HD17 - Report on National Fingerprint Criminal History Background Checks
This report is submitted pursuant to Chapter 128 of the 2014 Acts of Assembly, which requires the Virginia Department of Social Services (Department) to convene a work group to develop a plan for implementation of national fingerprint-based criminal history record checks for all child care providers in the Commonwealth. In conducting this workgroup, representatives from the Department, Virginia Department of State Police (Virginia State Police), and stakeholder groups of child care providers (licensed and unlicensed) researched and gathered preliminary information to implement national fingerprint-based criminal history record checks for licensed and regulated child care providers.
1. All licensed and regulated child day programs should be required to obtain a state and national fingerprint-based criminal record check for employees, volunteers who will be alone with children, applicants, agents involved in the day-to-day operations or who will be alone with children, and adult household members in family day homes. This requirement would convey to all child care programs that receive payment through the Child Care Subsidy Program (Subsidy), even if these programs are not licensed or regulated. All children in licensed and regulated programs and children in programs that accept Subsidy reimbursement should be protected by this requirement.
2. The Department's Office of Background Investigations should screen fingerprint check results using the barrier crime list in § 63.2-1719 of the Code and notify child day programs of the individual's eligibility for employment or volunteering. The Virginia State Police stated it cannot screen the results of the fingerprint checks for all child care providers, as they are not primarily a screening agency.
3. A fingerprint vendor that can take fingerprints and electronically transmit the fingerprints to the Virginia State Police should be considered by the Commonwealth because of the potential administrative savings and the reduced turn-around time in receiving criminal history record results. To further reduce costs, the Commonwealth should consider extending the use of a fingerprint vendor to the following groups of employees for whom national fingerprint-based criminal history record checks are currently required: public and private schools, Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, Virginia Lottery, children's residential facilities, foster and adoptive families, and Department of Criminal Justice Services. If a fingerprint company is used, the Commonwealth should consider limiting the options used by the fingerprint company (photo, signature pad, distance and availability of fingerprint stations) to reduce the fingerprint fee, while still ensuring availability of fingerprint stations across the Commonwealth.
4. The workgroup does not recommend portable criminal history record checks at this time because the technology is not available to notify agencies when there is a new arrest or new conviction of an employee or volunteer. Once this 'rap back' technology is readily available in Virginia, the work group would like to see the issue of portable criminal history record checks considered for individuals required to be fingerprinted. Portability at this time reduces safety for children in care.
5. The requirement for repeat criminal record checks every three years should be continued. The repeat criminal record check should be a national fingerprint-based criminal history record check.
6. An effective date for implementation should be at least two years from the date the law is signed to allow sufficient time for state-wide implementation. New information systems and equipment will need to be in place, decisions will need to be made and implemented regarding the use of a fingerprint company, and changes will need to be made in the Virginia State Police and Virginia Department of Social Services Office of Background Investigations Unit to accommodate the processing of child care provider fingerprint criminal history record checks. All new individuals hired, volunteering, licensed, registered, approved as a Subsidy provider, or approved after this date must have a national fingerprint-based criminal history check. This would include new employees, new volunteers who will be alone with children, new applicants, new agents involved in the day-to-day operations of the program or who will be alone with children, and new adult household members residing in a family day home.
7. Implementation of national fingerprint-based criminal history record checks should be phased in over a three year-period for current employees. Current employees and volunteers should be required to obtain a fingerprint-based record check at the three year expiration of their existing name background check. Current applicants, agents involved in the day to day operations of the program or that will be alone with children, and adult household members residing in family day homes should obtain a national fingerprint-based criminal history record check upon renewal of the license, registration, approval for Subsidy participation, and/or approval.
8. Efforts should be made to limit the cost of national fingerprint-based criminal history record checks to individuals and child care providers. Fingerprint record checks are costly to implement and continue, but are necessary to provide increased protection to children and to meet potential federal requirements. If the proposed federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) requirement for national fingerprint-based criminal record checks becomes final, Virginia will not be eligible for $108,717,766 in federal funds if national fingerprint-based criminal history record checks are not required for child care providers.
9. Efforts should be made to ensure the fingerprint checks are conducted in an efficient manner with a reasonable turnaround time, as child care providers need to know screening results as soon as possible in order to make hiring decisions and obtain licensing and regulatory approvals.
10. Once decisions have been made regarding the parameters of the requirements for national fingerprint-based criminal history record checks, further research is needed prior to fully implementing this requirement. This research should include determining specific information system requirements and upgrades needed, parameters for the use of a fingerprint company if this option is used, analysis of the final federal rule for CCDF, and other issues as needed.
11. Existing barrier crimes should be reviewed to ensure that the barrier crimes are appropriate as lifetime prohibitions for employment in child day programs and to ensure consistency between programs.
12. Further research is recommended on background check requirements for child day programs in the Code of Virginia. Background check requirements are redundant and duplicative in several different sections of the Code and for ease of understanding, it is recommended that requirements be consolidated and combined as applicable.