According to a recent Associated Press article, the United States Department of Health and Human Services has stated that nearly three dozen states throughout the country now require federal fingerprint background checks for child care workers. Wisconsin became the latest addition to that list at the beginning of November, passing legislation that will require all child care providers working in the state to submit to an FBI fingerprint background check. The new employment screening process will go into effect in January, along with the state’s latest budget plan.
Wisconsin has been requiring FBI fingerprint scans on a limited basis for several years. In 2011, the state’s Department of Children and Families began instituting fingerprint scans for child care providers who had lived outside of the state within the three years prior to their employment. Until now, longtime state residents have only been subject to state background checks, with the logic that if they had any criminal activity, it would be on their state record.
However, Wisconsin’s decision to require FBI background checks for all child care workers—not just for new residents or for employees of child care centers, but also for in-home child care providers like nannies or babysitters—is a sign of the increased worry in the child care industry that workers may be using aliases to hide their pasts.
The Associated Press piece cited one specific example from Virginia, where a 13-week old infant died while in the care of a babysitter whom the parents had background checked through state records. When the parents ran a check on the caregiver’s social security sumber, they found a colorful criminal record dotted with convictions under aliases names associated with that social security number.
For Wisconsin, the new FBI background check provision is a means of making sure that fewer criminals “fall through the cracks” of their child care system. Fingerprinting will undoubtedly serve as a good weapon against evasive aliases and similar background check dodging methods. As was hinted at in the Virginia story, however, uncovering additional criminal records under alias names, can also be achieved by using private criminal database searches that use the subject's social security number to uncover alias names, like the ones offered in backgroundchecks.com starter package. Those report also includes nationwide criminal checks and offender registry checks, with prices as low as $15 per search.