Categories
VECHS Program

Answers to all frequently asked questions about VECHS program

1. What is the difference between the National Child Protection Act (NCPA) and the 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.

 

2. On what legislation is 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 choose 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 parameters of the governing laws.

 

3. What is a “qualified entity”?  Who can obtain criminal history record checks under the NCPA and section 943.0542, Florida Statutes?

 

To be qualified to participate in the VECHS program, an entity must provide some type of “care” or “care placement services” for children, the elderly, or the disabled, even if only as a limited part of the entity’s overall business.  Once qualified to participate in the program, an entity may request criminal history information on all current and prospective employees and volunteers, not only those who work with vulnerable persons.  A qualified entity may also request criminal history information on employees or volunteers who have or who seek to have unsupervised access to the populations described above.

“Qualified entities” are authorized to obtain criminal history record information as described under the NCPA and related federal guidelines.  Under the NCPA and our Florida statute, a “qualified entity” is a business or organization, whether public, private, for profit, not-for-profit, or voluntary, that provides care or care placement services, including a business or organization that licenses or certifies others to provide care or care placement services.  “Care” means the provision of care, treatment, education, training, instruction, supervision, or recreation to children, the elderly, or individuals with disabilities.

 

4. If I am now required to only obtain state criminal history record checks, can I request the additional national check through the VECHS program?

 

This program does not apply to those entities or persons currently required to have criminal history record checks under other statutory provisions. These entities and persons should continue to follow the statutory mandates that specifically apply to them. One exception to this might be for entities now required to obtain only state record checks on some or all of their employees or volunteers. If these entities wish to also obtain national record checks on the same employees or volunteers, the VECHS program may be able to assist by processing their required state checks, along with the national checks, through one system.

If an entity is required to obtain state and national checks on only specific types of employees or volunteers, the VECHS program may be able to process requests for state and national checks on the entity’s other employees or volunteers.

 

5. Who are considered “children, the elderly, or individuals with disabilities” under the applicable laws and the VECHS program?

 

The term “child” means any unmarried person under 18 years of age, who has not been emancipated by order of the court. An “elderly person” is a person who is 60 years of age or older. “Individuals with disabilities” are persons with a mental or physical impairment who require assistance to perform one or more daily living tasks.

 

6. How can my organization become a qualified entity?

 

If you believe your business or organization meets the criteria of a “qualified entity”, you may download and complete a copy of the Qualified Entity Application and the User Agreement from  http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/content/getdoc/9023f5ac-2c0c-465c-995c-f949db57d0dd/VECHS.aspx. Or you may contact the VECHS Unit at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement at (850) 410-VECHS (850-410-8324), to request a copy of each document be mailed to you.

Your next step would be to complete the application, explaining what functions the entity performs that would serve children, elderly or disabled persons, and whether the requests for criminal history records would be for your entity’s employees or volunteers. You would then have an authorized representative of the entity sign the User Agreement, stating that your entity will abide by all laws, regulations, and instructions pertaining to this program, particularly that your entity will use the criminal history information supplied through the program only to screen your entity’s employees and volunteers.

When you have completed the Qualified Entity Application and User Agreement and obtained the necessary signatures from a representative of your entity, you will need to send the originals of both documents to the VECHS Unit. We will accept an initial faxed copy of both documents, to expedite the qualifying process. However, prior to forwarding fingerprint cards to your entity or processing any requests for criminal history record checks, we will need the original, signed application and agreement from your entity.

 

7. What happens once I submit my Qualified Entity Application and User Agreement?

 

FDLE staff will review the application. If it is determined that your organization meets the requirements, FDLE will provide you with:

•Instructions regarding how to submit the fingerprint cards and payments for the criminal history information.

•Fingerprint cards on which the employees or volunteers will have their fingerprints rolled.

•A Waiver form must be signed by the employee or volunteer.

 

8. If my entity is governmental and we currently obtain some state and national checks for certain employees, can we use our current ORI number to receive state and national criminal history checks on other employees or volunteers through the VECHS program?

 

No, you may not use any ORI Number you have been assigned previously to process your requests for record checks through the VECHS Program. Upon your approval to participate in the VECHS program, depending upon the volume of fingerprint cards you predict you will need, FDLE will either provide you with fingerprint cards preprinted with the VECHS Program ORI Number, or we will request the FBI to issue your agency a new ORI number and to mail you new fingerprint cards preprinted with this new number for your use with the VECHS Program.

 

9. If my organization is approved to participate in the VECHS program, will my organization be required to obtain criminal history record checks on my current or prospective employees and volunteers?

 

Participation in the VECHS program is strictly voluntary for those organizations that are not otherwise required to obtain criminal history record checks on their employees and volunteers. The NCPA does not replace the existing Florida statutes that mandate state and national criminal history record checks for employees of specified caretaker programs, which include, but are not limited to the following: school district instructional and non-instructional personnel; nursing home administrators and financial officers; and child care, substance abuse, mental health, and developmental service programs. If your organization is presently required to obtain criminal history checks on employees and/or volunteers, you must continue to do so under the applicable Florida law.

 

10. Is there a fee for this service?

 

Yes. There are both State and National fees associated with conducting background checks through VECHS. Electronic Fingerprint Submission by IDENTICO LLC is rated as $47.25 for volunteers and $54.25 for employees. Screening is made on live scan equipment.

 

11. What will I receive when I submit the request for criminal history check

 

If FDLE qualifies your entity to participate in the VECHS program, and your entity submits authorized requests and payment for criminal history record information to FDLE, FDLE/the FBI will provide either of the following to your entity, for each criminal history record request:

a) a notification that the individual as described the fingerprint card does not have a criminal history record; or

b) a copy of the individual’s criminal history record. In addition, FDLE will advise the entity if the individual is subject to a Florida warrant for arrest or a Florida Domestic Violence injunction and what agency has the warrant for injunction.

 

12. How long will it take me to get the results?

 

The NCPA requires FDLE and the FBI to make a reasonable effort to return your criminal history information within 15 business days. This does not include mail time. Currently, FDLE processes Florida record checks within approximately five or less business days from the date appropriate requests for criminal history record checks and payments are received. FDLE is constantly exploring alternative ways to reduce this turnaround time. Errors on the fingerprint cards or in the amount of the payment may require additional time to process the requests or may require the requests to be returned to your correction.

FDLE is able to obtain both state and national responses more quickly if the fingerprints are submitted in an automated form from a live scan device. These devices are expected to become more and more available to applicants over the next few years. They allow for the fingerprints to be sent immediately to FDLE. The FDLE and the FBI processing are completed in about three working days, at which time the customer can retrieve state and national results on the applicant.

 

13. How should my organization use the results of our requests for criminal history records check?

 

You will need to review the information to determine if there is any reason that the employee or volunteer should not be allowed to work with children, the elderly, or the disabled. If no criminal history record is found, you should not necessarily assume that there are no risks to employing or using the volunteer services of the individual. Simply stated, “no record” means that he or she does not have an arrest or conviction known to FDLE or the FBI. Other recommended practices would include checking former places of employment, conducting neighborhood interviews, obtaining information from local law enforcement agencies, and asking for more information from individual.

If the employee or volunteer has a criminal record, you should evaluate whether the individual should be permitted contact with children, the elderly, or the disabled. Neither the National Child Protection Act nor Florida law governing the VECHS program defines specific criteria to use during this evaluation of an entity’s employee or volunteer. Therefore, FDLE does not set specific criteria either.

Background screening by your organization may already be covered under other statutory provisions. Your organization will need to comply with all required screening criteria under these laws. If these laws apply to you, and if your organization should decide to disqualify an individual during the screening process the employee or volunteer may have a right to contest or request an exemption from the disqualification. Please consult with your legal representative for more advice on these provisions and how they apply to your organization.

The U.S. Department of Justice has published a document that might be helpful to your organization as you screen your current and prospective employees and volunteers: Guidelines for the Screening of Persons Working with Children, the Elderly, and Individuals with Disabilities in need of support. (April 1998).

 

Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse (NCJRS)

P. O. Box 6000

Rockville, MD 20849-6000

Phone: 1-800-638-8736

Fax-on-Demand: 1-800-638-8736 (restrictions apply)

Online: www.ncjrs.org/ojjhome.htt

 

You may also exchange the results of your state and national criminal history record checks with those of other qualified entities, if the employee or volunteer has agreed to this in the Waiver form signed at the time of fingerprinting, and if youfollow specific procedures in recording the exchange of the information. This exchange of information, depending on its timeliness, may assist you and other qualified entities in reducing the costs of criminal history records checks on the same persons. It may also assist all qualified entities in screening out those employees or volunteers who should not be in contact with vulnerable individuals.

 

14. Can I get information from other qualified entities if they have already checked my employees and volunteers?

 

You may obtain criminal history information from other qualified entities, if the employee or volunteer agreed to this on the Waiver form required to be signed when he/she was fingerprinted, and if the transfer of information is recorded by the other qualified entity on its Dissemination Log. The restrictions on this process described in the User Agreement qualified entities must sign.

 

15. For what period of time should I rely on the criminal history record that I received on employee or volunteer?

 

The criminal history repository is a dynamic file with new arrests added daily and changes frequently. Currency of information is critical because the qualified entities will want to know about all arrests, no matter how recent. On the practical side, however, the qualified entities will not be able to request the criminal history information daily. Each qualified entity will have to determine how frequently its employees or volunteers need to be checked. The qualified entity will also need to determine whether criminal history information available from another qualified entity is too old to use for its screening purposes.

 

16. What if there is no disposition in the criminal history record showing what happened in court?

 

When the court disposition of a Florida arrest is sent to FDLE, it is added to the criminal history record. If there is an arrest in the Florida criminal history record of the employee or volunteer that does not reflect a court disposition, FDLE will not have any further information on that specific arrest. The qualified entity may determine if the nature of the arrest is something that it would be concerned about if the employee or volunteer were convicted. If the court disposition is important, the qualified entity may call the Clerk of Court in the county where the arrest took place. The Clerk will retrieve and provide the court disposition if one is available. There may be a charge for this service depending on which county you contact. FDLE has a list of phone numbers for Florida Clerk of Court. This will be provided to qualified entities.

When the court disposition on an arrest from another state is missing, the same process can be followed. FDLE, however, does not have a listing for all of the Clerks of Court or their equivalent in other states. If the qualified entity needs the court disposition in these cases, it will be necessary to work with the repository in the state of arrest or contact the court which heard the case.

 

17. Why aren’t sealed and expunged data returned to VECHS entities?

 

Florida law restricts the dissemination of sealed and expunged data to agencies and purposes outlined in the law itself. See s. 943.0585 (4)(a), Florida Statutes for more details.

 

18. Is it possible that VECHS agencies will be able to access criminal history records with terminals connected directly to FDLE?

 

VECHS entities are allowed to access criminal record information only after the submission of descriptive and fingerprint information on the employee or volunteer. There is no direct terminal access for this access. However, VECHS entities can submit the data from a “livescan” device which transfers the data electronically to FDLE and allows the electronic transfer of results in two or three working days.

 

19. Can I contact my local law enforcement to do VECHS check?

 

Law enforcement agencies are not authorized to conduct searches for VECHS entities through the Florida Crime Information Center. If they do so, the agency could be cut off and not allowed to access state or national criminal information systems. Local agencies may provide data from local systems. The only authorized way for the VECHS entity to obtain state or national criminal information is through the submission of fingerprint card or through approved live scan vendors.

 

20. How often will VECHS audits be performed?

 

There is not a scheduled time for VECHS audits. They will be scheduled periodically and a sample of agencies will be audited. Some audits may be conducted via a telephone interview, a letter asking specific questions or an on-site audit. When questions arise regarding the confidentiality or the security of information from a specific qualified entity, FDLE may conduct an audit of the entity to ensure the all provision in the user agreement are being enforced.

 

21. If I deny a person the opportunity to volunteer with or be employed by the qualified entity, may I give a copy of the FDLE and FBI criminal record to this applicant? What if the applicant indicated that record is incorrect?

 

If a person challenges his or her opportunity to volunteer or be employed, and the reason for the decision was based on criminal history results, the person can be shown the criminal history record after ensuring the identity of the requestor. If the challenge results in civil litigation, a copy of the record can be provided for the purpose of a hearing, but cannot be part of any record or file available to the public.

If the person believes his or her criminal record is in error, he or she may contact FDLE in correcting the record.

 

22. Does FDLE maintain the records of all arrests, including Notices to appear and direct files?

 

FDLE’s criminal record repository contains information on all arrested persons in Florida where the arresting agency submitted a fingerprint at the time of the arrest. For the most part, this means that all felony and serious misdemeanor arrests are available. However, if there was not an arrest but, rather, a Notice to Appear was issued or the State Attorney issued a Direct File, this information would not be “fingerprint based” and therefore not be contained in the criminal repository.

 

23. Does FDLE maintain a record of all criminal history records in the nation or just for the state of Florida?

 

The FDLE repository contains Florida arrest information only. Arrests by the federal government or another state are not included in the Florida repository. VECHS customers are eligible for the out-of-state criminal record information and will be provided it either directly from FBI or FDLE.

 

24. May VECHS fingerprints be submitted electronically from livescan device?

 

Live scan devices allow for fingerprint information to be sent to FDLE electronically which speeds up the entire process. The descriptive data on the applicant as well as the fingerprints are sent in electronically to FDLE. The state and national criminal record search results are packaged together for each applicant and are made available to the regulatory agency within two to three working days.

Categories
VECHS Program

Fingerprinting and Background Checks on Athletic Coaches in Florida

We have been fingerprinting the staff in several recreation centers and municipalities throughout the South Florida. Employed and Volunteering athletic coaches were among the individuals we screened for Level II clearance. For general view and considerations we elected to post the law on required screening for athletic coaches in Florida.

Florida Statute 943.0438 Athletic coaches for independent sanctioning authorities.—

 

(1) As used in this section, the term:

(a) “Athletic coach” means a person who:

 

1. Is authorized by an independent sanctioning authority to work for 20 or more hours within a calendar year, whether for compensation or as a volunteer, for a youth athletic team based in this state; and

2. Has direct contact with one or more minors on the youth athletic team.

 

(b) “Independent sanctioning authority” means a private, nongovernmental entity that organizes, operates, or coordinates a youth athletic team in this state if the team includes one or more minors and is not affiliated with a private school as defined in s. 1002.01.

(2) An independent sanctioning authority shall:

 

(a)1. Conduct a background screening of each current and prospective athletic coach. No person shall be authorized by the independent sanctioning authority to act as an athletic coach after July 1, 2010, unless a background screening has been conducted and did not result in disqualification under paragraph (b). background screenings shall be conducted annually for each athletic coach. For purposes of this section, a background screening shall be conducted with a search of the athletic coach’s name or other identifying information against state and federal registries of sexual predators and sexual offenders, which are available to the public on Internet sites provided by:

 

a. The Department of Law Enforcement under s. 943.043; and

b. The Attorney General of the United States under 42 U.S.C. s. 16920.

 

2. For purposes of this section, a background screening conducted by a commercial consumer reporting agency in compliance with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act using the identifying information referenced in subparagraph 1. and that includes searching that information against the sexual predator and sexual offender Internet sites listed in sub-subparagraphs 1.a. and b. shall be deemed in compliance with the requirements of this section.

 

(b) Disqualify any person from acting as an athletic coach if he or she is identified on a registry described in paragraph (a).

(c) Provide, within 7 business days following the background screening under paragraph (a), written notice to a person disqualified under this section advising the person of the results and of his or her disqualification.

(d) Maintain documentation of:

 

1. The results for each person screened under paragraph (a); and

2. The written notice of disqualification provided to each person under paragraph (c).

 

(3) In a civil action for the death of, or injury or damage to, a third person caused by the intentional tort of an athletic coach that relates to alleged sexual misconduct by the athletic coach, there is a rebuttable presumption that the independent sanctioning authority was not negligent in authorizing the athletic coach if the authority complied with the background screening and disqualification requirements of subsection (2) prior to such authorization.

(4) The Legislature encourages independent sanctioning authorities for youth athletic teams to participate in the Volunteer and Employee Criminal History System, as authorized by the National Child Protection Act of 1993 and s. 943.0542.

Most commonly athletic coaches are screened through FDLE’s VECHS program, and in few cases cities had used own ORI numbers. If the community or recreational organization where you work or volunteer needs the proper background screening for coaches and volunteers, please contact IDENTICO today with all livescan fingerprinting or drug screening needs.

 

IDENTICO LLC is FDLE authorized Live Scan vendor serving South Florida.  With any question related to Level 2 background screening please call us at (954) 239-8590 or visit us online at www.myidentico.com for more information. We provide mobile fingerprinting services and would come to your facility to fingerprint any size groups. Visit our office located at 3948 Pembroke Road, Suite E, Pembroke Park, FL, 33021 for all fingerprinting, background screening or drug testing needs.

Categories
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
VECHS Program

What is the VECHS screening and what entities are eligible to use it?

VECHS (pronounced “vecks”) is an acronym for the Volunteer & Employee Criminal History System at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). The VECHS program was implemented in 1999 and is authorized by the National Child Protection Act (NCPA) (1993), as amended, and Florida Statute 943.0542 (1999).

 

The mission of the program is to protect children, the elderly, and the disabled by 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)

 

Through the VECHS program, FDLE and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) provide to qualified organizations (not individuals) in Florida state and national criminal history record information on applicants, employees, and volunteers. With this criminal history information, the organizations can more effectively screen out those current and prospective volunteers and employees who are not suitable for contact with children, the elderly, or the disabled.

 

Generally, to be qualified to participate in the VECHS program, an organization (public, private, profit, or non-profit) must provide “care” or “care placement services”, as defined in the above laws, to children, the elderly, or the disabled.

 

The VECHS program is not available to organizations currently required to obtain criminal history record checks on their employees and/or volunteers under other statutory provisions, such as day care centers. Those organizations must continue to follow the statutory mandates that specifically apply to them. If, however, an organization is required to obtain state and national checks on only specific types of employees or volunteers, the VECHS program may be able to process requests for state and national checks on the organization’s other employees or volunteers.

 

To become a qualified organization and to obtain criminal history record information through the VECHS program at FDLE, an organization will need to do the following:

 

Submit an application to FDLE explaining what functions the organization performs that serve children, elderly or disabled persons;
  Sign an agreement that the criminal history information would be used only to screen employees and volunteers of that organization for employment purposes;
  Submit $54.25 for each employee or $33.25 for each volunteer fingerprint card submission.
  Submit $43.25 for each employee or $33.25 for each volunteer electronic submission;
If an organization becomes qualified and provides the required information for criminal history record requests, FDLE, with the assistance of the FBI, will provide the organization with the following:
An indication that the person has no criminal history, i.e., no serious arrests in state or national databases, if there are none;
  The criminal history record (RAP sheet) that shows arrests/and or convictions for Florida and other states, if any;
  Notification of any warrants or domestic violence injunctions that the person may have.
Categories
VECHS Program

Jessica Lunsford Act. Level 2 Backgroud Screening for School Districts and Private Schools.

The Jessica Lunsford Act was passed by the 2005 Florida Legislature and signed into law by Governor Bush following the assault and murder of Jessica Lunsford in Homosassa Springs, Florida. This crime was allegedly committed by an individual who had at one time worked as a subcontracted mason at Jessica Lunsford’s school. The Act focused primarily on increasing the measures used to monitor sexual offenders or predators. However, part of the Act specifically related to individuals with access to school district campuses. This Technical Assistance Paper (TAP) is to provide assistance to districts and contractual personnel to implement s. 1012.465, Florida Statutes, as amended by the 2005 Legislature.

 

Section 1012.465, Florida Statutes, now states:


(1) Non-instructional school district employees or contractual personnel who are permitted access on school grounds when students are present, who have direct contact with students or who have access to or control of school funds must meet Level 2 screening requirements as described in s. 1012.32, F.S. Contractual personnel shall include any vendor, individual, or entity under contract with the school board.
The statute, as amended, applies to three categories of either non-instructional or contractual personnel, all of whom must meet Level 2 background screening requirements, including those:


1. Who are permitted access on school grounds when students are present,
2. Who have direct contact with students, or
3. Who have access to or control of school funds.
The statute applies to such persons employed or contracted with any Florida public school district in any Florida public school, including:
-Traditional Public Schools
-Charter Schools
-Alternative Schools

District Responsibilities

 

1. Background Screening:
School districts must conduct the fingerprinting/background screening of noninstructional or contractual personnel at a location designated by the district using the code (ORI – Originating Agency Identifier) issued to the district by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), and determine whether the individual has been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude.

 

2. Verification of Personnel on School Campuses:
For affected persons, each district must establish policies and procedures to ensure that only individuals who have undergone a background screening and have been approved to come on campus are allowed access on school grounds when students are present, or to have direct contact with students, or to have access or control over school funds.
In addition, each district must establish communication policies and procedures to ensure that all pertinent parties are notified when an individual terminates service with the district.

 

3. Sharing of Records:
Districts may share background screening results with other public school districts and are encouraged to do so to reduce the time and fiscal impact on certain service providers who may be providing contractual services in multiple districts.
Such persons may include:
– Vendors, including soda/milk/snack vendors under contract with the district
-Sports officials
-Construction contractors and subcontractors
-Senior ring, photography, or yearbook vendors

 

Should districts choose to share records, it is recommended that the cooperating districts execute a Memorandum of Understanding which clearly spells out the role to be played by each district. Any employee provided access to criminal history records should be cautioned as to the confidentiality of the information contained within the record, and should not discuss such information outside of those also legally allowed access to such record.

 

4. Maintenance of Records:
After receiving the initial background check results from the FDLE, the original submitting district will thereafter be electronically notified by FDLE, in writing, of any new arrests. The original submitting district should forward the arrest information to any districts with which they have shared the criminal record. In addition, s. 1012.32(3), F.S., requires each school district to inform the FDLE of any change in the affiliation, employment, or contractual status of an individual previously fingerprinted.

 

The prints of an individual who terminates service with a district and is later reengaged to provide additional services must be re-submitted to the FDLE. Those individuals who provide services on a periodic basis pursuant to an on-going contract and who do not effectively break service should continue to have their arrest record results transmitted to the district by the FDLE.

 

The requirements applicable to those entities receiving fingerprint background check results are set forth in Rule 11C-6.010, promulgated by the FDLE pursuant to authority in s. 1012.32(3), F.S.

 

IDENTICO LLC provides background screening services to several private schools, whose background screening policies are based on National Child Protection Act (NCPA) as well as on Jessica Lunsford Act. Such private educational entities are qualified to obtain Level II background screening through VECHS program. Volunteer and Employee Criminal History System (VECHS) program allows for qualified entities to obtain state and national criminal history record checks on individuals working with children, the elderly or the disabled.Under the NCPA and Florida statute, a “qualified entity” is a business or organization, whether public, private, for profit, not-for-profit, or voluntary, that provides care or care placement services, including a business or organization that licenses or certifies others to provide care or care placement services. “Care” means the provision of care, treatment, education, training, instruction, supervision, or recreation to children, the elderly, or individuals with disabilities.

 

If you work or volunteer for “qualified entity” and VECHS screening is required as part of your employment or volunteerism, please contact us today.  IDENTICO is FDLE authorized Live Scan vendor serving South Florida.  With any question related to Level 2 background checks please call us at (954) 239-8590 or visit us online at www.myidentico.com for more information. We provide Mobile Fingerprinting Services and would come to your facility to fingerprint any size groups. Visit our office located at 3948 Pembroke Road, Suite E, Pembroke Park, FL, 33021 for all fingerprinting, background screening or drug testing needs.

 

Categories
AHCA Background Screening APD Background Screening DCF Background Screening Department of Health Background Screening Live Scan Fingerprinting in Florida (General) VECHS Program

Federal Statutes Authorizing Criminal Background Checks for Nursing Facility Job Applicants and Employees

There are approximately 15 federal laws that permit criminal background checks for civil (i.e., employment and licensing) purposes. Fingerprinting, either through electronic “live scans” or paper and ink “hard cards,” is required for all federal criminal background checks conducted for employment and licensing purposes.

 

Three of these laws permit nursing facilities to seek criminal background checks on employees and job applicants. Two of the three laws, as amended, authorize nursing facilities to seek FBI criminal background information regardless of whether the state where the facility is located has enacted its own law to permit access to state criminal background records. The third law authorizes nursing facilities to seek federal criminal background checks if the state where the facility is located has enacted a law to authorize access to state criminal background information.

 

Current procedures under all three federal laws require nursing facilities to channel requests for FBI criminal background information through a designated state agency.

 

Summaries of each law’s major provisions, advantages and limitations follow.

 

I. Public Law 105-277
Section 124 of Pub. L. 105-277, enacted in 1998, enables nursing facilities (“NFs”) and home health care agencies (“HHAs”) to request fingerprint-based national criminal history checks by the FBI for employees or job applicants for positions involving direct patient care. The NF or HHA seeking the background check must contact the designated state agency to obtain fingerprint cards and then must send the completed cards along with additional information from the applicant back to the state agency for processing. The state agency then will check its own criminal history record information (CHRI) and will forward the fingerprint cards to the FBI for a check of the FBI records. If any CHRI is found by the state, FBI, or both, the designated state agency will forward it to the NF or HHA for its use in making an employment determination for the applicant.

 

Pub. L. 105-277 does not require states to enact implementing legislation before NFs and HHAs can request federal criminal background checks of employees or job applicants. This is intended to give all NFs and HHAs nationwide the ability to seek access to the CHRI retained by the FBI. The statute does not specify that a law enforcement agency must take the individual’s fingerprints, therefore it may be permissible for a private company to perform the actual fingerprinting.

 

II. National Child Protection Act of 1993
The National Child Protection Act of 1993, 42 U.S.C. § 5119a, was amended by the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, Pub. L. 103-322 § 320928, to allow for federal criminal background checks of individuals who work for, own, or operate a business that provides care to the elderly or individuals with disabilities, as well as those who are responsible for the safety and well-being of children. This statute was amended again in 1998 by the Volunteers for Children Act, Pub. L. 105-251 § 222, to allow for federal criminal background checks even when the state does not have an authorizing statute or regulations.

 

Under this law, “qualified entities” (as designated by the state) may request federal criminal background checks of a “provider” pursuant to specified guidelines. If a state has a statute or regulations that require qualified entities to request such federal background checks, the state procedures must be followed in addition to the federal guidelines. A “qualified entity” is defined as a business or organization, whether public, private, for-profit, not-for-profit, or voluntary that provides (or licenses or certifies others to provide) care or care placement services to children, the elderly, or individuals with disabilities. A “provider” is defined as any person who: is an employee, an applicant for employment, or a volunteer for a qualified entity; is an owner or operator of a qualified entity; or has or may have unsupervised access to a child to whom the qualified entity provides child care. Thus, under this statute, federal criminal background checks may be obtained for owners, operators, employees, volunteers, and job applicants of entities that provide health care services to children, the elderly or disabled. It should be noted that as long as the entity is “qualified,” all of its employees and volunteers are amenable to backgrounding.

Therefore, the scope of employees and/or job applicants for whom criminal background checks can be sought is broader than under Pub. L. 105-277. Under both statutes, the health care employer submits the applicant’s fingerprints and identification information to the designated state agency for processing. However, the NCPA, as amended, requires that the state agency make the determination of the applicant’s fitness for the job, not the employer. Both statutes allow for federal criminal background checks in the absence of state implementing legislation.

 

III. Public Law 92-544
Passed by Congress in 1972, Pub. L. 92-544 is an appropriations statute that provides funding to the FBI for acquiring, collecting, classifying, preserving, and exchanging identification records with duly authorized officials of the federal government, the states,cities, and other institutions. Under this federal law, health care employers have the ability to obtain federal criminal background checks of employees and job applicants, under certain conditions. First, there must be a state law authorizing health care employers to request such background checks from state and local government officials. Second, the authorizing state statute must be approved by the Attorney General of the United States.

 

Regulations implementing this law give the Director of the FBI the power and authority of the Attorney General to approve and conduct exchanges of identification records with officials of state and local governments for employment and licensing purposes if authorized by a state statute that has met the approval of the Attorney General. See 28 C.F.R. § 0.85(j). Pub. L. 92-544 and its implementing regulation do not provide guidelines for obtaining federal criminal background checks. Presumably, such guidelines or procedures would be established under the enabling (or other) state statute.

 

The FBI, consistent with several legal opinions from the U.S. Department of Justice, has established the mandatory elements of a state statute enacted under the auspices of Pub. L. 92-544. The state statute must:

 

(1) Exist as a result of a legislative enactment;
(2) Require that the criminal background check be fingerprint-based;
(3) Authorize the submission of fingerprints to the State Identification Bureau for forwarding to the FBI for a national criminal history check;
(4) Identify the categories of licensees amenable to backgrounding; and
(5) Provide that an authorized government agency be the recipient of the results of the record check.

 

Pub. L. 92-544 does not allow federal criminal records to be shared directly with health care employers. Like the NCPA, as amended, Pub. L. 92-544 requires that the state agency make the determination of the applicant’s fitness for the job, not the employer.

 

Public Law 105-277

 

The steps for conducting a background check include:
(1) The NF or HHA contacts the state Control Terminal Officer (“CTO”) and/or State Identification Bureau (“SIB”) to request fingerprint cards (which bear a state-of-origin number for tracking purposes);
(2) The NF or HHA gives the fingerprint cards to the applicant;
(3) The applicant goes to the local police department or sheriff’s office to get fingerprinted, which involves:
(a) Providing his/her name, address, and date of birth as they appear on a government document (e.g., a driver’s license);
(b) Certifying that he/she has not been convicted of a crime and is not under indictment for a crime, or describing the crime and facts involved; and
(c) Having his/her fingerprints “rolled” onto the fingerprint cards;
(4) The applicant returns the fingerprint cards and supporting information to the NF or HHA;
(5) The NF or HHA sends the fingerprint cards, supporting information, and FBI fee (currently $24) to the state agency (e.g., CFO, SIB) or other agency designated by the Attorney General no more than 7 business days after the fingerprints were taken;
(6) The FBI conducts a check of its criminal history records (which include records of serious state offenses) and provides the results of the search to the submitting state agency;
(7) The state agency receives the federal results from the FBI and forwards them with the state results to the NF or HHA; and
(8) The NF or HHA makes the determination whether the applicant has a criminal record which would adversely affect the employment decision. In other words, the facility does not get a yes/no answer on whether to hire the individual. The statute provides immunity to the NF or HHA for making this determination based on incomplete or inaccurate information.
*Note: the local law enforcement agency and state agency may charge separate fees. Although the statute is silent as to additional fees, the FBI has concluded that such fingerprinting and processing fees are not limited by federal law.

 

National Child Protection Act of 1993

 

The steps for conducting a background check include:
(1) The NF or HHA must seek and obtain from the appropriate state agency “qualified entity” status under 42 U.S.C. § 5119(a)(1).
(2) The qualified entity obtains from the provider (i.e., employee or applicant):
(1) Fingerprints (presumably taken at a local law enforcement agency or by a private company);
(a) A signed statement to the qualified entity that:
(1) Contains the name, address, and date of birth of the provider as it appears on a valid I.D.;
(i) The provider has not been convicted and is not under pending indictment for a crime, or a description of the crime and conviction must be given;
(ii) Notifies the provider that the qualified entity may request a background check;
(iii) Notifies the provider of the provider’s rights to: obtain a copy of any background check report, challenge the accuracy and completeness of any information contained in any report, and obtain a prompt decision on that challenge before a final determination is made by the state agency; and
(iv) Notifies the provider that before the background check is complete, the qualified entity may restrict the provider’s access to a person to whom the qualified entity provides care;
(3) The qualified entity submits the background check request, provider’s finger-prints and supporting documentation to the state agency designated to report, receive, or disseminate background check information (an “authorized agency”);
(4) The authorized agency will review state records and also transmit the fingerprints to the FBI for a national check (which will be returned to the state). The state will make a reasonable effort to provide a consolidated response to the request within 15 days;
(5) The authorized agency makes a determination whether the provider has been convicted of, or is under indictment for, a crime that bears upon the provider’s fitness to be responsible for the safety and well-being of children, the elderly, or individuals with disabilities, and conveys that determination to the qualified entity. The qualified entity then notifies the provider of the determination.

 

 

We have elected to post this information for your consideration, just to outline that Florida House Bill 7069 effective August 1,2010 regarding Level 2 background screening standards for AHCA, DCF, APD, DOH and DOEA was just a one step above made by Florida legislators to match Public Law 92-544. The primary reason is to increase the quality and security level of services provided to our elderly, minor, disabled and vulnerable population.

 

If the Nursing or Health Care facility where you work or manage is located in Miami, Broward, Palm Beach or Martin counties, please call IDENTICO LLC today, for in office or mobile live scan fingerprinting appointment. IDENTICO is FDLE approved Live Scan vendor, and we use electronic fingerprinting solutions in transmitting your fingerprints for FBI Level 2 Background Check and regulatory state agency will get the results of screening in as less as 72 hours.

 

Visit our official website www.myidentico.com or call us today (954) 239-8590. We have an open door policy at our office located at 3948 Pembroke Road, Suite E, Pembroke Park, FL, 33021, however if you would like to schedule an appointment at certain time, please visit http://www.myidentico.com/hitappoint/ and we’ll serve you first regardless of any wait line.

 

Sincerely,

IDENTICO LLC.