Technically, the city Youth Department of Hudson, New York should have started fingerprinting its employees more than eight years ago. In May 2010, the city passed a local law mandating fingerprinting and criminal background checks for all Youth Department hires. According to a report from Hudson Valley 360, those checks never happened. Hudson’s Youth Department has been violating local law for the better part of a decade. The department is reportedly taking steps to comply at last with the 2010 law.
The law was a response to an incident in March 2010 in which a maintenance worker for the Hudson Youth Center was arrested by the FBI. The maintenance worker, Dowayne Scott, was accused of producing child pornography with a 15-year-old female victim. The city Youth Department fired him right away, but city officials maintained that Scott should never have been hired. Scott had a criminal record and had previously spent three years in prison on a drug conviction. The oversight prompted officials to pass a law that would require fingerprinting and criminal background checks for all Youth Department hires over the age of 18. The law also mandated the use of random drug testing policies within all Youth Department operations.
The Youth Department never implemented the new policies—though it does have a non-mandated policy of check the New York State Sex Offender Registry for the names of new hires. Going forward, new hires who are over the age of 18 will go through an online training session and set up times to be fingerprinted. These fingerprints will then be used to run background checks.
Rick Rector, the current mayor of Hudson, says the new policy will also include “continuous background checking” for all staff members who have been fingerprinted. Employee records will be updated with new or pending criminal information, ensuring that the Youth Department is aware of newer transgressions by its employees. Currently, the Hudson Youth Department boasts 18 employees—two full-time and 16 part-time. The department has not announced any plans to fingerprint or screen existing employees.
The City of Hudson added an amendment to its budget this summer, setting aside almost $4,000 for the Youth Department to implement a new background check system. The money will pay for any setup costs as well as some per-employee screening expenses. In the future, the Youth Department will be expected to pay for the fingerprinting and background checks out of its own budget. The checks will cost $90 per person.
At backgroundchecks.com, we believe that thorough background checks for youth-serving organizations are extremely important. We frequently work with youth sports organizations to help them devise effective strategies for screening coaches, trainers, referees, and other employees or volunteers. You can learn more about the importance of background screenings in youth organizations by reading our white paper about background checks for youth-based sports organizations.