Arlington, VA- The National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) announced today its support for legislation introduced by U.S. Representatives Gwen Moore (D-WI), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Donald Payne (D-NJ), and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) that would require all child care providers caring for unrelated children to pass a criminal background check. The Child Care Accountability and Responsibility Act of 2012 (CARE for Kids Act) calls on states to conduct a fingerprint check against federal and state records and the sex offender, child abuse and neglect registries.
“Parents want their children safe in child care,” said Ollie M. Smith, Interim Executive Director of NACCRRA. “One of the best ways to ensure children’s safety is to require a comprehensive background check of child care providers. We commend Representatives Moore, Schakowsky, Ellison, Payne, and Slaughter, for their commitment to children and making their safety a top priority.”
NACCRRA regularly reviews state standards to determine whether or not states require a comprehensive background check for child care providers, among other health and safety requirements. NACCRRA recently found that only 11 states require a comprehensive background check. For child care centers, only 17 states require a check of the sex offender registry and only 26 states conduct a state and federal fingerprint check.
“Our polling shows that parents assume child care providers have undergone background checks, particularly those who are paid to care for children with federal or state dollars,” said Smith. “But, the reality is that most states do not conduct comprehensive background checks to ensure that those with violent criminal histories are not allowed to provide child care. In light of the fact that about $10 billion in government funding is spent on child care each year, federal funds should only support child care that is free from felons and child predators.”
Nearly 11 million children under age 5 are in some type of child care arrangement every week while their parents work. On average, children of working mothers spend 35 hours every week in child care. Studies repeatedly show that quality child care - care that provides a loving, safe, and age-appropriate environment -- helps children enter school ready to learn. Yet, less than 10 percent of the nation’s child care is of high-quality.
To ensure children’s safety and improve the quality of child care, NACCRRA recommends that Congress require all adult child care providers who regularly care for unrelated children to undergo a comprehensive background check. In addition, NACCRRA calls on Congress to establish minimum health and safety protections for children in child care and enforce those protections through quarterly inspections; require all child care workers to have at least 40 hours of initial training in basic health and safety, CPR, first aid, child development, and child abuse reporting and recognition and 24 hours of annual training.
“Taxpayer dollars should simply not pay convicted felons and sex offenders to care for our children,” said Smith. “Children should be safe in child care settings that promote their healthy development and well-being.”
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 all families have access to quality, affordable child care. 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 quality child care for all families, visit us at www.naccrra.org.