Background Checks

Previously I have written about the need for schools and healthcare facilities to do a better job of checking the people they hire.  On the heels of that article, a story hit the news recently about an area day care center being operated by a convicted felon.  The story goes on to suggest that many day care centers, even the ones not operated by convicted felons, aren’t very careful about checking the backgrounds of the people they hire.  Even worse, a significant number of states don’t require much background checking at all when it comes to day care centers.

According to the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, thorough background check requirements are sorely lacking. Consider the following statistics: 21 states do not conduct fingerprint checks, 43 states do not check the sex offender registry for child care staff, and 24 states do not conduct a fingerprint check for family child care providers.

As a parent, how do you know whether the operator of the day care center you’re considering has done any background checking of its employees?  The point is, you don’t!  Various states require day care centers to carry out certain types of background checks; but, as can be seen, many states don’t require much of anything.  But even if a state doesn’t require day care centers to do background checks on the people they employ, wouldn’t it seem reasonable to expect day care centers to do background checks on its employees regardless of whether they’re required to or not?  Of course it does!

Therefore, if you’re going to place your child in the care of someone you don’t know, doesn’t it make sense to ask what sort of background checking has been done on their employees?  At the very least, a criminal background check, including a national sex-offender registry check should be done on every child care provider.  Personally, I would have severe reservations about even considering leaving a child at a day care center that didn’t check every employee.

On the other hand, if I were the owner of the day care center, I would feel it was my responsibility to do a background check on all my employees, to avoid the possibility of hiring someone who could pose a risk to the safety of the children in my charge.  But, obviously, there are plenty of day care centers that don’t check at all, and there are plenty of states that don’t require it!

If I were looking for a safe day care center for a child, I certainly wouldn’t pick one that couldn’t prove to me that a careful background check had been done on every employee – regardless of whether or not the state required it.