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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

AN ACT RELATIVE TO FINGERPRINT-BASED CRIMINAL RECORD CHECKS FOR ADOPTIVE AND FOSTER PARENTS.

     Whereas, The deferred operation of this act would tend to defeat its purpose, which is to require forthwith fingerprint-based criminal record checks for adoptive and foster parents, therefore it is hereby declared to be an emergency law, necessary for the immediate preservation of the public convenience.
     Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same as follows:
     SECTION 1.  Section 26A of chapter 119 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out subsections (a) and (b) and inserting in place thereof the following 2 subsections:-
     (a)  As part of the department’s licensing and background record check process, the department shall conduct fingerprint-based checks of the state and national criminal history databases for all applicants filing a request to become adoptive or foster parents as authorized by 42 U.S.C. § 16962.  All household members age 15 or older of any applicants filing a request to become adoptive or foster parents shall be subject to a fingerprint-based check of the state and national criminal history databases as authorized by Public Law 92-544.  Only authorized department staff may receive the results of checks of state and national databases under said Public Law 92-544 and shall not further disseminate the results except as authorized under said Public Law 92-544.  When the department obtains the results of checks of state and national criminal history databases, it shall treat the information according to sections 167 to 178, inclusive, of chapter 6 and the regulations thereunder regarding criminal offender record information.
     (b)  Fingerprints, as referenced in subsection (a), shall be submitted to the identification section of the department of state police for a state criminal history check and forwarded to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a national criminal history check according to the policies and procedures established by the state identification section and by the department of criminal justice information services. Fingerprint submissions may be retained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the state identification section and the department of criminal justice information services to assist the department in its review of suitability for initial or continued approval of pre-adoptive or foster parents. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C § 16962, the department of criminal justice information services may disseminate the results of a state and national criminal history check to authorized department of children and families staff to determine the suitability of adoptive and foster parent applicants.  Pursuant to Public Law 92-544, the department of criminal justice information services may disseminate the results of a state and national criminal history check to authorized department of children and families staff to determine the suitability of the household members age 15 or older of adoptive and foster parent applicants.  If the department of children and families receives information from a fingerprint-based check that does not include a final disposition or is otherwise incomplete, the department may request that an applicant provide additional information to assist the department in determining the suitability of the individual for approval.
     SECTION 2.  Said section 26A of said chapter 119, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out subsection (e) and inserting in place thereof the following subsection:-
     (e)  The department shall promulgate regulations requiring: (i) applicants filing a request to become adoptive or foster parents to be subject to a fingerprint-based check of the state and national criminal history databases pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 16962; (ii) the household members age 15 or older of any applicants, to be subject to a fingerprint-based check of the state and national criminal history databases pursuant to Public Law 92-544; and (iii) applicants and their household members age 15 or older to be subject to a sexual offender registry information check pursuant to sections 178I and 178J of chapter 6.  The regulations shall incorporate all fees associated with conducting fingerprint-based checks under said 42 U.S.C. § 16962 and said Public Law 92-544 as set by the department.

Approved, August 5, 2015.