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

Date:

Who Needs Records Checks

Citation: Gen. Laws Ch. 15D, § 6; Ch. 210, § 3B; Code of Regs. Tit. 110, §§ 7.108; 18.03

Background checks are required for the following persons:

  • Operators of school-aged child care programs, child care centers, family child care homes, large family child care homes, placement agencies, group care facilities, or temporary shelter facilities
  • Any person seeking approval as a provider of family foster care and all persons age 18 older residing at the home
  • Prospective adoptive parents

In regulation: Background checks are required when the Department of Children and Families is considering a kinship placement for a child. Background checks are required for all household members age 14 and older and on those younger about whom concerns exist.

Background checks also are required for the following:

  • Applicants for positions, including employment, trainee, volunteer, or intern, that entail potential unsupervised client contact in the department and/or department-funded programs
  • Persons seeking to apply to become foster/preadoptive parents
  • Candidates for positions in the department, including employment, trainee, volunteer, or intern, that do not entail the potential for unsupervised client contact

At the discretion of the department vendor agency programs, the requirement for background checks may be expanded to include volunteers, interns, students, or other persons regularly offering support to any program or facility in either a paid or unpaid capacity whose services do not entail the potential for unsupervised client contact.

Types of Records That Must Be Checked

Citation: Code of Regs. Tit. 110, § 7.107

For foster and preadoptive parent applicants, the department shall perform a comprehensive assessment that includes the following:

  • A check of the department's central registry and computerized data system
  • For any applicant who has lived out of State within the 5 years prior to application, a check of the central registry of child abuse and neglect of each State in which the applicant lived in the prior 5 years
  • A check of the State criminal offender record information
  • A fingerprint-based check of the National Crime Information Databases for each foster or preadoptive parent during the initial license study

Process for Obtaining Records Checks

Citation: Code of Regs. Tit. 110, §§ 7.100; 18.05

Whenever an individual contacts the department for the purpose of applying to be a foster or preadoptive parent, the department shall conduct an initial screening process to determine if the individual and any household member meets the department's initial eligibility criteria.

All applicants shall complete an application form that contains a section requiring the applicant to disclose whether or not he or she has a criminal record and what crimes, if any, he or she has been convicted of. The application shall not require an applicant to disclose the following:

  • An arrest, detention, or disposition regarding any violation of law in which no conviction resulted
  • A first conviction for any of the following misdemeanors: drunkenness, simple assault, speeding, minor traffic violations, affray, or disturbance of the peace
  • Any conviction of a misdemeanor where the date of such conviction or the completion of any period of incarceration resulting therefrom, whichever date is later, occurred 5 or more years prior to the date of the application

A prospective foster or preadoptive parent will be required to disclose whether or not he or she has a criminal record, including the crimes charged and the disposition of the charges.

Grounds for Disqualification

Citation: Gen. Laws Ch. 15D, § 6; Ch. 210, § 3B; Code of Regs. Tit. 110, §§ 7.100; 18.10

If the result of any of a records check shows that any occupant of the home has a criminal record involving violence, abuse, or exploitation against any person, which bears adversely upon the person's ability to assume and carry out the responsibilities of a foster parent or poses a serious threat of harm to a child, the home shall not be approved by the department.

When deciding whether to approve or reject a registration of interest for adoptive placement, the department shall conduct a review of any misdemeanor offense discovered through a criminal offender record information search in order to assist the department in accurately evaluating whether the mere existence of the offense has a substantial effect on the applicant's current or future ability to assume and carry out the responsibilities of an adoptive parent in such a manner that the rights of the child to sound health and normal physical, mental, spiritual, and moral development are insured.

In regulation: An individual will not be eligible to apply to be a foster or preadoptive parent if he or she, or a member of the household:

  • Has a criminal record, which, in the judgment of the department, bears adversely upon the individual's ability to assume and carry out the responsibilities of a foster or preadoptive parent
  • Has an open case with the department during the 12 months immediately preceding the initial screening process
  • Is identified by the department as alleged to be responsible for abuse or neglect of a child in a screened-out report of child abuse or neglect or a supported investigation that was referred to the district attorney
  • Has a history of involvement with the department

A candidate shall be ineligible for a position in the department or a department-funded program that entails potential unsupervised contact with persons receiving services if he or she has been convicted of or has any pending charges involving crimes listed in 110 CMR 18.16: Table A. Crimes on this list include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Assault and battery with a dangerous weapon of a victim over age 60
  • Assault and battery of a child or a retarded person
  • Armed assault with intent to murder or rob
  • Armed robbery or carjacking
  • Assault with intent to murder, maim, or rape
  • Assault with intent to rape a child
  • Murder or manslaughter
  • Distribution of a controlled substance to a minor
  • Sexual exploitation of a child
  • Incest
  • Indecent assault and battery of a child
  • Inducing a minor to prostitution
  • Kidnapping
  • Negligent manslaughter of a minor
  • Perjury
  • Aggravated or statutory rape
  • Trafficking in cocaine, heroin, or marijuana
  • Unnatural acts with a child under age 16
  • Conspiracy to commit any of the above offenses
  • Accessory before any crime in this category
  • Attempts to commit any crime in this category