TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner requiring the mandatory background checks of family day care providers cleared the Assembly today.
“Many families are struggling to keep up with the costs of child care, and family child care providers are often a more affordable option for working parents,” said Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon/Mercer). “However, these parents deserve to know that their provider and the caretakers in those homes have not been convicted of crimes that may place their children’s safety at risk. This protection is long overdue.”
Under current law, a family day care is a private residence in which child care services are provided for a fee to three to five children at any one time for no less than 15 hours per week. Family day care providers are not required to register with the Department of Children and Families (DCF); 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 statewide child care resource and referral agencies, and provide care for children through state-funded programs.
The bill, S-651, provides that as a condition of issuance or renewal of a certificate or registration as a family day care provider, DCF is to ensure that a State and federal criminal history record background check be conducted on a person registering as a prospective or current family day care provider. Furthermore, assistants, substitute providers, or any household member 18 years of age or older of the prospective or current family day care provider would also be subject to the background checks.
The bill also provides that DCF is not to issue a certificate or renewal of registration to a prospective or current family day care provider if the criminal history record background checks required under the bill reveals a record of conviction for any of the 14 crimes and offenses enumerated in the bill. The crimes include murder, sexual assault, abuse, kidnapping, domestic violence, stalking, and endangering the welfare of a child.
Additionally, under the bill, a refusal to consent to, or cooperate in, the securing of a criminal history record background check would result in denial of a certificate of registration as a family day care provider.
“The requirement for background checks for family child care providers is a long overdue protection for New Jersey’s working families, and I hope that the governor acts quickly,” said Senator Turner. “Parents whose finances do not support the option to stay home to care for their children themselves deserve to make informed decisions about the home care providers they choose.”
This legislation is in correlation with the new federal regulations put in place requiring both new and existing family day care providers to be subject to background checks. Those regulations will take effect by October 1, 2017.
S-651 cleared the Assembly 74-0 and cleared the full Senate 37-0 last year.
The bill now heads back to the Senate.