TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner that would authorize in-home child care placement agencies to perform background checks on potential nannies was approved by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee today.
“When parents bring other individuals into their homes to help care for their children, they have the right to know that these individuals have clean criminal records,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “Currently, we require those who work at day care centers to undergo a criminal background check. With this bill, we will allow nanny placement agencies to also require the same checks so that their clients can have the peace of mind that comes from knowing your child is in the hands of a responsible individual.”
Senator Turner’s bill, S-869, would direct the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety to establish a voluntary registry program for agencies engaged in the business of placing in-home child care givers. The bill would further provide that an agency which chooses to register with the Division may request criminal history record background checks for the care givers they are seeking to place in New Jersey homes. The background check would be conducted through the State Police and the FBI and a certificate would be furnished to every care giver with a clean criminal history.
“Hiring a nanny right now requires a great deal of trust that the credentials being presented by a stranger are completely true. Most parents I know want more of a guarantee than that. This bill empowers parents to seek out nannies and au pairs who are proven to be without a criminal record. We hope it will make our children and families less susceptible to predators who use deception to get into homes,” said Senator Turner.
The bill would define “in-home child care givers” as unrelated persons who are over the age of 16 and provide in-home child care services, which are commonly known as au pairs or nannies. For the purposes of the bill, babysitters would be excluded from the definition. Any individual who didn’t pass the background check with a clean history would be able to file an appeal to challenge the accuracy of the check or demonstrate proper rehabilitation for any prior offense.
Further, the bill would provide for a public education program designed to inform prospective employers of the availability of care givers who have undergone criminal history checks and to encourage them to hire individuals who have been certified by the division as not having criminal histories. Under the bill the costs associated with the implementation of this program would be assessed to the registered agencies. The Director of the Division would be authorized to promulgate an appropriate fee schedule.
The bill was passed by the Committee by a vote of 5-0 and now goes to the full Senate for approval.