April 9, 2019

Background Checks for Youth Programs: Updated

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. 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 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.

KRS 194A.380(4) defines a “youth camp” or “camp” broadly as follows:

(a) Any camp required pursuant to KRS 211.180 to obtain a permit to operate; and (b) 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 that programs run by a city are covered by the statute. For programs run by other entities on city property, the entity running the program is responsible for obtaining the necessary checks.

Once the city has determined that they have a program meeting the definition of “youth camp”, they need to obtain background checks from two sources. First, cities must complete a criminal background check (KRS 194A.382(2)). The Kentucky State Police can provide state conviction records for employment purposes that covers this need. Following is a link to request state criminal background checks through the Kentucky State Police: http://kentuckystatepolice.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/employment_rev11_10.pdf. Second, cities are required to obtain a records check from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (KRS 194A.382(3)). The Cabinet for Health and Family Services amended 902 KAR 10:040 to address the statutory changes at the end of 2018. Cities must have any prospective employee, contractor, or volunteer complete form DPP-156 and submit to the Cabinet for processing. Cities must keep this form on file to be produced at the Cabinet’s request. 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 for 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. Patterson or Courtney Risk Straw with any questions.