By Thomas Ahearn, ESR News Staff Writer

Starting August 1, a new law will require workers who care for children, the elderly, and the disabled in the state of Florida to undergo stricter background checks.

According to a report in the Sun Sentinel, House Bill 7069, passed unanimously by the Legislature and signed by Governor Charlie Crist, closes loopholes in the background check process for those seeking jobs with children, seniors, and the disabled and would require that caregivers begin work with vulnerable residents only after a background check is complete and the applicant is found to be qualified.

The law follows a 2009 series by the Sun-Sentinel newspaper, “Trust Betrayed,” that exposed gaps in Florida’s background check system. According to the Sun Sentinel – the newspaper that conducted a six-month investigation that found convicted felons with records for rape, child abuse, and murder had been hired as caregivers – employees of day care centers, assisted living facilities, home health care agencies, and others working with children and vulnerable adults will have to pass a nationwide background check before they can begin working under the law.

In the “Trust Betrayed” series, the Sun Sentinel revealed that outdated laws allowed employees to start working before a background check was made, and people with criminal histories could still work by obtaining an exemption stating they were rehabilitated. the state of Florida had granted exemptions to more than 8,700 people with criminal records – including registered sex offenders and convicted murderers – and that 20 percent were re-arrested, including some after being considered not a danger to children or vulnerable adults.

For more information about background checks, and updates on states laws like the new law strengthening background checks for caregivers in Florida, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at