for capturing a text message:

  •  Forward the text message itself to his or her DFPS email address. See the DFPS Forwarding Text Messages tip sheet for instructions.

See the Process for Documenting Instant Messages, Text Messages, and Voice Mails job aid for a visual example.

2520 Litigation Holds

RMG September 2016

DFPS ensures compliance under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Texas Rules of Civil Procedure by preserving potential evidence during a lawsuit. The DFPS Office of the General Counsel identifies the types of records that must be maintained during a lawsuit and the DFPS employees impacted by a lawsuit.

All records in DFPS’s possession when a litigation hold is enacted and all records obtained thereafter must be preserved and cannot be destroyed until the hold is lifted. Litigation holds interrupt existing retention policies and remain in effect until the Office of the General Counsel provides notification of a lawsuit closing judgment and mandates new instruction.

The following list provides examples of information that may be subject to a litigation hold:

  •  Text messages

  •  Voicemail messages

  •  Email

  •  Any and all files on a desktop PC, laptop, or tablet

  •  Outlook calendar information

  •  Telephone logs

  •  Spreadsheets

  •  Video and audio recordings

  •  Handwritten documents and notes

  •  Information documented on DFPS forms

  •  Information entered into DFPS applications (such as IMPACT and CLASS)

The information can be stored on a variety of devices such as a work computer, home computer, work desk telephone, state-issued cellular phone, personal cellular phone, removable media (such as a CD or DVD), or any personally owned devices used to create, modify, transmit, or store DFPS records.

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 26

Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 192

DFPS SafetyNet DOL Lawsuit Q&A

2530 Handling Drug or Alcohol Abuse Treatment Records

RMG September 2016

DFPS records may contain drug or alcohol abuse treatment records, which are deemed privileged as mandated by federal law. DFPS withholds this information and only releases it after receiving a court order. DFPS prefers that requesters seek privileged information from its source (for example, seeking drug treatment records from the drug treatment center).

42 C.F.R. §§ 2.1-2.67

2540 Handling Criminal History Record Information 

RMG September 2016

DFPS uses criminal history record information (CHRI) to make decisions about the safety of DFPS clients and about personnel issues related to DFPS employees. DFPS receives CHRI through IMPACT and CLASS and from criminal justice agencies and other sources.

DFPS employees must handle CHRI in a responsible and confidential manner. An employee’s failure to follow the procedures in this policy may result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. All programs and divisions establish CHRI restrictions in their handbooks, as applicable, and implement quality assurance measures to properly handle any CHRI kept in physical case records.

2541 Contents and Source of CHRI

RMG September 2016

CHRI is collected by a criminal justice agency and consists of an individual’s arrests, detentions, indictments, and other formal criminal charges and their dispositions. CHRI does not include information from a person’s driving record.

A criminal justice agency is a department that manages criminal justice issues for a federal, state, or local agency or campus. Examples of criminal justice agencies include police departments, sheriff’s departments, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the U.S. Border Patrol, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Texas Government Code §411.0011

2542 Procedures for Handling CHRI

RMG September 2016

When possible, DFPS employees must share information electronically, especially when sending a criminal history report in its entirety. If electronic transmission is not possible, the report may be printed and submitted to the requester. The following table explains the limited circumstances approved for printing CHRI (that is, the valid situations in which sharing information electronically is not possible) and the mandatory procedures for ensuring that a physical document containing CHRI is securely maintained by all DFPS employees:

If an employee:

Then the employee:

must print CHRI to convey the information accurately to a person who is authorized by law, rule, or policy to receive the information …

  •  ensures that the CHRI is recorded in IMPACT or CLASS, according to specific program or division policy; and

  •  immediately destroys the physical document by means of manual shredding.

must print CHRI to complete a notice from the Centralized Background Check Unit about the results of a background check …

  •  routes the notification, in a confidential manner, to the designated recipient; and

  •  does not keep a copy of the notification.

must print CHRI to comply with a judicial proceeding, including filing a court report or affidavit …

  •  ensures that the document containing CHRI is recorded in IMPACT; and

  •  ensures that the physical document is securely maintained in the physical case file and is protected from unauthorized view.

Criminal justice agencies may provide DFPS with documents that contain CHRI. When an employee receives a physical document containing CHRI and the document must be recorded in IMPACT or CLASS, the employee ensures that the CHRI is recorded according to specific program or division policy and then:

  •  destroys the physical document by manual shredding; or

  •  ensures that the physical document is securely maintained in the physical case file and protected from unauthorized view.

2600 Special Instructions for Handling Certain Records

RMG September 2016

Due to specific programmatic needs, certain DFPS records require special handling with regard to how they are organized, stored, and submitted to RMG.

2610 Handling a Case Record

RMG September 2016

DFPS has specific laws, rules, policy, and procedures regarding case records. These records include all materials retained in a physical or “external” file and any data entered and stored in an electronic format or digital repository. DFPS case records often contain information deemed confidential by Texas law and are not subject to general public disclosure per the Public Information Act.

Texas Government Code §552.023

Texas Family Code §261.201

Texas Human Resources Code §48.101

40 Texas Administrative Code §700, Subchapter B; §705, Subchapter M;
§745, Subchapter K, Division 3

2611 Handling Electronic Case Files

RMG September 2021

Electronic case files include any born-digital or imaged documents, images, and audio recordings residing in any DFPS case file management system, such as IMPACT (Information Management Protecting Adults and Children in Texas) or other third-party applications.

RMG oversees the proper retention and disposal of electronic case files according to the DFPS Records Retention Schedule. See 4000 Records Retention and Disposal.

2612 Handling Physical Case Files

RMG September 2016

The physical file must be organized according to existing RMG guidelines and forwarded to RMG within 30 calendar days after the case is closed. If a physical file concerning an open case must be submitted to RMG for redaction, program staff must follow the directions in How to Provide Records to RMG for Redaction.

2612.1 Organizing a Physical Case File

RMG September 2016

The physical case file consists of all original and official documents as outlined in 1221 Contents of a Physical File. It also includes the following items:

  •  Official tabs – APS and CPS use tabs approved by DFPS. RMG maintains and publishes these tabs, which contain bar coding to accurately organize physical documentation into the electronic case record.

  •  Media – A device containing video, audio, documents, or other data. Historic media includes VHS tapes, cassette tapes, diskettes or floppy disks, and rolls of camera film. Examples include photographs and video and audio recordings, most often stored on a CD.

DFPS program staff must follow the records management standards in the table below.

DFPS Program


Adult Protective Services (APS)

APS uses official tabs to maintain the physical file for documents that are essential to the case and cannot be entered into the IMPACT case management system.

In the APS Handbook, see 15210 Content of Case Records.

Child Care Licensing (CCL)

CCL develops a physical file for each operation’s monitoring record and separate files for each abuse or neglect investigation. Regardless of the type, each file must include notes, documents obtained during an operation’s monitoring investigation, and items that require original signature. In the Child Care Investigations Handbook, see 2220 Maintaining an Investigation File.

Child Protective Services (CPS)

CPS uses official tabs to organize the physical file for investigation, family preservation, substitute care, and adoption services. Records are kept in a family-based filing system. In the Child Protective Services Handbook, see 1422 Parts of the Case Record.

Statewide Intake (SWI)

SWI occasionally receives physical documents that originate or are affiliated with a case record. SWI forwards these documents to the appropriate DFPS division for inclusion in the physical file. See the Statewide Intake IMPACT User Guide on the DFPS intranet.

2612.2 Submitting a Physical Case File to RMG

RMG September 2016

Case closure occurs when DFPS completes all case-related activities and the case is closed in IMPACT or CLASS. A CCL monitoring file is considered closed once the operation has been closed out in CLASS. Closed cases are considered to be inactive as defined in 2200 Inactive Definition.

Within 30 calendar days after a case is closed, physical files must be submitted to RMG. In accordance with program-specific guidelines, physical files are imaged or stored.

RMG SafetyNet How to Prepare Your APS and CPS Case Records for Storage

RMG SafetyNet How to Organize and Send Your CCL Closed Records

2620 Handling a Personnel File

RMG September 2016

DFPS supervisors maintain their direct reports’ personnel files. A DFPS supervisor is any DFPS employee who supervises the work of another employee.

A personnel file can consist of up to three components:

  •  Master personnel file 

  •  Information entered into the CAPPS database

  •  Local personnel file, including separated medical and dental information (if provided)

2621 Master Personnel File

RMG September 2016

The master personnel file contains information collected by DFPS and maintained by HHS HR. The master personnel file contains specific documents outlined in the DFPS Personnel File Checklist, including documents collected during the onboarding process and second and third level reminders.

40 Texas Administrative Code §749.553

DFPS HR Manual Chapter 14: Employment Records (D. Master Personnel Files)

Upon completion, these documents must be forwarded to the address specified in the Personnel File Checklist.

2621.1 Organization and Storage of Master Personnel File for Active and Separated Employees

RMG September 2016

HHS stores and maintains master personnel files for all employees, active or separated. HHS will ensure the master personnel file is maintained for the appropriate retention period once an employee separates. Send questions to

2622 CAPPS Database

RMG September 2016

DFPS uses the Centralized Accounting and Payroll/Personnel System (CAPPS) for recording time and leave, performance management, payroll, and other personnel matters. CAPPS maintains a significant amount of information that is part of an employee’s personnel file. Some examples of entries made in CAPPS are:

  •  accident reports;

  •  performance notes (also referred to as development or conference notes); and

  •  performance plans (also referred to as development plans or evaluations).

2622.1 Organization and Storage of CAPPS Database for Active and Separated Employees

RMG September 2016

HHS stores and maintains personnel information entered into CAPPS for all employees, active or separated. HHS will ensure the master personnel file is maintained for the appropriate retention period once an employee separates.

DFPS HR Procedures 4101, 4102, and 4103

2623 Local Personnel File

RMG September 2016

The local personnel file contains personnel information collected and maintained by DFPS supervisors about each employee they supervise. Supervisors are not required to maintain a local personnel file on every employee. There are four situations in which a local personnel file must be maintained electronically or physically:

  •  All foster and adoptive workers must have a local personnel file to maintain a copy of their:   

  •  current job description;

  •  record of completed training and hours; and

  •  drug testing results.

40 Texas Administrative Code §745.4151 (8) (B); §749.553 (3) and (11)

  •  When a supervisor drafts developmental notes outside of CAPPS using Form 5380 - Employee Performance Notes or another format. Locally saved developmental notes have served their purpose once the yearly Performance Plan is completed in CAPPS and should then be destroyed.

DFPS HR Procedures 4103

  •  When a supervisor activates a level reminder for an employee.

DFPS HR Manual Chapter 10: Performance and Conduct Management, Sections E, F, G

  •  When an employee goes on FMLA, the supervisor must retain forms as required by HHS.

DFPS HR Manual Chapter 5: Work Leave (I. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Leave)I

Note: In some areas of DFPS, supervisors may maintain a local personnel file for employees to keep track of information about their staff. Many times, documents in local personnel files are convenience copies of information that is already stored elsewhere. Convenience copies must be destroyed after they have served their purpose. Some examples of convenience copies frequently found in local personnel files are:

  •  personal and emergency contact information;

  •  copies of driver’s licenses and current insurance;

  •  printouts of existing HR or regional policies; and

  •  records of completed training and certificates.

Email the Records Management Group with any questions regarding records retention.

2623.1 Medical and Dental Information

RMG September 2016

When medical and dental information must be collected from an employee, supervisors must maintain this information in a separate section of the local personnel file labeled “Medical/Dental Documentation.”

DFPS HR Manual Chapter 14: Employment Records (E. Restricted Access to Employee Medical Information)

A supervisor must maintain certain medical information and forms necessary for assessing an employee’s FMLA status as specified in the DFPS HR Manual.

DFPS HR Manual Chapter 5: Work Leave (F. Additional Guidelines for Medical Examinations, Confidentiality of Medical Information)

2623.2 Organization and Storage of Local Personnel Files for Active Employees

RMG September 2016

Local personnel files may be stored electronically or physically by the supervisors of active employees. Electronic storage is the preferred method for storing personnel files.

2623.21 Electronic Personnel Files

RMG September 2016

If a supervisor maintains electronic personnel files, the supervisor should place the files in a folder on his or her computer’s H drive. The main folder should be labeled “Personnel Files” for easy identification. Inside this folder, each employee’s files should be in a separate folder labeled with that employee’s ID number followed by last and first name.

Medical or dental information should be stored in a separate folder marked “Medical & Dental Documentation.”

See the Organization of Electronic Personnel Files Job Aid for more information.

Note: A supervisor may choose to scan physical personnel documents. In accordance with 1310 Imaging Standards (Electronic Files), the supervisor must:

  •  scan the document in a way that meets the quality standards; and

  •  visually confirm the document was scanned correctly before destroying the paper original.

2623.22 Physical Personnel Files

RMG September 2016

If a supervisor maintains physical personnel files, the supervisor should keep the files in sections labeled with the employee’s ID number and last and first name.

Medical or dental information should be separated and labeled “Medical/Dental Documentation.”

All physical personnel files must be stored in locked cabinets or offices due to the confidentiality of the information.

2623.3 Organization and Storage of Local Personnel Files for Transferring or Separating Employees

RMG September 2016

When a DFPS employee leaves his or her current position, the supervisor is responsible for handling that employee’s local personnel file and also any local personnel files for employees the exiting employee supervised.

2623.31 Employee Transfers

RMG September 2016

When an employee transfers within DFPS, the supervisor:

  •  ensures that all documents required to be forwarded to HHS HR in accordance with 2621 Master Personnel File have been sent; and

  •  forwards, in a confidential manner, the local personnel file to the employee’s new supervisor via email or physical mail.

DFPS HR Manual Chapter 5: Work Leave (F. Additional Guidelines for Medical Examinations, Confidentiality of Medical Information)

2623.32 Employee Separates

RMG September 2016

When an employee leaves DFPS, the supervisor:

  •  ensures that all documents required to be forwarded to HHS HR in accordance with 2621 Master Personnel File have been forwarded;

  •  boxes up the employee’s physical personnel files and sends them to RMG according to the How-to Organize and Send Your Personnel Records instructions;

  •  retains the employee’s electronic personnel files in accordance with the Records Retention Schedule; and

  •  determines if the employee supervised others. If not, then no further action is required. If the employee did supervise others, the supervisor follows the directions in Procedures for Handling Personnel Files When a Supervisor Leaves.

2630 Handling a Contracting File

RMG September 2016

In accordance with state law, contract records are maintained to:

  •  ensure DFPS transparency;

  •  serve as documentation for department and external audits;

  •  aid in the monitoring of vendor performance; and

  •  determine risk status and level of performance if a concern is raised.

DFPS contract files should include all documentation that describes:

  •  what the department is purchasing from the contractor;

  •  the history of the contractual relationship;

  •  how the contractor is fulfilling its commitment to DFPS at any given time; and

  •  the timing and nature of any changes to the original contract.

2631 Official Contract File

RMG September 2016

An official contract file must be maintained within the Health and Human Services Contract Administration and Tracking System (HCATS) for each of the DFPS’s contracts. The file for each DFPS contract must contain complete, accurate, and up-to-date contract information.

DFPS Contract Handbook, Chapter1

2632 Additional Contract Documentation

RMG September 2016

Contract staff maintains other relevant documents obtained during daily contract management activity. Other documentation not uploaded into HCATS is referenced in the official HCATS contract file when appropriate.

Other documentation outside of the official file in HCATS can include:

  •  copies of reports or documents that contain information used to assign risk assessment scores (as well as notes that explain the logic used to determine the scores); and

  •  monitoring and other reports, notes, correspondence, billing invoices, and program staff communications regarding the contractor.

All documentation not entered into HCATS should be signed and dated (as applicable) and filed in a logical order.

Texas Contract Management Guide, Chapter 7

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