Last week we reported about Florida’s Flawed Background Screening System and now Florida lawmakers are talking about making changes to the state system.
Laxness, Loopholes In Background Checks Of Child And Elder Care Workers
Source: South Florida Sun Sentinel
Florida legislators pledged to overhaul state law to require that caregivers for children and the elderly undergo background checks before they begin work and to close loopholes that have let thousands of felons get jobs in day care and nursing homes.
The proposed reforms come after a Sun Sentinel investigative series last week identified disturbing flaws in the background screening system that allow people to work with Florida’s most vulnerable residents before the caregivers have been vetted.
Even people with criminal pasts can qualify for jobs as caregivers by obtaining an exemption. Thousands have sought and won official permission to work despite having records for crimes including rape, child abuse and murder, the newspaper found.
“What you have discovered is something the Legislature needs to get more serious about and get on top of immediately,” state Rep. Ari Porth, D-Coral Springs, told the Sun Sentinel. A state prosecutor, Porth is drafting legislation to require pre-employment checks and put restrictions on who can get exemptions.
George Sheldon, secretary of Florida’s Department of Children & Families, called reforming the system “a legislative priority for a number of agencies.”
“It just makes sense that the public is assured that those people who are dealing with the most vulnerable have been closely screened,” Sheldon said.
As a result of the Sun Sentinel investigation, Sheldon wrote a four-page letter Thursday to state legislators outlining his plan for a “faster, more efficient system to protect our vulnerable citizens.”
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