A new legislation will be filed to demand stricterbackground checks and sex offender verification procedure for those wishing to become licensed in the early childhood education fields. The legislation is slotted to affect the state of Massachusetts, but the precedent could easily change the methodology for the entire country.
The proposed bill will make the requirements for the state’s background checks much stricter and add license suspensions and fines levied to those who do not properly require the checks to be enacted. It will also increase the taxation to the state’s overall oversight. The spark to the increased need for appropriate measures was a startling lacking of The Department of Early Education and Cares’ policy of these background checks in the state of Massachusetts.
More than two-thousand early child care centers in Lowell and Essex counties in Massachusetts alone were found to have failed in their duties to have their employees undergo strenuous background checks before employment. A report made in March showed many of these facilities were using poor methods to carry out their checks. This was in addition to the fact that many had cases of health and safety violations, few corrections were being made by the license-holders, and many inspection and background check notices were going unannounced. They also failed to verify licenses against the sex offender registry.
Many of these facilities were not using appropriate methods of sex offender database checking, failing to check all members of the new employee’s household, not just the personnel who have unsupervised contact with the children, and when violations were found, the corrective measures were not implemented properly. If the issue was not corrected, the state has a policy to remove the licensing from the holder. A report found that one hundred and nineteen licensed early education personnel were registered sex offenders, listed by their residence. The personnel had either not been working directly with the children or had changed addresses in the last six-months. Four of the facilities where these sex offenders were found employed, were without viable testing procedures and had their license revoked. These cases highlighted the need for increased background check efficiency and sex offender database checking in all accounts where children are being supervised.
The legislation being written would increase the requirements for these cases, making it necessary to thoroughly check all personnel against the sex offender’s registry and criminal records history, including those who lived in the same household as the potential employee. It would also require non-licensed personnel to receive the same cross-examinations, including those without unsupervised contact with the children and all members of in-home child care facilities over the age of fifteen. It would also require all changes in employment status to be reported to the proper authorities. The childcare facilities that fail in this duty would have their licenses suspended until such time as thebackground checks was completed, and those facilities that knowingly employed criminal offenders or registered sex offenders would lose their licensing and face jail time and/or fines.
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Author: Michael Klazema