Friday, June 27, 2014

Michigan Home Help Program Audit finds Felons on the Payroll

The Home Help Program audit conducted by the Michigan Office of the Auditor General looked at the criminal records of individual providers, direct care workers providing services in clients' homes. Of the approximately 70,000 individual providers, 3,786 had felony convictions prior to Jan. 2, 2013. "This included…572 convictions for violent crimes ranging from assault to homicide; 285 convictions for sex-related crimes; 1,148 convictions for financial crimes such as fraud, identity theft and embezzlement; and 2, 020 convictions for drug related offenses." 

About 75% of the elderly or disabled clients employ family members or close friends to provide care. According to the audit report, it could not be readily determined how many of the providers with felonies were related to the clients they served. The report says, "…the client's ability to hire a relatives poses a unique circumstance in that clients may be fully aware of their relatives' criminal history. Although we concur that client choice should be encouraged and honored, it should be made with full disclosure, balanced with client safety and security, and consideration of the potential liability to the State." 

The overall recommendation of the auditor is that, "DCH and DHS should consider conducting criminal history checks for individual providers and requiring agency providers to conduct criminal history checks for their employees and/or subcontractors. By not conducting criminal history checks, DCH and DHS may be unaware of unsuitable individuals who may harm to their vulnerable client population." [emphasis added]…"Of particular concern are providers who are not related to the clients they serve because the clients are less likely to be aware of the providers' criminal past."

In response, DCH and DHS agree that they should be conducting criminal history background checks for individual and agency providers.

According to the report, DCH has developed a criminal history background check policy. The draft policy is under review and will be impemented once the review process is complete. They will also seek legislative solutions "that potentially could warrant disqualification as a provider."

See also this article from USA Today, 6/17/14, "Felons on Michigan payroll as home caregivers"

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