State law loophole allows former criminals to work in elder care facilities

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Minnesota has granted waivers for 15,000 people with criminal backgrounds seeking to work in the state's long-term care facilities, a new report finds.

Generally, criminal background checks weed out job seekers with prior criminal convictions. However, state law offers former criminals an appeals process that gives them a second chance, according to an investigation by Minnesota's Star Tribune. This appeals process lets previous offenders work in a variety of care settings, including hospitals, assisted living facilities, group homes for the disabled and home care providers. Offenders range from those with misdemeanors to felonies, including robbery and forgery.

Public records show that Minnesota's Health Department approved 75% of more than 10,000 appeals. Over 5,000 waivers were issued to people seeking employment in nursing homes or home health agencies, the newspaper reported.

State regulators told the Star Tribune that they do not track how many waiver-seekers went on to work in long-term care facilities, nor do they track whether these individuals go on to commit new crimes.