Last updated: November 28, 2022
Florida set the pace for the entire U.S. back in 2010 when it became one of the first six states to receive a grant from the federally funded “National Background Check Program (NBCP).” It used the three million dollars awarded to the state to form the nation’s first statewide Background Screening Clearinghouse.
Seven state agencies access the Clearinghouse and find it easier to acquire background information on applicants and employees. That’s because the primary goals in creating the background screening clearinghouse were:
- to streamline processes,
- reduce the number of duplicative screenings,
- collaborate with other State agencies with overlapping responsibilities,
- improve communication between data systems,
- and implement a State and national rap back program.
What was the process?
Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) started off by expanding an external portal to its existing background screening database. The expansion allowed healthcare providers to submit screening requests by entering applicant demographic information.
In order to grow the database further, grant funds were provided to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) so it could integrate with AHCA’s screening system. Between the two entities, Florida subsequently created an automated retrieval of State and national criminal history information.
It’s the only option for state agencies
In an effort to curb duplicate screening, the Florida Care Provider Background Screening Clearinghouse was established in 2012. It began operating on January 1, 2013. It, by law, is the “single data source for background screening results of persons required by law to undergo screening for employment in positions that provide services to vulnerable populations.”
A person’s criminal background information can be shared among seven specified agencies whenever someone applies to volunteer, be employed, get licensed, or enter into a contract that requires a State and national fingerprint-based criminal history.
The seven state agencies that have access to the Background Screening Clearinghouse are:
- Agency for Health Care Administration
- Department of Children and Families
- Department of Health
- Department of Elder Affairs
- Department of Juvenile Justice
- Agency for Persons with Disabilities
- Vocational Rehabilitation
Clearinghouse site features
After initial tweaks to the process, the Clearinghouse soon began functioning as intended and provides users with many features.
- Specified agencies have the advantage of sharing criminal history results.
- The site gathers subsequent arrest information for employees with retained fingerprints. In this process, known as “Rap Back,” new arrest information routes to the current employers of the individual.
- Online tracking is provided from the time the Clearinghouse receives a request until a determination is made.
- The provider receives an email notification regarding status updates to each request initiated.
- The Clearinghouse maintains an employee roster by entering the hire and separation dates for each employee.
Cost savings are substantial
It’s estimated that since the Background Screening Clearinghouse was implemented in 2013, it has processed over fifteen million screenings. All while collectively saving healthcare providers and licensees over fourteen million dollars by sharing screening throughout the Clearinghouse.
The savings are nothing to take for granted, but having the ability to get notified if current employees are arrested is another huge benefit. To date, nearly 45,000 fingerprinted individuals have been arrested after they were screened. Subsequently, over 30% of them could no longer work with vulnerable individuals.
As it should be.
The arrests were for crimes such as grand theft, exploitation of the elderly, offenses against a child, and assault and battery.
Receiving notification that an employee who works with vulnerable people has committed a serious crime is an invaluable resource. Moreover, it’s evident that Florida’s Background Screening Clearinghouse is serving as a model that other states can successfully implement as well.