Wisconsin issued nearly 40,000 licenses last year for social workers and other occupations regulated by the Department of Safety and Professional Services. Guess how many of those applicants were subject to a criminal background check?
According to this article, very few people know the actual number because Wisconsin runs on an honor system for these workers. That means the only time DSPS conducts a background check on an applicant is if the person admits having a criminal record or faces a complaint.

Ex-con Earns Social Worker License

The issue is being brought to light by the Wisconsin chapter of the National Association of Social Workers after its executive director read a troubling report about a convicted serial rapist and bank robber who earned his master’s degree in counseling while in prison, but who was later licensed in 1993 by Wisconsin. As of earlier this year the man was also a licensed clinical social worker before letting his license lapse.

The article reports that, “It is unclear whether Wisconsin regulators knew about his criminal past, since the state did not — and still does not — routinely conduct a criminal-background check before issuing a social worker’s license.”

The state chapter of NASW is now asking a state board that oversees licenses of social workers, therapists and others who work with vulnerable portions of the population (like children and the elderly) to consider screening applicants. SocialWorkLicensure.org reports each state has different licensing requirements, and some states, like Michigan, Indiana and Maine, require criminal background checks on licensing applicants. Click here to find out the background check requirements in each state for licensing applicants.

Why Screening Matters for Social Workers

Active Screening is paying close attention to the developments of Wisconsin’s examination of its social worker background
check policy, as well as any other state’s who are taking on this important topic. Screening healthcare workers and anyone involved in the social services arm of that industry, is crucial to keeping us safe. It’s especially important to protect those who often don’t have strong voices for themselves – children, the elderly and those struggling with developmental delays or mental illnesses.

But screening needs to be conducted correctly. The complexity of healthcare regulations and challenges of meeting the demand for background checks can be costly. Active Screening can help you make the right hiring decisions to meet all mandates.

We work closely with your healthcare organization to:

• Comply with federal regulations

• Protect patient safety and privacy

• Manage risks and minimize liabilities

We specialize in developing screening solutions based on the position and policy of your organization. We can help you create packages for screening volunteers and employees. Click here to see our full-range of customizable screening options that can give you the security and flexibility you need to make important hiring decisions.

We Want to Hear From You!

Are you a social worker? Did you have to undergo a background check to earn your state license? How did you feel about the process? Do you think it’s a necessary part of the hiring process? Write down your thoughts below or Tweet us here!

Spread the word, too. We’d love to hear from more of our readers – or first time visitors – about what questions or thoughts you have about the screening industry.

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