Conducting Criminal Record Checks in Rhode Island

Employment questions dealing with criminal records can only be related to convictions, not arrests or charges. Applicants must be informed in writing of any disqualifying information found in the background check. Employers are required to keep on file evidence that criminal background checks have been obtained for all employees as well as the results of the checks.

Applicants for employment in Rhode Island facilities licensed or registered with the department of health whose employment will involve routine contact with a patient or resident without the presence of other employees must undergo a statewide criminal background check prior to or within one week of employment.

All child care facility operators, employees and job applicants with supervisory or disciplinary authority over children and whose work involves regular contact with children without the presence of other employees, are subject to a nationwide criminal record check, including the taking of fingerprints. All youth serving agency operators, employees and job applicants, including recreation camp personnel, are also subject to criminal record checks prior to employment.

Employers in public elementary and secondary school must incorporate criminal history background checks into their hiring practices. Background check are required for any employee who will have direct supervision or disciplinary power over children or routine contact with children without the presence of other employees. Background checks must be instituted within one week of a conditional job offer. Background checks are made through local police departments or the Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI). Fingerprinting is not required.

Employers must retain records showing that the background checks were instituted and the results of the background checks. If an employee underwent a background check in the previous 18 months, the employer may request a letter from the local police or BCI explaining the results, rather than instituting a new background check.

Fingerprinting is required as part of a background and criminal record check for certification of personnel who provide services to very young children, including owners and operators of preschool programs and full- or part-time employees, such as teachers, aides, secretaries, food handlers, bus drivers, volunteers and student teachers. Applicant's fingerprint cards must promptly be destroyed at the conclusion of the background or criminal background check.

Individuals 18 years and older seeking employment in any facility or program licensed or funded by the Department of Mental Health, Retardation and Hospitals, will be required to undergo national criminal background checks to determine whether they have been convicted of a crime that bears upon their fitness to be responsible for the safety and well-being of the persons residing in or receiving services from the programs or facilities.