Background Checks


If you had to guess, which occupations would you think do the least amount of real background and reference checking?  I think you’ll be surprised to learn that healthcare and public education are the two occupational groups that do the least amount of checking!

It’s tragically surprising because I can’t think of any two groups of people more vulnerable than school children and people receiving medical care.  Because school budgets are tight, many school corporations say they don’t have the money or the staff to do background checking on not just applicants for teaching positions, but also on candidates for staff and administrative positions, let alone volunteer coaches and others who have direct contact with children.

In the healthcare field, largely because of the huge demand for nurses, very few nurse applicants have anything checked prior to being hired.  I’m aware of at least one state, however, that is considering legislation that would require a background check to be done on all nurses and all healthcare workers in places like nursing homes and other similar facilities, such as in-home health care providers.  Privately run providers of various types of healthcare services don’t check, generally speaking, because they don’t want to spend the money.  So, it’s not a matter of not having the money – like schools – but more a matter of not wanting to spend the money in the first place, often to the detriment of those who depend on the care that’s supposed to be provided.

Within these two fields, there’s a story in the paper nearly every day about a teacher becoming inappropriately involved with a student or a nurse’s aid abusing an elderly patient.  And yet, there is no requirement that any of these sorts of people undergo a simply court check prior to being hired.

To be fair, more and more private and parochial schools are checking everybody before hiring anyone.  They realize that the risk of harm to their students is just too great not to opt on the side of safety.

The general public is becoming more and more aware of the failure of public schools and healthcare institutions to even do a basic background check before making a hiring decision.  The fact that at least one state is considering passing a law that will require a background check on healthcare workers strongly suggests that being more careful is an idea that’s making more and more sense to more and more people.