We Still Need to Work on the Basics
Great things can happen for children when they spend time in high quality early learning environments. That is why we desperately need QualitystarsNY—to insure that early childhood programs in all venues of care provide the quality needed to help children succeed. However, we must also keep in mind that, the very basic issues of health and safety are not guaranteed to children who are in the care of 1.3 million child care providers every week in the U.S.
The Government Accounting Office (GAO) released a study last summer showing that neither federal nor state laws prevent sex offenders from working in child care facilities. Criminals gained access to programs as maintenance workers, spouses or friends of providers, a cafeteria worker or a cook. According to a report issued in response from the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA), “In at least 24 cases, individuals with prior convictions of serious sexual offenses were employed at child care facilities. Seven of those cases involved offenders who were previously found guilty of targeting children and in three of the cases, individuals used their access to children in child care to offend again.”
To prevent violent criminals from having access to child care programs, it is clear that the government must at least require comprehensive background checks. This would include a fingerprint check against federal and state criminal records, a check of the child abuse registry, and a check of the sex offender registry. Currently, the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant, which provides child care funds to states, does not require a background check for child care providers and only 17 states require a fingerprint check against the sex offender registry. There are several bills before Congress to offer this protection, and there have been for years.
As NACCRRA concludes in their report, “Parents expect their children to be safe in child care. Children should be safe in child care.”