Audit Finds Gaps in Background Checks for Colorado Adult Protective Services

Criminal Background Check

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On September 21, 2020, the Colorado Office of the State Auditor (OSA) released a performance audit of the state’s Adult Protective Services (APS) Program at the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) that found pre-employment background checks for servers of at-risk adults did not provide employers key information such as whether these servers harmed or intentionally mistreated at-risk adults, an OSA press release stated.

An “at-risk adult” is someone who is aged 18 years or older and susceptible to mistreatment due to their age, disability, or medical condition. The APS Program uses background checks from its Colorado Adult Protective Services System (CAPS) to track when at-risk adults are mistreated. Colorado state law requires certain employers who serve at-risk adults to request CAPS background checks for all potential new direct care staff.

When the APS Program finds an at-risk adult is mistreated, Colorado law allows the perpetrator to appeal the decision. The audit found that for 98 percent of appeals in Fiscal Year 2019 confirming the mistreatment, the CDHS’s settlement agreements with perpetrators made the mistreatment unreportable to employers in a CAPS check so employers would not be made aware that these perpetrators had mistreated at-risk adults.

The audit also found that counties, which receive reports of mistreatment and/or neglect of at-risk adults, incorrectly screened out 18 percent of sampled reports instead of investigating them. Other problems identified in the audit included incomplete investigations, inaccurate findings, and insufficient documentation of county processes for petitioning the court for guardianship of at-risk adults, according to the OSA press release.

Colorado’s APS Program was established in 1983 to provide safety and protection for at-risk adults who are, or suspected to be, victims of mistreatment and/or self-neglect, and cannot address their circumstances without assistance. In Fiscal Year 2019, counties received 25,001 reports of mistreatment or self-neglect of at-risk adults, conducted 7,735 investigations, and substantiated that 1,343 acts of mistreatment were committed.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global provider of background checks – offers a Non-Profit and Volunteer Background Screening Solution that specializes in helping non-profit, youth, church, and volunteer organizations stay safe, mitigate risk, and avoid potential liability lawsuits and costly legal damages while protecting vulnerable populations. To learn more about background checks from ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

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