Fort Bragg began implementing mental health records checks for its Child, Youth and School Services employees, volunteers, Family child care providers and Family members in January. CYSS is also in the process of going back and checking the mental health records of current CYSS employees, volunteers, FCC providers and Families.
It is just one step in a systematic process that ensures the safety of Fort Bragg Soldiers and their Family members.
“We’re in a process (of) always clearing all our employees,” said Raymond Lacey, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation director. Employment is offered contingent upon clearing a number of background checks, he explained. The Office of Personnel Management conducts national background checks. Employee and contractor background checks are initiated by the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center, and Family childcare and coaches background checks are initiated by CYSS.
Prior to employment, an installation records check is done through:
Drug and alcohol
Family Advocacy Central Registry (to identify any domestic abuse issues)
Army Criminal Investigation Division (checks Army police records Army-wide)
Centralized Operations Police Suite database (used by MPs)
If an applicant passes those checks, then he or she is hired conditionally, based upon being able to pass the Child National Agency check with inquiries, which provides a check of all national records based on Social Security number and fingerprint data.
The employee would wear a designated colored lanyard that identifies the person as being under line-of-sight supervision. Another color lanyard is distributed once all clearance is received. This color is worn by all cleared employees so all are aware of cleared employees and those in LOSS awaiting final clearance results.
About 65 percent of employees have issues in their background checks, explained Lacey.
Obtaining clearance is hampered by many minor infractions such as poor credit or parking and traffic offenses, added Karen Miller, who is the chief of CYSS and also serves as the chairperson of the Program Review Board.
The PRB is the body of 11 voting members which include representatives from the Staff Judge Advocate, Drug and Alcohol, Family Advocacy and other key agencies on post who will review employee files who come up with issues and the board will make recommendations to Col. Jeffrey M. Sanborn, Fort Bragg Garrison commander, in accordance with Department of Defense instructions and Army regulations, on the suitability of the employee to have contact with children.
The garrison commander has the authority to make the decision on some minor offenses at his level and, for the more serious issues in employee files, the file is forwarded to the Department of the Army for final disposition.
Criteria that PRB members may consider when reviewing files is a person’s age at the time of offense and the maturity level of the individual either at the time of offense or at the time of application for employment, which should indicate a growth pattern.
All potential Fort Bragg employees undergo a CNACI check, but because of the expense it entails, the check is not conducted on volunteers, Lacey said. Yet, Fort Bragg has security measures in place for volunteers by limiting their access to youth.
The CNACI check is conducted once, unless there is a three-year break in service, in which case it is done again.
The CNACI check does however place Fort Bragg ahead of North Carolina agencies, which rely solely on state-wide records, not national ones, ensuring that the installation is a leader in providing suitable care for youth.
Why are the background checks so stringent?
Federal guidelines require that anyone who works with youth younger than age 18 years be vetted.
“They (parents) can be confident that at Fort Bragg, we are vetting our employees. We’ve got to feel comfortable that the people we hire are suitable to work with children,” Lacey said. “All this guidance that we get gives us the guidelines as to how to get there.”
As a retired colonel, a former garrison commander and as the father of three grown children who grew up using Army facilities, Lacey said he always felt good about the process used to determine who was suitable to work with his own children.
It is process endorsed by the Army Audit Agency and by the Department of the Army Inspector General, Miller said.
“It’s not just us saying we’re doing a good job,” Miller explained about getting feedback from a recent audit done by AAA. “During recent audits by AAA and DAIG we came out really well. That just made us really confident in the processes.”