Sponsored by Senator Hargrove, SB5565 states that when the department evaluates an individual’s character and suitability in determining whether he or she should be granted a license or unsupervised access to children, it may not deny or delay a license or unsupervised access on the basis of past actions that are not related directly to child safety. [Note: This does not change the use of the Secretary’s List of disqualifying crimes or the federal disqualifies specified in the Adoption and Safe Families Act.] If the department chooses not to grant a license or unsupervised access, it must provide its reasons for the decision in writing to the individual. Additionally, DSHS will bring together a work group to explore the possibility of creating a certificate of suitability for parents who have turned their lives around after having been involved with child protective services or the dependency system. Parents who have been involved in the child welfare system will be represented in the work group. The bill also gives the department the ability to charge a fee to process requests made by other states for an individual’s child abuse or neglect history in Washington.
Substitute bill: As amended, SB5565 references the Secretary of DSHS's list of crimes and negative actions. The scope of background check provisions is revised to include relatives and other suitable persons. Fees to out-of-state jurisdictions may exceed the cost of the background check as long as the proceeds support costs related to background checks. When placing a child before a shelter care hearing with a relative or other suitable person, DSHS may perform the required criminal history background check as soon as possible after placement if the person appears otherwise suitable and competent to provide care and treatment.
As amended by the ELHS Committee: Includes that a crime that is not related to child permanence or well-being may not be the sole reason to deny or delay licensure or unsupervised access to children. Adds that officers, agents, and employees of the Department of Social and Health Services may also not be held civilly liable based on decisions to grant or deny unsupervised access to children in certain instances. Specifies that when a person in another state requests a background check or an abuse or neglect history check the Department of Social and Health Services must charge a fee. Specifies that fingerprint-based background checks do not need to be completed before the court orders child placement with a relative or other suitable person. Requires a non-profit organization with expertise in veteran parent programs to convene a work group in consultation with the Department of Social and Health Services to address the impact of a founded complaint on employment and volunteer opportunities. Specifies that the work group shall report recommendations to the appropriate committees of the legislature no later than December 31, 2013.