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Old Drug Conviction And Working With Teens

Discussions relating to Drug Laws

Old Drug Conviction And Working With Teens

Postby Ashu » Thu May 01, 2014 1:51 am


Thank you for volunteering to answer questions!

I have a few drug convictions from about 8 years ago.  I applied for a Counseling Position in residential treatment center for teens with mental health issues(mostly borderline personality disorder).  I got the job.  I went to  the HR Orientation today and found out that in the state of Oregon you can't works with teenagers at an alcohol and drug treatment center.  However, this is a new program for the county I live in, and it is NOT an alcohol and drug treatment center.  This program is a Mental Health Treatment center.  

So, my question is...

What is the law in Oregon that pertains to people with prior drug possession and delivery convictions working with juveniles as an A&D Counselor? Or in any capacity in regards to counseling?

Here is a brief background of my situation:

I have been a counselor for 3 years at another non-profit in my area. I counseled ex-offenders that were transitioning back into the community.  I decided I really wanted to work with teens hoping to keep them from going to jail and ending up like the people i was counseling or even myself years earlier.

I am afraid that i will have done all of this training and orientation work only to be out of a job. i just put in my two weeks notice at my current job because i accepted this job with teens.  I told them on the application and in person that i had a record, what it was for, and that i had been incarcerated due to it.  Why would they give me a job, have me quit my current job, and THEN tell me I may not be able to work there due to a law that they should have known about.  (Actually the Department of Human Resources DHS is the entity that would deny me)

I would appreciate any help with this situation!

Thank you so much!

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Old Drug Conviction And Working With Teens

Postby Bebhinn » Sat May 03, 2014 2:34 pm

Jamie - Oregon does not have a hard and fast rule about who may or may not work in facilities funded by state human services funds.  Rather, it conducts a fitness review that consists of evaluating numerous factors: type of criminal history, when it occurred, whether there is evidence of rehabilitation, and how likely the criminal behavior would have a detrimental effect on the population with which the candidate wants to work.  The process can include a preliminary fitness determination and a final fitness determination.  If between the two processes the employee performs well and shows no signs of inappropriate interaction with the clients, the final evaluation can conclude there is no further concern about the employee's past.

I understand your hesitation about giving up one job to get another, only to have it taken away.  Although it sounds scary, I think your best bet is to ask the human resources person whether there has been a fitness evaluation and whether you have been cleared, either preliminarily or finally, to work with the mental health population at your new place of employment.  You have already advised them of the issue; it will not come as a surprise to anyone.  With that information, you can plan with certainty rather than worrying.  It may also add another mark in the "plus" column of determining your level of rehabilitation.  

It's great that you want to take your experiences and help others to avoid the negative outcomes.  Good luck with the new job.
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