Oregon Daycares Question State Background Check Policies

By Michael Klazema on 4/14/2015

Daycares in Oregon are questioning the state's background check policies, but not because they don't want to screen their employees and volunteers. On the contrary, according to KOIN 6 News in Beaverton, Oregon, several daycares throughout the state are wondering if state officials are completely doing their jobs when it comes to running background checks for daycare workers.

The gripe with Oregon's daycare background check laws comes after Venture Kidz Children's Center, a daycare located in Beaverton, hired a worker with a 2013 misdemeanor conviction for assault. The daycare center had complied with all laws and policies, and had run a background check on the worker through the state's Early Learning for Public Affairs office. Since the state only sends back results presented in a pass/fail format, though, Venture Kidz never actually knew that the worker had a criminal record.

According to state officials, the worker was thoroughly background checked, and the Early Learning for Public Affairs department was aware of the assault charge. However, after the worker provided additional information and went through a professional mental health assessment, the state decided to record the background check as a pass. In turn, the individual was able to be hired at Venture Kidz and to work closely with children.

The director at Venture Kidz hasn't condemned the worker in question, or even suggested that a misdemeanor offense would have automatically disqualified the individual from working in a daycare environment. The issue here is that daycares in Oregon are not being given the privilege to know all the information there is to know about their employees. Instead, the state is deciding who is or is not fit to work with kids at daycares.

Daycare owners throughout Oregon, unsurprisingly, would like to have a bit more knowledge about who they are or are not hiring. Right now, the state takes care of the background checks and sends back a very brief document that more or less just says whether or not a daycare can hire the applicant in question. No specific findings of the criminal background check are included in these reports, which means that daycares don't necessarily know whether or not their employees have criminal history. They just know that, if a person has passed the check, then the state considers them hirable, despite any criminal history they may have.

In most cases, the state's word can probably be trusted. However, since the daycare owners are the ones whose reputations and businesses are at stake with the people they hire, it only seems fair that they should be trusted with full background check findings, in addition to the state's pass/fail recommendation.

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