DHS launches pilot program to improve criminal background studies
The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) is launching a new system that will improve the criminal background study process for employees, employers and the people they care for, Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson announced today. Currently DHS conducts about 1,200 background checks a day or more than 275,000 a year. The new system is expected to reduce that number by two-thirds with more accurate and timely results.
The system is used for background checks on new workers caring for children, people with disabilities and the elderly who receive care at home or in other health care settings. Jesson announced the pilot, which is scheduled to start July 28, with a group of five nursing facilities, during an event today at the Carondelet Village care facility in St. Paul.
“The new process means we can more thoroughly and accurately evaluate the criminal history of people who take care of our most vulnerable Minnesotans, while at the same time making the system easier for employers and workers,” Jesson said.
The pilot will help DHS prepare for a new system using fingerprints to obtain state criminal information and photos to verify identities.
Under the new system, employees generally will no longer need to undergo a background check each time they change jobs and employers will be able to more quickly hire employees who have already passed a fingerprint study. DHS will automatically receive updates of criminal information from the Minnesota Court Information System. The 2014 law requires DHS to collect fingerprints and a photograph and implement software changes to improve the accuracy and completeness of background studies. It includes data privacy protections for retaining fingerprints and photographs.
“We appreciate the work of care providers and other stakeholders to help design the pilot and support provisions enacted by the 2014 Legislature to enhance the background study process,” said Jesson.
Other participants in today’s event included DHS Inspector General Jerry Kerber, Darrell Shreve, vice president of health policy for Aging Services of Minnesota, and Doug Beardsley, vice president of member services for Care Providers of Minnesota. Later this fall the test group will expand to other providers with full implementation expected to begin in 2015. Additional information is in a fact sheet about the new background study law.
The five nursing facilities that will take part in the pilot study beginning this month:
- Park River Estates Care Center – Coon Rapids
- Eldercare- Fitzgerald Rehabilitation – Eveleth
- Eldercare of Minnesota- Little Falls – Little Falls
- Good Shepherd Lutheran Home – Sauk Rapids
- Benedictine Health Systems-Cerenity Senior Care – White Bear Lake