National background checks to be required for those who work wit - WDRB 41 Louisville News

National background checks to be required for those who work with senior citizens

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- They are among our most vulnerable citizens, but recently outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear took action to help ensure the safety of senior citizens.

It was one more in a flurry of executive actions taken by the outgoing governor.

Highlands Community Ministries has operated an adult day center for more than 20 years.

Five days a week, seniors come for activities that stimulate both body and mind.

“It's a great way for these seniors to get out of the house, give respite to their loved ones, and have an active and engaged day,” said Highlands Ministries Executive Director Troy Burden.

The staff goes through a mandatory state background check.

But the ministry also takes an extra step.

“If someone does apply to us, and they've lived in another state, we check with that state,” said Burden.

Soon, every one of the 1,300 licensed providers that work with seniors must do the same.

Gov. Steve Beshear signed an order on Nov. 20 requiring national criminal background checks for any new hires.

“We've got to make sure that the folks who work there, and take care of those seniors, are not abusers,” Beshear told WDRB News.

The state has been conducting a voluntary pilot program.

Beshear's order makes a check of the FBI criminal database mandatory statewide.

“We're making it part of the licensing process. So as the yearly license rolls around to be renewed, that's when that particular facility will have to step in and make sure that they have run these background checks on these individuals,” he said.

Past efforts to require the national background checks failed in the General Assembly. Beshear, who leaves office in two weeks, decided to bypass lawmakers.

“You have some in the industry who have felt like it was an undue expense and an undue burden. But I think we owe it to our families,” said Beshear.

Highlands Community Ministries says any additional expense is well worth it.

“A lot of people in nursing homes and in our adult day centers are frail from medical needs, but also with a lot of dementia and other types of illnesses. They can't necessarily report what's going on. We need to protect them and make sure they're safe,” said Burden.

The new regulations take effect on Jan. 1, unless Governor-elect Matt Bevin reverses it.

The Bevin transition team says this, and Beshear's other executive orders, are under review.

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