Background studies are required for certain people who provide direct contact services to vulnerable adults and children. State law requires people who provide direct contact services in certain health and human service settings to have a background study completed by the Department of Human Services (DHS). The background study determines whether a person committed an act that would disqualify him/her from providing direct contact services to children or vulnerable adults. Direct contact services means providing face-to-face care, training, supervision, counseling, consultation, or medication assistance to clients in health and human services programs. Direct contact services may apply to volunteers if they provide unsupervised services. DHS background studies are also required for certain others, such as guardians and conservators, guardians ad litem, people who provide foster care for children, and people who seek to adopt a child.
Acts that disqualify a person from providing direct contact services or caring for children are specified in state law along with the appropriate time period for the disqualification. Some disqualifications, such as felony domestic assault, felony crimes against children, criminal sexual conduct, and others permanently prohibit a person from providing direct contact services.
The DHS background study system, implemented in 1991, is managed by the Background Studies Division. DHS background studies include a review of criminal history information maintained by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, records of substantiated maltreatment of a child or vulnerable adult, and other applicable records. In some cases, fingerprints of the background study subject are required to conduct a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) record check.
In 2014 DHS conducted over 310,000 background studies, or over 1,200 background studies per day. Results on most background study requests (over 85%) are provided within 24-to-48 hours. About 15% of background studies need additional review, sometimes including information from other states.