Arlington, VA - The National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) announced its support for legislation introduced today by U.S. Representatives Gwen Moore (D-WI), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Kay Granger (R-TX) entitled the “Child Care Accountability and Responsibility Act of 2009 (CARE for Kids Act of 2009).” This Act calls on states to require all child care providers caring for unrelated children to pass a criminal background check, which will include a check of federal and state fingerprints and a check of the sex offender and child abuse and neglect registries.
“Parents want their children in safe child care,” said Linda K. Smith, 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 and Granger for their commitment to children and making their safety a top priority through the introduction of the ‘Child Care Accountability and Responsibility Act of 2009’.”
Based on the results of recent reports conducted by NACCRRA that reviewed whether or not states require a comprehensive background check of child care providers, among other health and safety standards, NACCRRA found that only 10 states require a comprehensive background check. Only 15 states require a check of the sex offender registry. And only 25 states conduct a state and federal fingerprint check.
“Our polling shows that parents assume child care providers have had a background check, 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 a comprehensive background check to ensure that those with a violent criminal history are not allowed to provide child care. In light of the fact that about $12 billion in government funding is spent on child care each year, it makes sense to ensure that this money is only spent on child care that is free from felons and predators.”
Today, more than 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 36 hours every week in child care. Studies repeatedly have shown that high-quality child care - care that provides a loving, safe, stable 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. Additionally, NACCRRA calls on Congress to establish minimum health and safety regulations and enforce them through quarterly inspections; require all child care workers to have at least 40 hours of pre-service training and 24 hours of annual training; and authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to withhold funds from states that do not require minimum protections for children and do not conduct regular inspections of child care settings.