Two popular caregiver screening websites that help people find babysitters and elder care helpers using background checks performed by national background screening firms approved several applicants with arrest records, according to a report by NBC Chicago’s Unit 5 Investigative Team. The report, which checked the reliability of the information these babysitter screening websites provided, is available at http://www.nbcchicago.com/investigations/unit-5-babysitter-background-checks-179041071.html. Continue reading
By Thomas Ahern, ESR News Staff Writer
A story in the Daytona Beach (FL) News-Journal reveals that an ongoing investigation into Florida’s local child care licensing office found that some local child care facilities have not been implementing criminal background checks on all child care employees.
According to the News-Journal, files in over 100 child care centers and homes providing child care in one county were found to be “in disarray” regarding background checks and inspections because of problems with some former workers at the state Department of Children and Families (DCF). One worker was fired and two others have since resigned.
It is not clear how many child care employees without current background checks are still supervising children, the News-Journal reported, since preliminary investigations by the DCF into one of its child care licensing offices showed some DCF workers had falsified records and did not ensure that child care centers had current background checks in files.
The investigation into the office was sparked by an anonymous report about inspections not being done properly after an incident in April at one of the child care facilities in which a toddler and a 4-year-old girl walked away from the center and were gone for at least a half hour before being found by a neighbor, the News-Journal reported.
In response to a public records request, preliminary reports by DCF licensing staff released to the Daytona Beach News-Journal show that:
- Eighty-eight child care centers or homes providing child care did not have current background checks in their files.
- Fifteen checks and a money order were found in drawers or files that had either not been sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) for background checks or were not cashed by DCF for license renewals.
- In some cases, child care centers thought the employees had an approved background checks because the money was sent to DCF.
While the News-Journal reports that DFC officials have not found any indication that child safety was compromised, DCF officials have stated that not all background screenings have been completed and that it is “a work in progress.”
For more information on background checks, please visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at http://www.esrcheck.com.
by Thomas Ahearn, ESR News Staff Writer
A letter to Austin (MN) Daily Herald sheds light on a national problem of lack of background checks for child care providers, so claims the author.
In her letter, Linda K. Smith, Executive Director, National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, was “deeply troubled” after reading that a Plymouth, Minnesota man who was charged with possession and distribution of child pornography had worked and volunteered in a number of child care facilities in Minnesota. She was concerned that an individual charged with a horrible crime had numerous opportunities to be in contact with small children.
Smith wrote that since the state of Minnesota does not require child care providers to undergo a comprehensive background check, including fingerprints, no one knows if the accused individual has a criminal past, and no one can know the full criminal history of the providers currently caring for Minnesota’s children.
Smith also added that while many parents assume child care providers in licensed care have had a background check, “the reality is that only half of states require a fingerprint check and only 16 require a check of the sex offender registry.”
Smith believes “the best way to ensure children are safe and protected from predators and felons in child care is to require comprehensive background checks of child care providers. A comprehensive background check means a check of federal and state fingerprints, as well as checks of the child abuse and sex offender registries.”
She urges the state ensure the safety and well-being of Minnesota’s children in child care by enacting legislation that will require comprehensive background checks of child care providers.
Minnesota is not alone in dealing with problems concerning background checks of child care providers. Recently, the Governor of Florida signed a new law strengthening background checks for caregivers. Starting August 1, the law will require workers who care for children, the elderly, and the disabled in the state of Florida to undergo stricter background checks.
The law follows a 2009 series by the Sun-Sentinel newspaper that exposed gaps in Florida’s background check system. A six-month investigation by the newspaper found convicted felons with records for rape, child abuse, and murder had been hired as employees of day care centers, assisted living facilities, and home health care agencies.