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State’s privacy shield on child welfare data leaves us unprotected against coronavirus

Commissioner of Early Education and Care Samantha Aigner-Treworgy with Governor Charlie Baker at a State House press conference in April.Nicolaus Czarnecki/Pool

Re “Request for virus data is denied: State won’t divulge cases at day cares; claims privacy exemption” by Stephanie Ebbert (Metro, Aug. 11). We support this inquiry and public records request. We’ve advocated for transparency and access to Massachusetts child welfare data and information for years. Unfortunately, Ebbert’s experience seems emblematic of how information critical to informing the public is not shared and appears to be actively protected in Massachusetts.

We realize some information must be protected; however, a lack of full disclosure leads to suspicion and lack of trust. Information, so vital to parents, caregivers, providers, schools, and others who educate or care for children, is being withheld behind the shield of maintaining confidentiality. As we are learning, children are also at risk of carrying and spreading COVID-19 and of developing dangerous symptoms.


It is impossible to understand why the state is unable to both protect confidentiality and inform the public during this pandemic, a time when current data are critical to private and public decisions regarding health and well-being of all people, including children.

We must all speak out in support of transparency across government sectors to ensure the ability to make judgments about vital matters that present themselves, especially today.

Jane Lyons

Executive director

June Ameen

Policy director

Friends of Children