In Louisiana and other states across the country a change in federal law is creating a headache. New enhanced criminal background checks for child care employees went into effect March 1st.
The new check requires everyone submit to state and federal fingerprint based criminal background checks and checks of state and federal sex offender registries. Now 16,000 current employees and all new hired have to be run through the Louisiana system by September 30th.
Background check sites will be placed across the state, at locations such as UPS stores, but digital security firm, Gemalto, has encountered a firmware issue, and the rollout has been delayed, putting background checks on hold.
“As a business owner it makes you have sleepless nights,” says Alan Young. Young is the owner of the Southland Park Learning Center in Shreveport. He also serves on the child care association board of Louisiana, and the Louisiana Advisory Council for the Department of Education.
“It’s getting to be what I call critical mass,” says Young, “where it’s going to be where you have to start making decisions about what you’re going to do because you don’t have approved staff, and you’re not allowed to work, clock even one minute, without having a full clearance.”
Young says child care facilities with higher staffing numbers should be okay, but smaller day care centers could run into problems. The state has been working to provide temporary relief but they won’t allow a new hire that hasn’t undergone the enhanced criminal background check. It could force a company to violate staff-child ratio law, or the new background law, a decision that could put their license in jeopardy.
“Until the system gets up there’s going to be some really hard questions that center operators are going to have to ask is do I violate one law, one rule, or do I tell parents to take their kids home,” says Young.
The Louisiana Department of Education says background check sites should become operational early next week. In a statement released to NBC 6 / FOX 33 Wednesday it states:
“Statewide sites will be available next week. In the meantime, workers needing to be hired immediately may travel to Baton Rouge and receive reimbursement for costs.”
Once the enhanced background check system is working, new hires will be prioritized to ease staffing concerns.