EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2018:
BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR YOUTH PROGRAMS
After each legislative session, every city carefully reviews the KLC Legislative Update to make a color-coded chart denoting effective dates any new requirements for cities right? Well, in the real world, you have us to remind you instead.
In 2017, the Kentucky General Assembly enacted SB 236 to require background checks for youth programs. Many of our cities are impacted by this statute. KRS 194A.382 prohibits any youth camp that receives public funds from employing, contracting or utilizing as a volunteer a person who has been convicted of a criminal offense against a minor or a sex crime, who is a violent offender, or who the Cabinet for Health and Family Services has determined to have abused or neglected a child. As explained in KLC’s 2017 legislative update, effective July 1, 2018, prior to employing, contracting with or allowing a person to volunteer, a youth camp receiving public funds must:
1. Obtain from the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet a national and state criminal background check of the applicant, contractor or volunteer prior to the individual’s presence at the camp or involvement in any program of the camp; and
2. Require applicants to obtain a letter from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services stating the individual is clear to hire based on no findings of substantiated child abuse or neglect found through a background check of child abuse and neglect records maintained by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
Of course, this begs the question of what is a youth camp? KRS 194A.380(4) defines a youth camp broadly as follows: “Youth Camp” or “camp” means:
- Any camp required pursuant to KRS 211.180 to obtain a permit to operate; and
- Any program offered, whether free or for a fee, for recreational, educational, sports training, or vacation purposes to children under eighteen (18) years of age that a child attends outside the presence of his or her parent or legal guardian.
In our conversations with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, KLC confirmed that this definition includes local government parks and recreation programs and youth sports programs that receive public funds. Public school districts, private schools, child-care centers, child-caring and child-placing agencies, foster care, relative caregiver services and adoptive homes governed by KRS Chapter 199 and babysitting or child-care arrangements made by a child’s parent or guardian occurring in a private home are all exempt from these requirements. Note, for programs run by other entities on city property, the entity running the program is responsible for obtaining the necessary checks. But, programs run by a city are covered by the statute.
The statute requires the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to promulgate administrative regulations and adopt forms for youth program operators to use. Unfortunately, this regulation has run into a few snags and will not be final until at least August of 2018. So what can a city do when the statute will be in effect before the regulation?
KLC recommends requiring potential employees, contractors and volunteers at youth programs to obtain a criminal background check and abuse/neglect checks using the following forms:
- The Kentucky State Police Request for Conviction Records – Employment/Professional License
- The Cabinet for Health and Family Services Youth Camp Employee, Contractor, or Volunteer Central Registry Check
http://manuals.sp.chfs.ky.gov/Resources/sopFormsLibrary/DPP-156 Central Registry Check.doc
The city operating the youth camp should retain these forms along with the employee, contractor or volunteer application. Please note that there are open records implications for criminal records and abuse/neglect records. Call KLC with any questions on what to release.
Finally, a city operating a youth camp covered by these requirements must post a sign at each camp it operates. The sign must state the following:
State law requires a national and state criminal background check and a letter from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services stating the employee is clear to hire based on no findings of substantiated child abuse or neglect found through a background check of child abuse and neglect records as a condition of employment or involvement in this program.
These requirements are mandatory on any city or other entity operating a covered camp. Anyone who owns or operates a covered youth camp and who knowingly allows an individual who has been convicted of or has entered a guilty plea to a sex crime or criminal offense against a minor, who is a violent offender, or who has been found by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to have abused or neglected a child shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class D felony for each subsequent offense.
KLC will continue monitoring and awaiting the adoption of regulations and will continue updating our members on changes regarding the youth camp requirements. Please contact Morgain M. Sprague at firstname.lastname@example.org or (859) 977-4212 with any questions.