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Pennsylvania Representative Fights for Stronger Daycare Background Checks

By Michael Klazema on 2/4/2014

Recently, laws have passed in numerous states that have required daycare facilities to institute stricter background checks on their employees. On New Year’s Day, Georgia even activated a new law that requires all childcare workers throughout the state – existing employees and new applicants alike – to submit to nationwide fingerprint criminal background checks. However, screening processes for caretakers who run daycares out of their homes have largely remained more lenient and less defined across the board. That’s a vulnerability in the system that Mike Schlossberg, a Democrat state representative from Pennsylvania, is hoping to address within his state

The Pennsylvania politician recently announced plans to reveal a new piece of legislation that would require in-home daycare workers to submit to the same kind of background checks as everybody else. As Pennsylvania’s current childcare background check law stands, in-home daycares – where the resident of the home supervises and cares for up to three children they are not related to – are not beholden to any form of background investigation. Schlossberg views that as a major loophole that could potentially put children in serious danger, and is seeking to correct the issue with a new bill.

Schlossberg’s new law would require in-home daycares to pass background checks prior to being allowed to supervise children. The checks would look for any type of criminal history or child abuse, as the screenings run in bigger daycare centers currently do. Furthermore, the checks would not be limited to the resident caregiver at the in-home daycare. On the contrary, any adult resident of the home would have to pass the same background check before the state would legally allow the house to be utilized as a daycare. So if a woman wanted to run a daycare out of her house, not only would she have to pass a background check and prove a clean record, but her husband, boyfriend, siblings, or any other adult guest living or staying in the home would have to as well.

In Schlossberg’s estimation, the current system sends the message that only larger daycare institutions are a priority. But while a sex offender, child abuser, or some other type of predator could cause a great amount of damage in a large daycare facility, simply due to the size of the business and the number of children receiving care there, an offender could still do horrible damage in an environment with fewer children. For that reason, Schlossberg believes there is a necessity for a law that provides equal protection for all children placed in a daycare, whether they are surrounded by 20 other children or alone in the house with their caregiver. Schlossberg has support in this matter from a number of Pennsylvania organizations, including numerous childhood education professionals and child welfare institutions.

Sources: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/01/proposed_law_would_close_child.html



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