New Jersey Legislators Pledge to Improve Background Checks for Caregivers

By Michael Klazema on 10/25/2017
Two lawmakers in New Jersey have vowed to improve the background check requirements for caregivers at living communities that serve individuals with disabilities.

Per a report from, the planned legislation is a response to a recent state audit. The audit found that multiple individuals with “potentially disqualifying criminal histories” could get jobs caring for patients with disabilities. The planned legislation—expected to be announced when lawmakers reconvene after November 6 elections—would seek to close loopholes in background check laws.

Right now, reports explain, all residential care programs in New Jersey are legally required to conduct criminal background checks on prospective caregivers. The law includes a list of offenses that are supposed to trigger automatic disqualification from any caregiver screening process. Violent crimes, offenses involving children, and some drug crimes are on that list.

Per coverage, the recent state audit found that individuals with past offenses on the disqualification list were still landing caregiver jobs. The audit reported that about two-dozen caregivers in New Jersey fell into this category. One of those caregivers had been previously convicted of murder and was out of prison on parole. The state auditor also found that over a hundred other caregivers had never gone through background checks in the first place.

The state auditor recommended a few policy changes to the New Jersey Department of Human Services, which is responsible for licensing and regulating disability care programs. Per coverage, the state wants DHS to have more oversight regarding background checks at these care centers and communities. The auditor recommended that DHS retain the ability to confirm or deny hires at these programs, particularly if a care center operator wants to hire someone with a criminal record.

State Senator Steve Sweeney and General Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle are the legislators who want to fix the flaws identified in the audit, reports indicate. Both politicians spoke to, arguing that there was too much “confusion” and “ambiguity” with the current laws. For instance, care centers can hire ex-offenders—even ones with disqualifying offenses—if they can prove those individuals are reformed. However, there isn’t a strong system in place for care providers to get these hiring decisions cleared by the state, which means they often end up making their own calls.

Per reports, Sweeney and Vainieri Huttle want to start by giving DHS more control over who licensed care providers can hire. The two won’t announce their joint sponsored legislation until lawmakers are back in Trenton for a new session. The legislation will likely try to give DHS the ability to review new hires at care centers that serve patients with disabilities. By learning more about serious candidates and reviewing their background check reports, DHS could veto caregivers with disqualifying offenses on their criminal records.

Industry News

Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • March 20 Employers who use E-Verify must follow the proper steps and procedures when they receive a “tentative non-confirmation notice” from either the Social Security Administration or Department of Homeland Security. Failure to follow the proper procedures can cost employers both time and money. 
  • March 20

    Four Department of Commerce employees are out after their background checks resulted in security clearance denials. All four had worked high-ranking positions for months despite incomplete background checks.

  • March 15 As more states legalize the recreational use of cannabis, they contend with the emergence of new industries surrounding marijuana cultivation and production. 
  • March 14 In most cases, it is easy to determine where an issue might show up on a pre-employment background check. Citations for traffic violations or reckless driving charges will appear on a motor vehicle record check. Verdicts in a civil court case will show on a civil court background check. And criminal convictions—from petty theft to violent felonies—show up on criminal background checks.
  • March 13 How many years back do employment background checks go? This question can have multiple different answers depending on the situation.
  • March 13 A new bill in Florida would require landlords of apartment complexes to present tenants with verifications of employee background checks to give them peace of mind the people working in and around their homes are trustworthy.
  • March 08 Police officers working with the University of Texas at Arlington recently arrested a man who had avoided police capture on a warrant out of Oregon for nearly two decades. The man, whose real name is Daniel Charles Ray Hanson, spent those 17 years using a variety of fake names and identification documents to move around the country, often engaging with educational institutions under false pretenses. Police say Hanson regularly went by at least three different aliases. He sports a rap sheet that stretches back to an arson conviction in 1995. 
  • March 07

    The Future of EEOC Guidance in Texas Is Up in the Air

    The EEOC issued guidance in 2012 warning employers about the dangers of enforcing categorical policies to bar candidates with criminal histories. That guidance is not enforceable in Texas thanks to a recent court ruling.

  • March 05 Vermont is the latest state to restrict employers’ access to and use of social media accounts of employees and applicants. 
  • March 01 In an age of "industry disruptors" turning established business models on their heads, companies such as Uber and Lyft rely on a unique workforce of individuals outside the traditional employer-employee context. Uber calls them "partners" while other businesses refer to them as "independent contractors," the official classification these individuals use for tax purposes. Recently, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) revealed they had warned a business, Postmates, for misclassifying their staff as independent contractors. In the NLRB's determination, these individuals were employees.