Navigating Childcare Background Checks

Navigating Childcare Background Checks

Childcare is the heartbeat of any progressing community. It is merely impossible to over-estimate how important childcare is. Parents spend the lives of their children dealing with a revolving door of needs while trying to manage to give them the best that they, as parents, can offer. Most parents spend a considerable chunk of their earnings on providing high quality, convenient, and safe childcare for their children.

Background checks for childcare providers are one of the ways that parents and childcare programs ensure that children are safe and protected from harm. A background check is a process that a person or an organization utilizes to verify and ascertain the fact that a person is who they claim they are. A background check also offers ample opportunity for the employer to check a person’s level of education, history of employment, criminal record, and other activities that have happened in their past so that their validity is confirmed.

Anyone can work in childcare as long as they meet the required criteria for working in that industry. Typically, minors between the ages of 14 and 16 can be employed to work in a childcare center, but private babysitters can be as young as 8 in some states. Running a background check on a minor, however, can be challenging to navigate. The United States considers a minor as being under the age of 18. In a few states like Delaware and Nebraska, a minor is under the age of 19; and in Mississippi, a minor is under the age of 21. 

Background checks may be required by an employee on a minor applicant, by law. There are, however, certain restrictions that have been put in place for situations just like that. Legally, minors cannot give consent to a background check. Parents and guardians must authorize any family background checks. So, if providers like au pairs or nannies request that adults in a household provide a family background check, the children won’t be included without a waiver. It’s important to note that even when authorization has been obtained from parents for underage providers to be background checked, there are restrictions on the information employers can get about juvenile records. A minor’s sealed criminal records may not be accessible to employers. For the same reason, access may not be granted to an employee to see a minor’s credit information.

Childcare background checklist

For legal adults considering employment in childcare, a background check should be able to uncover some or all of the following information:

  • Criminal Records: Any arrests, felonies, or misdemeanors may be included in the results of a background check. As long as those records are not sealed, or expunged, or belong to minors, a proper background check should uncover them. Criminal records are especially vital in a background check because anyone with a history of homicide, kidnapping and related offenses, sex offenses, drug offenses, and bodily harm may not be employed to work in childcare. Children are precious and vulnerable, and it’s our job as parents to shield them from people who would prey on their innocence.
  • Verification Data: Criminal records are just one part of a background check. Work authorization, social media profiles, driving records, medical records (to some extent), credit history, and education history are typically in a background check. All of these are important to ensure that people are who they think are. A simple criminal record is not enough to verify employment history or education history. That is why all these details work hand in hand to produce the perfect profile of a proposed employee or worker in childcare.
  • Employment History: It is not unheard of for prospective workers in childcare to embellish their resumes or embroider their work history and experience to give them a more impressive look. These may include giving their job title a little tweak, or exaggerating how much experience they have. An ‘Experienced Childcare Assistant’ may only really have worked as a babysitter on weekends. An employment history check will involve contacting previous employers and verifying the information the applicant has provided.
  • Social Media Profile Records: Social Media is quite often the window into someone’s personal life. Social media is less formal and more personal, so people are free to express themselves, and project the version of themselves that they want the world to see. A proper background check for childcare should include their social media records. A person who replies “Eww” to a cute picture of a child covered in ice cream or who posts “I hate kids” probably has no business working in childcare. Wouldn’t it be great if we could list ALL these things in a background check? 

There are no clear-cut laws on how far a background check can go. The Fair Credit Reporting Act, however, limits the information that a background check can reveal. So, the most common answer to the question is seven years.

Difference between County, Regional, and State Background Checks

While they are often confused, there is a difference between County, Regional, and State Background Checks. A County background check will usually provide information that is present on file in a county courthouse or present in court databases. Misdemeanors and felonies committed in counties will be listed in this kind of background check. A Regional background check embodies different ramifications that differ by States and Regions. A State background check covers all the jurisdictions in the State, including Police Records and State Databases.

How much a background check costs depends on how much is investigated, how many places are checked, and the type of information searched. A background check can cost anything from $5 to $20 per agency, and each county, state, and municipal office has additional fees.

Overall, this means that you must be aware of what to search for on a background check, and how to verify that information. You could be getting a shallow background check that doesn’t tell you enough information about the provider. Never feel bad about rejecting someone because they are not equipped to take care of your child, and always empower yourself and your family members to make an informed decision about your children’s care.

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