How Far Back Does a CPS Background Check Go? 5 + 7 Rule Explained

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Background Checks | April 25, 2024

Man standing next to a child with his hands on his hips looks at a CPS background check result document and wonders how far back does a CPS background check go while looking toward a calendar flipping year pages.

child abuse background checksSome 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 records 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 screening.

Screenshot of State of Oregon website page for Department of Human Services with yellow arrows on children and youth.

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 investigation.

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 the length of time a CPS case remains on your records, 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.

Screenshot of Utah government website page for Department of Health & Human Services with yellow arrows on Child Protective Services.

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 background checks for educators are conducted.

Screenshot of State of Maine website page for Department of Health and Human Services with yellow arrows on child care.

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.

Screenshot of South Dakota Department of Social Services website page for licensing with yellow arrows on licensing and registration information.

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.

Sorting out your background check results 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 obtaining a criminal history report, 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:

StateDCS Background Check FormDCS Background Check Policy
AlabamaAlabama DCS Background Check FormAlabama DCS Background Check Policy
AlaskaAlaska DCS Background Check FormAlaska DCS Background Check Policy
ArizonaArizona DCS Background Check FormArizona DCS Background Check Policy
ArkansasArkansas DCS Background Check FormArkansas DCS Background Check Policy
CaliforniaCalifornia DCS Background Check FormCalifornia DCS Background Check Policy
ColoradoColorado DCS Background Check FormColorado DCS Background Check Policy
ConnecticutConnecticut DCS Background Check FormConnecticut DCS Background Check Policy
DelawareDelaware DCS Background Check FormDelaware DCS Background Check Policy
FloridaFlorida DCS Background Check FormFlorida DCS Background Check Policy
GeorgiaGeorgia DCS Background Check FormGeorgia DCS Background Check Policy
HawaiiHawaii DCS Background Check FormHawaii DCS Background Check Policy
IdahoIdaho DCS Background Check FormIdaho DCS Background Check Policy
IllinoisIllinois DCS Background Check FormIllinois DCS Background Check Policy
IndianaIndiana DCS Background Check FormIndiana DCS Background Check Policy
IowaIowa DCS Background Check FormIowa DCS Background Check Policy
KansasKansas DCS Background Check FormKansas DCS Background Check Policy
KentuckyKentucky DCS Background Check FormKentucky DCS Background Check Policy
LouisianaLouisiana DCS Background Check FormLouisiana DCS Background Check Policy
MaineMaine DCS Background Check FormMaine DCS Background Check Policy
MarylandMaryland DCS Background Check FormMaryland DCS Background Check Policy
MassachusettsMassachusetts DCS Background Check FormMassachusetts DCS Background Check Policy
MichiganMichigan DCS Background Check FormMichigan DCS Background Check Policy
MinnesotaMinnesota DCS Background Check FormMinnesota DCS Background Check Policy
MississippiMississippi DCS Background Check FormMississippi DCS Background Check Policy
MissouriMissouri DCS Background Check FormMissouri DCS Background Check Policy
MontanaMontana DCS Background Check FormMontana DCS Background Check Policy
NebraskaNebraska DCS Background Check FormNebraska DCS Background Check Policy
NevadaNevada DCS Background Check FormNevada DCS Background Check Policy
New HampshireNew Hampshire DCS Background Check FormNew Hampshire DCS Background Check Policy
New JerseyNew Jersey DCS Background Check FormNew Jersey DCS Background Check Policy
New MexicoNew Mexico DCS Background Check FormNew Mexico DCS Background Check Policy
New YorkNew York DCS Background Check FormNew York DCS Background Check Policy
North CarolinaNorth Carolina DCS Background Check FormNorth Carolina DCS Background Check Policy
North DakotaNorth Dakota DCS Background Check FormNorth Dakota DCS Background Check Policy
OhioOhio DCS Background Check FormOhio DCS Background Check Policy
OklahomaOklahoma DCS Background Check FormOklahoma DCS Background Check Policy
OregonOregon DCS Background Check FormOregon DCS Background Check Policy
PennsylvaniaPennsylvania DCS Background Check FormPennsylvania DCS Background Check Policy
Rhode IslandRhode Island DCS Background Check FormRhode Island DCS Background Check Policy
South CarolinaSouth Carolina DCS Background Check FormSouth Carolina DCS Background Check Policy
South DakotaSouth Dakota DCS Background Check FormSouth Dakota DCS Background Check Policy
TennesseeTennessee DCS Background Check FormTennessee DCS Background Check Policy
TexasTexas DCS Background Check FormTexas DCS Background Check Policy
UtahUtah DCS Background Check FormUtah DCS Background Check Policy
VermontVermont DCS Background Check FormVermont DCS Background Check Policy
VirginiaVirginia DCS Background Check FormVirginia DCS Background Check Policy
WashingtonWashington DCS Background Check FormWashington DCS Background Check Policy
West VirginiaWest Virginia DCS Background Check FormWest Virginia DCS Background Check Policy
WisconsinWisconsin DCS Background Check FormWisconsin DCS Background Check Policy
WyomingWyoming DCS Background Check FormWyoming DCS Background Check Policy

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 screening 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.

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.

Screenshot of State of Colorado website page for Department of Human Services with yellow arrows on child welfare forms and policies.

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

What Is a Background Check for Employment?

Employment background checks are a series of checks performed by employers to ensure any applicants meet all the basic requirements for the job and are not fabricating information on their resume, as well as ensuring they have not been involved in criminal activity that would make them a liability.

What Is the CPS Fingerprinting Form 2022?

CPS does not provide a fingerprinting form. Instead, these forms will be provided by the state police or the FBI.

What Is the CPS Background Check Team?

CPS does not have its own background check team and relies on law enforcement to perform the checks for them.

What Is the CPS Onboarding New Hire Portal?

The CPS onboarding new hire portal is the internal CPS website that includes information for new hires to the agency.

What Is the CPS Onboarding Process?

The CPS onboarding process involves several interviews, background checks and license verification for certain positions.

What Does DCF Look for in a Background Check?

DCF background checks usually involve the same checks as a CPS background check.

What Are the DCF Background Screening Disqualification?

Disqualifying crimes for the DCF background check are outlined on the CCFD website.

Do DCFS Investigations Show Up on Background Checks?

DCFS investigations will only show up on background checks if criminal charges are filed.

Do Investigations Show Up on Background Checks?

Investigations that involve criminal charges are the only kind that will show up in most background checks.

How Long Does a DCFS Case Stay on Your Record?

A DCFS case will only appear on an individual’s record if criminal charges are filed. However, a DCFS case will stay on an individual’s record with the DCFS for at least 10 years and sometimes longer.

Where To Get the CPS Background Check Form?

There is no universal CPS background check form. Instead, specific forms will be provided either by the employer or from the agency performing the check such as the FBI or state police.

What Is Included in a CPS Volunteer Background Check?

The background check required for volunteers is the same as the CPS background check that is required by full-time employees. Individuals can obtain the necessary forms to complete a volunteer CPS background check form from their employer or from your state’s CPS agency.


1Child Care. (2022). Background Checks: What You Need To Know. Retrieved December 08, 2022, from <>

2U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2020, July 02). Disqualifying Crimes. Child Care Technical Assistance Network. Retrieved December 08, 2022, from <>

3U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2018, November 27). Home Study Requirements for Prospective Foster Parents. Child Welfare Information Gateway. Retrieved December 08, 2022, from <>

4Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2016, May 03). How We Can Help You. FBI. Retrieved December 08, 2022, from <>

5U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2014, December 15). Decision-Making in Unsubstantiated Child Protective Services Cases. Child Welfare Information Gateway. Retrieved December 08, 2022, from <>

6Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2022, October 26). Rap Sheets (Identity History Summary Checks). FBI. Retrieved December 08, 2022, from <>

7U.S. Department of Justice. (2022). Search NSOPW. United States Department of Justice National Sex Offender Public Website. Retrieved December 08, 2022, from <>

8ChildCare. (2022). See Your State’s Resources. Retrieved December 08, 2022, from <>

9U.S. Department of Justice. (2011, March 14). homepage. Retrieved December 08, 2022, from <>

10FTC. (2022, October 27). Fair Credit Reporting Act. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved December 08, 2022, from <>

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it