Alabama’s Department of Youth Services, which runs the state’s juvenile justice programs, can now hire people with previous findings of neglect, a distinction that previously made applicants ineligible.
Department director Steve Lafreniere said the change was intended to allow for exceptions in cases with no direct abuse, AL.com reported. People who have been found to have physically or sexually abused children will continue to be barred from working at the department, per the Prison Rape Elimination Act.
In an interview with local media, Lafreniere described two examples of neglect findings among current employees and applicants that would not disqualify them under the newly changed policy. In one case, a woman had a neglect charge from a car accident that occurred when she was a teen, in which a child sitting on an adult relative’s lap in the car she was driving died. Another had been found neglectful for not having enough food in her home during a time that she was experiencing poverty.
The change — which Lafreniere notes will allow for exceptions to the rule, not significantly change hiring practices — is currently temporary until the policy committee meets in June to consider a permanent change.