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Child & Family Services Division

Child Protective Service Background Check
It is very important to read and understand the information provided below prior to requesting a Child Protective Service Background Check.  Questions regarding Child Protective Service Background Checks may be sent to the Child and Family Services Division via e-mail.

What is a Child Protective Service Background Check

A Child Protective Service Background Check (also referred to as a records check) completed by the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services (DPHHS) Child and Family Service Division (CFSD) is a check of the CFSD history that is available on a person from 1997 to the date the check is completed. The check is conducted using only the name(s) and other identifying information included on the Release of Information form provided.

The Child Protective Service Background Check does NOT include any information about pending allegations, investigations, or pending substantiations that have not been finalized through the Administrative Review Process.

Child protection workers from other states who need background information on a person or family for an open case or active investigation must contact the Centralized Intake (CI) Bureau directly by calling the CFSD receptionist at (406) 841-2400 and requesting to be transferred to a CI Bureau Supervisor.

These requests are processed differently than other Child Protective Service Background Checks and the CI Bureau responds directly to the requesting agency.

Who May Request and Receive a Background Check

In accordance with Montana Code Annotated 41-3-205, a person or entity who is carrying out background, employment-related, or volunteer-related screening of current or prospective employees or volunteers who have or may have unsupervised contact with children through employment or volunteer activities may request and receive CPS background  checks.

Information not included in a Child Protective Service Check

The Child Protective Service Background Check does NOT include information from any Tribal Social Services Agency or from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.  Requests for child protective services history must be requested directly from those agencies. A list of the Tribal Social Service Directors for Montana Reservations is available at:
http://tribalnations.mt.gov/docs/Social_Services_Directors.pdf

The Bureau of Indian Affairs website address is http://www.bia.gov/ . Contact information is available through an interactive map accessed from this webpage.

The Child Protective Service Background Check does NOT include review of Criminal or Driving History. Information regarding Criminal History and Driver History Records is available on the Montana Department of Justice website.

Information provided to the requestor

If information is located that indicates a risk to children, the requestor will be provided with notice that information was found, and that the information indicates the person may be a risk to children.  The specifics of the information are not provided.  Information that indicates a risk to children includes, but is not limited to:

  • A substantiation of child abuse/neglect on the person.
  • A history that shows that a child in the care of the person was adjudicated by a court as a youth in need of care.
  • A history that shows that the person has had their caregiver rights to a child terminated.

The Child Protective Service Background Check results sent to a requestor provides the requestor with information about an applicant and is NOT a recommendation for or against the applicant becoming licensed, employed or serving as a volunteer.

How to Request a Child Protective Services Background Check

A request for a Child Protective Service Background Check is made by submitting a completed, signed and notarized Montana Release of Information form to CFSD by mail or fax using the most appropriate form below which best describes the reason for requesting a Child Protective Service Background Check.

The release must be notarized to ensure the identification of the applicant has been verified, and the applicant has signed the release. Child Protective Service Background Check requests which are older than six months from the date notarized will NOT be processed and will be returned to the requestor.
The requestor submitting the release must be the person for whom information is being requested or must have hiring or approving authority of the applicant, employee or volunteer.

It is VERY IMPORTANT that the form be completed accurately and completely. INCOMPLETE or ILLEGIBLE FORMS MAY BE RETURNED. All sections on the release form used must be completed. If a section does not apply, must be entered in the appropriate blank or section to indicate that it does not apply.

The Release of Information form for a Child Protective Service Background Check will be returned to the requestor for correction if a section is left blank.

Where to Send Child Protective Service Background Check Requests

Requests can be mailed to:
Records Request
DPHHS/CFSD
P.O. Box 8005
Helena, MT 59604-8005

Requests can also be faxed to:
DPHHS/CFSD
ATTN:  Records Request
FAX (406) 841-2487

Faxed requests need to have a return fax number for the requestor.  A contact name and telephone number provides quicker contact with the requestor if there are questions.

Are CPS Checks completed for Minors

Child Protective Service Background Checks are NOT routinely conducted for minors.  If a minor is also a birth parent, and a Child Protective Service Background Check is required, the CI Bureau must be contacted directly by calling the CFSD receptionist at (406) 841-2400, and requesting to be transferred to a CI Bureau Supervisor.

Response time for Child Protective Service Background Checks

Child Protective Service Background Checks are processed in the order they are received. While CFSD attempts to respond to every request in a timely manner, some requests take longer to process than others. Release of Information forms that are complete, fully legible and include a stamped return envelope addressed to the requestor require less processing time and results will be received more promptly. Release forms that are incomplete or illegible may require a follow-up call or may need to be returned. If a name and phone number of a contact person is not included with the request, this will further delay the response time. If requests are faxed, a fax cover sheet with a contact name and telephone number in addition to a return fax number allows for quicker contact with the requestor if there are questions.

 Inquiries regarding the status of CPS background checks may be made by calling the CFSD receptionist at (406) 841-2400 and asking to be transferred to a staff person who can respond to the inquiry or by sending a request via e-mail requesting a return phone call. Status requests may also be faxed to (406) 841-2487.  Status requests must include the name of the person for whom the background check was requested and the date the original request was sent to CFSD. 

Please allow at least ten working days between the time an original request for a background check is submitted and the time a status request is made.

Fees for Processing Child Protective Service Background Check Requests
There is currently no cost for Child Protective Service Background Checks. 
Page last updated: 11/06/2013