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Senator Shirley K. Turner (D-Mercer) testifies during today’s Senate voting session.

TRENTON — Family day care providers would be required to undergo criminal background checks when registering with the state under a bill sponsored by Senator Shirley Turner that cleared the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today.

“Family day care providers are vital for the working families of New Jersey, and given their small size and informal operations we have been appropriately wary of creating too many rules and regulations. But, helping ensure these providers don’t have a criminal history is a common sense requirement that protects children and gives families much-needed comfort,” said Turner (D-Mercer, Hunterdon).

Under current law, a family day care is a private residence in which child care services are provided for a fee to no less than three and no more than five children at any one time for no less than 15 hours per week.  Family day care providers are not required to register with Division of Children & Families; instead, registration is voluntary.  Providers enrolled in the voluntary system are able to qualify for the purchase of insurance, enroll in the Child Care Food Program, list their homes with state wide child care resource and referral agencies, and provide care for children through state-funded programs.

The bill (S-2027) would require providers to undergo a criminal background check when registering with DCF or when renewing their registration. DCF would be prohibited from issuing a registration if the background check uncovers a record of conviction on a host of crimes, such as child abuse and aggravated assault. The bill does grant DCF with the power to provide exemptions to the law if the family day care provider has demonstrated rehabilitation, taking into account such factors as the age when the crime was committed and the date of the offense.

The bill was approved by a vote of 9-0 and now heads to the Senate floor.

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