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EEC Did Not Ensure That All Required Background Record Checks Were Performed for Employees at Its Licensed Group Care Programs.

A background record check includes the Criminal Offender Record Information database and Sex Offender Registry Information database, a DCF background check, and a fingerprint-based check of the state and national criminal history databases.

Table of Contents

Overview

EEC did not ensure that all employees at its licensed group care programs had undergone proper background record checks (BRCs). According to 606 CMR 14.08, after making a preliminary decision to hire an individual, a program must submit a completed BRC request form to EEC, which performs the required BRC and provides the program with the results. EEC and the program review the BRC results before making a final hiring determination. When required BRCs are not completed in accordance with regulations, EEC cannot ensure that employees are appropriate to serve in their roles. This potentially jeopardizes the health and safety of group care program residents.

BRC requirements were not met for 24 of the 25 group care programs we reviewed. Specifically, 105 of the 1,663 employees in our sample did not have one or more of the required BRCs (Criminal Offender Record Information, Sex Offender Registry Information [SORI], DCF, and fingerprint-based checks) before employment or at any time thereafter. A breakdown is below.

  • Fingerprint-based checks of state and national criminal history databases were not conducted for 93 employees.
  • No portion of the required BRC was conducted for 9 employees.
  • SORI checks were not conducted for 6 employees, 3 of whom are included in the population of 93 employees who had not had fingerprint-based checks.

Sixty-two additional employees hired during our audit period did not have SORI checks until after they began work. A breakdown of the times between hire dates and SORI check dates is below.

Summary of Delinquent SORI Checks

Time Lapsed before SORI Check

Number of Employees

Less than or equal to one week

28

One week to one month

9

One to six months

7

Six months to one year

9

More than one year

9

Total

62

Authoritative Guidance

The version of 606 CMR 14.02 that was effective through September 30, 2018 states,

In order to ensure that employees or other persons regularly providing child care or support services with potential for unsupervised contact with children in any program or facility licensed and/or funded by EEC are appropriate for serving in their positions, a Background Record Check (BRC) shall be performed on all candidates for positions in such programs or facilities, as provided in 606 CMR 14.00. A BRC shall consist of, at a minimum, a Massachusetts Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) check; a DCF Background Record Check; a SORI check and a fingerprint-based check of state and national criminal history databases.

The version of 606 CMR 14.10(5) that was effective through September 30, 2018 states,

No candidate may be hired conditionally in any capacity, nor may he/she begin work until the hiring authority receives EEC approval of the SORI check.

Reason for Noncompliance

EEC had not implemented policies, procedures, effective monitoring, and periodic evaluations of internal controls to ensure that the required BRCs were performed in accordance with the regulation.

Recommendations

  1. EEC should develop and implement policies, procedures, effective monitoring, and periodic evaluations of internal controls to ensure that employees have BRCs.
  2. EEC should ensure that all current employees receive any portion of the BRC that has not been conducted.

Auditee’s Response

The Auditor provided a list of 105 employees that the Auditor stated had not competed background record checks in accordance with regulations during the time of the audit. EEC reviewed the list to confirm that employees were at various stages of completion in the BRC process. EEC’s review ensured that all employees completed the process, although many of the employees had terminated their employment with the providers prior to completion of the Background Record Check.

Also during the audit period, EEC was in the process of implementing new standards for background record checks based on new federal and state regulations. In October 2018, EEC implemented new background record check policies that require Departmental licensing staff to verify suitability for program licensing staff and confirm whether background checks have been completed before renewing a program’s license in accordance with regulations. This is the policy that residential and placement programs are currently operating under. EEC is in the process of reviewing existing policies and operational procedures to ensure a more efficient and effective process.

Auditor’s Reply

EEC did not provide any documentation to substantiate that these BRCs were conducted. During the audit, we discussed this matter with EEC officials and considered all the information that was provided when we performed this analysis. In addition, we accepted information regarding BRCs throughout our audit fieldwork to ensure that our numbers were accurate. For example, we originally identified 143 individuals who did not have proper documentation to substantiate that SORI checks had been performed before their start dates. When we gave EEC this information to review, EEC gave us additional SORI information that was not in LEAD. This information was from a separate database to which we were not given access, so we could not confirm its reliability. It consisted of 81 SORI check dates for employees whom we had found to have start dates that preceded their SORI checks. Although we could not perform validity tests on these data, we adjusted the number of employees who had start dates that preceded their SORI check dates from 143 to 62. The SORI checks we reviewed for these 62 employees were completed after the employees’ start dates. Based on its response, EEC is taking measures to address our concerns.

Date published: May 5, 2020
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