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Kentucky National Background Check Program

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the KARES Program?

KARES is a fingerprint-supported state and FBI background check program available to long-term care employers. As an innovative pre-employment screening tool, KARES will help protect elderly and vulnerable adults from possible abuse, neglect and exploitation by preventing bad actors from hiding criminal or abusive actions committed in other states.

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2. Do other states have programs similar to KARES?

Yes. Kentucky is one of 24 states to have a program similar to KARES.

Other states which have received a National Background Check Program (NBCP) grant include:  Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Utah, West Virginia.

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3. Is participation in KARES mandatory?

No. However, participation in KARES is strongly encouraged.

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4. What types of employers may participate in KARES?

Long-term care facilities, including:

  • Family care homes, personal care homes, intermediate care facilities, nursing facilities, nursing homes and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities
  • Nursing pools which provide staff to long-term care facilities or providers
  • Adult day health care programs
  • Assisted living-communities
  • Home health agencies
  • Hospice
  • Personal services agencies
  • Long-term acute-care hospitals
  • Providers of home and community-based services and
  • Staffing agencies with a contracted relationship to provide one or more of the employer types listed above with personnel.

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5. If a long-term care employer participates in KARES, are existing employees subject to a background check under the KARES Program?

No. Only new employees are subject to a fingerprint-supported state and FBI background check under the KARES program.

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6. What types of workers are subject to a background check under KARES?

Any individual, hired directly or through contract, who has duties that involve (or may involve) one-on-one contact with a patient, resident or client of a KARES-participating employer.  This also includes any volunteer who has duties that are equivalent to the duties of an employee providing direct services and those duties involve (or may involve) one-on-one contact with a patient, resident or client.

Individuals exempt from a background check under KARES include Board certified Physicians, Surgeons and Dentists, and any individual who independently contracts with the long-term-care facility or provider to provide utility, construction, communications, or other services if the contracted services are not directly related to the provision of services to a resident, patient, or client.

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7. How much does a state and FBI background check cost under the KARES program?

Until NBCP grant funds are depleted, participating employers will submit $20 for a background check under the KARES Program.

Under the NBCP grant, background checks will be free throughout the duration of the grant’s project period for providers of Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) if the Medicaid recipient who self-directs his or her own care elects  to have the HCBS provider submit to a background check.
Note:  Please check the KARES website for forthcoming information regarding the cost of background checks after grant funds are depleted. 

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8. How soon will an employer be notified of the applicant’s background check results?

Employers should receive a clear for hire or not clear for hire notice within five to seven business days from the date the applicant submits to a fingerprint check.  If an applicant has no prior criminal history, the notice to the employer could occur within 24 hours from the date of fingerprint collection.

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9. What is the process for requesting a background check under KARES?

To initiate the process for obtaining a background check on an applicant, the employer must:

  1. Request that the applicant provide a copy of his or her driver’s license or government-issued photo identification and verify that the photograph clearly matches the applicant;
  2. Request that the applicant complete a Disclosure Form and Consent and Release Form (which may be downloaded from the KARES website); and
  3. Log on to the KARES web application for instructions on how to proceed.
  4. A copy of the Process Steps may be downloaded from the KARES website for an illustration of the steps involved in obtaining a background check under the program.

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10. Is provisional employment allowed?

Yes, an employer may hire an applicant for a period of provisional employment pending completion of the state and FBI background check. The period of provisional employment:

  • Shall ONLY begin after the applicant submits his or her fingerprints; and
  • Must not exceed 60 days from the date of fingerprint collection.

During the period of provisional employment, the individual shall not have supervisory or disciplinary power or routine contact with patients, residents, or clients without supervision on site and immediately available to the individual.

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11. Where should an applicant go to be fingerprinted?

The fingerprint collection sites are located in designated Kentucky One-Stop Career Centers (formerly known as unemployment offices) throughout the state. A map of the fingerprint collection sites may be downloaded from the KARES website.

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12. What types of offenses would disqualify an applicant from employment in a facility or provider that participates in KARES?

Offenses that constitute a disqualifying offense include:

  • Felony offenses related to theft, abuse or sale of illegal drugs and other violations of the Controlled Substances Act, criminal abuse of a child or adult, sexual crimes, violent crimes and arson;
  • Misdemeanor offenses related to abuse of a child or adult;
  • Misdemeanor sex offenses;
  • Identification on the nurse aide abuse registry or Kentucky’s child abuse and neglect registry; and
  • Identification on the federal OIG-LEIE exclusion list, which contains individuals and businesses excluded or sanctioned from participating in Medicare, Medicaid or other federally funded programs.

A complete list of the disqualifying offenses may be downloaded from the KARES website.

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13. Can an applicant appeal?
There are essentially two types of appeals: an applicant challenges the accuracy of criminal history information supplied by the Kentucky State Police or FBI or the rehabilitation review process in which an applicant admits to commission of the disqualifying criminal offense or acknowledges placement on Kentucky’s child abuse and neglect registry, but petitions for a waiver from the prohibition against employment.

In an accuracy challenge appeal, the applicant claims not to have committed the criminal offense and may contact either law enforcement agency directly to dispute the matter.
In a rehabilitation review process appeal, a panel of Cabinet staff not responsible for determining a disqualifying offense reviews mitigating circumstances such as the amount of time since the offense, lack of relationship between the offense and the job, character references and evidence of rehabilitation. The panel makes recommendations to the Cabinet secretary or designee who makes the final decision regarding whether a waiver will be granted.  

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14. Many employers use contract physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists. Some therapists work for multiple agencies. In those instances, who is responsible for the background check?

There are two types of contract workers. One type of contract worker is secured by long-term care employers from a staffing agency. The other type of worker is an independent contractor with whom a long-term care employer contracts with directly.

If a staffing agency supplies workers to a long-term care employer participating in KARES, the staffing agency must register for a KARES account.  The staffing agency would also be the entity responsible for submitting e-payment through the KARES web application to cover the costs of the background checks.  Notification regarding whether a contract worker is clear for hire or not clear for hire is sent to the staffing agency. If a staffing agency worker has a break in continuous employment longer than six months, he or she must be re-fingerprinted prior to working with another KARES-participating employer.

KARES-participating long-term care employers which contract directly with an independent contractor must secure a background check on the contractor via KARES.

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15. I have more questions. Who will answer them?

E-mail additional questions to the KARES program. Questions will be reviewed and this page will be updated as necessary. Please check back here often for more information.

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Last Updated 4/23/2014
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