Press Releases

Recent GAO Report on the Employment of Sex Offenders at Child Care Facilities Highlights Serious Weaknesses in Background Check Verification

September 15, 2011

Findings strengthen NACCRRA's position in requiring comprehensive background checks for all child care providers

Arlington, VA- A report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that federal and state laws failed to prevent sex offenders from being hired at child care facilities. In at least 24 cases, individuals with prior convictions of serious sexual offenses were employed at child care facilities. Seven of those cases involved offenders who were previously found guilty of targeting children and in three of the cases, individuals used their access to children in child care to offend again.

GAO also discovered instances in which child care facilities knowingly hired sex offenders while receiving federal funds, did not conduct pre-employment background checks and operated without licenses.

To protect children in child care settings, the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) recommends that Congress require all paid child care providers who regularly care for unrelated children, to undergo a comprehensive background check. A comprehensive background check includes a fingerprint check against federal criminal records, a fingerprint check against state criminal records, a check of the child abuse registry, and a check of the sex offender registry. Currently, the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), the law that allocates funds to states for child care, does not require a background check for child care providers and only 17 states require a fingerprint check against the sex offender registry.

"Children should be safe in child care," said Linda K. Smith, Executive Director of NACCRRA. "To ensure that convicted sex offenders are kept out of child care facilities, states receiving federal funds for child care should be required to conduct comprehensive background checks for child care workers. Congress must make the reauthorization of CCDBG a top priority."

NACCRRA has been actively involved in efforts to require states to complete comprehensive background checks and improve the overall quality of child care. Legislation is currently pending in Congress to require comprehensive background checks, including fingerprints. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) has introduced the Child Care Protection Act (S. 581), Representative C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger (D-MD) has introduced the Child Care Protection Act of 2011 (H.R. 1726) and Representative André Carson (D-IN) has introduced the Child Care Criminal Background Check Act of 2011 (H.R. 1711).

"The GAO report is alarming. There is simply no excuse for sex offenders working in child care centers or living in homes where child care is provided," said Smith. "I hope this report will serve as a wakeup call to Congress. The status quo, which GAO shows has led to sex offenders in child care programs, is just wrong."

To read the complete GAO report click here.

For more information about the proposed background check legislation and NACCRRA's Background Check Campaign visit http://www.naccrra.org/policy/

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NACCRRA, the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, is our nation's leading voice for child care. We work with more than 600 state and local Child Care Resource and Referral agencies to ensure that families in every local community have access to high quality, affordable childcare. To achieve our mission, we lead projects that increase the quality and availability of child care professionals, undertake research, and advocate child care policies that positively impact the lives of children and families. To learn more about NACCRRA and how you can join us in ensuring access to high-quality child care for all families, visit us at www.naccrra.org.