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Better background checks needed for people who work with older adults

We wholeheartedly agree with the conclusions of a new report that says the state Aging and Adult Services Agency should tighten up its criminal background check policies for employees, contractors’ staff and volunteers to better protect older adults.

The report is from the state Auditor General, a nonpartisan investigative arm of the Legislature. It cited problems such as insufficient background checks and inconsistent guidelines for reviewing such checks by Michigan’s 16 local agencies for the aging, according to a story from the Capital News Service.

Local agencies for the aging aren’t part of state government. Some are nonprofits, while others belong to county governments or local health departments, according to communications officer Lynn Sutfin of the Department of Health and Human Services.

“Each has its own personnel policies and procedures for employment and volunteering, including background checks,” Sutfin said in the CNS story. “We monitor compliance with conducting background checks, but not the substance or results of these checks.”

The state agency said it is reviewing its existing criminal background check requirements and plans to issue “updated policy guidance” to local agencies by March 2020. “These guidelines describe how the local agency should document the determination of an applicant’s appropriateness of employment or volunteer activities when a felony conviction is identified,” the agency said in its response to the report.

We’d recommend anyone hiring workers for employment in populations like senior citizens err on the side of caution.

That, it seems to us, is common sense, something often not present in governmental circumstances.

— The Mining Journal, Marquette

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