Does CPS Run Background Checks?

Following his or her release from incarceration, a felon might have contact with Child Protective Services (CPS), either because of seeking to maintain or regain custody of a child, as part of an investigation into a potential abusive situation involving a child, to apply to become a foster parent, or in some cases to apply for a job with the agency. This blog post will address the issue of whether CPS runs a background check.

  • About CPS
  • CPS Background Check?
  • Background Check in the Hiring Process?
  • Can You Run a Background Check on Yourself?
  • Recommended Action

About CPS

Child Protective Services (CPS) is a section of each state’s social services division. This area is responsible for the assessment, investigation, and intervention into child abuse and neglect, especially sexual abuse. While the general name of this branch is CPS, it has various names in different states. These names include Department of Family Services (DFS), Department of Social Services (DSS), and Department of Youth and Family Services (DYFS).

There are a number of duties that CPS is expected to provide. Among these are the responsibility to:

  • Determine if a child has been abused or neglected
  • Protect a child from immediate danger
  • Assess the risk of continuing danger to the child
  • Decide if or what interventions are needed to keep the child safe
  • Implement these steps with the help of other state agencies

Also as part of the obligation of CPS is to determine such things as the placement of children who have been removed from an abusive situation in a foster home, managed by a foster care parent. Felons often fear that they will lose parental rights as part of their felony conviction.

Regardless of the reason, CPS follows a set of standards established and presided over by each state’s government. Typically, an investigation will proceed according to these regulations. The question is what is involved in this process.

CPS Background Check?

CPS runs a background check on all prospective foster parents, adoptive parents, and kinship caregivers in all states. Background checks are typically required also on any adult living in the household of a prospective foster or adoptive parent.  

A criminal record check is completed that includes a fingerprint check in national crime databases. A check will also be run in the child abuse and neglect registry in any state in which an applicant has resided in the previous five years. A criminal record check will also be done on any other adult living in the home of a relative of an applicant. 

There are some additional points in the background check requirements, but these are the primary considerations. Additional information can be obtained through the child welfare website of each state

When a question of potential child abuse does arise, a complete background check will be run. A comprehensive background check typically includes:

  • State criminal and sex offender registries
  • State child abuse and neglect registries
  • National crime information center
  • FBI fingerprint check
  • National sex offender registry

The results of this background check will be used to help determine if an abusive situation has occurred and will utilize the information to make a case against a person suspected of that abuse.

Background Check in the Hiring Process?

Anyone who applies for a job that falls under federal childcare regulations must consent to a background check for jobs, including:

  • Regional director
  • Program director
  • Supervisor
  • Caseworker
  • Social service technician 
  • Community service agent
  • Clerical staff that has direct client contact
  • Nurse
  • Intern
  • Volunteer

Anyone applying for any of these positions will be required to go through the central registry check to determine if his or her name appears on any registry relating to abuse or neglect.

Now, it might be a long shot for a felon to be hired for a job at CPS. While it would be extremely challenging, having their record expunged would give them their best chance.

This criminal record check at CPS will include information such as:

  • Offenses against a person
  • Offenses against a family
  • Public indecency
  • Illegal distribution or use of controlled substances

There will also be a driving records check for anyone required to drive a vehicle as part of the job requirements. 

Typically, anyone working for a child-related agency must submit to an annual criminal record investigation as part of a performance evaluation. Anyone failing this will be immediately dismissed.

Can You Run a Background Check on Yourself?

Felons can arm themselves with the information needed to be successful in applying to become a foster parent, to handle any allegations of child abuse, or to get a job with CPS by running a background check on themselves. 

There may be times when it is important to consult an attorney as part of the process. It is essential to take action and not risk a chance on the results.  

The different kinds of personal background checks that a felon can run include:

  • From court records  
  • A credit report
  • Driving records 
  • An educational report 

For those who want to do a background check on themselves, there are places that can help.

Recommended Action

When applying to become a foster parent, apply for a job, or when questions relating to child abuse or neglect come up, it is important to remember that a background check will be run. It is essential for a felon to be open and honest regarding anything concerning a conviction. Lying about a conviction will only jeopardize a felon’s chances in dealing with CPS. 

It is important to not only remember the mistakes we make but how to recover from them for the future. Establishing an honest life is not easy, but it is certainly important in recovering and moving forward.  

Not being truthful on an application could result in a negative outcome if CPS finds out about it. Take responsibility for past actions and explain how he or she is putting life in order. A felon must be willing to see him or herself differently and be ready to establish an honest life. 

So what do you think about this blog post about whether CPS runs background checks? Have you or someone you know had CPS run a background check? What was that like and was he or she successful? Please tell us in the comments below.


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