Louisiana Daycare Centers Brace for Background Check Cost Increases
Daycare operators in Louisiana are preparing for substantial increases in the cost of employee background checks. Per a recent report from The Advocate, a newspaper based in Baton Rouge, the price hikes stem from a new federal law. The law is intended to ensure more comprehensive protection of children at daycare centers, but daycare proprietors claim it will have unintended financial consequences.
Right now, state law in Louisiana requires daycares to conduct criminal background checks and fingerprinting on all employees, coverage explains. These checks, which are run through the Louisiana State Police, cost daycare centers $41 per employee. The new federal law will supersede Louisiana’s state law. It will require expanded background checks for daycare workers.
According to the Advocate report, the new background checks will include:
· Fingerprint-based checks of Louisiana state criminal record
· Fingerprint-based federal criminal background check
· Child abuse registry searches through Louisiana’s Department of Child and Family Service
· Sex offender registry searches of the Louisiana Sex Offender and Child Predator Registry and the National Sex Offender Registry
The expanded background checks will cost between $88 and $93 per worker—more than double what Louisiana daycares are paying right now. Any employees who have lived in another state for the past five years will have to go through more extensive checks, coverage notes, which will cost between $103 and $108 per person. The background checks are valid for five years, after which still-active daycare employees will have to go through the process again.
One of the biggest reported concerns among Louisiana daycares is that the new law applies to all employees—not just new hires. That means every daycare in the state will have to get all their current workers checked again even if those employees have recent state background checks on file. The deadline for compliance with the law is September 30, 2018.
The Louisiana Department of Education will process all the background checks. Daycare operators will have to submit applications for background checks to the agency. The article from The Advocate noted that the state will likely process roughly 16,000 daycare employee background checks in 2018. Some critics of the new federal law worry that the state won’t have time to process everything in time to meet the deadline.
The biggest stated concern for daycare operators is cost. The Advocate article mentioned one large Louisiana daycare center with 15 sites and about 500 employees. Depending on how many of those employees have lived outside of the state at any point in the past five years, the daycare will be looking at a final background check tab somewhere between $44,000 and $54,000.
Some daycare operators are wondering if they can pass the costs to employees, especially if a new hire goes through the background check and fails or leaves the company after just a few months. Department of Education officials said they would have to consult the Department of Labor to determine the answer to those questions.