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New Protections for Vulnerable Children and Adults Heads to the Governor’s Desk

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A bill (HB 7069) that will significantly modernize criminal background screening passed the legislature and heads to the desk of Governor Crist for signature. This bill was a priority of the governor, as well as legislative leadership.

"Thoroughly screening the backgrounds of those who work with children, elders, persons with disabilities — and then verifying those screening results before employees are authorized to go to work — will no doubt improve overall public safety in the Sunshine State," Governor Crist said.

At the urging of Disability Rights Florida, the Legislature required that volunteers who work more than 10 hours a month also pass a national criminal background screening.

The bill substantially rewrites the requirements and procedures for criminal background screening of the people who primarily serve and support vulnerable people. Some key changes include:

  • Requiring that employers wait until screening and qualification procedures are complete before allowing workers to begin.
  • Requiring employers to screen and qualify people who volunteer more than 10 hours a month. Current law exempts volunteers who assist less than 40 hours a month. Requiring that volunteers who work less than 10 hours a month be within the “line of sight” of a screened and qualified employee.
  • Replacing current Level 1 (statewide name) screening requirements with Level 2 (nationwide fingerprint) screening requirements. Existing employees are required to be rescreened according to current law.
  • Adding more crimes to the list of disqualifying criminal offenses.
  • Requiring state agency heads personally decide and grant any exemptions from disqualification and ensure that individuals be at least three years past completion of their sentencing sanctions before becoming eligible for an exemption.
  • Requiring AHCA to switch to electronic (vs. paper) fingerprints by August 1, 2010. Requiring other agencies to switch to electronic fingerprints no later than August 1, 2012, unless the agency adopts rules to implement the switch sooner. 
  • Allows agencies to request that FDLE retain employment applicant fingerprints and providing for rulemaking and implementation provisions for retention of fingerprints.

For more information, please contact Dana Farmer, Public Policy Coordinator at Disability Rights Florida, at 850-488-9071, etc. 226, or 800-342-0823, ext. 226.

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background screening, governor, legislature,

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