Changes are coming to the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) and the background study system. Change can bring about many questions, especially when it involves new legislation. I recently had the opportunity to meet with personnel from the Office of the Inspector General. We’re hoping to clarify some of those questions in this post. It’s important to note that the information in this post has been approved by the Office of the Inspector General.
Currently, background studies are run by name and date of birth. Starting in 2015, they will be run using fingerprinting technology. Let’s back up a bit…
Minnesota implemented its background study system in 1991 for certain employees who work with children and vulnerable adults. DHS is the lead agency in the state for background study determinations related to health and human services programs, including child day care centers. The scope of the program has grown considerably over the last 20-plus years and includes completing background studies on individuals interested in working in licensed health care facilities, such as nursing homes and hospitals, to those interested in providing services to people in their homes.
The Minnesota DHS was awarded a $3 million grant by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in August 2012 to enhance the background checks conducted on employees of long-term care (LTC) facilities and other programs. The enhancements will improve consumer protections and will identify additional people who have disqualifying characteristics.
Did you know that MN DHS runs approximately 1,100-1,200 background studies per day? That’s about 270,000 per year! Approximately 85% of those studies are cleared within 24-48 hours and the other 15% need additional research (investigating). This could simply be due to others having a similar name.
What’s not changing in the system?
-Who’s required to have one
-When a study is needed
-What results in a disqualification
-When set-asides and variances are granted
-How appeals are handled except that communication will be handled electronically (no more paper)
-Fee, $20 to initiate a study
Why change the current system?
-Eliminate the duplicated studies
-Minimize false positive results (due to similar names)
-Missed criminal histories using name and date of birth
-Minimize behind the scenes manual labor in DHS and streamline the process for programs
What’s in it for providers?
The processes and systems that will be developed through the grant will:
-Result in a more comprehensive study that automatically updates as new information becomes available at the state and federal levels
-Eventually permit one background study determination to apply to a worker across programs and employers, permitting providers to receive immediate results when they initiate a study
-Create mechanisms to more efficiently communicate with providers, including more automated tracking of workers
-Provide administrative efficiencies for providers and the state
-Decrease overall costs by eliminating repeat background study determinations
-Greatly speed the process for all background studies, and in some cases, the results will be immediately available to the provider
It’s important to note that employees don’t need new studies if they are currently working and wouldn’t normally need a new study. This law applies to those getting a new job, etc. when a new study is required. This also does not currently affect family child care providers although a national fingerprinting system for all may be implemented in MN in the coming 2-4yrs. Also, new studies are not needed due to a name change. If a person already has a current valid study, they simply need to notify DHS by email of their name change.
Net Study 2.0 has two sides: Provider Portal and DHS Determination System. In the Provider Portal, studies can be initiated and background study notices and determinations may be viewed.
Fingerprint & Photo
The study results will be faster, almost instant for people who have had a fingerprint based background study and studies will be more accurate. Did you know that a majority of other states already require fingerprinting with background studies?
Fingerprint images will be transmitted directly to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. If the fingerprints are required to go to the FBI for a national criminal record search, the FBI may keep them. DHS will keep a photo on file for each individual. There is an automatic notification system for results to the subject who requested the study. It’s important to note that this system meets security protocols and has secure encryption for all data.
Beginning in 2015, studies can be self-initiated or initiated by a site. A name and date of birth will be entered of the individual needing the study. Please note that a social security number (SS#) is not and cannot be required. There are benefits to including it though. Anyone not including their SS# will need to be fingerprinted each time a background study request is initiated. If participants do include their SS# in the background study request, they will only be fingerprinted one time. There is still a $20 fee to initiate a study that needs to be paid at the time of initiation. This fee can be paid by the individual or by the site. After the background study is initiated and the $20 fee is paid, a screen will pop up that says Need Determination or that shows that the background study subject has a cleared status. If the person needs to be fingerprinted and photographed, a code will be generated which can be printed and given to the individual. The individual can then take a government issued ID to the fingerprint location nearest them. At the fingerprint site, they’ll provide their ID and code. They will have a fingerprint scan and a photo headshot taken.
Fingerprint Locations: Many sites around MN are being created as we speak. (Mostly at grocery stores, UPS, etc.) Interested personnel may also apply to be a host site or apply to purchase the equipment to run them on site. Providers or individuals pay the $9.10 fingerprinting fee to the vendor.
Individuals can initiate a study on themselves. If they are not affiliated with any company, educational facility, etc. they will remain on DHS’s roster for 6 months. If they do not secure a job placement within that 6 month period, they may request that DHS keep them on their roster for a longer period of time. If a site were to hire that person, the site can add them to their roster. This is done once a background study and fingerprinting is complete. The site has the option to add that person to their roster or not. The rosters provide a basis for the Rap Back. This is an automatic communication alert that would be sent to the site if that person has something new affecting their background study determination. If a person is affiliated with multiple sites and therefore is on multiple rosters, that notification would be sent to all affiliated sites.
Fall 2014: Statewide fingerprint system service established
January – April: Transition of Health & Human Services and Childcare providers into the NETStudy 2.0 system. A scheduled rollout system will be communicated at a future date. Licensors will also have a role in version 2.0. They’ll be able to view reports, etc. as well. Educational programs will most likely be scheduled toward the end (March-April) to allow for most successful implementation and needs individual to those groups.
If you’re looking for more details, click to access the DHS Background Study PPT Presentation. For more information, view the website at mn.gov/dhs –> A-Z Topics –> Background Studies –> Planned Enhancements or click HERE. You may also contact Michelle Long at DHSBackgroundStudyGrant@state.mn.us