Foundation of the VECHS Program

Is the VECHS program based on a legislative act?

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement initiated the VECHS program in 1999, after the Florida Legislature enacted section 943.0542 of the Florida Statutes (1999). This statute is based upon the National Child Protection Act (NCPA), as amended. The federal guidelines for the NCPA offer further interpretations of the NCPA, along with mandates for states that choose to implement corresponding legislation and programs.

The federal guidelines apply to the interpretation of our legislation in Florida, and therefore, to the implementation of the VECHS program. Although FDLE desires to offer a wide range of services and protection available under the authorizing legislation, we are not permitted to expand the coverage of the governing laws.

 

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What is the difference between the National Child Protection Act (NCPA) and the Volunteers for Children Act?

Names you may hear that refer to the same federal law and its amendment are as follows: the National Child Protection Act, the Foley Act, and the Volunteers for Children Act. These laws are sometimes named for sponsors or persons who supported the new laws or amendments. For the purposes of the available criminal history information, these different names refer to the same basic law. Section 943.0542 of the 1999 Florida Statutes was enacted to implement this federal legislation.

 

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Who can obtain criminal history record checks under the NCPA and Florida statute?

To be qualified to participate in the VECHS program, an entity must provide some type of "care" or "care placement services" for children, the elderly, or the disabled, even if only as a limited part of the entity’s overall business.

The term "child"means any unmarried person less than 18 years of age, who has not been emancipated by order of the court. An "elderly person" is a person who is 60 years of age or older. The "disabled" are persons with a mental or physical impairment who require assistance to perform one or more daily living tasks.

Qualified entities are authorized to obtain criminal history record information as described under the NCPA and related federal guidelines. Under the NCPA as implemented in Florida law, a "qualified entity" is a business or organization, whether public, private, for profit, not-for-profit, or voluntary, that provides care or care placement services, including a business or organization that licenses or certifies others to provide care or care placement services. "Care" means the provision of care, treatment, education, training, instruction, supervision, or recreation to children, the elderly, or the disabled.

 

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If my entity is currently required by law to obtain state and national (LEVEL 2) criminal history record checks on any of my current/prospective employees, volunteers, can we screen these individuals under the VECHS program?

The VECHS program is not available to organizations currently required to obtain criminal history record checks on their employees and/or volunteers under other statutory provisions, such as day care centers. Those organizations must continue to follow the statutory mandates that specifically apply to them. If, however, an organization is required to obtain state and national checks on only specific types of employees or volunteers, the VECHS program may be able to process requests for state and national checks on the organization’s other employees or volunteers.

 

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Are summer camps and after school care programs covered under VECHS?

No. Both summer camps and after school care programs are covered under the Florida Department of Children and Families, as defined in Chapter 409.175 and 435, F.S. Please contact them for further assistance. The following link leads to additional information available on their website: http://www.myflfamilies.com/service-programs/child-care/provider-resources

 

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