Getting with the VECHS Program

September 29th, 2014 by Dodie

What is the VECHS program?

VECHS stands for Volunteer & Employee Criminal History Service, which is under the authority of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (DLE). It was organized in 1999 with the goal of giving organizations a way of screening job applicants whose criminal records may make them unsuitable for working with or around children, orwith those who are elderly or disabled. They are particularly vulnerable to such predators.

Whether one wants to become a paid employee or a volunteer for the non-profit organization, the same principle applies. If you are the operator of a Florida business of any size or kind, this article may be useful for you.


The basics of VECHS are set forth in Title 47, Chapter 943, Section 542 of the Florida Code, which defines the words care and qualified entity, and then proceeds to lay out procedures for qualifying organizations and to what information the parties are entitled. References to appropriate texts therein will be made throughout this article, with appropriate citations given in the form of number, plus letter if applicable, e.g. 3 or 3a.

The National Child Protection Act (NCPA) and the Volunteers for Children Act (VCA)

The NCPA of 1993 (Public Law 103-209) establishes the proper procedures for making a criminal background check into anyone who wants to be a child care provider. The VCA (Public Law 105-251) is an amendment to the NCPA. It gives certain non-governmental entities the authority to conduct fingerprint-based national criminal history record checks in order to determine whether a given individual ought to be allowed to provide care for the safety and well-being of children, elderly people and those with disabilities.

Qualifying for the program

Only organizations, not individuals, can qualify for the VECHS program. In order to be qualified, an organization must either provide care or placement services itself, or provide licensure or certification to other organizations so they may do so (1b).

It must register voluntarily with the DLE prior to submitting a screening for Section 542 in conformation with the NPCA (above), and sign a DLE-approved agreement to conform with federal and state requirements (2a). The business must then submit the employee or applicant for fingerprinting and signing a waiver that allows his or her federal and/or state criminal records to be made accessible to the organization (2b).

You will be required to pay a fee to the DLE when you request the applicant’s criminal background information (2c). This fee pays the costs of making a statewide criminal background check in compliance with the aforementioned NCPA. The DLE is also empowered to establish a database that contains the names, addresses and phone numbers of all entities that are qualified to receive applicants’ criminal background history, all of which may receive such data at no cost (7).

Concerns over privacy rights

Those who are concerned that the above provisions violate a prospective employee’s right to privacy need to acknowledge that a crime is, by definition, not a private act, but one that threatens the well-being of the community as a whole.

However, Section 543 requires the employee who is being subjected to the screening process to provide the names of any and all similarly qualified entities that have subjected him or her to the same process in the past (2d).

It also obligates you, as the head of the organization making the criminal background check, to notify the party concerned, in writing, that he or she has the right to obtain a copy of any background screening reports, and may challenge the accuracy and completeness of the information contained therein (6).

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