Blog

 
     

Washington Native American Tribes Ask State and Federal Government for Help in Foster Care Background Checks

By Michael Klazema on 4/22/2015

Native American tribes in Washington are asking both state and federal governments for help in administering background checks. The tribes are sometimes responsible for placing children in foster families within their communities, and want to make sure that children are going to safe homes. With state and federal background checks, Washington's tribes would be able to screen potential foster families more efficiently and thoroughly than they currently can.

Previously, Washington's Native American tribes had collaborated with the state's Department of Social and Health Services (more specifically, with the Children's Administration, a branch of the DSHS). The Children's Administration was responsible for running criminal checks on foster families being considered by the tribes for child placement. Such placement would be necessary in situations where a child's parents could no longer care for them, whether due to "arrest, injury, or unexpected death," according to a recent report in the Seattle Times.

Essentially, the Children's Administration acted as a middle man between Washington's Native American tribes and the State Patrol. A tribe needing to place a child with a new family would contact the Children's Administration, who would then run background checks through the State Patrol and then return the findings to the tribe in question.

Evidently, though, this practice violated a few federal laws. The State Patrol eventually called an end to it by informing the Children's Administration that they were not permitted to turn over background check findings to Washington's tribes. As a result, the state's Native American community has been left with no recourse for running criminal checks and domestic abuse history searches on potential foster parents. Tribal leaders are not permitted to access state or federal criminal registries themselves, so they are at an impasse of sorts with the emergency child placement program.

This situation illustrates a disconnect that exists between state and federal background check registries, and Native American tribes. Tribal police or tribal leaders are not given the same access to these registries that local governments are, so while tribes are very much self-contained communities, they are not treated that way by most government systems.

The emergency child placement program is just one area where the lack of access to background check information has been problematic for Washington's Native American tribes. Last year, a young man within the tribal community took his gun to school and took four lives, including his own. According to the Seattle Times, the boy's father should never have been able to purchase a firearm, per a "domestic violence protection order" issued by a tribal court. However, since tribal court information is not logged into public records in the way that county court information is, that domestic violence protection order didn't show up on the father's background check, and he was able to purchase a gun as a result.

The bottom line? Counties, states, and Native American tribes need to collaborate more when it comes to criminal records. Washington's tribes clearly need and merit access to criminal and domestic abuse registries, whether for child placement purposes or for other reasons. Counties could also expand their criminal records by recognizing charges laid forth in tribal courts, though it's difficult to say exactly how a blending of those two entities would work without dissolving tribal courts entirely.

Source: http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/crime/background-checks-in-child-placement-needed-tribes-say/

Industry News

Tag Cloud
Categories
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • June 20 Repeat background checks are becoming more common, with companies in India leading the charge. What does this trend look like, and how can employers embrace it now to stay ahead of the curve?
  • June 19

    Every federal job involves a background check of some kind. These background checks and how they are evaluated vary based on job, department, and security clearance level.


  • June 18

  • June 14 Ban the box laws aim to improve opportunities for employment. Could they have the opposite effect instead?
  • June 13 Jacobs Petroleum Products is a regional petroleum company that operates throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland. Apart from their employees carrying much responsibility and have frequent contact with customers, the company’s hiring also tends to be segmented since individual store managers are responsible for hiring talent for their own stores. In this employment landscape, Jacobs Petroleum Products needed a reliable and effective way to screen its new hires for criminal infractions and other red flags.
  • June 12

    The University of Wisconsin System may tweak its hiring and reference check processes. The potential changes come after one of UW’s assistant deans was accused of sexual harassment.


  • June 07 Stories of abuse by coaches in youth sports leagues continue to crop up around the country, but rules and guidelines remain patchy and enforcement is often lacking. The struggle to implement an effective system continues nationwide.
  • June 07 Financial background checks, usually referred to as credit history checks, can be an effective way to find out if a candidate is fit to handle accounts, financial data, and other assets at your business.
  • June 06 The Society for Human Resource Management and the Charles Koch Institute recently commissioned a survey to find out how willing employers were to hire people with criminal records. The study indicates that managers, HR professionals, and employees themselves are becoming more comfortable with the idea of hiring and working with ex-offenders.
  • June 04 Are fingerprint background checks the gold standard for employee screening, or are they overhyped? We look at some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding these checks.