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No background check required for adult home employees

ALBANY -- Laws pertaining to how an adult care facility hires their employees may soon be changing after two incidents in less than a year.

On Thursday an employee of the Cambridge Guest Home was arrested and charged with 31 counts of Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person after police say residents pulled he fire alarm because they could not locate her.

Firefighters later found the woman sound asleep in a locked room of the home.

According to police the employee, Kelly Hirayama-Watkins, also had previous problems with the law that include drug possession and a DWI arrest.

Earlier in the year an employee at the Loudonville Home for Adults was found guilty of having inappropriate contact with a 91 year-old resident. The employee was a registered level- 3 sex offender.

Currently there is no law requiring adult homes, such as the ones in Loudonville and Cambridge, to do background checks on the employees they hire.    

Senator Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, said Friday he would like to see the state law changed. Farley sits on the Senate's Social Services Committee.

"These are our most vulnerable citizens we ought to do background checks on all adult homes," Farley said.

In February the New York State Health Department sent a memo to area facilities giving them suggestions on hiring practices. Part of the memo stated "...each facility is required to have in place policies and procedures governing hiring practices".

The memo went to make suggestions to adult homes including a sentence that said "...background checks are a critical component of effective hiring practices".

Senator Farley says he expects to introduce legislation to include criminal background checks for all adult home employees.
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