Connecticut Creates Background Check Program for Long-term Care Workers

The Connecticut Department of Public Health has created a comprehensive program to check the backgrounds of employees at long-term care facilities. The new program is intended to better protect elderly and disabled residents by helping providers identify applicants with criminal convictions or histories of patient abuse or neglect. It applies to nursing homes, residential care homes, home health agencies, assisted living service agencies, intermediate care facilities for people with intellectual disabilities, long-term care hospitals, and hospice providers.

The Department of Public Health has worked with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection to create the Applicant Background Check Management System. The web-based program allows long-term care facilities to submit information on applicants or volunteers and to use fingerprints to check criminal records and registries. Long-term care facilities that are subject to the background check program need to register with the background check management system.

The program is supported by a grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for the National Background Check Program. Employers will be able to conduct background checks free of charge until grant funds run out. After that, employers will need to pay $80 per applicant.

The program was created in response to a new state law that requires employers to conduct a national background check for all prospective direct care employees or volunteers. The check must include a search of state and federal criminal records, abuse and neglect registries, and databases such as the Connecticut Nurse Aide Registry.

Before the system was created, each care facility decided whether to conduct background checks. Most did so by using sites that sometimes allowed people with criminal records to slip through the cracks.