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Lawmakers look to close loophole that allowed murderer to work at Child Welfare Services

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 4:58 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Expanded background checks may be on the way for those who work directly with abused keiki.

State lawmakers are looking to make the change after a Hawaii News Now report exposed gaps in the process, allowing a convicted murderer from Illinois to get hired at Child Welfare Services.

The employee deals directly with abuse victims.

State Rep. Ryan Yamane, chair of the Human Services Committee, said nationwide fingerprint checks through the FBI should be done on all applicants at the state Department of Human Services if the position requires contact with victims of domestic violence.

[Previous report: Convicted murderer’s hiring in Child Welfare Services exposes background check gaps]

“We will make it a priority,” Yamane said.

DHS is the agency over Child Welfare Services and Adult Protective Services.

State Rep. John Mizuno, former chair of the Human Services Committee, said those expanded checks should also allow for older searches.

“You should go back as far as you can,” said Mizuno.

The current system only vets an applicant for criminal convictions within the previous decade and is only done at the local level.

Other state agencies do allow for the expanded checks, and Mizuno wants DHS added to that list.

“You got the Department of Health, Department of Education, Judiciary already doing it, it’s not a major change to just slip in the Department of Human Services,” said Mizuno.

“Child Welfare Services is dealing with that vulnerable populations.”

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