Texas’s legislature has approved a bill to increase screening requirements for caretakers at foster care facilities. It would permit the state’s child welfare agency and contractors to perform more comprehensive background checks on potential employees.
This bill, Senate Bill 1849, is in response to an incident from over a year ago. This incident concerns a state foster care facility that unknowingly employed a caretaker with a history of child misconduct. According to the report, the employee faced accusations of exploiting girls at the facility that cared for victims of juvenile sex trafficking.
The facility has testified that it performed a state-mandated background check on the worker. However, the report did not discover any criminal records. It also did not involve contacting former employers. According to state records, the Texas Juvenile Justice Department had previously employed the worker. The records also noted that the Department fired the employee for inappropriate actions with the children in her care. The agency also barred the former worker from future employment.
Under Senate Bill 1849, the state would create a single search engine that links four state agencies’ “do not hire” databases. These agencies include the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD), the Health and Human Services Commission, the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), and the Texas Education Agency. Foster care facilities and other employers hiring juvenile care workers could use this search engine during the background check process. In addition, it would allow them to determine whether an applicant previously faced termination due to misconduct while working at a childcare facility, school, or similar facilities.
The legislature also passed Senate Bill 182. This bill requires employees and contractors of the TJJD and DFPS to report criminal offenses they witness. In addition, they must inform the Texas Department of Public Security whenever other employees and contractors commit criminal offenses. These changes will increase the effectiveness of criminal background checks when hiring potential childcare employees.
Though Texas’s legislature has passed both of these bills, it remains uncertain whether the state’s Governor will sign them. However, unless vetoed, the bills will become law regardless.
Criminal background checks have proven necessary in all industries. However, it has become crucial for employers that work with vulnerable populations to run background checks. These checks are among the most effective ways to ensure safe and trustworthy hires. As such, working with a reliable screening provider will prove beneficial. The right partner will provide accurate and timely reports for making educated hiring decisions.
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