background checks play a critical role in protecting minors. At Blinkx, we have explored the importance of background checks for youth sports organizations and daycare providers, and just as important are background screening for child protection caseworkers and foster care background checks.
Organizations that work with children for foster care, adoption, or kinship caregiving should be vigilant about making sure that their background check protocols are thorough, up to date, and compliant with state and federal laws.
Background check requirements are extensive for foster care agencies, adoption agencies, and kinship caregiving, which is when grandparents, other extended family members, godparents, or family friends assume the role of raising a child, usually because the child’s parents are unable to do so.
While background check statutes vary by state, under federal law, Title IV-E of the Social Security Act requires that states include certain background screening provisions.
Federal law demands that:
- Agencies conduct criminal history checks, “including fingerprint-based checks of national crime information databases,” as part of the pre-approval process for any prospective foster or adoptive parents.
- Agencies conduct checks of their state registries for child abuse and neglect for prospective foster or adoptive parents, as well as for any other adults who will be living in the child’s foster home or adoptive home.
- Agencies extend their child abuse and neglect registry checks to include any other states where a prospective parent (or any other adult living in the prospective foster or adoptive home) has lived within the past five years.
- Agencies conduct criminal history checks, including fingerprint-based checks of national criminal databases, on any relatives, godparents, or family friends who will be assuming kinship guardianship, and on any other adults living in kinship guardian homes.
Every state observes these laws and requires that agencies complete them and review the findings thoroughly before placing a child with any foster parent, adoptive parent, or kinship guardian. Some states also demand other checks, such as sex offender registries screenings or records of domestic violence history.
For specific state-by-state regulatory requirements for adoption and foster care background checks, the Child Welfare Information Gateway publishes a detailed document, including notes on the laws in each state. The most recent version of that document, “Background Checks for Prospective Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Caregivers,” was published in 2019 and is current through September 2018.
This document is a roadmap of background check requirements, though agencies should also stay updated on the latest legislative movements in their states in case regulatory compliance demands changes.
Recently, a former caseworker for the New Jersey Department of Child Protection and Permanency pleaded guilty to one count of sexual exploitation of a child. The caseworker, Kayan Frazier, admitted to taking sexually explicit photos of a young boy. Foster care background checks aren’t just vital for individuals or families thinking about adopting, fostering, or caring for children in need. Foster and adoption agencies should also review their employee vetting policies to make sure that they are conducting detailed background screening for child protection caseworkers.
At Blinkx, we provide a variety of background check services, ranging from criminal history checks to sex offender registry searches. We can help agencies comply with the background check requirements that help keep minors safe during adoption, foster care, and other child care situations. Contact us today to begin.