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KARES Program Introduces New Website

Thursday, 08 29, 2013

Beth Fisher or Gwenda Bond,(502) 564-6786, ext. 3101 and 3100

Voluntary Criminal Background Check Program to Launch Soon

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) has launched a new website http://www.chfs.ky.gov/os/oig/kares/ for the Kentucky Applicant Registry and Employment Screening (KARES) program. KARES is a voluntary fingerprint-supported state and FBI background check program launched by the OIG to help long-term care and other providers research the backgrounds of job applicants.

All providers eligible to participate in KARES are strongly encouraged to enroll in the program voluntarily and help reduce the potential for abuse, neglect or exploitation, including financial exploitation, of elderly and vulnerable adults.

“KARES is a critical initiative that dramatically improves the ability of long-term care and other providers to research the backgrounds of potential employees, ruling out individuals with histories of violence, abuse or exploitation that occurred in other states,” said CHFS Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes. “By participating in this program, providers are joining us in our ongoing work to address elder abuse and improve patient care in various settings, demonstrating that they are willing to go above and beyond what is required to ensure patient care and safety.”

Since receiving the grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, OIG has worked to implement KARES and will roll out a statewide program to encourage all long-term care and other eligible providers to participate later this year after administrative regulations have been adopted.  CHFS officials emphasize the benefits of the program, which enhances the ability of providers to research the backgrounds of job applicants. By adding FBI checks where only name-based state checks are currently required, applicants seeking employment in the long-term care and other settings covered by the program will not be able to hide criminal actions committed in other states.

“At this time, KARES is a voluntary program, but we absolutely recommend that all eligible providers take advantage of what the program offers and how it can help improve patient care and safety,” said CHFS Inspector General Mary Reinle Begley. “The new website provides extensive information about the program, why it’s beneficial for employers and how to use KARES. All providers – as well as the general public - should visit the site to learn more.”

On June 13, 2013, CHFS filed a new administrative regulation, 906 KAR 1:190, to establish procedures for implementing KARES as a voluntary program.  CHFS anticipates that 906 KAR 1:190 will be adopted in mid-November, the month the Cabinet anticipates fingerprint collection will be rolled out. The administrative regulation filed by CHFS can be viewed at http://www.lrc.ky.gov/kar/906/001/190reg.htm.
 
“As we anticipate the November 2013 rollout of the program, we are working to educate providers and the general public about KARES,” said Begley.

Sections of the news KARES website include legislative information, general information for providers, general information for the public, frequently asked questions and links to related programs and content.

Facilities eligible to participate in KARES include family care homes, personal care homes, intermediate care facilities, nursing facilities, nursing homes and Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF/IID). Nursing pools that provide staff to long-term care facilities or providers; adult day health care programs; assisted living-communities; home health agencies; hospice; personal services agencies; long-term acute-care hospitals; providers of home and community-based services; and staffing agencies with a contracted relationship to provide one or more of the listed employer types are also eligible and encouraged to participate.

Presently, there are 320 licensed nursing facilities, nursing homes and immediate care facilities licensed in the state of Kentucky. Combined, the total number of other facilities eligible to participate in KARES, including personal care homes, family care homes, ICF/IID, nursing pools, adult day health programs, home health agencies, hospice providers (including residential hospice), personal services agencies, and long-term care hospitals is 701 facilities.

Meanwhile, the prevalence of suspected abuse in these settings remains significant. During the past 12 months, 1,450 complaint investigations have been conducted for all of the above providers.

Additional information can be obtained by contacting the program’s help service via email, KARES.Helpdesk@ky.gov. The request will be reviewed and answers will be reflected on the program’s website under the Questions and Answers section.  Please check the KARES website periodically for more information. To contact the program by telephone, call (502) 564-2159.
 

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The Cabinet for Health and Family Services is home to most of the state's human services and health care programs, including Medicaid, the Department for Community Based Services and the Department for Public Health. CHFS is one of the largest agencies in state government, with nearly 8,000 full and part-time employees throughout the Commonwealth focused on improving the lives and health of Kentuckians.