North Dakota Makes Changes for Speedier Day Care Background Checks

By Michael Klazema on 5/16/2019

Daycares provide a valuable service for working parents everywhere, one that is almost always in high demand. While daycare owners may rarely worry about lacking business, they face strict requirements governing their operations. Parents are rightfully concerned about whether the daycare environment provides a safe space and who is looking after their children. Background checks, including those available through, form an essential part of establishing that confidence—but with sluggish state turnaround times, background checks can also be an obstacle to effective daycare operation. 

In North Dakota, daycares have reported staffing concerns and challenges related to the implementation of federal legislation passed in 2014. Before 2018, day cares could hire new employees, file a fingerprint-based background check, and allow individuals to begin work immediately so long as they did so under the supervision of a cleared employee. As the federal law came into effect in October of 2018, that procedure was phased out. Now, all applicants must wait for a background check to clear to begin working.

According to the Grand Forks Herald, this change created the potential for serious staffing problems for daycares throughout the state. Slow processing times and the need to occasionally seek records held by police in other states translated into wait times as long as a month, sometimes stretching up to nearly 90 days. Some daycare owners said they’d lost the opportunity to hire qualified individuals as their prospective hires did not want to wait to begin working and sought other opportunities.

To address these concerns, North Dakota has taken two steps aimed at lightening the burden. 

First, it received a waiver on the new rules from the federal government allowing daycares to temporarily resume the old procedures further into this year. Second, the state pledged to streamline its systems and redesign its forms to facilitate faster and easier background checks with fewer avoidable problems, such as poor penmanship. Using a new online form, the state hopes to cut down on delays on both sides of the process. Officials said the refreshed processes were allowing most applicants to receive clearance within about a week, removing pressure from businesses and applicants. 

For job seekers who’ve lived outside of North Dakota, it can still be a lengthy wait. Requesting information from other states can prove time-consuming, with some states taking weeks or months to respond to requests for criminal data. These delays are costly to all involved and highlight the need for a strong state-based vetting infrastructure. Daycares should be safe places—and the ability to quickly access a detailed background check report on an applicant contributes to that safety. offers childcare organizations robust options for vetting and clearing staff to work with children. From a comprehensive, multi-jurisdictional background check such as the US OneSEARCH to professional license and reference verification, due diligence is just a few clicks away. Every daycare deserves access to the tools that foster a safer place for young children—including robust, reliable background checks and supportive state-based procedures. 

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