The Office of Inspector General, by impartial evaluation, investigation and reporting, seeks to ensure the
integrity of department programs and operations including the fair, accurate and nondiscriminatory
delivery of benefits and services to qualified state residents.


Mission Statement

Conducts efficient, effective, and economical background checks and variance reviews on all prospective direct access employees, independent contractors, and volunteers of providers and facilities listed below.

What is WV CARES?

  • WV Clearance for Access: Registry & Employment Screening (WV CARES) is administered by the Department of Health & Human Resources and the WV State Police Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) in consultation with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
  • The program uses a centralized internet-based system of registries for employers to perform a mandatory prescreening of applicants.
  • The internet-based system provides an efficient and effective means for an employer to check an applicant's status prior to paying the cost of a criminal history background check.
  • Through fingerprinting, this program provides a comprehensive criminal history records search of national and state criminal history records that was not available under the previous reliance on name-based records searches.
  • The program relies on new technology to monitor criminal histories and alert officials when a subsequent change in criminal history occurs (i.e., rap back).
  • A monitored criminal history record means the cost of re-fingerprinting is not required for employees who change employers in this industry (or apply for work at more than one employer) within the timeframe of a valid background check.

Fitness Determination

All fitness determinations will be performed by WV CARES who have cleared state and federal background check requirements.

  • Employers will receive a notice of the applicant's employment eligibility once the fingerprint-based background check results are reviewed.
  • Applicants disqualified from employment in due to criminal convictions may submit a variance request to the WV CARES Unit within 30 days of notice of employment ineligibility.

National Background Check Program

West Virginia was one of 25 states awarded grant funds from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to create a comprehensive background check program for employees who have direct access to patients. Title VI, Subtitle B, Part Ill, Subtitle C, Section 6201 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PL 111-148) established the framework for a nationwide program for states to conduct background checks, review the results and provide employers with a fitness determination for potential employees. The program's purpose is to protect patients and other vulnerable individuals from neglect, abuse, and financial exploitation.

The following facilities and providers are required to use WV CARES to conduct employee background checks.

  • Skilled nursing facilities;
  • Nursing facilities;
  • Home health agencies;
  • Providers of hospice care;
  • Long-term care hospitals;
  • Providers of personal care services;
  • Providers of adult day care;
  • Residential care providers that arrange for or directly provide long-term care services including assisted living facilities;
  • Intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities;
  • Persons responsible for the care of children as described in W. Va. Code §49-2-114;
  • Chronic pain management clinics;
  • Behavioral health centers;
  • Neonatal abstinence syndrome centers;
  • Opioid treatment programs; and
  • Any other facility or provider required to participate in the WV CARES program as determined in legislative rule.

Required Background Checks

Two types of background checks are required:

  • registry check; and
  • a fingerprint-based criminal background check (State and Federal).

Required Registry Checks

All applicants going through the WV CARES program must go through the mandatory prescreening requirement. Registries included in the mandatory prescreening include, but are not limited to:

  • Office of Inspector General (OIG) list of Excluded Individuals and Entities;
  • WV Medicaid Exclusions List;
  • National Nurse Aide Registry;
  • WV Nurse Aide Registry;
  • GSA System for Award Management;
  • National Sex Offender public website; and
  • WV Sex Offender Registry.

Other national and state registries may be required to be checked where indicated and appropriate.

Facilities cannot hire an applicant until the applicant has been cleared through the required registry check within the WV CARES system.

Facilities will access the required registry check via the internet-based WV CARES system.

Criminal Background Check

The fingerprint-based background check is a report that provides criminal history record information on an applicant.

A facility must request a fingerprint-based background check before hiring an individual. An applicant may be provisionally employed for up to 60 days while the WV CARES fitness determination is pending. All provisional employees must be supervised by an employee who has cleared both the required registry and criminal background checks.

The West Virginia State Police contracts with a private agency to securely capture and transmit fingerprints to be processed through the State Police and the FBI.


Mark Elswick

Deputy Director

JoEllen Grass

Contact Information:

Phone: (304) 558-2018