The health and welfare of your child is every parent’s top priority but when you leave your kids at daycare, how do you know they are in safe hands? There are various rules that daycare centers have to follow including running background checks on all their staff.
But what do these checks entail and how can you be sure they haven’t missed anything. In this guide, we will tell you everything you need to know about daycare background checks including how to check up on the background of staff yourself.
When you drop your child off at daycare, do you ever stop and wonder just who it is you are leaving them with? Daycare is all about trust and when we leave our children, we are trusting the individuals and the center to care for them properly.
But how can we be sure they are? There are various laws and regulations that govern the childcare industry and those that work in the sector should be subject to rigorous vetting before getting their job.
At the heart of this vetting process is a background check. But what exactly does that background check include and is there a chance that it could miss something important?
In this article, we will explain exactly what is looked for in a daycare background check. We will also tell you how you can run your own background checks on daycare staff to put your mind at ease that your child is in safe hands and recommend the best sites to use.
Best daycare background checking site
Our researchers have been testing all the top public background checking sites to see which are best at revealing accurate information about daycare staff.
They have now reported back and we are able to reveal the top two sites for finding accurate and relevant information about daycare staff and finding it fast. They are:
TruthFinder was able to provide unerringly accurate throughout our tests and with accuracy the most prized feature for daycare background checks, they come highly recommended. TruthFinder didn’t put a foot wrong, even with complex queries. While the speed of their work was not quite as consistent as some other sites, their reports were first-class
The desktop dashboard and mobile apps were impressive too and all the information they found was compiled into a well-structured and accessible report that was very user-friendly.
TruthFinder also has a responsive 24/7 customer support team available on a toll-free number. There is a genuine sense that the customer is their top priority and that is always reassuring.
Instant CheckMate was the fastest site we tested but this high-speed service didn’t mean they compromised on accuracy. This site produced impressive and detailed information and it did so fast. Faster, in fact, than every other site we tested.
Instant CheckMate also offers nice apps and a good dashboard. Their customer service was very helpful and their reports, while detailed, were never too difficult to decipher.
At $34.78 per month, or with a discount, a three-month subscription for $27.82 per month, they are not the cheapest site around. But if speed and accuracy are what you need, it is definitely worth paying a little more.
What is a background check?
A background check is an automated online tool that searches through publicly available information to compile a detailed report about the background of any individual US citizen.
It is not commonly known but there is actually a huge amount of information about everyone in the USA that is held in the public domain. Accessing this information used to be a time-consuming and arduous task that involved searching through hard-copy files manually.
But the advent of digitization has changed that and now the vast majority of public data is stored in massive databases. Much of this data can be accessed online and the information available includes things like:
- Criminal records (state, county, and city)
- Licenses held
- Education history (high school and college)
- Employment history
- Work authorization
- Credit history
- Driving record
- Social media profiles
The background checking industry sprang up in response to this development. They created tools and algorithms that are able to search through these public records in moments and pull together information from hundreds of different sources in just a few minutes.
As the technology has developed, so too has its uses and background checks now have many uses including:
- Employment checks – Employees often like to run a background check before hiring someone to ensure their resume is accurate and they aren’t hiding anything that would stop them from being hired.
- Renting an apartment – a lot of landlords like to run background checks on tenants before renting them an apartment or house.
- Criminal checks – Some people often like to run checks on neighbors and other people in their lives to ensure they are hiding a secret criminal past.
- Finding out more about someone – We all have that mysterious person in our lives we wish we knew more about. If you really want to know more, a background check is a quick and easy way to do just that.
- Finding a lost family member or friend – If you have a long-lost aunt, cousin, or half-sister you would love to track down but have no contact details for, a background check can help you find them quickly and easily.
- Finding out what information about you is out there – Before applying for a job, or just out of curiosity, you might want to know what information about yourself is publicly available. Running a background check is a quick and easy way to find out.
An important distinction to make is between professional background checking sites and public ones.
Background checks for employment purposes are regulated by a number of laws, most notably the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). These are designed to stop companies using background checks to discriminate against people unreasonably. Professional sites are designed to automatically comply with these various rules and regulations and leave out information that isn’t permitted.
Public background checking sites can be used by anyone and are not governed by such regulations. They can reveal any information that is held in the public domain which means sometimes they include more information. But these sites cannot be used for professional purposes.
What is a daycare background check?
In 2014, the Federal Child Care and Development Block Grant was updated. This is the law that requires all US States to implement policies to protect kids in childcare.
This update to that law made it compulsory for every state to run “comprehensive background checks” on any regulated childcare facility or provider.
A key definition to spot here is ‘regulated’ childcare facility or provider. This means that the law applies to any such facility that is licensed by the state. If your daycare provider isn’t licensed in this way, it is likely to be a smaller facility, perhaps in a home. Even then, these facilities are encouraged to comply with the relevant standards.
Licensed providers have to meet health and safety requirements, pass regular inspections, and conduct background checks on all staff. Unregulated providers do not have to, but if they want to ensure the confidence of parents, they should do.
What does a daycare background check include?
While the requirement to conduct a background check on all daycare staff is mandated by federal law, it is up to individual states to ensure they take place. It is also down to individual states to decide how to define the term “comprehensive”.
As a result, the type of background check daycare staff are subjected to will differ depending on the state that they are working in.
In broad terms, you can expect a daycare background check to involve searches for the following information:
- Criminal history – searching through criminal databases at federal and state level to see if there is any criminal record on file. Under the FCRA, employers are only legally allowed to look at records for the previous seven years.
- Sex offender registry – A search should be conducted of the National Crime Information Center’s National Sex Offender Registry and any state registers or repositories.
- Abuse or neglect registers – Any records on state-based child abuse or neglect registers should be found.
- Fingerprints – A search of the FBI fingerprint database to ensure applicants are linked to any unsolved crimes.
Daycare background check limitations
There are some limitations on daycare background checks that some parents might be concerned with.
Firstly, all database and registry checks will only look back five years. It is, therefore, possible for an applicant with a more historic entry to still be employed by a regulated daycare center.
These checks do have to be repeated but only every five years. This means it is possible that a person could offend while in employment and hide it from their employer for several years.
While criminal record checks at federal and state level are required, there is no such requirement at county level. A check of county criminal records is advised but not obligatory.
There are also some limitations to what background checks can find. All background checking sites use different data sources and while these are supposed to be up-to-date, some are better at this than others. It is, therefore, possible that a daycare background check can miss relevant information.
How to run your own background check on daycare staff
If you are concerned about the risk daycare staff might pose to your children, or just want peace of mind, you are able to run a background check yourself.
Public background checking sites can be comprehensive, quick and even reveal more information than professional ones.
They are easy to run too and you only need a bare minimum amount of information to get going. If you know the name of a daycare provider and the city or town they live in, that should be enough to enable a site to pull together a comprehensive background check report which will tell you everything you need to know about them.
The only difficulty with running a background check is deciding which of the many sites that are on the market right now to use. But we can help you there too.
Nothing is more important than the health and welfare of your children so when you leave them at daycare you want to know they are 100% safe.
Under federal law, all daycare staff are required to have undergone a background check and in this guide, we have explained what information is considered. But we have also discussed where there are loopholes in the guidelines that could let some people slip through the net.
If you want the peace of mind of knowing for sure that your child is in safe hands at daycare, you can choose to run your own background check to ensure there is nothing in the staff’s background you need to worry about.
In this article, we have explained how to do this and also recommended the top two background checking sites to use.
Have you got children in daycare? Have you worried about their safety or any of the staff and decided to run a background check yourself? Did that check reveal anything you weren’t expecting? Did it reassure you or confirm your worst fears? Which background checking site did you use?
We always welcome feedback and stories from our readers, so if you any experiences you would like to share or tips for our readers, please do share them using the comment box below.