Like many services that families of people with disabilities depend on, regulations regarding background checks are set by the individual states.  Unsuspecting families may be told that all workers must pass a “background check” but depending on where you live, that could mean a host of different things.  The figure below from a recent government study shows the variety of state policies.
HHA Background Check Requirements by State

State Requirements for Conducting Background Checks on Home Health Agency Employees, OEI-07-14-00131

Statewide, National, or NO Checks

According to the data, 10 states don’t require any background checks at all while the remaining states have a mixture of statewide checks and national (FBI) screening.  Tennessee seems to be in a class by itself, requiring only a registry check.

The differences even reach down to the level of what types of jobs require pre-employment screening, what types of convictions disqualify someone, and whether or not a person can start working before the check is completed.  (Disability Scoop – June 6, 2014)

Changes Coming (?)

It’s not clear, to me at least, whether the studies currently being conducted will result in changes being mandated across the board.  Is the “nationwide” program something each state must volunteer to enact (and/or pay for), or will federal guidelines be tied to Medicare/Medicaid money only and not apply to the private sector?  I’ve only just begun my research on this issue, but already I have many questions.  Ultimately, this is a safety issue for all families utilizing health care providers either within a residential setting, or in the home.

More Information:

If you’d like to do some of your own research, these are the sites/documents that I’ve found helpful so far:


Chart of State Regulations for Search Purposes

If you want to see what your specific state law says:

What Kinds of Checks are Required?

This chart shows whether background checks (where required) must be complete before work begins and if follow up checks are required.