Some individuals who are considering foster care or a career in education likely understand that they’ll undergo a CPS background check, but may wonder how far back does a CPS background check go?
The erroneous information that the check will examine seven years, plus five years history on child abuse registries (the 5 + 7 rule), isn’t accurate.
Since the check examines criminal history, the length of time it will examine can determine whether a person passes or fails a CPS background check.
Despite how intimidating these checks can be, the answer to how far back does a CPS background check go is quite simple.
It will cover an individual’s entire criminal history, regardless of state laws. This complete guide explains everything about a CPS background check time frame, who checks it and where to get one in every state.
How Far Back Does a CPS Background Check Go?
When it comes to how far back does a CPS background check go, there are a few misconceptions. One of the biggest involves the seven-year rule.
While many states have adopted laws that prevent child abuse background checks from examining an individual’s criminal history record beyond 7 years, the federal government has no such laws. The only federal laws regarding background checks are those outlined by the FCRA,10 which has no limits on how far back a background check can go when it comes to conviction information.
Since a CPS background check involves both state criminal history checks and an FBI criminal history check, then the background check will always include the individual’s entire criminal history information, regardless of age. This is because the FBI does not need to follow any state laws regarding restrictions on how far back a background check can go.
Foster Parent Background Check
Many individuals will have heard about the CPS background check because they were looking into what is included in a foster parent background check. The background check required for individuals who are considering becoming foster parents is the same as the child care or CPS background check.
However, at the state level, there may be additional requirements that must be met in order for an individual to qualify to be a foster parent.3
CPS Background Check for Parents
Some people might be under the impression that when it comes to applying for foster care the CPS background check for parents is the only requirement. However, anyone who will have access to the child without supervision will be required to undergo the daycare background check.
The same background checks that are used for adoption and child care are used for foster parent approval, and can be accessed at the state Department of Health or Human Services.
This includes other residents of the home, family members, and anyone over the age of 16 that the child may come into contact with without a foster parent around.
Will CPS Show Up on Background Check?
Many people undergoing background checks will want to know, will CPS show up on a background check, and the answer might surprise them. Although CPS keeps detailed databases involving every investigation and complaint made about an individual, these records will not appear on a background check as they are not public records.
However, if a CPS investigation involved criminal charges of some kind, this information will certainly appear on a routine pre-employment background check.
Related Reading: How Long Does an Employment Background Check Take? Full List of Jobs
How Far Back Does a CPS Background Check Go By State?
When it comes to how far back does a CPS background check go, individuals should know that state law will not be a factor in how far back the record check goes. Even if the individual is living in a seven-year state, although the state check will only go back 7 years, the FBI check will involve the individual’s entire life.4
Not only will a CPS background check go back further than many individuals might expect, but it will also include sealed records since the FBI as an official agency is able to view such records without a court order.
How Long Does a CPS Case Stay on Your Record?
When it comes to how long does a CPS case stay on your record, the kind of record will be the biggest factor. Criminal records in particular will be limited by state laws, although most states allow criminal history checks to go back forever.
However, not all CPS cases will have a criminal record, especially if the investigation did not turn up anything of note.
Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, CPS will keep a record that the investigation occurred for at least 10 years. Keep in mind that these records are only used internally by CPS and are not information that would appear on a background check.
What Is a CPS Background Check?
One of the biggest reasons that many individuals have trouble finding information about CPS background checks is that the idea of a CPS background check is slightly misunderstood.
Child Protective Services is a government agency that is part of each state’s social services branch that deals with issues specifically related to children.
This includes child abuse and neglect, foster care-related issues, and more. Basically, anything that involves children from a legal perspective, will likely involve CPS in some capacity.
However, the term CPS background check itself is somewhat misleading. Although CPS does oversee certain kinds of background checks, CPS does not actually perform the background checks.
Child Protective Services is a welfare agency that removes children from their homes if they are being abused.
What many people refer to as a CPS background check is more accurately described as a Child Care Background check.1
A child care background check is the federally mandated background check that is required of any individual that will be working with children unsupervised. The most well-known example of this is teachers and other individuals involved in child education, however, the law expands to anyone that will be with children in an official capacity.
Other positions that require individuals to undergo and pass a childcare background check include social workers, bus drivers, school administrators, and those involved in foster care.
These misconceptions are part of the reason why there is some contention over questions like How far back does a CPS background check go, the important thing to remember is that a COS background check includes an FBI check which will always go back forever.
What Does a CPS Background Check Consist Of?
Many individuals who are trying to figure out if they meet the basic qualifications to become a teacher will need to know, what does a CPS background check consist of, luckily since the check is mandated by federal law the exact checks are very specific.
Although child care or CPS background checks will vary from state to state, there are clear minimum requirements that are mandated by federal law. These requirements involve the kind of checks that need to be performed, which agencies will perform these checks, who needs to undergo these checks, how often these checks will need to be performed, and finally what information that appears on these checks will result in disqualification from the position.
At the federal level, the following checks are required for anyone that meets the definition of child care employee. As mentioned, this includes anyone that will have unsupervised access to children at any time, including volunteers and even individuals who are residents of a home where a foster child will be living.
These requirements apply not only to legal adults but also to individuals 16 and older.
- A fingerprint-based criminal history check performed by the FBI6
- Check the National Sex Offender Registry7
- State Criminal history check for every state the individual has resided in during the last 5 years.
- State criminal history fingerprint-based check for the state the individual currently resides in.
- State sex offender registry checks for the state the individual currently resides in.
- Child abuse and neglect registry check for the state the individual currently resides in.
As mentioned, the above checks will be performed at a bare minimum and many states are adopting laws to further increase the thoroughness of these checks. This might be tiresome for other people considering how frequently a teaching background check is conducted.
Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services Office of Child and Family Services oversees the licensing of child care providers as well as other children’s welfare services.
Besides the checks themselves, federal law also requires that individuals undergo the above checks at least every 5 years. Many states have taken this a step further, requiring childcare employees in the state to undergo the checks every 3 years.
Individuals should always familiarize themselves with their own state’s laws to be as prepared as possible.8
Finally, the list of disqualifiers at the federal level is surprisingly short but encompasses all of the obvious crimes such as sex crimes, and violent crimes.2 Keep in mind that some states have additional disqualifiers and hiring policies for specific positions.
Does Family Court Show Up on Background Check?
Some individuals might be worried about civil or family court information causing problems and will be wondering, does family court show up on background check, and the answer might surprise them.
Under the freedom of information act,9 all court records are considered public unless special exceptions are met, in which case the records will be sealed by a judge. This means that for a typical pre-employment background check, which is generally performed by private agencies that rely on public records, there is a fairly good chance that family court records will not appear since they are usually sealed due to the amount of personal information they involve.
However, when it comes to a CPS background check, this will not be the case. Since CPS background checks are performed by the FBI, the check will include sealed records.
When records are sealed, they are no longer considered public. However the records still exist and official agencies, such as the FBI or state police department, will still have access to these records.
In short, family court records will be part of a CPS background check, even if the records were sealed.
CPS Background Check Status
Checking your CPS background check status can be somewhat difficult as there is not one single agency that is performing the check, individuals can request updates from their state police departments if the check is taking longer than normal, about two weeks, and the same goes for the FBI portion of the background check.
Most CPS background checks are used for vetting and approving workers in the child care industry.
Individuals who are worried about their CPS background check should perform a background check on themselves first to see what kind of information will appear on their check and give themselves a chance to fix any possible mistakes on the check.
How to fix your background check shouldn’t be a problem. This can easily be done by entering your name into the search bar at the top of this page to run a free public records check.
And if you want to know if there are other options on how to get a criminal background check, there are private background check agencies that allow individuals to perform a criminal background check on themselves.
CPS Field Experience Background Check Form: DCS Background Check Form and DCS Background Check Policy
See below for the policy and forms for each state:
CPS Background Check for Employment
Some individuals might be worried about undergoing a CPS background check for employment, however, only jobs that work with children will involve a CPS background check. For those who are looking for nannies, you can conduct a nanny background check with the consent of the nanny being checked.
Individuals working in child care are required by law to pass a background check in order to be hired. Unlike some jobs in the private sector, exceptions will not be made.
Related Reading: What Do Companies Look for in a Background Check? (List of Companies)
How Long Does a CPS Background Check Take?
Those wondering how long does a CPS background check take, will be pleased to know that the check shouldn’t take more than two weeks. This is largely due to the FBI fingerprint check which can take longer than most checks due to how thorough the check is and the fingerprinting process itself.
What Happens When a CPS Case Is Closed?
Some individuals under CPS investigation will likely be wondering what happens when a CPS case is closed? What happens will depend on the outcome of the investigation but if no charges are brought and nothing of note is discovered, then CPS will simply file away the findings of the investigation and no further action will be taken.
Can a Closed CPS Case Be Used Against You?
Those wondering can a closed CPS case be used against you, should know that closed cases can and will be used against individuals in many situations. This is part of the reason that the files for all CPS investigations are kept for so long, as they may be referenced at a later date if there is an incident involving CPS.
Unsubstantiated CPS Case
Although being the victim of an unsubstantiated CPS case is frustrating, potentially fake complaints are part of what will be investigated during the process.5 Individuals can always contact an attorney to understand what their legal options are once the investigation is completed.
What is CPS Field Experience?
This term refers to the Chicago Public Schools system. It is a question that is asked on the school application process regarding a person’s professional experience.
How To Get a CPS Background Check
Those interested in how to get a CPS background check should know that instructions on how to perform all the required checks will be provided by the employer in most cases. In some states, individuals might have each check performed separately, however, in many cases the state police will handle all aspects of the check.
Most states, like Colorado, have special child welfare forms and policies that apply to adoption and other welfare situations.
Not knowing what to expect from a background check is never a good situation to be in, especially when it comes to a CPS background check.
Individuals should research their local laws so that they have a better idea of what to expect and how to answer questions like, how far back does a CPS background check go?
Frequently Asked Questions About How Far Back Does a CPS Background Check Go