All caregivers/teachers and staff in early care and education settings (in addition to any individual age 18 and older, or a minor over age 12 if allowed under State law and if a registry/database includes minors, residing in a family child care home) should undergo a complete background screening upon employment and once at least every five years thereafter. Screening should be conducted as expeditiously as possible and should be completed within 45 days after hiring.  Caregivers/teachers and staff should not have unsupervised access to children until screening has been completed. Consent to the background investigation should be required for employment consideration. The comprehensive background screening should include the following:

  1. A search of the State criminal and sex offender registry or repository in the State where the child care staff member resides, and each State where such staff member resided during the preceding 5 years;
  2. A search of State-based child abuse and neglect registries and databases in the State where the child care staff member resides, and each State where such staff member resided during the preceding 5 years; and
  3. A Federal Bureau of Investigation fingerprint check using Next Generation Identification.

Directors/programs should review each employment application to assess the relevancy of any issue uncovered by the complete background screening, including any arrest, pending criminal charge, or conviction, and should use this information in employment decisions in accordance with state laws.

Why this Standard is important

To ensure their safety and physical and mental health, children should be protected from any risk of abuse or neglect. Although few persons will acknowledge past child abuse or neglect to another person, the obvious attention directed to the question by the licensing agency or caregiver/teacher may discourage some potentially abusive individuals from seeking employment in child care. Performing diligent background screenings also protects the child care facility against future legal challenges. Having a state credentialing system can reduce the time required to ensure all those caring for children have had the required background screening review.

About Dr Fiene

Dr. Rick Fiene has spent his professional career in improving the quality of child care in various states, nationally, and internationally. He has done extensive research and publishing on the key components in improving child care quality through an early childhood program quality indicator model of training, technical assistance, quality rating & improvement systems, professional development, mentoring, licensing, risk assessment, differential program monitoring, and accreditation. Dr. Fiene is a retired professor of human development & psychology (Penn State University) where he was department head and director of the Capital Area Early Childhood Research and Training Institute.
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