New Jersey Could Soon Require Background Checks for In-Home Day Care Providers

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by Phil Stilton

TRENTON-Those running family day care centers out of their homes in New Jersey may soon be subjected to federal background checks if a law moving through the state assembly reaches the desk of Governor Christie and he signs it.

The New Jersey Assembly wrote today:

All family day care providers would be required to undergo state and federal background checks under bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senators Joe Pennacchio and Shirley Turner and approved by the New Jersey Senate.

Under current law, prospective and current providers only have to undergo a child abuse registry check administered by the Department of Children and Families (DCF.) They are not, however, required to undergo standard state and federal criminal history record background checks.

“It is impossible to know how many child abusers are slipping through the cracks in the system without subjecting every day care employee to a criminal background check,” Senator Pennacchio (R-26) said. “Clearly, a child abuse record check is not sufficient enough to prevent predators from accessing our children. An innocent child who is cared for by a handful of people in a private residence is no less deserving of the State’s protection.”

A “family day care” is defined as a private residence in which child care services are provided for a fee to between three and five children at a time, for no less than 15 hours per week.

S-651 would mandate that all current and prospective family day care providers, as well as anyone who works at the day care, also submit to criminal background checks. 11 states currently have this law in place.

Under the bill, the New Jersey State Police would be required to notify DCF in the event that a current or prospective family day care provider is convicted of a crime or offense in this state after the background check has been performed. Additionally, anyone who refuses to submit to a background check would be denied an issuance or renewal certificate of registration as a family day care provider. Senator Pennacchio’s legislation is currently awaiting action in the Assembly.

“We cannot guarantee our children’s safety until we correct this unequitable, dangerous oversight in state law,” Senator Pennacchio added. “I thank Senator Turner for her leadership on this bill and I urge my colleagues in the Assembly to take up our cause as soon as possible.”