The Value & Importance of a Comprehensive Criminal Background Check for Daycare Providers

When parents choose a daycare center, it is out of necessity because they need to work. Doing so is a tough choice—and providers must take steps to respect that choice. That’s why a criminal background check for daycare workers isn’t optional. For most operators, it’s the law. Even where it isn’t, there is ample reason to conduct thorough vetting, monitoring, and training for prospective employees. The consequences of failing to do so can have long-lasting impacts on everyone involved.

Abuse at Daycare Centers Shocks Parents and Providers

Consider a recent incident that occurred in Maryland. In Oxon Hill, a daycare provider filmed and shared videos of herself tripping and throwing children to the ground. It wasn’t long before police identified and arrested the woman, who was also quickly fired from the daycare. The organization said they conducted all mandatory background checks and found no red flags.

This incident highlights two critical points. First, background checks aren’t predictive of future behavior. The woman in question had no criminal records or other strikes against her that might have provided a warning that she wasn’t suitable to work with children. Second, good vetting processes go beyond background checks to include other efforts. This combination of research and consideration alongside a preschool background check yields the best approach.

Checking child abuse registries and other databases for childcare workers may reveal past wrongdoing. For example, an extensive interview process could have helped in this situation. Organizational procedures such as disallowing adults from supervising children alone can also contribute, as the events were filmed without others present.

Ultimately, because the Oxon Hill facility took the appropriate steps, they will not face any legal repercussions—but the reputational damage could last much longer. 

A Connecticut Daycare Failed Parents and Children

In the most severe cases, daycares and preschools could face serious ramifications for failing to be careful when hiring. In Connecticut, one facility was completely shuttered for its lack of attention and poor policies, leaving workers without jobs and dozens of families scrambling to find another location.

At that facility, there was a persistent failure to conduct the mandatory background check for working in such schools. Many employees did not have any such check on file. Furthermore, state investigators uncovered numerous reports of neglect and potential abuse—not to mention occasions when young children were left alone and completely unsupervised. 

In this situation, the lapses involved led to the facility’s closure. In other cases, it could mean hefty fines, the risk of negligence lawsuits filed by parents, or possible criminal charges for the most severe violations. These actions can do more than damage your organization’s reputation or destroy it irreparably.

“What background checks do schools use?” is a common question from parents. Although good vetting can’t preclude every problem, it can stop many of them. Daycare providers must be able to show, clearly and concretely, all the steps they take to comply with the law and protect the kids in their care. Add in better oversight and thoughtful safety procedures, and there are real opportunities to make early childhood education the fun, safe environment it always should be.

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Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments

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