Who Must Do an Arizona Central Registry Background Check?
In Arizona, certain professions and individuals in specific circumstances must undergo a Central Registry Background Check. This includes educators, healthcare workers, childcare providers, and others involved in sectors where child safety is paramount. The check is mandated by state laws to ensure the protection of children from abuse and neglect.
First, what is the Central Registry? The Department of Child Services (DCS) in Arizona effectively has a database that contains anyone who has had a substantiated claim of abuse or neglect of a child in Arizona. Any organization with contact with children and vulnerable adults must do this Central Registry background check. If anyone is applying for a job, pass the background check.
Organizations that Run Background Checks
And so, any childcare organization, daycares, many of the state organizations, and DCS itself must run a check. If you work for these organizations and are around vulnerable children or adults, you must pass the background check.
If someone applied for a job and they were on the Central Registry, the employer would run a background check. It would come up positive, and they could not offer this person a job or employ them unless they got a Central Registry exception with the Arizona Board of Fingerprinting.
Who Runs the Background Checks?
The people who run the background check are the employers, and the person who needs the central registry exception is the applicant applying for the job.
To get the central registry exception, you must apply to the Board of Fingerprinting, and then they will investigate. They’ll want documents associated with the substantiated claim, any criminal incidents since that time, for that matter.
They’ll want a statement of how the individual has been rehabilitated since the substantiated claim of abuse or neglect, the things they’ve done to improve themselves and ensure that it hasn’t happened again. And obviously, there haven’t been repeated substantiated claims of abuse. So, if the person goes through the process and ultimately obtains the Central Registry exception, they can return to the employer and say, I’ve received this exception.
Employment After a Cleared Background Check
Then, after the background check is cleared, that person can get the job with that organization. That’s the process.
So, who has to get a background check? Individuals who are applying for jobs around vulnerable adults and children, and then the organization is the one that must run that check to determine if the employee is eligible or not.
Background Clearance after an Arizona Central Registry Exception
How can you get background clearance when you apply for a Central Registry exception?
So, what is the Central Registry? The Department of Child Services (DCS) in Arizona maintains a database that contains any individual who has substantiated a claim of abuse or neglect. Any organization that provides services to vulnerable children or adults must run this Central Registry check to determine if an applicant for a job is on this list. If the applicant is on the list, they can’t get the job.
The individual applying for the job must apply for a Central Registry exception with the Arizona Board of Fingerprinting. After they obtain the Central Registry exception, it clears them, so they receive background clearance. Afterward, whoever they apply to can offer them the job and employ them even though they’re on the list.
Does Obtaining a Central Registry Exception Remove an Individual from the Central Registry?
Obtaining a Central Registry exception does not remove an individual from the Central Registry. It only clears them and allows them to get employment from one of those organizations required to run the background check. I know it’s hard for many people to wrap their minds around, but they cannot remove you from the list except for an extraordinary time. Or decades before it’s automatically removed.
So, once you are on the list, you’re on there for good essentially. The Central Registry exception is only needed when that individual applies for a job that services the vulnerable population in Arizona.
Now, there are a few cases where people get Central Registry exceptions.
Cases Where People Get Central Registry Exceptions in Arizona
They must pass if they apply for a job with one of those organizations. They have to get the Central Registry exception. To go through that entire process, many people move on to different employers where they’re not providing anything to vulnerable children or adults.
However, just because they have a substantiated claim of abuse and neglect doesn’t necessarily mean they’re terrible.
Passed Background Check
And individuals should be allowed with the background check or the Central Registry exception to pass the background check and then get employed.
The Board of Fingerprinting is essentially the arbiter if someone has been rehabilitated enough or has shown enough personal improvement in their life since the substantiated claim, which would then give the board confidence that this isn’t some predator out there.
Many people can get put on the list for not just heinous things. I guess that’s the best way of saying it. Incidents can occur with children that can lead someone to be put on the list but have no criminal effect. You could have a substantiated claim of abuse or neglect, but it never rose to the level of being charged criminally and ultimately convicted. So, these are the scenarios.
It would preclude you if you were criminally convicted of abuse or neglect by a child or a vulnerable adult. It’s called a precluded offense. It prevents you from getting a fingerprint clearance card and is unlikely to get a Central Registry exception.
What is the AZ Central Registry Exception?
What is the Arizona Central Registry Exception?
The Arizona Central Registry is essentially a database of individuals in Arizona who have substantiated claims of abuse or neglect of children through the DCS (Department of Child Services) in Arizona. Suppose you’ve had criminal convictions for similar incidents, abuse, or neglect of children. In that case, you’ll be placed on the Central Registry.
In Arizona, specific jobs require a background check, including a search of the Arizona Central Registry. Suppose you’re going to apply for a job requiring a background check, and you have substantiated claims of abuse or neglect or have had criminal convictions for the same of children. That job cannot hire you unless you get a Central Registry exception with the Arizona Board of Fingerprinting.
How to Apply for the Central Registry Exception
Next, how would you apply for the Central Registry exception with the Board? The Board will want the documents associated with the substantiated claim to make the process as simple as possible. If there’s a criminal conviction, they need the court documents, the police records—that type of thing. Ultimately, the Board wants to know that if these things happened, the individual has been rehabilitated to some extent so that the Board feels comfortable allowing them to be around vulnerable children.
There are some crimes for which you cannot get a good cause exception, and you’ll never be granted a central registry exception. They have a list on the website with the Arizona Board of Fingerprinting. It’s in the Arizona Revised Statutes of what’s called precluded offenses.
You can appeal crimes with the central registry exception or good cause exception. And there are crimes where you will never get a fingerprint clearance card. Let’s break that down. If you did have a crime that put you on the Central Registry and is considered a precluded offense that completely stops you from ever getting a card, you’re out of luck.
However, if you land on the list for not a crime, but there was a child services investigation, and they substantiated a claim of abuse or neglect, that would be the situation where you could apply for the Central Registry exception with the Board of Fingerprinting.
If nothing has happened since that time, meaning there has been no rehabilitation at all, you haven’t gone to counseling, haven’t done therapy or ethics training, or you have never been able to get custody of the child involved, that type of thing. It’s going to be very difficult to get the central registry exception. These are rare, to be honest.
Most of the time, if someone does have a substantiated claim of abuse or neglect in their past, they’ll avoid applying for jobs where the Level 1 Fingerprint Clearance Card is necessary. However, a few want to go through with it, and that’s what this process is for.
So, that’s what a central registry exception is in Arizona State.
Arizona Central Registry Abuse or Neglect Rehabilitation
What would someone applying for a Central Registry exception need to show as far as being rehabilitated from the substantiated claim of abuse and neglect?
So, just a brief breakdown of what the Central Registry is: the Department of Child Services in Arizona has a database that essentially has anyone who had a substantiated claim of abuse or neglect of a child. This database is then checked by certain employers who are required to check that database to employ someone.
If someone is applying for a job with one of those organizations and the Central Registry background check comes back and says, yes, they’re on the list. That individual has to get a Central Registry exception with the Arizona Board of Fingerprinting, allowing him to accept the job from the employer. Alternatively would enable the employer to offer the job to the potential employee.
Required Documents for a Central Registry Exception
When you apply for a Central Registry exception, the Board of Fingerprinting looks at several factors. But the absolute number one factor is, has the applicant rehabilitated since the incident, which led them to be on the registry in the first place?
Let’s go through some things people can do to rehabilitate themselves and some ancillary factors that go into the decision from the Board.
When you apply for the exception, they will want any documents associated with the DCS investigation.
The substantiated claim, any back and forth if you have those documents. They’ll also ask if there have been any criminal incidents.
As you probably already know, if you have a conviction for abuse and neglect of a child, it’s almost impossible to get a fingerprint clearance card. But suppose you avoided any criminal charges or convictions due to that incident but had a substantiated claim put on the registry. In that case, you can still get the Central Registry exception.
They want to know the facts of the incident itself. Then, depending upon the facts of that abuse or neglect situation, what has the individual done since that time? So, they’ll take this into account when this happens.
Suppose something happened 15 years ago, and there’s been no incident since that time versus six months ago. In that case, the Board will weigh how long ago the event occurred and whether any recurrence of the same behavior has occurred since then.
So, the longer ago the substantiated claim is, the better.
Criminal Convictions: Conviction for Abuse and Neglect of a Child
Second, have any criminal convictions have nothing to do with abuse or neglect since the incident?
Let’s say ten years ago, you had a substantiated claim of abuse or neglect of a child, and since that time, you’ve had domestic violence abuse with a partner, and you’ve had a DUI. Whatever it was, that doesn’t show that you’ve made substantial changes in your life.
So, having multiple criminal incidents in between the substantiated claim of abuse or neglect and when you apply for the Central Registry exception certainly will play a role in that. The things you can show to the Board that would indicate your rehabilitation. Have you gone to therapy or counseling?
Custody of the children certainly is essential. Sometimes, when you have a substantiated claim of abuse or neglect, you may lose some custody rights of the children or maybe completely. So, have you had some of those restored? Have there been positive interactions between the children and yourself at the time? Those things are essential. Going to counseling, therapy, and that type of thing is helpful. But as you can imagine, it is difficult to prove that you’ve entirely rehabilitated from an abuse or neglect claim.
The time between the incident and now is the most critical factor. Having no criminal incidents since that time is also essential. If you’ve had subsequent children without any issues, that goes towards the incident being an isolated thing. If you’ve had multiple incidents substantiated and put on the registry, that will be a difficult hurdle to overcome.
Positive Behavioral Changes
Ultimately, they want to see that the individual has learned their lesson, incorporated positive changes into their lives, and ensured that these behaviors don’t recur.
So, that is how you can prove to the Board that you have rehabilitated from an abuse or neglect substantiated claim with DCS.