Section 6, Chapter 19 (Background Checks), Subsection 1, – (Fingerprinting)

6.19.1   Fingerprinting and Criminal Checks

Sections 43.548, 210.482, 210.487, RSMo, and 42 U.S.C. § 671(a)(20) provide that criminal records checks must be completed on prospective foster and adoptive parents and applicable members of their households prior to licensure. 

State and national criminal record checks shall be completed for each household member age 17 or older, or any household member under the age of 17 who has been certified as an adult for the commission of a crime.  Foster youth are not fingerprinted for resource home licensure and approval.

Applicants and applicable household members must register online with the Missouri Automated Criminal History System (MACHS) in order to schedule an appointment to be fingerprinted. 

Once provided with an appointment date through MACHS, applicants and household members will be fingerprinted at a local fingerprinting site operated by a private vendor contracted with the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP).  After the applicants and household members are fingerprinted, the private vendor will submit the fingerprints electronically to the MSHP.  Once the MSHP receives the fingerprints, the MSHP will complete a state criminal record check and forward the fingerprints to the FBI for a national criminal record check.

The electronic scan method described above is the preferred method of performing criminal record background checks. The traditional card and ink method, however, can still be used in special circumstances by the licensing worker. When registering on MACHs, applicants may select an option to mail in a fingerprint card to MSHP instead of being fingerprinted at the local private vendor site. Workers may assist the applicants with registration but cannot complete it for them. Workers may use the card and ink method when their applicants are homebound or for other extenuating circumstances. Workers should be aware that it takes longer for the Division to receive the criminal record check results when using the card and ink method than when using the private vendor method.  When assisting an applicant or household member using the card and ink method, a resource licensing worker should be sure to follow all directions on the card and to fingerprint each person twice before sending the card to MSHP. (If one fingerprint card is rejected, the worker will have another card to submit.  In the event both cards are rejected, the worker can request that the FBI perform a name-based check).

If a household member is physically unable to complete the fingerprint process, the fingerprinting requirement may be waived with the permission of the Resource Licensing Program Development Specialist in the Central Office. Fingerprinting Procedure

It is the responsibility of the resource licensing worker to explain the registration process to the applicant and all applicable household members; to assist with the registration as needed; and to provide the applicant and household members with the correct fingerprint authorization letter and registration code. 

The fingerprint authorization letter is used to provide the applicant or household member with written notice of the required criminal background check, registration and fingerprinting instructions, and information regarding the recipient’s privacy rights.

Each authorization letter indicates the correct statutory authority under which the applicant and household members are being fingerprinted:

  • 210.487 – Foster/Relative/Respite (CD-26a);
    • This authorization letter should be provided to all foster, foster/adopt, and relative applicants for licensure (does not apply to relative applicants who have already received a preliminary Purpose Code X (PCX) screening).
  • 210.482 – Emergency Relative Placement/Purpose Code X (CD-26f).
    • This authorization letter is only provided to relatives after the PCX screening.
  • 210.482 – Biological Parents and Private/Court Ordered Home Studies (CD-26b);
    • The Division cannot pay for criminal background checks completed on biological parents or for court ordered studies on private adoptions and guardianships.
  • 43.548 – Adoption Only (CD-26d);
    • This authorization letter is only provided to adopt only applicants or currently licensed foster only homes who apply after licensure to become adoptive parents.
  • 43.548 – Transitional Living Advocate Only (CD-26e);

Each authorization letter must also provide a registration number that payment-eligible recipients must enter into MACHS in order for the Division to pay the cost of fingerprinting.  The Fingerprint MACHS Registration Number Sheet (CD-26g) is available on the Department of Social Services eForms webpage (  The sheet lists registration numbers by circuit.  Purpose Code X

In cases where a child is placed with a relative provider due to an emergency, it may not be possible to fingerprint the provider and adult household members prior to placement.  In such cases, Division staff or the juvenile officer will need to request law enforcement to perform a Purpose Code X screening prior to approving the child’s placement in the home.  In requesting a Purpose Code X screening, the Division worker or juvenile officer request local law enforcement to search the Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement System (MULES) with the names of all persons 17 years old or older residing in the household. MULES is an electronic communication system used strictly for law enforcement purposes.  Law enforcement, however, permits the Division to access information stored in MULES in cases of children taken into temporary emergency protective custody. When a Division worker approaches a law enforcement agency about providing the MULES check, law enforcement is required to ensure that the worker is an authorized representative of the division, and upon verification, should perform the check. Local Division offices should work with their local law enforcement agency to establish protocols to permit law enforcement to verify the worker’s authorization to request a MULES check.

Local offices shall document and maintain a Purpose Code X Request log, CD-153, that records the date of the Division’s request for a MULES check. If the Division fails to keep an accurate and up-to-date log, the Division could lose the right to delayed fingerprinting in the future.

The Division may place a child in a home if the persons 17 years or older are not automatically disqualified based on the MULES check results.  However, within 15 days of the date of the MULES check, the applicants and household members must submit their fingerprints to the FBI.  If anyone 17 years old or older in the home refuses to provide fingerprints, a child in the division’s custody must be immediately removed from the home pursuant to 210.482, RSMo.

Within the 15-day time frame, the agency worker must provide the resource provider and adult household members with information to schedule their screening with the contracted electronic fingerprint vendor. The fingerprint authorization letter, CD26-f, shall be provided to the resource provider and adult household members with the correct registration number for the circuit where their home is located. The circuit/county who conducts the home assessment and maintains the home should use their OCA Code for fingerprinting due to Rap Back.

Chapter Memoranda History (prior to 01/31/07):

CD04-05, CD04-63, CD04-79, CD04-96, CD05-76

Memoranda History (After 01/31/07):

CD07-36, CD07-54, CD07-59, CD08-55, CD10-65, CD12-62, CD14-27, CD14-64, CD15-48, CD16-18, CD16-45, CD18-27, CD19-36