State officials: Mistakes led to failed caregiver checks

Staff writerAugust 15, 2013 

State officials now say that paperwork errors caused some caregivers for the developmentally disabled to fail background checks that they should have passed.

State auditors reported last month that private agencies with state contracts to care for people with developmental disabilities had hired 23 caregivers despite background checks that should have disqualified them from working.

State Auditor Troy Kelley’s office checked roughly 1,500 caregivers and said it turned up crimes such as drug offenses, abuse, neglect, theft and assault.

But Evelyn Perez, an assistant secretary with the Department of Social and Health Services, told lawmakers at a hearing Wednesday that mistakes in paperwork led to a majority of the problematic background checks.

A DSHS spokeswoman said paperwork issues included the wrong classification of a crime, people reporting a caregiver’s license revoked when it was actually a driver’s license, and problems that were cleared up after a second background check.

An unspecified number of caregivers apparently did have disqualifying results under DSHS policy, although Perez said none violated state law. And the spokeswoman, Kathy Spears, said none of the caregivers with disqualifying crimes on their records are still working for the companies.

Some employees worked under supervision pending the results of a background check and were dismissed once the results came in, Spears said. It was unclear whether any worked without supervision at any point.

The Auditor’s Office provided records to The News Tribune identifying the agencies that hired the 23 caregivers. They are: Access Living Inc., Another Option, Kitsap Tenant Support Services Inc., Community Resources Inc., Kitsap Residences, Valley Residential Services, SL Start & Associates LLC, Ambitions of Washington Inc., Arc of Spokane, Volunteers of America, The Communitas Group, Haven Homes, Community Living – Yakima and Community Visions Inc.

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