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VECHS Program

FDLE VECHS program for private schools. Background screening on teachers and school volunteers

If your organization is a private school in need for criminal history search on staff and volunteers, or maybe background checks are required for your school in order to participate in scholarship programs, then VECHS program run by Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) is exactly what you need.

 

VECHS (Volunteer and Employee Criminal History System) program had been established by FDLE to assist with checking the background of persons who work or volunteer with children, the elderly, or the disabled under the National Child Protection Act (1993), as amended, and section 943.0542, Florida Statutes (1999). VECHS program is created for entities not required to obtain Level 2 background screening clearance according to statutory provision.

 

First of all contact The Florida Department of Education (DOE) Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice and verify who exactly in your organization is required to be fingerprinted. Next step is the enrollment into VECHS program and this is how you do it. Private schools are authorized to participate in FDLE’s Volunteer and Employee Criminal History System (VECHS) because of the service they offer to Children. VECHS is a voluntary program — however; under the provisions of Section 1002.421, F.S., private schools participating in scholarship programs must conduct criminal history record checks on employees and contracted personnel. Those criminal history checks will be conducted through the FDLE VECHS program.

 

Enrollment materials include the VECHS Application and User Agreement. Both of these documents must be submitted to FDLE via mail as they must be signed by the appropriate school authority. The forms may be printed from the internet, completed, signed and mailed to FDLE.FDLE will mail these forms to private schools upon request.

 

Here is the description of what is involved in screening process after your entity is signed up. You will be provided with a packet of information from the VECHS program. It will include:

A cover letter giving your account numbers to use. These are your Qualified Entity Numbers. One is for employees and contracted personnel and the other is for volunteers. While s. 1002.421, F.S. indicates that, in order to receive scholarship money, employees and contracted personnel must submit fingerprints, some schools may want to check volunteers as well. Using the volunteer entity number for checking volunteers will result in a reduced fee.

 

Forms and information for submitting fingerprints electronically. These forms are required regardless of whether your private school purchases a livescan device or if the employees and contracted personnel go to a “service provider” or another livescan device owner and have the fingerprints taken and submitted by this company.

 

Fingerprint cards and instructions on how to complete them. As of July 1, 2007, submissions for employees and contracted personnel must be made electronically. You have the choice of continuing to submit your volunteers via hard card fingerprint card or you can submit them electronically.

 

A Private Schools Waiver Agreement and Statement to be signed by each employee, contracted person or volunteer that you submit.

Contacts for criminal record repositories in other states which are useful in obtaining additional criminal history information.

Florida Clerks of Court and their contact information. This contact information may be needed when there is an arrest in Florida but the criminal record does not indicate whether the offender was convicted.

Instructions as to how a person can obtain his or her own criminal record for review and possible correction, which may be given to an employee, contracted person or volunteer.

 

A sample dissemination log which must be used if a private school shares criminal history information with another private school. Private schools may NOT share criminal history information with any VECHS entities except other private schools registered with VECHS. Private schools are the only VECHS entities authorized to receive sealed information and expunge notifications.

 

Similarly, private schools may not use criminal history results obtained for employees or contracted personnel for volunteers or vice versa. If a volunteer becomes an employee, that person’s fingerprints should be submitted again under the Employee Qualified Entity Number; the volunteer results should NOT be used to screen the candidate as an employee. Likewise, employee results should not be used to screen a person for a volunteer position. The rules for criminal history information sharing are included in the User Agreement, signed by all private schools participating in the VECHS program.

 

∗ Reminders of important provisions regarding the VECHS program.

∗ Fingerprint card submission checklist.

∗ Results definitions.

∗Instructions for procedures for “name‐based” searches from the FBI to be used when the subject’s fingerprints are rejected twice based on poor fingerprint quality.

 

Another question, what does the law mean when it says that fingerprints must be submitted electronically?

As of July 1, 2007, s. 1002.421, F.S. requires all fingerprint submissions for employees and contracted personnel be made electronically. Fingerprints submitted “electronically” are fingerprints taken on a “livescan” device and submitted electronically to FDLE. It can also include fingerprints taken with ink on a hard copy fingerprint card that are subsequently scanned and submitted electronically to FDLE. These electronic submissions are processed through FDLE’s Civil Workflow Control System.

 

Go ahead and ask, what is the Civil Workflow Control System (CWCS)?

The Civil Workflow Control System (CWCS), pronounced “QUICKS”, is an automated system used to receive process and respond to electronic applicant submissions. Processing that once took several weeks with fingerprint cards now takes 24 – 72 hours with electronic submissions. CWCS allows different types of applicants to be scanned on a single device and allows input from a variety of livescan devices that adhere to FDLE and FBI standards and requirements.

 

Very natural question you may have, so what do I need to do to start submitting electronically?

 

∗ First, you must already be a registered VECHS entity.

∗ Second, you must complete the CWCS VECHS Customer Registration Form and return it to FDLE. Once the information is registered in our systems, you will receive an e‐mail notification that you can start submitting electronically.

∗ Third, you must make arrangement to be fingerprinted on a livescan device

 

You may ask where can I get fingerprinted on a livescan device and submit electronically.

 

Private schools have the following options in submitting fingerprints electronically:

∗ Purchase own livescan device. While the cost may be prohibitive it can be cost effective depending on the number of submissions necessary for your school.

∗ Use “service providers” like IDENTICO LLC to submit fingerprints electronically on your behalf.

∗ Inquire to other livescan device owners, such as local school boards, if they are willing to assist with your electronic submissions.

 

We know the biggest question you have, what are the costs associated with criminal history record checks for private school employees and contracted personnel?

The fee may vary from vendor to vendor, but certainly consider IDENTICO LLC as the most competitive livescan vendor with aggressive pricing. Our standard individual VECHS Employee screening rate is $54.25 and  VECHS Volunteer screening rate is only $47.25. There are some discounts available for larger groups, and it worth to consider since there is no traveling fee for groups of 10 or more employees at single location. We’ll come to you and fingerprint all teachers and volunteers with convenience and efficiency you haven’t seen before.

 

So you paid for the screening and fingerprinting, and you want to know how would you receive and view the criminal history results after submitting electronically?

Criminal history results for electronic submissions are posted to FDLE’s secure mail application called “CertifiedMail”. Once the criminal history results are ready, the private school will receive an e‐mail notification, containing the link to the application. The viewing of criminal history results will occur within this secure application.

 

There are several more frequently asked questions on fingerprinting for private schools in Florida; therefore our further questions will be in FAQ format.

 

What is meant by “retention of applicant fingerprints for reverse searches” and “arrest hit notifications”?

Section 1002.421, F.S. instructs FDLE to retain fingerprints submitted by the private school on or after July 1, 2007. Incoming Florida arrest fingerprints are searched against these retained private school fingerprints. If a fingerprint match is made on an individual, FDLE notifies the private school that the employee or contracted person was arrested, and provides the name of the county where the arrest occurred as well as contact information for the arresting agency. It is important to note fingerprints submitted prior to July 1, 2007, were not retained

 

What are the fees associated with the retention of prints?

The fee for the retention of applicant fingerprints is $6 per year per applicant. The retention of the fingerprints eliminates the necessity to have a future state criminal history record recheck at a cost of $24, since all incoming Florida arrest information is continuously compared to the retained applicant database. If a recheck is required, it would only need to be for a national criminal history record check.

 

To whom may my private school release criminal history information?

With the permission of the applicant, the criminal history information may be shared with other private schools registered with VECHS. Each VECHS private school agrees to only release criminal history information after confirming with FDLE the private school to which they are releasing the information is a current, registered VECHS entity. Such dissemination of criminal history information must be logged by noting what record was released, to whom it was released, and on what date it was released. Also, private schools are required to release the criminal history information to the Department of Education personnel consistent with the applicant’s approval on the waiver form.

 

Are owners under the same requirements as private school employees and contracted personnel?

The provisions in s.1002.42(2)(c)1, F.S., were not changed. Private school owners must have fingerprints taken and sent to FDLE for a state‐level criminal history record check upon taking ownership. FDLE will return the state criminal record or an indication that there is not a state record to the school so that it can be made available for public inspection and sent by the school to DOE. The owner fingerprint submissions must be on a fingerprint card that clearly indicates, “State check only”.

 

The owner’s fingerprint submission may not be submitted with the VECHS account information. If state and national criminal record checks are required as a part of scholarship funding, the owner will have to submit under VECHS in addition to the State Level check defined in s.1002.42 (2)(c) 1 F.S.

 

Now let us explain the definition of the word Criminal History Background Check: The term “background check” has been used interchangeably with “criminal history check” or “criminal history background check” which has caused some confusion. From the FDLE perspective, a background check is a criminal history record check to determine if a person has been arrested and/or convicted of a crime. Although some companies use the phrase background check to include drivers record checks, credit checks, or interviews with neighbors and employers, for purposes of this paper, it includes the search of following databases:

∗ The Florida Computerized Criminal History Central Repository for Florida Arrests (STATE CHECK);

∗ The Florida Computerized Criminal History Central Repository for Florida arrests AND the national criminal history database at the FBI for federal arrests and arrests from other states (STATE AND NATIONAL CHECK)

∗ The Florida Crime Information Center for warrants and domestic violence injunctions (HOT FILES CHECK)

 

The national check is based on the submission of fingerprints. For State checks, submissions maybe based on a name (or descriptors) or fingerprints.

Level 1 and Level 2 Background checks: Level 1 and Level 2 Background Checks are terms used in Florida Statutes to convey the method of the criminal record check and the extent of the data searched, however, the terms may also refer to certain disqualifying offenses if certain statutes are used as reference. Level 1 and Level 2 are terms that pertain only to Florida and are not used by the FBI or other states. They are defined in Chapter 435, F.S., but are used elsewhere in statute without definition and appear not to be associated with all of the provisions in chapter 435.

 

∗ Level 1 generally refers to state only name based check AND an employment history check

∗ Level 2 generally refers to a state and national fingerprint based check and consideration of disqualifying offenses, and applies to those employees designated by law as holding positions of responsibility or trust. Section 435.04, mandates that Level 2 background security investigations be conducted on employees, defined as individuals required by law to be fingerprinted pursuant to Chapter 435

 

It should be noted that both the state and national criminal history databases can be searched for arrests, warrants, and other information pertaining to an individual, however neither database has the capability of searching for specific offenses on an individual records

 

What is the difference between the National Child Protection Act and Volunteers for Children Act?

Names you may hear that refer to the same federal law and its amendment are as follows: the National Child Protection Act, the Foley Act, and the Volunteers for Children Act. These laws are sometimes named for sponsors or persons who supported the new laws or amendments. For the purposes of the available criminal history information, these different names refer to the same basic law. Section 943.0542 of the 1999 Florida Statutes was enacted to implement this Federal legislation.

 

On what legislation the VECHS program based?

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement initiated the VECHS program in 1999, after the Florida Legislature enacted section 943.0542 of the Florida Statutes (1999). This statute is based upon the National Child Protection Act (NCPA), as amended. The federal guidelines for the NCPA offer further interpretations of the NCPA, along with mandates for states that chose to implement corresponding legislation and programs.

The federal guidelines apply to the interpretation of our legislation in Florida, and therefore, to the implementation of the VECHS program. Although FDLE desires to offer the broadest services and protection available under the authorizing legislation, we are not permitted to expand the coverage of the governing laws.

 

Please visit http://www.myidentico.com/answers-to-all-frequently-asked-questions-about-vechs-program/ for more details on VECHS program.

As FDLE authorized live scan vendor IDENTICO LLC does everything possible to support children and student safety in the communities and schools. If you are the entity approved to use VECHS screening, please contact us with any questions or quote requests. We’ll do everything possible to keep the cost of services affordable and the quality above standards. Please call (954) 239-8590/ toll-free (888) 988-8969 or visit our official webpage for more information on all background screening and fingerprinting needs.

 

Sincerely,

 

IDENTICO LLC.

Categories
DCF Background Screening Florida Department of Elderly Affairs Background Screening Professional Guardian Background Screening

Fingerprinting and Level 2 Background Screening requirements for professional and nonprofessional guardianship programs in Florida

For those individuals applying for professional and nonprofessional guardian programs with one of the county circuit courts, it is useful to know that guardianship procedures will require both criminal and credit investigations.  Criminal history search will be conducted by fingerprinting and submitting applicants’ biometric information to FDLE and FBI for state and national criminal history search. As a helpful source we are pleased to post the F.S. 744.3135 in regards to the screening of professional and non-professional guardians in the state of Florida.

 

744.3135 Credit and criminal investigation.—

 

(1) The court may require a nonprofessional guardian and shall require a professional or public guardian, and all employees of a professional guardian who have a fiduciary responsibility to a ward, to submit, at their own expense, to an investigation of the guardian’s credit history and to undergo level 2 background screening as required under s. 435.04. If a credit or criminal history record check is required, the court must consider the results of any investigation before appointing a guardian. At any time, the court may require a guardian or the guardian’s employees to submit to an investigation of the person’s credit history and complete a level 1 background screening as set forth in s. 435.03. The court shall consider the results of any investigation when reappointing a guardian. The clerk of the court shall maintain a file on each guardian appointed by the court and retain in the file documentation of the result of any investigation conducted under this section. A professional guardian must pay the clerk of the court a fee of up to $7.50 for handling and processing professional guardian files.

 

(2) For nonprofessional guardians, the court shall accept the satisfactory completion of a criminal history record check as described in this subsection. A nonprofessional guardian satisfies the requirements of this section by undergoing a state and national criminal history record check using a fingerprint card. The clerk of the court shall obtain fingerprint cards from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and make them available to nonprofessional guardians. Any nonprofessional guardian who is so required shall have his or her fingerprints taken and forward the completed fingerprint card along with the necessary fee to the Department of Law Enforcement for processing. The results of the fingerprint card criminal history record check shall be forwarded to the clerk of the court, who shall maintain the results in the nonprofessional guardian’s file and make the results available to the court.

 

(3) For professional guardians, the court and the Statewide Public guardianship Office shall accept the satisfactory completion of a criminal history record check by any method described in this subsection. A professional guardian satisfies the requirements of this section by undergoing:

 

(a) An electronic fingerprint criminal history record check. A professional guardian may use any electronic fingerprinting equipment used for criminal history record checks. The Statewide Public guardianship Office shall adopt a rule detailing the acceptable methods for completing an electronic fingerprint criminal history record check under this section. The professional guardian shall pay the actual costs incurred by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Law Enforcement for the criminal history record check. The entity completing the record check must immediately send the results of the criminal history record check to the clerk of the court and the Statewide Public guardianship Office. The clerk of the court shall maintain the results in the professional guardian’s file and shall make the results available to the court; or

 

(b) A criminal history record check using a fingerprint card. The clerk of the court shall obtain fingerprint cards from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and make them available to guardians. Any guardian who is so required shall have his or her fingerprints taken and forward the proper fingerprint card along with the necessary fee to the Department of Law Enforcement for processing. The results of the fingerprint card criminal history record checks shall be forwarded to the clerk of the court, who shall maintain the results in the guardian’s file and make the results available to the court and the Statewide Public guardianship Office.

 

(4)(a) A professional guardian, and each employee of a professional guardian who has a fiduciary responsibility to a ward, must complete, at his or her own expense, a level 2 background screening as set forth in s. 435.04 before and at least once every 5 years after the date the guardian is registered. A professional guardian, and each employee of a professional guardian who has a fiduciary responsibility to a ward, must complete, at his or her own expense, a level 1 background screening as set forth in s. 435.03 at least once every 2 years after the date the guardian is registered. However, a professional guardian is not required to resubmit fingerprints for a criminal history record check if he or she has been screened using electronic fingerprinting equipment and the fingerprints are retained by the Department of Law Enforcement in order to notify the clerk of the court of any crime charged against the person in this state or elsewhere, as appropriate.

 

(b) All fingerprints electronically submitted to the Department of Law Enforcement under this section shall be retained by the Department of Law Enforcement in a manner provided by rule and entered in the statewide automated fingerprint identification system authorized by s. 943.05(2)(b). The fingerprints shall thereafter be available for all purposes and uses authorized for arrest fingerprint cards entered in the Criminal Justice Information Program under s. 943.051.

 

(c) The Department of Law Enforcement shall search all arrest fingerprint cards received under s. 943.051 against the fingerprints retained in the statewide automated fingerprint identification system under paragraph (b). Any arrest record that is identified with the fingerprints of a person described in this paragraph must be reported to the clerk of court. The clerk of court must forward any arrest record received for a professional guardian to the Statewide Public guardianship Office within 5 days. Each professional guardian who elects to submit fingerprint information electronically shall participate in this search process by paying an annual fee to the Statewide Public guardianship Office of the Department of Elderly Affairs and by informing the clerk of court and the Statewide Public guardianship Office of any change in the status of his or her guardianship appointment. The amount of the annual fee to be imposed for performing these searches and the procedures for the retention of professional guardian fingerprints and the dissemination of search results shall be established by rule of the Department of Law Enforcement. At least once every 5 years, the Statewide Public guardianship Office must request that the Department of Law Enforcement forward the fingerprints maintained under this section to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

 

(5)(a) A professional guardian, and each employee of a professional guardian who has a fiduciary responsibility to a ward, must complete, at his or her own expense, an investigation of his or her credit history before and at least once every 2 years after the date of the guardian’s registration with the Statewide Public guardianship Office.

 

(b) The Statewide Public guardianship Office shall adopt a rule detailing the acceptable methods for completing a credit investigation under this section. If appropriate, the Statewide Public guardianship Office may administer credit investigations. If the office chooses to administer the credit investigation, the office may adopt a rule setting a fee, not to exceed $25, to reimburse the costs associated with the administration of a credit investigation.

(6) The Statewide Public guardianship Office may inspect at any time the results of any credit or criminal history record check of a public or professional guardian conducted under this section. The office shall maintain copies of the credit or criminal history record check results in the guardian’s registration file. If the results of a credit or criminal investigation of a public or professional guardian have not been forwarded to the Statewide Public guardianship Office by the investigating agency, the clerk of the court shall forward copies of the results of the investigations to the office upon receiving them.

 

(7) The requirements of this section do not apply to a professional guardian, or to the employees of a professional guardian, that is a trust company, a state banking corporation or state savings association authorized and qualified to exercise fiduciary powers in this state, or a national banking association or federal savings and loan association authorized and qualified to exercise fiduciary powers in this state.

 

History.—s. 30, ch. 89-96; s. 1076, ch. 97-102; s. 2, ch. 97-161; s. 10, ch. 99-277; s. 5, ch. 2002-195; s. 10, ch. 2003-57; s. 114, ch. 2003-402; s. 12, ch. 2004-260; s. 22, ch. 2004-267; s. 8, ch. 2006-178; s. 1, ch. 2007-127.

 

As part of application with probate division of circuit courts each guardian will be required to accompany the Copy of the Court Monitor’s Approval for Year, Professional Guardian Processing Fee, Registration with Statewide Public Guardianship Office, and the copy of the blanket bond. In addition to the guardian will have to provide the proof of level 2 background screening clearance. The consent for a background check in accordance with Florida Statutes Chapter 744 which includes, but may not be limited to, a check of credit, FDLE, FBI, employment, and Department of Children and Families will be required from guardianship applicant.

 

IDENTICO is FDLE authorized live scan vendor with the capacity to electronically fingerprint and submit the data for level 2 background screening. We are currently serving professional guardian and nonprofessional guardians in Miami-Dade Court, Broward Court and Palm Beach County Court. Call us at (954) 239-8590 and don’t hesitate to ask your questions. For more inforamtion or to schedule an appointment please visit us online at http://www.myidentico.com

Sincerely,

IDENTICO LLC.