As the economy reopens and parents go back to work, the return to daycare will be a common topic of conversation. For months, daycares across the nation have been shuttered—some of them completely, others only operating to care for the children of healthcare professionals and other essential workers. While there is some discussion about whether daycares will be able to resume business at all following the economic blow dealt by COVID-19, it’s critical to consider one aspect of their return: background checks for childcare workers.
This article, published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, discusses how a post-pandemic shortage of childcare option could drive desperate parents to rely on lower-quality or less-proven options for daycare or nannying. Lower standards at these facilities heighten the risk of children suffering neglect or physical, mental, or sexual abuse. The article highlighted the importance of background checks for childcare workers, which often incorporate criminal history searches, sex offender registry searches, reference checks, license checks, and other factors.
It’s not just parents lowering their standards.
Writing for Spokane-based newspaper the Spokesman-Review, Gina Petry of the organization Radical Women Seattle cited Child Care Aware Washington statistics which indicate that more than 1,300 daycares will close permanently due to COVID-19. To reduce the burden on childcare providers and give them the best chance of reopening and staying financially viable, Washington Governor Jay Inslee relaxed requirements on background checks for childcare workers. Previously, to become a licensed childcare worker in Washington, an individual would need to go through a federal-level fingerprint background check; this requirement has been temporarily waived.
An Oregon audit released on June 4 by the Oregon Secretary of State Audits Division has underlined the profound importance of thorough background checks for childcare workers. Oregon tracks more than 10,000 cases of child abuse annually. Statistically, most of those crimes are committed by parents or family members, but some involve professional childcare workers. The audit determined that the two entities responsible for vetting licensed childcare workers in the state—the Department of Education’s Office of Child Care and the Department of Human Services Background Check Unit—had approved licenses for individuals with criminal convictions for child abuse or child neglect.
A problem, auditors said, is that Oregon’s system has two entities running background checks for childcare workers instead of one (the norm in most states). This structure creates inconsistencies in how the Office of Child Care and the Background Check Unit run background checks and decide which red flags merit disqualification from licensing.
During the pandemic, many parents were working from home and caring for their kids on their own. That situation was the result of both necessity and convenience created by the closures of schools, daycares, and many workplaces. Now that the economy is beginning to reopen, daycare will become a vital resource for parents and families once again. At backgroundchecks.com, we can provide background checks to give parents or daycare providers peace of mind as they decide who to trust with the care of children.