Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fingerprinting requirement too onerous for foster parent

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He's been a foster parent for nearly 20 years, helping care for kids who need a home.

But even though Doug Goodman likes to give, he's angry about having to pay to be fingerprinted as part of a background check known as a vulnerable-sector check. The police check is for people such as teachers or coaches who work with kids, elderly people or vulnerable adults.

Goodman said he's against the process that requires him to pay $100 on various elements of the check. He may also have to wait for up to two months for clearance.

"There's got to be a different way of doing this," said Goodman, 66.

People who request the background check used to provide their names to police agencies but the policy was changed last year. It was discovered that pardoned sex offenders in most provinces could legally change their name and potentially get missed.

Changes to the vulnerable-sector check implemented now mean certain people, who have the same birthday and gender as a pardoned sex offender, must submit their fingerprints.

For Winnipeggers, the check is started by the Winnipeg Police Service and information from those who must submit fingerprints is sent to the RCMP.

Goodman said he has no criminal record and he's afraid he'll have to explain to officials such as border guards why he's been fingerprinted.

In September, Karen Fonseth, chief executive officer of Direct Action in Support of Community Homes (DASCH), a Winnipeg non-profit, said the new process places vulnerable Canadians at risk due to long waits getting checks done for new employees.

But Staff Sgt. Rick Lange of the WPS said wait times have improved.

As of last summer, Lange said people can do electronic fingerprint submission instead of mailing hard copies of prints to Ottawa.

"It used to take six months to get the information back. Now we are able to complete the entire transaction in three to four weeks," he said.

"It's not us who determine you need to go through this, it's whatever agency you're volunteering or working for that determines that," he said.

Goodman said he knows of six other foster families who said they'll stop before they go through the process.

Sgt. Julie Gagnon, an Ottawa-based RCMP spokeswoman, said the process is done for the "safety of the children."

The RCMP post the wait time for a vulnerable sector check on its website.

As of Wednesday, the RCMP listed a processing time of 10 weeks for a paper fingerprint submission and two to three business days for an electronic submission, if there's no match.

 

gabrielle.giroday@freepress.mb.ca

 

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 26, 2011 A16

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