6800. Background Checks

Original Date:  February 1, 1998

Revised Date: July 25, 2021

Sunset Review Date: July 31, 2025

Approved by: Frank Ordway, Office Chief


Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance to the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) employees about completing background checks for child welfare purposes.

Scope

This policy applies to child welfare employees, Licensing Division (LD) foster care, contract managers, and Eligibility and Provider Supports Division (EPSD) background check specialists.

Laws

RCW 13.34.138  Review hearings – Findings – Duties of parties involved-in-home placement requirements – Housing assistance

RCW 26.44.240  Out-of-home care – Emergency Placement - Criminal history record check

RCW 43.43.837  Fingerprint-based background checks-Requirements for applicants and service providers – Shared background checks – Fees – Rules to establish financial responsibility

RCW 74.13.700  Denial or delay of licensure or approval of unsupervised access to children

RCW 74.13.710  Out-of-home care – Childhood activities ­– Prudent parent standard 

RCW 74.15.030  Powers and duties of Secretary

PL105-89  Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997

PL115-123  Family First Prevention Services Act 2018

Policy

  1. Employees must:
    1. Complete background checks per the Guide to Background Checks.
    2. Only authorize individuals to have unsupervised access to a child or youth after they have passed a background check, even if a court order authorizes unsupervised access.
    3. Not authorize individuals for the purpose of the background check if they did not pass the background check.
    4. Complete a suitability assessment when required, per the DCYF Secretary’s List of Crimes and Negative Actions.

Procedures

  1. When requesting background checks for Child Protective Services (CPS) investigations or allegations of child abuse or neglect (CAN) (National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Purpose Code C):
    1. Requestors may call the DCYF NCIC Background Check Unit (BCU) at 1-800-998-3898 prior to either:
      1. Going to the home.
      2. Completing a safety assessment.
    2. EPSD background check specialists must:
      1. Process the NCIC Purpose Code C request per the Background Check Desk Manual through the NCIC database.
      2. Provide the completed NCIC Purpose Code C Background Check Summary DCYF 09-154 form to the requestors.
    3. Requestors must review the background information to develop strategies for responding safely to the allegation.
  2. When requesting background checks for emergent unlicensed placements (NCIC Purpose Code X):
    1. Requestors must call NCIC BCU at 1-800-998-3898 prior to placing children or youth in the care of an unlicensed caregiver in an emergent situation.
    2. EPSD Background check specialists must:
      1. Process NCIC Purpose Code X requests for adult individuals, per the Background Check Desk Manual, through the NCIC database.
      2. Compare the individual’s NCIC background information to the DCYF Secretary’s List of Crimes and Negative Actions and within one hour from the time of the request:
        1. Authorize the emergent placement if the background information is not on the DCYF Secretary’s List of Crimes and Negative Actions.
        2. Not authorize the emergent placement if the background information is on the DCYF Secretary’s List of Crimes and Negative Actions.
    3. When placements are authorized, requestors must, within five calendar days of placement:
      1. Instruct each individual, age 16 and older, to complete the online Background Check Authorization form at https://fortress.wa.gov/dshs/bcs using Google Chrome browser. For individuals younger than 16 years, refer to the Guide to Background Checks to determine if a background check is required.  
      2. Obtain their online confirmation code, full name, and date of birth.
      3. If individuals are Limited English Proficient (LEP) or are unable to complete the background check form online, provide them with a Background Check Authorization DSHS 09-653 form and review for completeness and legibility when returned.
      4. Complete a Background Check Request/Decision DCYF 09-131 form for each individual and send to the NCIC BCU with the Background Check Authorization DSHS 09-653 form, if applicable.
    4. EPSD background check specialists must:
      1. Follow the Background Check Desk Manual when processing background checks.
      2. Complete the Background Check Request/Decision DCYF 09-131 form with the background check decision.
      3. Notify the individual and requestor of the decision.
      4. Document the decision in FamLink.
    5. Requestors must, once information is received from the background check specialist, review the background check decision on the completed Background Check Request/Decision DCYF 09-131 form received from the NCIC BCU and complete the following:
      1. Continue authorization of the individual for the emergent placement if they passed.
      2. Not authorize the individual for the emergent placement if they did not pass. A child or youth cannot remain in the home with an unauthorized individual.
      3. If the individual did not pass the background check or did not submit their fingerprints to the Washington State Patrol (WSP) or complete the background check form within 15 calendar days from which the NCIC background check was completed, requestors must:
        1. Notify the court as early as possible that the individual did not pass a background check and recommend the removal of the child. This includes contacting the assigned assistant attorney general (AAG) to determine when the information can be presented to the court.
        2. Inform the court it may request the background information directly from the individual if that information is needed.
        3. Document the recommendation for removal in a FamLink case note.
  3. When requesting background checks for adoption, Child in Need of Services (CHINS), foster care licensing, non-emergent placements, Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) Border Agreement with a non-parent, and reinstatement of parental rights:
    1. Requestors must, prior to authorizing placement:
      1. Instruct individuals to complete the online Background Check Authorization form at https://fortress.wa.gov/dshs/bcs using Google Chrome browser.
      2. Obtain their online confirmation code, full name, and date of birth.
      3. If individuals are LEP or are unable to complete the form online, provide them a Background Check Authorization DSHS 09-653 form and review for completeness and legibility when returned.
      4. Complete a Background Check Request/Decision DCYF 09-131 form and send to the BCU with the Background Check Authorization DSHS 09-653 form, if applicable.
    2. EPSD background check specialists must:
      1. Follow the Background Check Desk Manual when processing background checks.
      2. Complete the Background Check Request/Decision DCYF 09-131 form with the background check decision.
      3. Notify individuals and requestors of the decision.
      4. Document the decision in FamLink.
    3. Requestors must, prior to authorizing unsupervised access to children or youth, review background check decisions on the completed Background Check Request/Decision DCYF 09-131 form received from the BCU and complete the following:
      1. Only authorize individuals for the purpose of the background check if they passed the background check.
      2. Not authorize individuals for the purpose of the background check if they did not pass. If the court places children or youth out-of-home under a shelter care order or in a dependency case and unauthorized individuals remain in the home:
        1. Contact the AAG to schedule a court date as early as possible to present the background check decision.
        2. Notify the court of individuals not passing a background check and recommend the children or youth move to a different out-of-home placement.
        3. Inform the court to request the background information directly from individuals if needed.
        4. Document recommendations to move children or youth to a different out-of-home placement in a FamLink case note.
  4. When the court orders placements or orders children or youth to return home prior to dependency:
    1. If the court orders an individual unsupervised access to a child and they did not complete or pass a background check, caseworkers must:
      1. Follow the steps outlined in emergent or non-emergent placement in the procedures section for individuals who did not complete a background check.
      2. Notify the court as early as possible that the individual did not complete or pass a background check. This includes:
        1. Contacting the assigned AAG to schedule a court date as early as possible to present background decision.
        2. Inform the court it may request the background information directly from the individual if that information is needed.
        3. Document the recommendation and outcome of the court hearing in a FamLink case note.
    2. If the court is considering returning a child or youth to a parent where court proceedings have begun but the dependency has not been established, caseworkers must:
      1. Notify the court that DCYF does not have the authority to complete a background check on the individual for the purpose of returning a child or youth home. If a NCIC Purpose Code C has been completed, that information cannot be shared with the court or the individual.
      2. Document the outcome of the court hearing in a FamLink case note.
  5. When requesting background checks for contracts, renewals, or other unsupervised access:
    1. Requestors must, prior to authorizing unsupervised access:
      1. Instruct individuals to complete the online Background Check Authorization form at https://fortress.wa.gov/dshs/bcs using Google Chrome browser.
      2. Obtain their online confirmation code, full name, and date of birth.
      3. If individuals are LEP or are unable to complete the form online, provide them a Background Check Authorization DSHS 09-653 form and review for completeness and legibility when returned.
      4. Complete a Background Check Request/Decision DCYF 09-131 form and send to the BCU with the Background Check Authorization DSHS 09-653 form, if applicable.
    2. EPSD background check specialists must:
      1. Follow the Background Check Desk Manual when processing background checks.
      2. Complete the Background Check Request/Decision DCYF 09-131 form with the background check decision.
      3. Notify individuals and requestors of the decision.
      4. Document the decision in FamLink.
    3. Requestors must, prior to authorizing unsupervised access to children or youth, review background check decisions on the completed Background Check Request/Decision DCYF 09-131 form received from the BCU and complete the following:
      1. Only authorize individuals for the purpose of the background check if they passed the background check.
      2. Not authorize individuals for the purpose of the background check if they did not pass.
  6. When returning dependent children or youth to a parent or ICPC with a parent:
    1. Requestors must, prior to returning dependent children or youth to a parent:
      1. Instruct all adult individuals who reside in the home, including the parent and those living on the premises, to complete the online Background Check Authorization form at https://fortress.wa.gov/dshs/bcs using Google Chrome browser.
      2. Obtain their online confirmation code, full name, and date of birth.
      3. If adult individuals are LEP or are unable to complete the background check form online, provide them with a Background Check Authorization DSHS 09-653 form and review the form for completeness and legibility when returned.
      4. Complete a Background Check Request/Decision DCYF 09-131 form and send to the BCU with the Background Check Authorization DSHS 09-653 form, if applicable.
    2. EPSD background check specialists must:
      1. Send individuals their background information.
      2. Follow the Background Check Desk Manual when processing background checks.
      3. Complete the Background Check Request/Decision DCYF 09-131 form with the background check decision.
      4. Notify the individual and requestor of the decision.
      5. Document the decision in FamLink.
    3. Requestors must review the completed Background Check Request/Decision DCYF 09-131 form received from the BCU for each adult individual, including parents, and complete the following:
      1. Request a copy of the background information directly from the adult individual if there is criminal or negative action history.
      2. Determine if there are concerns that may relate directly to the children or youth’s safety, permanence, or well-being prior to their return to a parent. If there are concerns, notify the court as soon as possible prior to children or youth returning home.
      3. For adult individuals or parents who may act as a caregiver, determine if any service is needed to increase the child or youth’s safety, permanence, or well-being. If a service is needed:
        1. Provide the service prior to children or youth returning to a parent.
        2. Notify the court as soon as possible prior to children or youth returning to a parent.

Definitions

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) background check is a fingerprint-based background check and includes a review of the following:

  1. Founded findings of abuse or neglect made by DCYF or the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).
  2. Current and previous applicant self-disclosures.
  3. Conviction information from the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), Department of Corrections (DOC), FBI, and the Washington State Patrol (WSP) received by DCYF.
  4. Negative actions issued by DCYF, Department of Health (DOH), and DSHS.
  5. Sex offender registry.
  6. Out-of-state founded findings of CAN, when applicable.
  7. Western Identification Network (WIN) conviction information, if available. 

National Crime Information Center (NCIC) background check is a federal name-based background check and includes an FBI background check if the NCIC is for an emergent placement when the individual completes fingerprints that includes a review of the following:

  1. Founded findings of abuse or neglect made by DCYF or DSHS.
  2. Current and previous applicant self-disclosures.
  3. Conviction information from the AOC, DOC or WSP received by DCYF.
  4. Negative actions issued by DCYF, DOH, and DSHS.
  5. Sex offender registry.
  6. Out-of-state founded findings of CAN, when applicable.
  7. WIN conviction information.  

Washington State background check is an in-state name-based background check that includes a review of the following:

  1. Founded findings of CAN made by DCYF or DSHS.
  2. Current and previous applicant self-disclosures.
  3. Conviction information from the AOC, DOC, or WSP received by DCYF.
  4. Negative actions issued by DCYF, DOH, and DSHS.
  5. Sex offender registry.
  6. Out-of-state founded findings of CAN, when applicable.

Forms

Background Check Authorization DSHS 09-653

Background Check Request/Decision DCYF 09-131

NCIC Purpose Code C Background Check Summary DCYF 09-154

Resources

Background Check Desk Manual

DCYF Secretary’s List of Crimes and Negative Actions

Guide to Background Checks