Fingerprint Background Checks Management Tip

Medium

Topic

Date of Publication
June, 2021

The Office of Crime Victims Advocacy (OCVA) funding has a new condition that requires that all staff who are likely to have contact with minors must have fingerprint background checks completed. This requirement stems from new federal requirements impacting pass-through funding sources VOCA and VAWA. Agencies/programs must have the fingerprint background checks completed before any staff or volunteers can provide direct services in which they are likely to interact with minors.

Programs were able to defer during the COVID-19 pandemic as many law enforcement agencies were not doing fingerprint background checks. Many law enforcement agencies and other businesses are now re-opening, and therefore programs will need to fulfill this requirement.

Challenges

  • Cost of fingerprinting can be high, especially as programs initially have to get all current staff and volunteers up to date.
  • Scheduling appointments for all staff and volunteers to get fingerprinted can be hard and lead to delays in getting the fingerprints taken.
  • There can be a significant delay between sending fingerprints for processing and getting results; programs are unsure of what to do during that delay with staff who have been hired.
  • It can be impossible to get out-of-state fingerprint background checks, as some states won't accept fingerprint cards for processing unless it's from their local law enforcement.
  • Some local law enforcement agencies are still not doing fingerprinting due to COVID-19 case levels in their communities.

Solutions

  • Do the fingerprinting in-house. Purchase a fingerprinting kit and the papers that go with it, and do it yourselves. It can cut down significantly on both the cost and time it takes to schedule with a third party. The fingerprinting process itself is fairly simple, though there is a chance that a fingerprint card may get rejected if not done properly. Therefore, it may be easiest to have one or two people at the agency who are designated to know the full requirements/procedures to reduce the chances of rejection. Once completed, you submit the fingerprint cards to the FBI for processing. They typically have it completed within 3 - 5 days. (Note: If you would like to see a sample policy and procedure for doing the fingerprinting in-house, you can connect with staff at WCSAP.)
  • Work with local law enforcement to do the fingerprinting. Your local police department and/or sheriff's office can do the fingerprinting with you. Especially if you have a relationship with the agency, you may be able to request that they come to your offices to do the fingerprinting, and/or that they do the fingerprinting for free or as a donation to the agency.
  • Work with a private business. A few sexual assault programs have shared that they have used these agencies: Bellevue Fingerprinting Services is approximately $40 per employee/volunteer for paper fingerprints, with results in a few days to a week; and approximately $120 per employee/volunteer for electronic fingerprints, with results in 24 hours. Alliance 2020 has offices in Renton, Everett, and Tacoma, and the cost there is approximately $20 per employee/volunteer. You can search online to see if there are private businesses in your area that do fingerprinting.
  • Go to the Washington State Patrol Criminal Records Division office. The Washington State Patrol only has this office in Olympia, so this option is obviously of limited use for many programs around the state.
  • Work with the FBI to get a fingerprint background check. To find out locations where you can get your FBI fingerprints done, check out this website.
  • Document. Document any issues that occur, including any correspondences via email or notes from phone calls, to show all efforts made and any barriers encountered (e. g. closed offices, lost fingerprint card, out-of-state background check).
  • Be creative while on-boarding staff during the delay in fingerprinting. New employees can do trainings (WCSAP has a lot of recorded webinars on our website, as well as other resources); update local resource lists; enter program data like InfoNet; shadow already fingerprinted employees; update curriculum; and more.