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Plan would require background checks for foster parents

Prospective foster parents would have to pass a national fingerprint background check before being allowed to take in at-risk kids under a proposal passed by the House.

The plan, adopted as an amendment to the House’s budget proposal late last week, mirrors requirements already in place at the state’s Early Education and Care department, according to House Minority Leader Brad Jones, who helped author the proposal.

“If we’re licensing (EEC) facilities and we want people to have a certain level of comfort, then why when the state is putting children in the custody of a family or a person wouldn’t the state make sure the same standards are in place?” Jones (R-North Reading) said yesterday. “I think there’s just a rational expectation.”

There was no dollar amount tied to the change, but Jones said concerns about any added cost it would impose on the Department of Children and Families should be weighed against its preventative benefits.

“I think the most important thing is it brings added safety,” he said.

The proposal would also require background checks for everyone 15 or older living in the home of adoptive or foster parents, as well as any employees or volunteers “who have the potential for unsupervised contact with children” in a DCF-approved program, according to Jones’ office.

The Senate is expected to release its budget proposal later this month before the two chambers meet privately to hash out any differences, including on specific amendments.

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