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DSS Issues Emergency Rules to Ensure Safety of Children

State Central Registry to be used to screen employees who work with children

As part of its continued efforts to ensure the safety of children, the Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services (DSS) announced that a set of emergency rules allowing the State Central Registry to be used to screen employees and potential employees of the agency and DSS-licensed facilities will go into effect on January 1, 2010. The State Central Registry is a database maintained by DSS of all investigations of child abuse and neglect.

"The major focus of our work is ensuring that children in our care and in facilities licensed by our agency are safe - this is our top priority," said DSS Secretary Kristy Nichols. "The issuance of these rules will allow us to provide further safeguards for children to ensure that no individual charged with the care of a child has a prior history of abuse, neglect or maltreatment."

The set of emergency rules will allow DSS to implement and enforce changes resulting from Act 47 by Representative Kay Katz and Act 388 by Representative Nancy Landry that were passed during the 2009 Regular Legislative Session.

Act 47 authorizes DSS to conduct national criminal history background checks on department employees with certain duties involving children. DSS also is authorized to cross-reference the State Central Registry against potential and current employees, whose duties include investigating child abuse or neglect, supervising or disciplining children, providing direct care for a child or performing licensing surveys.

In addition, Act 388 prohibits any person from owning, operating or being employed in a facility licensed by the department if the individual's name is recorded on the state central registry for a justified finding of abuse or neglect.

DSS estimates that more than 200,000 children receiving DSS services and enrolled in licensed child care centers potentially could be protected as a result of the laws.

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