Texas Senate Passes Bill to Close Background Check Loophole in the Wake of Foster Caretaker Scandal

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Texas Senate Passes Bill to Close Background Check Loophole in the Wake of Foster Caretaker Scandal
April 14, 2023

The Texas Senate passed a bill prohibiting individuals with a history of criminal conduct from caring for children. According to the rule, it would primarily affect those with criminal records in the foster care or juvenile justice system from caring for children in either system. 

This legislation passed about a year after a foster care facility hired a caretaker fired by the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD). According to the records, the caretaker had inappropriate relationships with the children under her charge. In addition, the caretaker allegedly solicited and sold nude photos of two girls in her care at the state-licensed foster care facility for victims of sex trafficking. 

The leader at the facility where the alleged incident occurred stated that they did not know about the TJJD records when they hired the woman. According to a Human Resources director employed at the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), the staff hid evidence of abuse, allowing the abuse to continue. However, a grand jury would later decide not to indict the woman.

State-licensed professionals, such as teachers, childcare workers, and juvenile probation, have mandatory reporting requirements. However, staff of non-licensed TJJD or Department of Family and Protective Services facilities are not obligated to comply with this requirement.

Now that the Texas Senate has passed Senate Bill 182, the public must wait to see if it becomes law. Should it succeed, it would amend Texas’s Human Resources code, requiring contractors and employees of the TJJD or DFPS to notify the Texas Department of Public Safety of any criminal offenses their coworkers have committed. However, the bill must still go through the House and get signed off by the Governor before becoming law.

Should the legislation pass, intentionally failing to report offenses would become a Class A misdemeanor. In addition, deliberately hindering an investigation or concealing criminal conduct could lead to felony charges.

Lawmakers have filed several bills due to the case in the foster care facility. One of these bills includes House Bill 2572, which would create a central registry containing the names of individuals found by the TJJD or Health and Human Services Commission to have neglected or abused a child. In addition, House Bill 4236 or Senate Bill 1849 would establish an interagency child protection database.

This case and the response to it show how vital it is for organizations to take steps to protect vulnerable populations. One crucial step organizations can take to protect these individuals is performing a thorough background screening on employees. The best way to obtain a detailed and accurate background check is to partner with an experienced and trusted background check company.

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