Shoddy Employment Background Checks for Child Care Facilities
March 5, 2013
Child care facilities and state education departments might be doing background checks, but simply saying you’ve done a background check is not enough. In Virginia, Chesterfield Planning Commissioner Russ Gulley recently stated that Virginia’s background checks for in home daycare providers are not extensive enough.
Gulley found that Virginia, along with several other states, have received a zero rating from the National Association of Child Care Resources and Referral Agencies. The rating is based on how extensively each state conducts background checks for in home daycare providers. Gulley cited a couple of reasons for Virginia’s rating:
- The state does not regulate licenses of all facilities
- Fingerprints of these licensed providers are not checked against the FBI database
With these gaps in the system, Gulley says that without those actions taking place, the door is open for sex offenders to move undetected between states. For example, in Virginia the background check might only include checking the sex offender registry for Virginia, leaving a lot of room for sex offenders who have moved from other states to work at a child care facility, whether in home or otherwise. This is also a perfect example of the importance of county criminal record checks. If a background check is only done in the current state and/or county of residence, there’s a chance that criminal records or a listing in the sex offender registry are being missed.
A similar predicament surfaced in Maryland’s state education department. Here’s what happened according to an article by Watchdog Wire:
“A legislative audit of the Maryland State Department of Education found that MSDE did not adequately follow up on required criminal background checks alerts, failed to conduct required inspections of child care facilities, and did not perform timely reviews of the state’s child care subsidy eligibility requirements.”
When an audit was done by the Office of Legislative Audits, they found that in many cases the education department has not been following up to ensure that background checks are completed on each employee in daycare centers. In addition, it was reported that at times the Maryland Department of Education relied solely on verbal confirmations that any workers that received an alert on their background check were no longer employed.
Maryland and Virginia are not the only states who have had these issues. Across states the problems with background checks for child care providers vary, but overall, the issue may stem from the following:
- An incomplete background check
- Failure by the education department to follow up with criminal background checks on employees
- Education departments taking shortcuts such as only ordering the current state/county for the background check
It’s clear from the multitude of news stories that there are many child care facilities in every state that are lacking when it comes to screening their employees. Unfortunately, with so many in home child care providers across the country, it seems impossible to keep track of them all when it comes to licensing and background checks. In addition, it seems impossible for states to follow up with every facility, whether it’s in home child care or a daycare. However, with each news report, we can see that state education departments are taking notice of flaws in the system and are working to improve them.
For more on these stories:
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