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TV Investigation Raises Questions about West Virginia Child Protective Services Background Checks

By Michael Klazema on 8/7/2018

A Charleston, West Virginia TV news station launched an investigation of the state’s Child Protective Service policies after a CPS staffer ended up behind bars. Per a report from the station, WSAZ News Channel 3, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services is not answering questions about its policies for vetting CPS employees.

The CPS employee, 32-year-old Dustin Kinser, has had three run-ins with law enforcement since the beginning of July. Kinser was suspended from his job with CPS in early July after being charged with “contributing to the delinquency of a minor.” South Charleston Police officers found Kinser in a restaurant with a 17-year-old girl who had been reported missing. Kinser reportedly met the girl on a social media network. Kinser was arrested in connection with the case.

Police don’t believe there was a sexual relationship between the two, nor do they believe Kinser was grooming the girl for a trafficking operation or something similarly nefarious. Police added an additional charge after Kinser threatened a police officer.

Several days later, Kinser was arrested again while out of jail on bond. His mother called the police, claiming that Kinser had shoved her and restrained her during an argument. Police charged Kinser with a third crime for the incident—a domestic assault charge. Kinser’s bond was subsequently revoked.

WSAZ has criticized CPS and the Department of Health and Human Services for hiring Kinser in the first place. Several agencies told the news channel Kinser’s record included “red flags” that may have predicted the incidents. In 2006, a victim filed a domestic violence petition against Kinser which was later granted.

While the filing would not show up on all criminal background searches, it would have been part of an abuse registry. On CPS job applications, the Department of Health and Human Services states background checks “may include” elements such as abuse registry records, criminal records, driving records, employment historyeducation history, and past professional training or certification. WSAZ is attempting to determine if the Department of Health and Human Services runs all these checks on every candidate.

Notably, the list of potential checks does not include any mention of drug testing. One former employee of CPS told WSAZ she worked for the department for three years and was never required to pass a drug test.

The Department of Health and Human Services has not been clear about its background check requirements. Based on the wording found on CPS job applications, the department may also not have been consistent with the checks it was using on each applicant. At backgroundchecks.com, we urge clients to create a background check policy that can be applied from one job to the next. Some things might change depending on the applicant or the position: for instance, address histories can influence which counties you order criminal history searches from, while there are certain role-specific background checks (such as driving record checks or credit history checks) that might not apply to every job. Beyond job role variations, consistency in background check policies is achievable and highly recommended.

 

Sources: 

http://www.wsaz.com/content/news/WSAZ-Investigates-Vetting-process-for-CPS-Workers-in-West-Virginia--488554291.html

http://wvmetronews.com/2018/07/17/cps-worker-behind-bars/

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