When a new daycare opens in any state, it must undergo inspections that will assure its safety and quality for the care of children. All workers who work at that facility must also undergo training and background checks in order to prove their expertise and ability to work with children. Unfortunately, in Illinois, of the 12,000 day care facilities currently in operation, more than 6,000 have not yet had their required inspections and are waiting for their background checks to be processed. Illinois daycares are responsible for the care of approximately 300,000 children, but right now, it is unclear if they are maintaining health, safety, and curriculum standards or if they are employing lawful individuals.
The Illinois Department of Child and Family Services plans to hire four new people to take care of their backlog of background checks alone. They also hope to hire more inspectors, so they can catch up on the annual requirement. Every daycare receives a three year license which includes both planned and unplanned inspections to make sure they are up to code. It will likely take several months to hire and train new inspectors to take care of these procedures. Some daycares worry that their grant money will be revoked because their licenses have expired. They will have to wait for their turn on the long list of inspections in order to get those renewals though. The DCFS says that in order to hire additional staff, they will have to cut funding from other family programs, though they didn’t comment as to which ones.
It’s unclear how the department got so far behind in the first place. Either the rate of daycares opening has increased at unexpected rates or they simply allowed their work to pile up. It might be a good idea for the department to outsource their background check processes in order to save money and time. By partnering with experienced organizations like backgroundchecks.com, they can gain affordable and instant access to national criminal databases like US OneSEARCH and US Offender OneSEARCH. Then, with the money they save on those types of searches, they can allocate more funds to the hiring of inspectors. Otherwise, Illinois may be a magnet for sex offenders seeking employment in childcare organizations until the problem is resolved. There has been no mention of whether or not the department is making changes, but the media attention they are getting has certainly put pressure on their program that should move them to quicker action.
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