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

Date:

Who Needs Records Checks

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 52-2-622; 42-3-203; Admin. Rules §§ 37.50.1101; 37.95.161

Background studies are required for the following:

  • Persons operating youth care facilities
  • Kinship or extended-family care providers
  • Applicants for youth foster home licensure
  • Prospective adoptive parents

In regulation: The following persons are subject to background checks:

  • Prospective guardians
  • Child care providers, all staff members older than age 18, volunteers, and all persons older than age 18 residing in the child care facility or who stays in the child care facility regularly or frequently

Types of Records That Must Be Checked

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 52-2-622; 42-3-203; Admin. Rules §§ 37.50.1101; 37.95.161

The background check for a foster care applicant or prospective guardian shall include information pertaining to criminal convictions, reports of domestic violence, and substantiated child abuse or neglect of children.

The background study of a prospective adoptive parent shall include a check of criminal conviction data, data on substantiated abuse or neglect of a child, and data pertaining to any involvement in incidents of domestic violence. The adoption study also may include a check of the youth court records of any person living in the prospective home.

In regulation: For child care providers and staff, satisfactory criminal background, motor vehicle, and child and adult protective services checks are required. An applicant who has not lived in Montana for at least 5 years cannot be licensed without receipt of the results of a criminal records check from every State in which the applicant has lived since age 18.

Process for Obtaining Records Checks

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 52-2-622; 42-3-203; Admin. Rules § 37.51.310

The Department of Public Health and Human Services shall require a criminal background investigation of each foster care applicant by means of a fingerprint-based check by the Montana Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The prospective adoptive parent; the Department of Justice; and other State, county, and local agencies, after written notice to the subject of the study, shall give the evaluator completing the adoption study substantiated data pertaining to criminal convictions and any reports concerning domestic violence and substantiated abuse or neglect of children or vulnerable adults.

In regulation: For a youth foster home, a satisfactory criminal background, motor vehicle, and child and adult protective services check is required for each person living in the household. A new applicant must submit a completed fingerprint card so that a fingerprint-based criminal records check can be requested.

A criminal history check will be requested from every State in which an applicant has lived in the past 15 years. A check will be made of the violent offender and criminal history registries in those States if this information is available for States in which the applicant has lived.

If after 45 days, the department has been unable to obtain results of a criminal records check for an applicant who has lived in Montana for at least 5 years, the applicant must sign an affidavit attesting to his or her lack of criminal history or to the details of existing criminal history. The affidavit will be accepted in lieu of results from a criminal history check.

Grounds for Disqualification

Citation: Admin. Rules §§ 37.51.210; 37.51.216

An applicant against whom child abuse or neglect has been substantiated or who has been convicted of abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an elderly person or person with a developmental disability shall be denied a foster care license unless an exception is granted by a department regional administrator in his or her discretion, after careful review of extenuating circumstances that justify the issuance of a restricted license.

An applicant whose child has been in foster care shall be denied a foster care license, unless an exception is granted by a department regional administrator because the circumstances leading to the provision of services and placement no longer exist.

The department, through written notice to the applicant, licensee, or potential emergency placement will deny, revoke, or restrict a license or emergency placement upon finding that the applicant, licensee, or member of the applicant's or licensee's household has a conviction for any of the following types of crimes:

  • Felony crimes involving violence, such as homicide, spousal abuse, felony partner or family member assault, and felony aggravated assault but not including other assault and battery
  • Acts and other crimes against children, including any of the following:
    • Child abuse or neglect
    • Endangering the welfare of a child
    • Incest
    • Child sexual abuse
    • Ritual abuse of a minor
    • Child pornography
    • Child prostitution
    • Internet crimes involving children
    • Felony unlawful transactions with children
    • Felony conviction for a drug-related offense within the previous 5 years, including, but not limited to, the following:
      • Use, distribution, or possession of controlled substances
      • Criminal possession of precursors to dangerous drugs
      • Criminal manufacture of dangerous drugs
      • Criminal possession, manufacture, or delivery of drug paraphernalia
      • Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs
    • Other crimes, such as misdemeanor assault and battery, including misdemeanor partner or family member assault, robbery, or burglary, if convicted within the previous 5 years
    • Crimes against older persons or developmentally disabled persons, such as abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, or exploitation