The state Division of Child and Family Services is asking for at least one additional employee to reduce the 22 days it takes, on average, for the agency to conduct a required criminal background check before an abused child in state custody can be placed with a relative or foster family.
Implementation in Utah of the federal Adam Walsh Protection and Safety Act of 2006 has increased completion of checks by seven days, on average. The number of background checks that must conducted has almost doubled compared to screenings completed in 2004.
Lawmakers last year approved legislation (HB245) requiring that an abused child would be held in state custody while a background check is conducted, even if a relative is available and willing to take the child.
The legislation has been criticized by child advocates and several relatives of abuse victims because the wait in many cases is several weeks, in some cases five to six months.
A proposed bill this year (HB36) amends HB245 to allow emergency kinship placements before completion of the background check. Passage of the bill will likely put the state in violation of the act and federal matching funding of about $147,000 would be lost.
HB36 includes a $147,000 to make up that difference.