Background Checks for Prospective Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Caregivers - West Virginia

Date: September 2018

Who Needs Records Checks

Citation: Code of Rules §§ 78-2-13; 78-1-8; 78-18-16; 78-20-6; 78-21-7

Background checks are required for prospective foster and adoptive parents and all adult household members.

Pursuant to the provisions of the West Virginia Clearance for Access: Registry and Employment Screening Act (WV CARES), W. Va. Code § 16-49-1, et seq., the following child care personnel are subject to background checks:

  • Owners, staff members, and volunteers of child care centers
  • Owners, operators, staff members, volunteers who are age 18 or older, and all adult household members of family child care facilities
  • Informal and relative caregivers and all adult household members
  • All program personnel, including the private owners, volunteers, and parents working at out-of-school-time child care centers

Types of Records That Must Be Checked

Citation: W.V. Code § 16-49-2; Code of Rules §§ 78-1-8; 78-18-16; 78-20-6; 78-21-7; 78-2-13

The purpose of the WV CARES program is to protect West Virginia's vulnerable populations by requiring registry and criminal background checks for all personnel with direct access to children and other vulnerable persons. The program shall include the following:

  • A centralized internet-based system of registries to allow covered providers to perform a mandatory prescreening of applicants
  • Fingerprint-based State and Federal criminal background checks on all direct-access personnel

In regulation: State and Federal fingerprint-based criminal background investigations are required for all child care personnel. In addition, a search shall be done of the State-based child and adult abuse and neglect registries and protective services databases in each State in which the staff member or volunteer resided during the preceding 5 years.

For prospective foster and adoptive parents, the background check shall include a criminal record history check and a check for any child abuse and neglect history.

Process for Obtaining Records Checks

Citation: Code of Rules §§ 78-2-13; 78-1-8; 78-18-16; 78-20-6; 78-21-7; W.V. Code § 16-49-3

Prior to approval of a foster or adoptive home, all adult household members shall complete a Criminal Identification Bureau Record--a fingerprinting process that identifies a person who has been arrested or convicted of criminal behavior--and a 'Statement of Criminal Record' form. In addition, all adult household members shall complete a 'Statement of Child Abuse or Neglect History' form and a signed release of information authorizing the Department of Health and Human Resources to verify the information.

An applicant for employment or a volunteer position at any child care facility and each adult household member shall sign a WV CARES self-disclosure application and consent form.

In statute: All applicants are subject to prescreening, which includes a mandatory search of available databases and registries prior to the submission of fingerprints for a criminal history record information check. If the applicant has a negative finding on any required prescreening registry or database, the employer shall notify the individual of such finding.

If the applicant does not have a negative finding in the prescreening process, the applicant shall submit to fingerprinting for a State and Federal criminal history record information check. The State police shall notify the department of the results of the criminal history record information check.

Grounds for Disqualification

Citation: Code of Rules §§ 78-2-13; 78-1-8; 78-18-16; 78-20-6; 78-21-7; 69-10-2

An agency shall not approve a home for foster care or adoption in which a household member has any convictions other than minor traffic violations. Special circumstances may allow a waiver to be granted by the department.

An applicant shall not be approved if that person is currently on parole or probation for a felony conviction or is currently under indictment, has pending charges, or has been convicted or entered a plea of guilty or no contest to any of the disqualifying offenses listed below or other crimes that the department determines may pose a risk to children. An applicant also will not be approved if the department determines that the person has abused or neglected a child or incapacitated adult.

A 'disqualifying offense' means a conviction or substantiated finding for any of the crimes that exclude an applicant from positions with direct access to children or other vulnerable persons, including the conviction of attempt, solicitation, conspiracy, aiding, or abetting the underlying crime. Disqualifying convictions include those crimes enumerated in Federal or any State's code and recognized by the West Virginia State Police and that generally fall within the following categories:

  • State or Federal health and social services program-related crimes
  • Patient abuse or neglect
  • Health-care fraud
  • Felony drug crimes
  • Crimes against care-dependent or vulnerable individuals
  • Felony crimes against the person
  • Felony crimes against property
  • Sexual offenses
  • Felony crimes against chastity, morality, and decency
  • Felony crimes against public justice
  • Felony traffic offenses
  • Felony crimes against the peace