Audit Finds No Background Checks for Many Licensed Counselors in Louisiana

Criminal Background Checks

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

In November of 2021, a performance audit report issued by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor for the Louisiana Licensed Professional Counselors Board of Examiners (LPCBE) revealed that 3,627 out of 5,223 current licensed professional counselors in the state – nearly 70 percent – had not received background checks as of June 2021.

“Although state law granted LPCBE the authority to conduct background checks on initial and renewing applicants in January 2014, LPCBE did not start conducting background checks on initial applicants until five years later in January 2019,” the audit stated, adding background checks had not yet begun on license renewals.

The audit also found the LPCBE did not report 16 of the 46 adverse actions – nearly 35 percent – it issued to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) that prevents practitioners from moving state to state without disclosure of previous damaging performance during fiscal years 2019 through 2021 in accordance with federal regulations.

In addition, since the LPCBE – which protects the public interest by regulating the practices of mental health counseling and marriage and family therapy – is not required to query the NPDB prior to issuing or renewing licenses, “it may be making decisions without important disciplinary information on applicants from other states.”

The LPCBE responded to the audit report by promising to require all existing licensees to complete a criminal background check before their next license renewal beginning in 2022, report all adverse actions to the NPDB within 30 days in accordance with federal law, and request ‘Continuous Query’ reporting from the NPDB.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider that was named to the 2021 HRO Today’s Baker’s Dozen List for Screening Leaders – offers employers Professional License/Credential Verification so they can make informed hiring decisions. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

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