Implementing and Operating Address Confidentiality Programs
Melissa Deinlein, Victoria Sostack  -  2008/10/22
http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ovcproviderforum
 
 
How does one determine which address confidentiality program works best? Does the type, selection, implementation and operation of the address confidentiality program depend largely upon the state, county and community in which the victim lives, or the perpetrator? Also, does the age of the victim have a bearing on which program is being implemented?
 
1.  NCADV
 In response to the response...what would be required to get all states to offer such protection to ensure that a victim is covered no matter where he/she lives? Particularly a victim that was covered in one state and then moves to a state that doesn't provide protection.
 
2.  Missy & Victori
 We're not aware of address confidentiality programs at any level other than state. Several new ACPS have been implemented over the past year and our experience has been that each State determines the type of program based on the needs of the victims and the resources available within the State. We do recommend the inclusion of domestic violence, sexual assault andor victim service coalitionsprograms if you are considering ACP legislation. This will help ensure that the program is designed to meet the needs of victims who need this level of address protection.Most ACPs provide services only to victims who reside within the boundaries of each state, regardless of where the crime occurred or where the perpetrator resides. Because ACPs are government entities, applications/contracts are accepted from adults only, but if a minor child is the victim needing protection, the parent or guardian may certainly apply on behalf of the child.
 
 
Often times, the environmental strategies that we have in place to protect women fail. What do you recommend women do in cases of failed policy?
 
1.  PCADV
 Here in PA, the ACP program is just a small part of a larger individualized safety plan. As advocates we always need to be saying what if....?, so the woman is prepared ahead of time to implement a Plan B, or C, or....We had a lot of input into our ACP Program, as did the V/W and SA programs. This was very helpful to close some potential gaps.
 
 
I think confidentiality of address and telephone number are extremely important to many who are vulnerable to personal targeting (by relationship,occupation, extortion,etc.). Currently, unlisted numbers / addresses can be found easily. How do you get a national approach to this need?
 
1.  Terri
 There is an interest in talking about national legislation, and the VAWA reauthorization is coming up in a year. Melissa, Victoria...we should soon talk in depth about the legal/legislative issues you have surmised.
 
2.  Missy & Victori
 Many states have implemented Address Confidentiality Programs; while the basics are similar, there are differences. Some states' laws, for example, restrict eligibility to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking victims, while some have expanded on this list and/or allow individuals in particular occupations. ACPs generally assist a participant in keeping address information confidential -- not phone numbers. If a participant uses ACP services effectively, public records may still be created, but the address appearing will be the 'substitute' address instead of actual address because ACP participation enables a victim to avoid using hisher actual address. It's important to remember that ACP participation is part of a larger safety plan and should not be promoted as the only way for someone to stay safe.In terms of a national approach, this would require Federal legislation and we are not aware of any discussions occurring at that level. State ACPs have discussed the idea of reciprocity between States for ACP participants as we recognize the value of a larger network but there are legal and legislative issues that would need to be reviewed and addressed.
 
 
When a young person is moved by an agency to a foster or adoptive home in another area or state, do any states allow that young person to be signed up in the ACP of the new state?
 
1.  VictoriaMissy
 Seems like there are two issues here. First of all, if the child was adopted by another family and was eligible for ACP participation, the adoptive parent/guardian could enroll on behalf of the family. If the child is in foster care, the county/state would have custody of the child and would therefore need to know the child's location. It would take a combined effort between all the agencies to protect the location of the child. This issue will vary depending on local rules and jurisdictions.
 
 
What options do victims have for property ownership? These records are public record - the address confidentiality programs don't work to protect property records. I'm a Realtor in CA /NV I have been able to help victims form LLC to buy property and it won't be in their names; however not every victim's situation will work in this manner. Cops/law enforcement have confidential address including property records they are blacked out not in the public records property database they are blocked from the system but many recorder clerks/title companies are not familiar etc need a better alternative as victims who are seeking a better life need to secure their property records.
 
1.  Missy & Victori
 This is a very complex issue, involving many government and non-governmental entities. What needs to be understood is that when a participant uses his/her ACP address it is a mailing address - and a mailing address is not a property's location. We advise participants to seek legal assistance to explore their options. It's important to understnad that ACPs do have limitations and we do expect to revisit this issue often.
 
 
Can victims that do not have an ACP in their state use the services of an out of state ACP?
 
1.  VictoriaMissy
 As far as we know, Pennsylvania is the only ACP that does not require participants to reside within the state in order to receive services. It is important to remember that the only service a non-PA resident could really access via the PA ACP would be the mail forwarding service as PA law would not apply to other States. In majority of states, ACP services are funded by and available only to residents of that state.
 
 
What measures should be taken when screening and hiring potential employees to ensure victim safety?
 
1.  VictoriaMissy
 Most ACPs would conduct criminal background checks and reference checks as part of standard hiring practices. This is obviously not a fail safe approach but most ACPs have a small number of staff so oversight and monitoring of access to confidential information can be controlled. The legislation creating some ACPs have incorporated penalties related to disclosure of ACP participant information.
 
 
Has anyone considered a national ACP? What would be the benefits and detriments to such a program?
 
1.  PCADV
 Talking with folks who were instrumental in getting Full Faith & Credit for PFA's (Protection orders), might be helpful. They had to deal with the fact that each state allows different protections in their civil orders.
 
2.  Missy & Victori
 I don't know that anyone's considered a national ACP but we have discussed the topic of reciprocity between States. It may be difficult for the federal government to impose ACPs upon states without necessarily the support in each state. Services in general vary from state to to state. The benefit may be seamless services available to victims, however, detriments may be that some ACPs offer more comprehensive services than others and interact with various other levels of government within the state.
 
 
How many states currently have ACP's? Is there a list somewhere? Which states have the best ACP's?
 
1.  TH
 Can you name some of the model ACP'sstates?
 
2.  VictoriaMissy
 There is a list on the National Center for Victims of Crime website http://www.ncvc.org/src/main.aspx/main.aspx?dbID=DB_AddressConfidentialityPrograms160 There are currently 32 ACPs in the United States, though some offer limited services such as confidential voter registration and driver's licenses.
 
 
Are other states having luck with getting nongovernmental agencies/organizations or individuals to accept the ACP address?
 
1.  VictoriaMissy
 It seems to be consistent among current ACPs that there is no requirement that nongovernmental agencies and businesses accept the substitute address. Based on the mail being received by ACPs, we know that some businesses are willing to accept the substitute address for billing purposes at least. None of the current ACPs have reported huge successes in terms of getting these entities to partner on the issue.
 
 
For school children whose parents are enrolled in the program, what is the responsiblity of the school in complying with the guidelines of the program?
 
1.  TH
 If the victim is responsible for making sure the ACP is on file, how can we ensure they know this information and that it is, in fact, done upon request?
 
2.  Missy & Victori
 Public schools fall under the umbrella of government and must comply with state law, meaning if a participant provides the ACP substitute address, the school must accept that address as the home address on file. Schools may require phone numbers, emergency contact information, and any other information required of enrolled students, but the home address on file is the ACP substitute address. It is the parents responsibility to be aware of and discuss with the school any safety concerns such as bus routes, school newsletters and/or yearbooks, etc.
 
 
What is the longest time that someone has remained in an ACP? What kind of safety issues come us for survivors as time goes on in the program?
 
1.  Missy & Victori
 Washington's ACP began in 1991 and was the first in the nation. Some participants who applied in 1991 are still actively using our services. I'm not aware of any 'new' safety issues that may arise as time goes on, but we readily suggest participants keep in touch with their safety advocates and ensure their safety plans are up-to-date.
 
 
I know that one type of confidentiality works so that the spouse does not know where the victim is living but how about law enforcement officers and other agencies that have the victims address.... the perpetrator can get the address from the internet and many other places. How can this problem be solved? I know that you mentioned the government but couldn't the state do something to make it really what it is "confidential"?
 
1.  VictoriaMissy
 ACP participants decide when and how to use the ACP substitute address. The best way to avoid information appearing in public records is for participants to strictly limit who has their actual address information. Accessing information via the internet is a huge safety issue for most victims and we strongly encourage them to become better informed about ways to protect their personal information. NCADV has information about internet safety that we share with participants http://www.ncadv.org/protectyourself/InternetSafety_121.html. We also encourage parents to monitor their childrens computer activity due to the popularity of social networking sites like Myspace and Facebook. Unfortunately, it is incredibly difficult to permanently remove information from cyberspace.
 
 
How can we help make the transfer of welfare benefits and social security smooth?
 
1.  TH
 Would the ACP have authority if there were federal law on this subject?
 
2.  Missy & Victori
 'Welfare' benefits received from state agencies can certainly be sent through a particpant's ACP address. Many participants, however, receive benefits via direct deposit so they won't be affected by the delay in mail going through ACP. Most ACPs have worked closesly with social service agencies to develop procedures for working with participants. Generally speaking, state and local government agencies are very receptive to coordinating our efforts to provide service to our clients. Social Security is a federal government agency and the ACP has no authority at that level.
 
 
Both presidential candidates have expressed a desire to implement online medical records. Will this affect victims and ACP's?
 
1.  VictoriaMissy
 Obviously this is a privacy issue that affects more than ACP participants but we would have concerns about access to this information. What immediately comes to mind is even if the substitute address is accepted for service and billing purposes, information about where a participant is receiving services could narrow down her/his location to a specific region or city.
 
 
We are considering developing an ACP in our state. One of the questions raised is how other states have handled inquiries from law enforcment about the actual address of the person.
 
1.  VictoriaMissy
 If anyone is considering implementing an ACP, we would like you to know that we do have a nationwide ACP list-serve that we use on a regular basis to find out what other programs have done in specific situations and also to share our policies. If you are interested in being added to the list, please contact one of the programs on the NCVC website list, under Stalking resources.
 
2.  Missy & Victori
 Many states have provisions allowing the ACP to release confidential participant information if ordered by a court or if requested by a law enforcement agency, under certain circumstances. Each state is different.
 
Return to Discussion