A recent audit from the Department of Children and Families in Wisconsin found that felons and abusers were living at Wisconsin day care centers. Even though the audit couldn’t verify if they were actually living at the day care centers, just the thought of these criminals taking care of your kids is scary. Some of the cases included seven household members and one employee who either were convicted of felony battery or child abuse and neglect.
These findings show that there are gaps in Wisconsin state’s systems for conducting background checks on childcare operators. But it doesn’t stop there. In Florida, an audit found thousands of people with criminal pasts that included violent felonies, marijuana use and child abuse were also working in daycare centers.
The problem starts with hiring daycare providers. Most daycare providers are paid $8.00 an hour and in Florida, even though the law requires criminal background checks for child care employees, these people are allowed to begin work before screening is complete. Once the results are in, a process that can take months, people barred from working with children because of a criminal record can still qualify by obtaining an exemption finding that they have been rehabilitated.
As a result, many times this opens the door for rapists, pedophiles and even killers to work in childcare. In Florida, a statewide database of background screenings since 1985 showed at least 2,400 people were already employed in childcare before checks turned up their criminal records. Another 2,900 people with criminal pasts were cleared for day care work through exemptions, though some had been found guilty of crimes including child abuse, kidnapping and murder.
People with disqualifying criminal records can never be a public school teacher or even a bail bondsman in Florida. But they can still get jobs in child care, because exemptions are possible for any misdemeanor, regardless of how recent, and felonies committed more than three years earlier. Crimes committed by people granted exemptions include aggravated assault, arson, sexual battery, aggravated child abuse, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and domestic violence.
The best advice for parents is to do your homework. Ask for references for all childcare centers and check the Internet for pedophiles and sex abusers in your community. Because, maybe one of them may be living with your daycare provider or working as a daycare provider and you don’t want to take the chance that your child may be in danger.