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威斯康星州将要求对一些社会工作者进行背景调查

根据密尔沃基哨兵报最近发表的一份报告,威斯康星州正在启动一项针对该州社会工作者背景调查的“测试计划”。此前,威斯康星州并未对申请社会工作者执照的个人进行任何犯罪背景筛查,尽管其他一些州要求对所有申请人进行此类检查。然而,在密尔沃基日报哨兵调查显示威斯康星州多年来已经许可了一些非常令人讨厌的角色,显然包括“连环强奸犯”和“银行劫匪”之后,该州司法部决定可能有必要进行放映。

目前,该测试计划只需要对该州约 5% 的有执照的社会工作者进行背景调查。由于威斯康星州目前有“大约 10,000”名有执照的社会工作者,背景调查几乎不会缩小可能存在相当大的筛选差距。

即使是必须通过背景调查的 500 个人,仍有可能从有严重犯罪记录的裂缝中溜走。根据密尔沃基哨兵报的报道,威斯康星州司法部只会在州一级进行犯罪背景调查。换句话说,放映不会发现来自其他 49 个州、华盛顿特区或美国其他任何地区的任何刑事定罪。

目前,威斯康星州安全和专业服务部为社会工作者以及 200 多个其他职业颁发执照,正在制定荣誉制度。社会工作者、理发师、医生和其他希望获得国家执照的个人在申请时被要求披露自己的犯罪历史。但是荣誉系统很少起作用,特别是如果没有背景调查政策来保持人们的诚实和负责。就像求职者可能不会透露性骚扰定罪,因为担心这可能会使他失去考虑的资格一样,威斯康星州社会工作许可证的申请人可能会选择隐瞒刑事定罪。

不幸的是,威斯康星州正面临着某种进退两难的境地。一方面,在不检查个人背景的情况下为个人颁发职业执照是不太理想的。这一点对于医生或社会工作者等职业尤其如此,这些职业通常涉及与弱势个人或群体的工作。另一方面,返回并对 10,000 名获得国家许可的社会工作者(以及所有新申请人)进行背景调查的成本将非常昂贵。据安全和专业服务部部长戴夫·罗斯(Dave Ross)称,仅运行检查就需要 150,000 美元。与此同时,处理所有这些检查所需的员工时间将使该州损失数百万美元。

在这种情况下,一个明智的妥协可能是起草立法,要求雇主对雇佣的任何社会工作者进行刑事检查。该州已经对护理人员进行了背景调查。正如《密尔沃基哨兵报》所指出的那样,看护者背景调查法已经适用于一些社会工作者,因为社会工作的一些分支涉及对老人的家访或为精神病患者提供服务。一项要求对所有社会工作雇员进行背景调查的法律将节省国家资金并将费用放在雇主身上。国家仍然需要对政策进行一些投资:例如,审计人员确保规则得到遵守。但这可能有助于确保强奸犯和银行劫匪远离社会工作领域的工作。




For now, the test program will only require background checks on about 5% of licensed social workers in the state. Since Wisconsin has "approximately 10,000" licensed social workers at the moment, the background checks will hardly put a dent in what could be a fairly substantial screening gap.

Even the 500 individuals who do have to go through the background checks could feasibly still slip through the cracks with serious criminal records. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report, the Wisconsin Department of Justice will only be running criminal background checks on a state level. In other words, the screenings won't catch any criminal convictions from the other 49 states, Washington D.C., or any of the USA's other territories.

Right now, Wisconsin's Department of Safety and Professional Services, which issues licenses for social workers, as well as more than 200 other professions, works on an honor system. Social workers, barbers, doctors, and other individuals looking to achieve licensure with the state are asked on their applications to disclose their own criminal histories. But honor systems rarely work, especially if there isn't a background check policy to keep people honest and accountable. Just like a job applicant might not disclose a sexual harassment conviction for fear that it might disqualify him from consideration, an applicant for a social work license in Wisconsin might opt to hide a criminal conviction.

Unfortunately, Wisconsin is facing something of a dilemma here. On one hand, it is less then optimal to license individuals for a profession without checking their backgrounds. This point is especially true for professions like doctors or social workers, which often involve work with vulnerable individuals or groups. On the other hand, the cost of going back and running background checks on 10,000 state-licensed social workers (as well as on all new applicants) would be hugely expensive. According to Dave Ross, the secretary for the Department of Safety and Professional Services, it would cost $150,000 simply to run the checks. The staff time that would be necessary to process all of those checks, meanwhile, would cost the state millions.

A smart compromise, in this case, might be to draft legislation that would require employers to run criminal checks on any social worker hires. Already, the state has a background check requirement for caregivers. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes, the caregiver background check law already applies to some social workers, since some branches of social work involve home visits to the elderly or services for the mentally ill. A law requiring background checks for all social work hires would save the state money and put the expense on the employers. The state would still have to make some investment in the policy: auditors to make sure the rules are being followed, for instance. But it might help to make sure that rapists and bank robbers are kept far away from jobs in the social work sphere.


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