Minnesota Pushing for Better Guardian Background Checks

As essential as background checks are to dependable caretaking, organizations, even in recent years, fail to thoroughly screen all workers. Over the past year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that disciplined nurse’s aides, in fact, had criminal histories, while an elderly man in San Antonio died after allowing a private, unregistered caretaker into his home.

In Minnesota, the state attorney general recently supported improved background checks for such guardians. Much like the above cases here show, Minnesota, too, has experienced similar instances.

As TwinCities.com details, a driving force behind the push for better screening is a 1995 case. A guardian of several individuals, Terri Ann Hauge, lost her law license, and in the course of being a caretaker, she stole $22,000 from a client. Later, causing her removal from the system, another client was found to be residing in a squalid apartment with no edible food. Hauge was later convicted of perjury, felony theft by swindle and by fake representation, and financial exploitation.

The legislation, written by Rep. Debra Hilstrom and Sen. Ron Latz, creates fuller protection for vulnerable adults. Guardians, as a result, will be required to meet higher standards of care and be able to pass a background check every two years, instead of the previous five.

Rather than an ordinary criminal background check, the new screening will look for specific points: if the guardian had a professional license suspended, revoked, or denied, such as Hauge losing her law license. The guardian would further be expected to come forward with any personal information that could hinder his or her ability in a caretaking role, including bankruptcy, fraud, and restraining orders.

Should this law go into effect, would it prevent such individuals from becoming caretakers? Or, are more thorough background checks needed?

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