Van Hollen, Burr Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve Child Care Protection
U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) have introduced the Child Care Protection Improvement Act. This bipartisan legislation would create a task force to assist states in the process of implementing background check requirements for child care workers.
“As we work to make sure childcare is affordable for families in Maryland and across the country, we must have a better system that maximizes safety and provides parents peace of mind about who is watching their children,” said Senator Van Hollen. “But far too many states have been slow to implement the criminal background check requirements, including interstate checks, that are already in place under the law. We need to change that. This bipartisan legislation will help states make the improvements necessary to ensure a high-quality childcare workforce and a safe environment for every child.
“The Child Care Protection Improvement Act of 2019 makes critical child protection safeguards even better. As families and as taxpayers, we need to know that publicly supported child care provides a safe environment for our children. Background checks for child care staffers are an integral part of ensuring safety. But as we’ve learned, a lack of interstate coordination can unnecessarily complicate and even undermine this protection. I commend Senator Burr and Senator Van Hollen for insisting that we find solutions,” said Margaret E. Williams, Executive Director, Maryland Family Network.
“Protecting our children’s safety has always been, and will always be, a top priority for me,” said Senator Burr. “This commonsense legislation will help states meet the standards for implementing these practical requirements in a timely manner to give working parents a peace of mind and better safeguard our children.”
When the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program was reauthorized in 2014, criminal background check requirements for child care workers hired by providers who receive federal funding under the CCDBG program were included. Currently, the CCDBG program is the primary source of federal funding for child care assistance.
While 35 states qualified for a waiver to implement the background check requirements through September 2019, only two states are in full compliance. The remaining states were either placed on corrective action plans or issued penalty notices. States are required to be in full compliance with the background check requirements by September 30, 2020. Various state laws have created challenges in implementing the requirements, leading to delayed hiring of child care workers, wasted financial resources, and continued child safety risks.
This legislation will better equip states with ways to address these challenges by creating a task force to identify the problems, develop recommendations and best practices, and provide technical assistance to Federal and State agencies as they continue to implement these requirements.
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