This Criminal Background Check policy is required of all CHP students.
Successful completion of health professions’ programs at Sacred Heart University includes satisfactory completion of the clinical education component of the curriculum. A majority of clinical sites now require students to complete a criminal background check prior to participating in clinical education placements. Some facilities may also require fingerprinting and/or drug screening. State licensure laws may also restrict or prohibit those with criminal convictions from obtaining a professional license to practice following graduation. Additionally, national certification agencies may deem persons with criminal convictions as ineligible to sit for national certification examinations. Thus, students with criminal convictions or backgrounds may not be able to obtain required clinical education experience(s); thereby, failing to meet the academic standards of the health profession’s program.
It is, therefore, the policy of the Graduate Program in Occupational Therapy that all admitted students planning to enroll in the Occupational Therapy Program must consent, submit to, and satisfactorily complete a criminal background check (CBC) within six (6) weeks of registration for courses as a condition of matriculation. Matriculation will not be final until the completion of the criminal background check with results deemed acceptable to the Program Director or Academic Fieldwork Coordinator. Students are permitted to register for Fall classes if they have a flagged CBC, but must sign a waiver acknowledging the risks (see the policy below). The CHP is aware that students cannot get financial aid until they are fully matriculated.All expenses associated with the CBC, fingerprinting, and/or drug screening are the responsibility of the student. Students who do not consent to the required background check, refuse to provide information necessary to conduct the background check, or provide false or misleading information in regard to the background check will be subject to disciplinary action up to, and including, refusal of matriculation or dismissal from the program.
Some health care and education facilities require students to use a specific company to obtain background checks, drug testing or fingerprinting. Other facilities accept background checks from any company. The Academic Fieldwork Coordinator will advise students prior to their clinical placement if the site requires a specific company for the CBC, drug screening or fingerprinting. It will be the student’s responsibility to complete the background check, drug screening or fingerprinting with the required company at their own expense within the timeframe specified by the site. If a site requires CBCs be completed with a company other than www.certified background.com, the background check results may be sent to the site. The policy regarding who receives the results is determined by the site, not the Occupational Therapy Program or Sacred Heart University.
CastleBranch website, www.castlebranch.com, provides CBCs, which will include felonies, misdemeanors, and sex offender status at federal, state, and local levels from seven previous years of residence. Each student must contact CastleBranch via a secure internet site (www.castlebranch.com) and place an order for his/her CBC. Students will be given information that provides specific instructions and product code information.
Because several clinical facilities require the university to provide students’ CBC results, the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator will need to have access to CastleBranch inquiry results during a student’s active enrollment in the Occupational Therapy Program at Sacred Heart University. Students authorize access during the online order processing of their CBC, by checking the box indicating agreement with CastleBranch's terms and conditions outlined here: https://www.castlebranch.com. In the case of adverse information in a CBC report, the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator will proceed as follows:
The Academic Fieldwork Coordinator reviews the student’s Graduate Admission's application to determine whether the student reported the offense.
The Academic Fieldwork Coordinator will contact the student to discuss the results and the student’s perspective on the circumstances. The conversation will be documented in writing and included in the student’s file. Students will be asked to sign an acknowledgment that they understand a flagged background check may impede their ability to be placed in clinical sites and therefore impede their ability to complete the program, that they will not be considered fully matriculated until they have a clear CBC, completed all program entry requirements, and that they are aware that they will be unable to receive financial aid until they are fully matriculated.
The student will also be asked to sign a waiver agreeing to give the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator permission to disclose to the facility that there was a problem with the background check. Failure to sign a waiver to allow an attempt at a clinical placement will seriously call into question the student’s ability to complete the degree requirements and may result in a recommendation for dismissal from the program as the student would be ineligible for a required clinical placement. The University will have no obligation to refund tuition or otherwise accommodate students in the event that a CBC or drug screening renders the student ineligible to complete required courses or clinical placement(s).
Should the student choose to continue in the program, the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator will inform the site that there was a flag on a background check of a student; the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator will not reveal the student’s name to the site, rather, will identify the nature of the flag to the site and ask if such a student would be acceptable for placement at that site. The site will be asked to confirm their acceptance in writing in a letter, fax, or email.
If the student feels that an adverse CBC finding is in error, the student will be directed to speak with CcastleBranch to determine if further investigation is needed. Errors may occur in instances of:
- CBC was completed on a different person with the same name.
- CBC was completed on a similarly named person.
- CBC returned information that was supposed to be sealed or expunged.
If the information is in error, the CBC is repeated and CastleBranch will update the CBC report online. If the adverse information is truly an error, no further action is taken.
If denied placement by the first clinical site as a result of a flagged CBC, drug screening, or fingerprinting, the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator will attempt to find a second clinical placement and will follow the procedure outlined above. The student will be asked to sign a waiver agreeing to give the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator permission to disclose to the facility that there was a problem with the background check. Failure to sign a waiver to allow an attempt at a clinical placement will seriously call into question the student’s ability to complete the degree requirements. Students who are twice denied a clinical placement based on the results of a background check will be considered ineligible for placement and unable to complete the program and, therefore, will be recommended for dismissal from the program. The University and the Occupational Therapy Program have no obligation to refund tuition or otherwise accommodate students in the event that a CBC or drug screening renders the student ineligible to complete required courses or clinical placement(s).
Some clinical sites may require a clean report of a criminal background check within 6-12 months of the clinical rotation. Therefore, repeated or additional background checks prior to the start of a clinical education placement/rotation may be required at the student’s own expense. These requirements should be listed explicitly on the Clinical Site’s Information Form (CSIF). Sites may also notify the Occupational Therapy Program by letter or electronically, or by noting the requirements on pre-placement confirmation forms as appropriate.
Prior to each clinical education rotation, the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator will provide the following attestation in his/her communications with each clinical site:
- The Graduate Program in Occupational Therapy at Sacred Heart University obtains criminal background checks on all students upon admission to the program. Unless otherwise noted, the background check for the student assigned to your facility contained no adverse information.
If the clinical site requires more specific documentation, the student will be directed to provide a print-out of his/her results from the CastleBranch Background website.
Criminal background information is strictly confidential, for use only by authorized Occupational Therapy Program faculty and/or administrative staff, and shall be retained only until the student graduates or is dismissed from the program.