Background Checks for Prospective Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Caregivers - Maine

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Who Needs Records Checks

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 18-A, § 9-304; Tit. 22, §§ 4005-G; 4038-C; Code of Rules §§ 10-148-016; 10-148-032

The following persons are required to undergo background checks:

  • A petitioner for adoption of a minor child
  • A grandparent seeking reasonable rights of visitation or access
  • A relative who is requesting placement of a related child
  • A potential permanency guardian

In regulation: Other persons who are required to undergo background checks include the following:

  • Applicants for foster care licensure and adult members of the applicant's household
  • An individual applicant for a license and for each paid, unpaid, temporary, or regular staff member, director, or volunteer, in a child care facility
  • Governing body members, trustees, partners, corporate officers, owners, or operators who serve in a child-caring capacity at a child care facility

Types of Records That Must Be Checked

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 18-A, § 9-304; Tit. 22, § 4005-G

The background check must include a screening for child abuse cases in the records of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and criminal history record information obtained from the Maine Criminal Justice Information System and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The criminal history record information obtained from the Maine Criminal Justice Information System must include public criminal history records information as defined in title 16, § 703(8). The criminal history records information obtained from the Federal Bureau of Investigation must include other State and national criminal history record information.

For a relative requesting placement of the child, the background check must include, at a minimum, obtaining public criminal history record information from the Maine Criminal Justice Information System and determining whether the relative has been the subject of a child abuse and neglect finding in this or another State.

Process for Obtaining Records Checks

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 18-A, § 9-304; Code of Rules § 10-148-016

Each prospective parent who is not the parent of the child shall submit to having fingerprints taken. The State police, upon receipt of the fingerprint card, may charge the court for the expenses incurred in processing State and national criminal history records checks. The State police shall take or cause to be taken the applicant's fingerprints and shall forward the fingerprints to the State Bureau of Identification so that the bureau can conduct State and national criminal history records checks.

In regulation: At the time of initial application, the applicant shall undergo fingerprinting in order to allow the department to submit required fingerprint-based checks of national crime information databases.

At the time of initial or renewal application, the applicant shall submit releases signed by each adult member of the household and at the discretion of the department shall submit releases signed by any person who frequents the home who may have unsupervised access to the foster children permitting the department to request criminal history records from the Department(s) of Public Safety, State Police, Bureau of Identification, or other law enforcement agencies from any past or present residence, including out-of-State law enforcement agencies.

Grounds for Disqualification

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4005-G; Code of Rules § 10-148-016

Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the department is not required to consider residential placement of the child with a relative if either of the following are true:

  • The department has substantiated any report of child abuse or neglect regarding that relative or a substantially equivalent determination regarding that relative has been made in another State.
  • The relative has been convicted of a criminal offense relevant to the relative's ability to provide a safe placement for the child.

In regulation: The department shall not grant a license to a person who has been convicted of a felony involving the following:

  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Spousal abuse
  • A crime against a child or children (including child pornography)
  • A crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide
  • Physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense that was committed within the past 5 years

An application also may be denied if the applicant has an open child protective services case or a closed substantiated and/or indicated child protective services case. An open child protective services case includes a pending disposition of an open report, a case open for assessment, or a case open for services.