FCASPL 103 (PL 109-248 Adam Walsh)
Family, Children and Adult Services Procedure Letter No. 103
December 28, 2006
TO: Family, Children and Adult Services Manual Holders
FROM: Barbara E. Riley, Director
SUBJECT: P.L. 109-248 Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006: Requirements for Foster Care and Adoptive Applicants

On July 27, 2006, Congress enacted the Adam Walsh Protection and Safety Act of 2006. This Act is intended to protect children from sexual exploitation and violent crime, to prevent child abuse and child pornography, and to promote Internet safety. This letter addresses one requirement of the legislation: The conducting of background checks of prospective foster care and adoptive applicants and other adults living in the home of these prospective applicants by using child abuse and neglect registries.

The entire law can be viewed at the following internet address:


As a result of this legislation, OAC 5101:2-5-20 (D) (effective December 11, 2006) requires that the recommending agency search the Central Registry of Abuse and Neglect for each foster care applicant and each adult household member of the applicant's home. Once the agency accesses the Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS), the agency must request a search of SACWIS for each foster care applicant and adult household member. For an application that is in process prior to the effective date of the amended rule, the homestudy may be approved; however, the Central Registry/SACWIS search results must be obtained prior to placement of a child in the home. The results of the search for foster care applicants who made application after the effective date of the rule must be received prior to foster care certification.

Adoption rules have also been amended. OAC 5101:2-48-11, 5101:2-48-11.1 and 5101:2-48-12 require a Central Registry search or a SACWIS search once SACWIS is implemented statewide for initial adoptive applicants and all other adult members of the applicant's household. OAC 5101:2-48-12.1 has additionally been amended to require the search at the time of update. The results of the search must be received prior to adoption approval. All the above mentioned rules will become effective on December 11, 2006.

State law currently limits these background searches to searches of SACWIS when it is implemented statewide and does not mandate searches of the Central Registry prior to that time. Also, the current language in OAC 5101:2-34-38.1 of the Administrative Code does not allow the release of the Central Registry/SACWIS information for the purpose of background checks. OAC 5101:2-34-38.1 is being amended to comply with P.L. 109-248. Because federal law supersedes state statute and rule, until Ohio statutes and rules are amended to reflect these federal requirements of the Adam Walsh Act, these mandatory requests for searches of the Central Registry/SACWIS should specify that the search request is being made in accordance with the Adam Walsh Act.

Central Registry/SACWIS search requests must be sent electronically as an e-mail attachment to Barbara Parker at parkeb@odjfs.state.oh.us. Agencies without electronic capabilities can mail search requests to Barbara Parker at ODJFS/OCF/BFS, 255 East Main Street, 3rd floor, Columbus, OH, 43215-5222.

  • The agency must provide the following information for each individual for whom a search is being requested:
  • Full Name, including maiden or other names used
  • Date of Birth
  • Social Security Number
  • Home Address
  • The agency must confirm that verification of the date of birth and Social Security number is on file with the agency for each individual search request.
  • The agency must identify the reason for each search (for example, prospective adoptive or foster parent).
  • The agency must provide the name(s) of the agency contact persons who are designated/approved to request Central Registry search results, including their contact information (address, phone number and e-mail, if applicable). The agency must inform ODJFS of any changes/additions to that information as necessary.
  • Agencies should submit "batches" of requests on a regular, self-determined timeframe; e.g., every Monday. Agencies are discouraged from sending multiple individual search requests each week. By requesting the searches in batches, it will allow for a more efficient process. Agencies must allow 30 days for search results. Searches cannot be processed on an emergency basis.
  • Search requests cannot be submitted via telephone.
  • ODJFS will conduct searches of both the Host FACSIS and SACWIS databases for each individual request.
  • ODJFS will return results letters for each search electronically to the contact person designated by the requesting agency. Results will be mailed to those agencies that do not have electronic capabilities.
  • Results letters will advise agencies either that there is NO MATCH found for the individual's name in the Central Registry or SACWIS systems as an alleged perpetrator of a Substantiated or Indicated report of child abuse and/or neglect; or that a MATCH is found for the individual as an Alleged Perpetrator for a Substantiated or Indicated report of child abuse and/or neglect. Result letters shall be maintained in the family resource case file.
  • Search Results will not be provided via telephone or fax.

Questions concerning the Central Registry request should be directed to Barbara Parker, ODJFS/OCF/BFS, via e-mail at parkeb@odjfs.state.oh.us or by phone at 614-995-5594.

The Adam Walsh Act also requires agencies to request a check of the child abuse and neglect registry of any other state in which a foster care or adoptive applicant or other adult living in the applicant's household has resided in the five years immediately prior to the application. These background checks must be made before the prospective foster or adoptive parent may be finally approved for placement of a child. The department will be seeking to amend state law and revising rules to add this requirement. Until such time as rules exist mandating this requirement, we suggest that recommending agencies determine whether a foster care or adoptive applicant or other adult living in the applicant's household has resided in another state during any of the five years immediately preceding the date of the application. If the applicant or other adult has resided in another state during that time period, we suggest that the recommending agency determine whether that state has a child abuse and neglect registry and, if so, contact that state to check its registry concerning that individual. Currently, there is no standardized way to make these requests. Those states that have a child abuse and neglect registry vary in their definitions, standards, and placement of names in their registry. We have been unable to find any listing of registry contacts in other states. If we learn of any listing, we will provide that information in the future.

For all applicants, even those who are residents of Ohio for five years or more, the Adam Walsh Act will be requiring a federal criminal background check. In accordance with the time line set by the Adam Walsh legislation, we will be seeking legislation prior to October 1, 2008 to address new criminal record checking requirements, including FBI checks for all applicants. Regardless of any future legislation, OAC rules 5101:2-5-09.1 (J) and 5101:2-48-10 (B) currently allow the agency to choose to seek the federal criminal check for all adoptive and foster care applicants.

For questions about this letter, please contact the OCF Helpdesk by phone at: 1-866-886-3537, Option 4 or by email at: HELP-DESK-OCF@odjfs.state.oh.us.

Procedure Letters FCASPL No. 103