Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
On June 3, 2020, the Oregon Secretary of State Audits Division released an audit titled “Oregon Department of Education, Oregon Department of Human Services, and Oregon State Police: Oregon Should Improve Child Safety by Strengthening Child Care Background Checks and the State’s Sex Offender Registry” that found Oregon needs to improve child safety with stronger background checks for child care workers.
The audit found Oregon provides little guidance on which criminal backgrounds are permissible for child care workers and needs an improved sex offender registry. While most child care providers have clean records, the Oregon Department of Education’s Office of Child Care (OCC) and Department of Human Services Background Check Unit (BCU) approved child care workers who committed crimes such as child “abuse and neglect.”
The audit requested by the governor’s office revealed the OCC and BCU do not consider some convictions an automatic disqualification, even though the state does for jobs involving children. According to the audit, more than 10,000 children are abused every year in Oregon, with almost half being under six years old. “While family members most often committed the abuse and neglect, a small subset of perpetrators were child care providers.”
The audit concluded that background checks for child care workers in Oregon need strengthening. “Oregon has not implemented background requirements beyond federally disqualifying crimes as some other states have. Oregon statutes and rules allow for additional considerations through a fitness determination in an effort to balance child safety with the employment opportunity rights of child care providers,” the audit read.
“These allowances have resulted in the approval of some providers who have histories of concerning criminal convictions or involvement in founded cases of abuse and neglect. Additionally, inconsistencies, gaps, and delays in the existing process can limit the value and effectiveness of background checks.” The audit – which includes a list of recommendations – is available at https://sos.oregon.gov/audits/Documents/2020-21.pdf.
Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global provider of background checks – has prepared a free online Child Protection Training Resource Guide designed to create awareness among non-mandated reporters about the signs and circumstances surrounding child abuse in response to requests from organizations wanting a resource to help train volunteers. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.
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