On December 15, 2008, Governor Corzine signed into law bill S111, which requires all employees of adoption agencies that have been approved, or are seeking approval, by the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) to undergo criminal background and child abuse background checks. The offenses that will bar applicants and current employees from working at the adoption agencies include endangering the welfare of a child, abuse, abandonment or neglect, and domestic violence. Under the new law, adoption agencies established before the bill’s effective date (six months after its signing) will have 60 days to submit background checks to the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Agencies established after the law’s effective date will have to submit employee background checks to the DCF before opening. New hires must undergo a background check within two weeks of beginning employment and will not be allowed to be left alone with children until the background check has been approved by the DCF. Any agency found to be in violation of the law will have its license suspended and will face the possibility of having its license revoked. New agencies seeking licensure will have their application refused if not in compliance with the law. Staff members who refuse to undergo the background checks must be terminated.

Note: This article was published in the January 2009 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority.

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