Georgia Now Requires National Background Checks for Child Care Workers

By Michael Klazema on 5/3/2013

On May 1, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed a bill into law which will require national background checks for all employees that will be working with kids in Georgia child care facilities.

The bill came about in response to a case involving Macon, GA’s Progressive Christian Academy. The former owner of the academy, Betty Tolbert, alleged that the company she had turned to for assistance with the school’s financial problems defrauded her and took over ownership of the school. When Georgia officials investigated, they discovered that one of the new owners, Christina Hawkins, had a criminal record.

Hawkins’ criminal record was not detected at the time she took over Progessive Christian Academy for two reasons. First, her conviction was in Florida, and Progressive Christian Academy only ran a Georgia background check on her. Secondly, her conviction was under an alias, Christina Perera.

By using more robust background check tools, Progressive Christian Academy could have uncovered Hawkins’ criminal past beyond the state borders. For example, they could have used a tool like US OneSEARCH from, which enables employers to comb through a national database consisting of over 450 million records and instantly uncover criminal records related to the individual in question.

To uncover the alias, Progressive Christian Academy could have used US AliasSearch from This tool uses a social security trace to uncover all known aliases, including maiden names. Then, all these aliases are run through the robust US OneSearch database. This tool could have revealed the fact that Christina Hawkins, aka Christian Perera, had convictions under other names while living in Florida.

As it turned out, Hawkins was actually on parole at the time she was hired by Progressive Christian Academy. She violated her parole by lying about her new employment to her probation offices, and there was actually a warrant out for her arrest in December of 2012.

This incident made Georgia legislators realize that child care centers in the state were not performing thorough enough background checks on all employees. While Hawkins’ convictions didn’t indicate any predilection for harming or abusing children, as a felon she is still not exactly a desirable role model for or a good influence on the children at the school.

The bill, which was signed into law today, will result in better protection for children by requiring national background checks, including fingerprinting, for all child care workers. This will do a better job to detect individuals with criminal backgrounds, even if their crimes were committed in a different state or under a different name.

Georgia is just the latest in a series of states that have been passing laws mandating more rigorous background checks for employees working with children. The trend seems to be sweeping the nation, and other states may soon adopt similar legislation.


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