Here are some important facts on background screening for Summer Camps in FAQ format:
What constitutes a summer camp?
“Summer day camps” and “Summer 24-hour camps” are defined in Section 409.175 F.S. “Summer day camps” are recreational, educational, and other enrichment programs operated during summer vacations for children who are 5 years of age on or before September 1 and older. “Summer 24-hour camps” are recreational, educational, and other enrichment programs operated on a 24-hour basis during summer vacations for children who are 5 years of age on or before September 1 and older, that are not exclusively educational.
Requirements for athletic coaches are found in Section 943.0438 F.S. Background screening for paid or volunteer athletic coaches are not screened through the Department of Children and Families, they are screened using the Volunteer and Employee Criminal History System (VECHS) through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). Enforcement of requirements for athletic coaches would be the independent sanctioning authority.
Who has to be screened?
Personnel for the purposes of screening for summer day camps and summer 24-hour camps includes owners, operators, employees, and volunteers working in summer day camps and summer 24-hour camps providing care for children. Volunteers who assist on an intermittent basis for less than 10 hours per month do not need to be screened if a person who meets the screening requirement is always present and has the volunteer in his or her line of sight.
When do employees or volunteers have to be screened?
An employer may not hire, select, or otherwise allow an employee to have contact with any vulnerable person that would place the employee in a role that requires the background screening.
How are international counselors background screened?
They must complete a Level 2 Background Screening upon arriving in Florida. Although not required by law, a background check from their home country should be requested. Most organizations that assist with identifying international counselors do provide a background check.
Are employees or volunteers under the age of 18 required to be fingerprinted?
Yes. There are no exclusions under the statute for those under age 18 from being fingerprinted. However, if the employee or volunteer under 18 is not providing direct care for children, they would not have to be fingerprinted.
What are the differences between Level 1 and Level 2 Background Screening for employment and where are the lists of offenses that will preclude potential employees from working? What are local law enforcement checks? What are the cost differences? Do we need to do a local sheriff’s check?
The requirements for Level 1 and Level 2 Employment Background Screening are found in Chapter 435 Florida Statutes. Level 1 Background Screening requires an employment history check, statewide criminal correspondence checks through FDLE (name-based check), and a check of the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website and may include local law enforcement checks.
Level 2 Background Screening requires fingerprinting for statewide criminal history checks through FDLE and national criminal history checks through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and may include local law enforcement checks.
The list of disqualifications from employment is found in Section 435.04 F.S.
- Anyone arrested for and awaiting final disposition of prohibited offense, regardless of adjudication
- Anyone who has entered a plea of nolo contendere or guilty to a prohibited offense
- Any case where the applicant was adjudicated delinquent and the record of committing a prohibited offense has not been sealed or expunged
Local law enforcement checks are completed by local sheriff and police departments. They are recommended because occasionally there may be information related to arrests or calls to the applicant’s address that are not included in the FDLE record.
The costs can vary and depend upon the Live Scan vendor selected. Most costs are listed on our website under the section Live Scan Location and Interactive Map.
Are volunteer athletic coach screened under this law?
No. Background screening for volunteer athletic coaches is authorized under s. 943.0438 F.S. through the Volunteer and Employee Criminal History System.
What are the differences between this law and the Jessica Lunsford Act?
The Jessica Lunsford Act found in Section 1012.465 F.S. requires non-instructional school district employees or contract personnel who are permitted access on school grounds when students are presents meet Level 2 Background Screening requirements as described in s. 1012.32 F.S.
Is there any limit on how far in advance you can screen?
No earlier than 60 days before beginning employment.
How often do they have to be screened?
Section 409.1757 F.S. outlines when persons are not required to be refingerprinted or rescreened. If an employee or applicant has been fingerprinted or screened as required in chapter 393, 394, 397, 402, and 409, or teachers pursuant to chapter 1012, who have not been unemployed for more than 90 days and attest to the completion of the fingerprinting and compliance with the standards related to good moral character.
What are ORI and OCA numbers? What is the process to get an agency ORI Code and OCA Code and how long does that take?
The ORI number (Originating Agency Identifier). This number is provided by FDLE and identifies the agency requesting the criminal history check and for what purpose.
The OCA (Controlling Agency Identifier). This number is provided by DCF and identifies the provider requesting the background check.
Without the ORI number and the OCA number, FDLE cannot process the request and the DCF will not know where the screening results are to be sent.
The DCF will need the following:
Contact Person (Owner/Operator)
Contact Person Phone Number
This information can be sent to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Upon registration, you will be provided a DCF Agency Identifier (ORI) and a DCF Live Scan OCA through email.
What if we have already done the VECHS check – is this sufficient?
No. DCF is responsible for ensuring persons working in summer camps meet the requirements for background screening. VECHS checks are not allowed to be shared with the Department.
What if we have already done fingerprint checks, but not through the Live Scan process – do those have to be redone? Can fingerprints be done using hard cards?
If they meet the Level 2 requirements, were completed within the last 5 years, and there has not been a 90 day break in service, they would not need to be redone.
Fingerprints submitted using hard cards are permissible until 2012. However, it will delay receiving the results for 4-6 weeks or longer.
Where do the records need to be kept? Is it the same for the Affidavit of Good Moral Character?
The results from the background screening and the Affidavit of Good Moral Conduct should be maintained in your personnel files.
Who will be enforcing this? Can we expect to be monitored or inspected, or will this happen when a complaint is lodged against a program?
DCF has the authority to ensure compliance. Currently, summer camps are only monitored when a complaint has been made related to noncompliance with background screening. However, we are reviewing the requirements and more information related to enforcement will be released in the near future.
Why isn’t there a state database where I can verify if someone has already been checked?
Currently, there are limitations on sharing information between agencies. Agencies work together and when possible, the DCF will accept Level 2 Letters of Clearance completed by other entities such as school boards, or the Agency for Health Care Administration.
Is all necessary information collected with the fingerprint, or are there other forms that have to be completed and retained by us, or returned to DCF?
For completion of the Level 2 Background Screening, the information provided to the Live Scan Vendor is sufficient. Additional information from the applicant may be required if a criminal history is noted.
When does a summer camp have to be licensed by DCF?
Summer camps are not licensed by DCF.
Does the State require any additional training of employees hired by local agencies for summer programs?
What are the counties that are doing their own licensing, when are they allowed to do their own licensing, and can they require a program that is exempt in State statute to be licensed under their county authority? Where can we find contact information on those county licensing boards/units?
The State does not require licensure of summer camps. There may be local ordinances that do require licensure. This information would be found locally.
Is there a website for more answers on DCF background screening requirements?
Yes. The Department website for background screening is: http://www.dcfbackgroundscreening.com. As information or updates are available, they will be added to our website.