Background checking at Sacramento County CPS

Sacramento County Child Protective Services spokeswoman Laura McCasland responded to The Bee's questions via e-mail this week.

This is the county-wide policy we were given by CPS: County policy states that each criminal conviction of an applicant or employee is reviewed based on the relationship to the duties of the position. The county "determines whether or not the conviction can be disregarded on the basis of mitigating circumstances." Does CPS have additional hiring policies with regard to positions where there is contact with children? Is there anything else specific to CPS?

No, there is nothing additional.

Who makes the decision as to whether an individual with any criminal history beyond a minor traffic violation can work at Sacramento County Child Protective Services? Deputy Director Laura Coulthard? Department of Health and Human Services Director Lynn Frank? The personnel department?

Previously, the Deputy Director and her three division managers made the decision, but now Lynn Frank is reviewing all DOJ (state Department of Justice) hits.

What crimes – if any – would disqualify someone from working for CPS? What crimes require additional review and can be disqualifying?

There are many, but it is typically decided on a case by case basis. Anything that was a violent crime, child abuse, serious drug use or sales would require additional review and could be disqualifying.

Does the county factor in the length of time since the criminal conviction?

Yes, that is one of the variables that is reviewed and also subsequent arrests for the same offense. A nexus between the position and the crime is the most significant variable when it comes to hiring. The nature of the crime is also considered.

Does the county factor in the existence of an expunged record, or would a previous conviction that has been expunged show up in a background check?

Yes, it shows up.

Does the county require past convictions that have been expunged to be disclosed?

No, they only need to disclose it if they are running for political office. However, this would show up in the background check.

Explain the county's contract with the state DOJ for background checks. Ms. McCasland indicated that the county receives subsequent arrest notifications.

The equipment that enables subsequent arrest notifications was purchased in 2003. Those who were hired since then have been entered into the system that notifies CPS of subsequent arrests.

What level of criminal screening does the county contract for – a state check or an additional federal background check, as DOJ can provide upon request?

In CPS it is for a state check only.

Are there any background checks for DUIs among worker who regularly transport clients, or who use vehicles on the job?

Human Resources monitors DMV records for those that are required to drive, and receive subsequent arrest notifications, which are typically received two days after the arrest.

What happens if an employee commits a crime while already working for CPS? If the crime would be disqualifying for hiring, is that person automatically dismissed?

No, upon conviction, it is evaluated and then HR proceeds with appropriate discipline up to termination. However, the employee is given their due process rights (Skelly hearing) and there has to be a nexus between the crime committed and their duties. The Skelly hearing is a multi-stepped process and can take months to complete.