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Emergency background studies – NetStudy 2.0

Steps and guidelines

These are instructions for NETStudy 2.0 users about background study system changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The changes include:

  • Suspending the fingerprint and photograph requirement
  • Completing Minnesota criminal history record checks only (FBI checks are suspended)
  • Suspending out-of-state maltreatment checks for some provider types (the following Title IV-E eligible provider types still require an out-of-state maltreatment check: family child foster care, corporate child foster care, adoption, and children's residential facilities).
  • Permitting direct contact services without supervision for most services or unless DHS notifies you otherwise.


Effective April 6, 2020, the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) Background Studies Division is temporarily suspending the fingerprint and photograph background study requirement and waiving the requirement to supervise individuals who provide direct contact services.

These actions support providers in addressing workforce issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic and are permitted under the Governor’s Executive Order 20-12 (PDF) and the authority granted to the human services commissioner.

These instructions provide the steps and information entities need to know to submit an emergency background study (emergency study) during the period of peacetime emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Follow these steps and guidelines to initiate an emergency study.

Please review the corresponding frequently asked questions that provide additional information about emergency background studies.

Steps and guidelines for emergency background studies

  1. Provide the study subject with a copy of the Background Study Notice of Privacy Practices. The notice is found in the Application Forms section of NETStudy 2.0 and has not been modified for this purpose.
  2. Initiate and submit the background study application in NETStudy 2.0 using the existing process. Applications that were initiated prior to April 6, 2020, and are in your Not Yet Submitted queue will be converted to emergency studies when you submit the application. If your entity currently pays a fee for each background study transaction, the fee for emergency background studies is $20. On May 18, 2020, the fee for children's residential facilities will return to $51 (full fee applies to Title IV-E eligible provider types).
  3. The requirement for fingerprints and photos is suspended for emergency study applications submitted on or after April 6, 2020. Minnesota criminal history record checks will be completed using the study subject’s name and date of birth. Entities are responsible for the accuracy of the data provided in the background study application. It is critical that the study subject’s current, legal name is provided, that it’s spelled correctly, and that the date of birth is correct for the study to be valid.
  4. Study subjects are permitted to work immediately and without supervision once the emergency study application is submitted in NETStudy 2.0 with three exceptions:
    • Personal care assistants (PCAs) must have a clearance before providing services
    • Special transportation drivers and workers must have a clearance before providing services
    • Staff providing services in Housing Support settings must have a clearance before providing services.
  5. Child and adult maltreatment checks in other states are for emergency studies submitted by the following provider types:
    • Child care
    • Nursing homes
    • Boarding care
    • Home care entities
    For these entities, this means that Child Abuse and Neglect Registry (CANR) forms are not required to be provided to study subjects, and DHS will not mail authorization forms to study subjects for out-of-state maltreatment checks. As of May 18, 2020, out-of-state maltreatment checks are required for studies submitted by providers eligible for Title IV-E funding. These checks apply to studies submitted by the following provider types:
    • Child foster care
    • Corporate child foster care
    • Children's residential facilities.
    DHS has received federal guidance that an out-of-state maltreatment check is required for federal funding purposes. Initially, this was not part of an emergency background study. This requirement is now reinstated and will be retroactive to include studies that were completed between April 6, 2020 and May 17, 2020, where a CANR check was not completed.
  6. There is no change in how rosters work. The study subject’s name will be added to the entity’s active roster until the entity removes it. Entities are required to separate study subjects from their active roster once the entity is no longer affiliated with the study subject.
  7. All emergency studies will include “COVID-19 Study” in the final determination status. For example, if the study subject is determined eligible, the study subject’s final determination status will be “Eligible–COVID-19 Study.” The “COVID-19 Study” tag will not display on background studies that are in-process.
  8. There are no changes to the notices and they will not identify that it is an emergency study. Entities and background study subjects will continue to receive a clearance notice, more time is needed notice (with or without supervision) or a removal notice.
    • Clearance notices. These notices are valid during the period of peace time emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Other notices. Notices other than a clearance must be followed. These include when DHS requires that the study subject be supervised or removed.
  9. The supervision status in NETStudy 2.0 may show “Yes,” for some users, meaning that supervision prior to April 6, 2020 was required during the time the study subject had to be fingerprinted until the entity received a notice. Because the supervision requirement is being suspended for most emergency studies, disregard this field. Entities must follow the notice they receive from DHS for the supervision status of the study subject (as is currently required).
  10. In some cases, a background study application may connect to an existing background study determination per the current process. These studies are valid, meet all applicable background study requirements and will not be identified as a “COVID-19 Study” on the roster.
  11. It is not be possible to add affiliation records to NETStudy 2.0 rosters for emergency studies. However, study subjects can use an emergency study determination to work in other programs operated by the same entity when these criteria are met:
    • The SIP is the same for the program the emergency background study was submitted by and the program(s) where the study subject will provide services; AND,
    • The program where the study subject will provide services has the same or lower background study requirement(s) as the program type under which the background study was submitted (i.e., some study types continue to require out-of-state maltreatment checks and the higher study requirement must be met); AND,
    • The study subject’s NETStudy 2.0 application is in process or the study subject has an eligible study.
  12. If the study subject’s background study was submitted prior to April 6, 2020, do not withdraw the background study application, If the study subject:
    • Was already fingerprinted and photographed for the background study, the study will be completed by DHS and the subject and entity will benefit from having a fully compliant background study.
    • Has not yet been fingerprinted and photographed for the background study, the fingerprint deadline date will be extended by DHS. Encourage the study subject to be fingerprinted and photographed at DHS-approved location as soon as possible. If the study subject cannot be fingerprinted and photographed, the entity must submit a new background study application for the study subject, which will be completed using the study subject’s name and date of birth. The original background study request can be left as in-process and completed at a later time once fingerprint and photo services are operational.
  13. The expiration date on the “Roster” screen will display for child care studies with a date that is five years from the date the application is submitted. However, these studies do not meet the federal enhanced background study requirements. Disregard the expiration date for emergency studies.

Return to fully compliant background studies

DHS will provide instructions about transitioning back to fingerprint-based background studies when the fingerprint and photo service resumes. When this occurs, all study subject who received an emergency study will be required to have a fingerprint-based background study to meet the full background study requirements.

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