Parents expect their children to be safe in child care. One way to protect children is to make sure you do not allow people who have a criminal history of child abuse or violence to care for or have access to the children in your center or family child care home.

What does a federal and state background check require?

Federal law requires that all states have policies in place to protect the health and safety of children in child care programs. Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia require background checks. However, not all of them require comprehensive background checks. A comprehensive background check should be conducted on all adults living in a family child care home and all staff employed in a child care center. This should include administrative, janitorial and kitchen staff. Contract staff who are in your program during operational hours and regular volunteers in both child care center and family child care programs should also have a comprehensive background screening. A comprehensive screening includes:

  • State and federal criminal history check using the individual's name.
  • State and federal criminal history check using the individual's fingerprint.
  • Child abuse registry check.
  • Sex offender registry check.

The links below list the types of background screenings your state requires. Check with your licensing agency for information about how often your state requires the background checks to be conducted.

How much does a background screening cost? Who pays?

The cost of local and state screenings varies by state and locality. A federal (FBI) screening is usually about $30. You may be required to pay for the cost of your background screening. Others can help share the cost, including:

  • State regulating/licensing office.
  • Child care provider projects or grants.
  • Employers.

Check with your local Child Care Resource and Referral agency (CCR&R) for more information. Find your CCR&R by contacting Child Care Aware® toll-free at 800-424-2246 or on the Web at www.childcareaware.org/en/.

What is needed to obtain a full background screening and where is it available?

To complete a full background screening, you may need a records request and fingerprint request forms. These forms are usually available from your law enforcement agency, licensing agency or CCR&R.