Protecting the Young and the Elderly

A new law in Florida has been passed that permanently prohibits sex offenders and career criminals from ever working in a day care center, assisted living facility, home health care agency, or any other position where they would be working with children or the elderly. The law, which took effect August 1, reinforces the belief that some individuals should never be given access to vulnerable populations.

Statistics indicate that recidivism rates are upwards of 67%. This means that two out of every three offenders will re-offend. And, some experts claim that this number is far too low and may be more like 80%. They indicate that these rates are lower than they should be because most studies follow released offenders only for a short period of time; usually less than five years.

One study that followed inmates for 20 years after they had been released, found that 94% were rearrested. As time progresses, recidivism rates may increase.

It is this type of data that has created the need for stricter hiring criteria, especially for individuals who work as caregivers. Many companies, until now, have allowed newly-hired employees to begin work pending their background check results. No longer. Employees must pass a nationwide background check before they can begin working. And exemptions, which were once commonplace, must be approved by top state officials.

News reports of children and the elderly have listed crimes such as rape, beatings, theft, and even murder. And, although no one can ever entirely predict an individual’s safety, thorough background checks and the conscientious application of strict policies regarding who can work with vulnerable populations and who cannot is key to protecting those our caregivers are enlisted to serve. Employers who are entrusted with the care of others must apply such policies without fail.

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