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Library: Policy

340:2-1-59. Conducting background checks and utilizing Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) records of abuse, neglect, and exploitation for OKDHS investigations.

Issued 04-28-22

(a) Authorization.

(1) Per Section 162 of Title 56 of the Oklahoma Statutes (56 O.S. §162(C)(1) and Section 162 of Title 56 of the Oklahoma Statutes (56 O.S. §162(C)(2), the Director has determined an individual seeking any position of employment or who is currently employed by Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) may be subjected to a background check.  Any results of a background check are considered when determining an individual's pending or continued employment with OKDHS.

(2) Per 56 O.S. § 162(C)(2), the Director has determined a search of OKDHS records, as defined in subsection (d), may be conducted on any individual employed with or who may be potentially employed with the following programs:

(A) Child Welfare Services (CWS);

(B) Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS);

(C) Adult and Family Services;

(D) Community Living, Aging, and Protective Services (CAP);

(E) Child Care Services;

(F) Office of the Inspector General (OIG); or

(G) Office of Client Advocacy.

(b) Definitions.  The following words and terms, when used in this Subchapter, have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

(1) "Background check" means searching available public record databases for purposes of assessing whether to initiate or continue an individual’s employment with OKDHS.

(2)  "Investigation" means reviews of both potential and current employees for any acts that are in violation of a statute, rule, or policy related to a vulnerable population or acts that could be associated with criminal activity or potentially disqualify an individual from becoming an OKDHS employee or continuing employment with OKDHS.

(3) "Record" or "records" means any OKDHS record, whether or not containing confidential information, related to a determination by OKDHS, whether substantiated or unsubstantiated, that an employee or potential employee subjected any member of a vulnerable population to abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

(4) "Vulnerable population" means any individual or group, whether comprised of children or adults, that OKDHS is responsible for protecting, ensuring the welfare of, guarding, or investigating allegations of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

(c) Background checks.  A background check includes, but is not limited to, searching and reviewing:

(1) the Oklahoma State Courts Network and Oklahoma District Court records;

(2) the Restricted Registry maintained by OKDHS;

(3) the Department of Corrections files pursuant to the Sex Offender Registration Act and the Violent Offender Registry;

(4) all applicable out-of-state child abuse and neglect registries if the potential or current employee has not lived continuously in Oklahoma for the past five years;

(5) the Community Services Worker Registry maintained by OKDHS; and

(6) a fingerprint-based national criminal history record check.

(d) Access to, review of, and utilization of OKDHS records.

(1) Any record is to be accessed and used solely for the purpose of:

(A) assisting in the investigative efforts of the OKDHS OIG;

(B) assessing whether an employee is authorized or permitted to work or interact with a vulnerable population in the course and scope of their employment; or

(C) determining whether an individual begins or, for purposes of disciplinary action, continues employment with OKDHS.

(2) Subject to an assessment of relevancy, any records involving the potential or current employee, including records associated with members of the potential or current employee's household or immediate family, may be accessed, reviewed, and utilized pursuant to this Section.

(3) Any and all records, including any work product and other documentation created in the course and scope of an individual's employment with OKDHS, may be accessed, reviewed, and utilized pursuant to this Section.

(4) Records relating to any complaint about the potential or current employee’s actions or inaction may be accessed, reviewed, and utilized pursuant to this Section.

(5) The relevancy of records is considered on a case-by-case basis and is jointly determined by both Human Resource Management (HRM) and the program responsible for maintaining the record with consultation, as needed, involving OIG and OKDHS Legal Services (LS).

(6) Relevant acts contained in any record include, but are not limited to:

(A) being the alleged perpetrator of abuse, neglect, or exploitation involving a vulnerable population, including complaints of failing to supervise or protect;

(B) failing to cooperate in an investigation conducted by OKDHS or other law enforcement agencies;

(C) failing to follow laws, rules, and regulations that pertain to the conduct of an investigation related to a vulnerable population; or

(D) failing to report suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable population.

(7) Dissemination of the records outside of the program responsible for maintaining the records is limited to only the individuals who are directly involved in conducting the investigation or background check, including any consultation with LS.  Records do not need to be redacted for purposes of the investigation or background checks, but are, to the extent possible, labeled as confidential when disseminated outside of the program responsible for maintaining the records.  Records are not saved in any personnel file and all copies sent to HRM for purposes of the employment investigation or background check are securely destroyed, per OKDHS:2-21-57.

(e) Records remain confidential pursuant to applicable law.  The use of any records pursuant to this Section does not invalidate or in any way compromise other legal protection or regulation of those records including, but not limited to, the confidentiality of records involving CWS, CAP, or DDS.