The Office of Child & Family Services (OCFS) has implemented a criminal background check process to ensure criminal record checks and checks of child abuse and neglect registries for adults working in Children’s Residential Treatment Facilities; Children’s Residential Facilities with Secure Capacity; Shelters for Homeless Youth; and Emergency Shelters for Children in accordance with the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) requirements and pending Code of Maine Rules. These licensed provider types are regulated by Children’s Licensing and Investigation Services within OCFS. Per state and federal law, providers are required to request fingerprint-based background checks for themselves and their staff per the guidelines below.
Individuals subject to comprehensive background checks. Staff members, which includes a prospective staff member, of the above listed programs, are subject to all components of the comprehensive background check. Pursuant 22 MRS § 8110(2) a staff member means an individual who is employed by or has applied for and may be offered employment at one of these programs, including a contract employee or self-employed individual, whether or not the individual has direct contact with children.
Individuals NOT subject to comprehensive background checks. Individuals who only have infrequent and irregular supervised access to children, including but not limited to, parents/guardians, delivery persons, contractors performing maintenance and repairs and waste removal persons. Those not subject to comprehensive background checks may only have supervised access to children at a children’s residential care facility or shelter.
Components of a comprehensive background check. The following registries, repositories, and databases must be checked for each staff member for whom a comprehensive background check is required.
- National Crime Information Center (NCIC) National Sex Offender Registry and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) fingerprint check using Next Generation Identification.
- In the State where the individual resides: State Child Abuse and Neglect registry/ database, State Bureau of Identification (SBI) or comparable State agency’s crime repository with fingerprints, and State Sex Offender Registry.
- State Child Abuse and Neglect registry/ database check for each state where the individual has resided within the preceding five years.
Process required for fingerprint based criminal background check.
- Staff members and prospective staff members must consent to having their fingerprints taken.
- Facilities must email ResidentialCheck.DHHS@maine.gov and provide the name and date of birth of the staff member or prospective staff member after fingerprinting has occurred.
- The Background Check Unit (BCU) within the Office of Child and Family Services will upon receipt of the criminal history report, make a determination regarding eligibility status and will email the status of “eligible” or “ineligible” to the facility representative.
- The BCU will mail via United States Postal Service (USPS) an official letter of eligibility to the facility representative and directly to the staff member.
Process required for Child Abuse and Neglect Check and Sex Offender Registry Checks.
- Facilities must submit their request and payment directly through the online portal www.maine.gov/online/cpsbackgroundcheck. The results will be emailed back to the requestor. When there is an open/pending Child Protective Investigation or Out of Home Investigation regarding the staff member for whom a request has been made, the request shall be held until final determination has been made.
- As applicable, the facility will request a search of all child abuse and neglect registries, repositories, and databases for each State where the individual has resided within the previous five (5) years.
- Facilities must request National and State sex offender registry checks.
Agency Responsibility. A prospective staff member shall NOT be hired or begin working until the agency receives notice that the prospective staff member is eligible for hire based on returned criminal history, in-state child abuse and neglect checks, and sex offender registry checks. The prospective staff member is ineligible for employment as outlined below.
Ineligible for Employment. Any of the following are considered grounds for being disqualified for employment:
- Registration on a State or National Sex Offender Registry, or information that the individual is required to be listed on such a registry;
- A substantiated finding of Child Abuse or Neglect by the Department or any comparable Department of another state;
- Felony conviction for any of the following crimes
- Child abuse or neglect,
- Spousal abuse,
- A crime against children, including child pornography,
- A crime involving violence (including rape, sexual assault, or homicide),
- Physical assault or battery within the preceding five years,
- A drug-related offense committed during the preceding five (5) years.
- An individual will be determined ineligible if they refuse to consent to a background check or knowingly make materially false statements in connection with such a background check.
Additional requirements to be proposed in 10-148 C.M.R Ch. 36 Children’s Residential Care Facilities Licensing Rule beyond FFPSA mandate and subject change during the rulemaking process in accordance with the Maine Administrative Procedure Act are found below.
Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Facilities must check the driving record of staff members who are expected, or reasonably anticipated to, operate a motor vehicle. Staff members must have the proper license to drive the class of motor vehicles being used.
- The following offenses disqualify a staff member from driving residents for a period of five years from date of conviction:
- Motor vehicle-related conviction, accident or moving violation related to operating under the influence of intoxicants;
- Operating while license is suspended or revoked;
- Driving to endanger;
- Refusing to stop for a law enforcement officer;
- Criminal speeding.
- The following offenses disqualify a staff member from driving residents, whenever committed:
- Motor vehicle violation resulting in death;
- Aggravated refusing to stop for a law enforcement officer;
- Criminal homicide in operation of a motor vehicle.
Professional Registries. Facilities must check for any disciplinary action by applicable licensing boards and listing or annotation on applicable registries for each staff member.
Adult Protective Check. Facilities must request to the Department’s Office of Aging and Disability Services search its records to determine whether any staff member or prospective staff member has been substantiated for abuse, neglect or exploitation of an incapacitated or dependent adult. If the facility employs a staff member with a substantiated finding of abuse, neglect, exploitation of an incapacitated or dependent adult, the facility must determine that residents in the care of the facility would not be endangered by the staff members employment.
All requests must be made via email to APSCheck.DHHS@maine.gov
Frequency. All components of the background check must be completed at least once every five (5) years for each staff member. The agency must keep a current record of all employee background check results on site and available for immediate inspection by Children’s Residential Licensing. Background checks are non-transferable from one agency to another.
Confidentiality. The results of background checks shall not be publicly released or shared by the agency. The Department of Health and Human Services (the Department) may release data regarding background checks when data is unidentifiable and/or aggregated. The Department in accordance with MRS Title 22, Chapter 1661 §7703 may under specific circumstances release limited information.
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