Keeping children safe while they are in your care is your most important responsibility. One way to protect children is to screen the adults the children will have contact with in your child care. It is important to make sure you do not allow people with a history of child abuse or violence to care for or have access to the children in your program.
What Are the Federal and State Background Check Requirements?
Federal law requires states to have policies in place to protect the health and safety of children in child care. In November of 2014, the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) was reauthorized. This update to the law brought changes for child care background check requirements. This includes requiring that all states conduct comprehensive background checks on regulated child care providers. Visit the Office of Child Care’s website to learn more about the CCDBG Act of 2014; you’ll find resources for technical assistance and information on changes to the law.
A comprehensive background check should be completed for all child care employees. This includes bus drivers, janitors, kitchen staff and administrative employees. Volunteers in the program should also receive a comprehensive background check. In Family Child Care homes, all adults living in the home should be screened. Checks should be done for each state that the adult has lived in for the past five years.
Background checks should be completed before adults begin working or volunteering with children. In addition, periodic background checks should be conducted even after an adult begins working with children (or for adults living in a Family Child Care home). Your state may require updated background checks after a certain number of years. Check with your licensing agency to see how often background checks must be conducted.
A comprehensive background check includes:
- State and federal criminal history check using the individual’s name
- State and federal criminal history check using the individual’s fingerprints
- Child abuse registry check (this may also be known as the Child Protection Index)
- Sex offender registry check
States do not have to meet the requirements for comprehensive background checks until 2017. However, currently all fifty states and the District of Columbia require some form of background checks for child care. You can learn more about your state’s requirements by visiting our State by State Resource Map. Select your state from the box on the right, and click on the Child Care category. You’ll find information to contact your licensing agency as well as to learn more about background checks in your state.