New Florida Background Check Required

Florida employers are required to implement a level 2 background check before allowing any employee to work with children or the elderly.


The Florida background check includes screening the employee’s fingerprints through both state and federal databases before allowing him or her to work with “vulnerable populations.”


The law applies to employees who work with the elderly, children or individuals with disabilities in certain group homes and care settings. Healthcare workers in residential or home care settings must also be cleared with a level 2 background check before having any contact with residents or clients. In addition, the employee must pass the background check before handling client property or funds, and before having access to resident living areas.


Employees in a variety of occupations are covered including family day care, foster homes, summer camps, mental health facilities and adoption agencies. An employee can be hired prior to the background check, but cannot work in any capacity involving children or the elderly until cleared by the background check. In practical terms, this means that most employers will not hire workers until they pass the background check.


Employees with criminal convictions will also find it harder to be granted an exemption under the new law. In many cases, former felons will be required to wait 3 years before working with children or the elderly. Sexual predators and sex offenders will be denied exemptions, and other employees with a criminal record may have their exemption revoked by the authorities.


The new law, HB 7069,  was signed earlier this year by Florida Governor Charlie Crist and went into effect on August 1, 2010.


The requests for background checks must be sent electronically through a vendor approved by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. For most employers, fingerprints must be submitted electronically after July 1, 2012. However, employers with a license through the Agency for Health Care Administration or AHCA or the Department of Children and Families or DCF must submit fingerprints electronically effective August 1, 2010.


With electronic fingerprints, background information is available in just 24 to 48 hours, while it may take 4 to 6 weeks for a background check with ink fingerprints on paper.


According to AHCA Secretary Tom Arnold, the measure will increase security for clients and ensure higher levels of care. Submitting electronic fingerprints will streamline the background check process, and provide added protection.

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