We see the unfortunate headlines far too often. An individual who is employed as a caregiver is charged with the abuse, neglect or exploitation of the elderly and other vulnerable adults. Sadly, such criminal actions are become more and more common in today’s society.

That’s why we welcome word of a new state program in West Virginia that will require criminal background checks for applicants seeking certain jobs at long-term care facilities. Health and Human Resources Secretary Karen L. Bowling announced last week the launch of the West Virginia Clearance for Access: Registry and Employment Screening, or WV CARES, program.

Under the new initiative, fingerprint-based state and national background checks will be required for people who apply for jobs with access to residents or beneficiaries of long-term care services, the Associated Press reported. Long-term care facilities include nursing facilities, home health agencies, hospice care providers and adult day care.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who has sought safeguards to protect the health and welfare of vulnerable populations, signed legislation creating the program into law earlier this year. The legislation passed both houses of the Legislature unanimously and had the backing of the West Virginia Health Care Association and the West Virginia State Police.

The new program will be phased in over a six-month period.

Bowling correctly notes that the background checks will reduce the potential for abuse, neglect and exploitation of the elderly and other vulnerable adults. We agree. Being subject to a criminal background check is a normal part of the pre-employment and hiring process today for many employment positions. Requiring such screenings for those who are charged with caring for the well-being of our senior citizens, and other vulnerable adults, only makes good common sense.

We applaud the state for implementing the WV CARES program.

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