Mikulski, Burr, Bipartisan Senate Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Protect Child Safety and Prevent Neglect and Abuse

Bipartisan bill would require background checks for all child care providers

March 20, 2013

WASHINGTONU.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.), along with Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) today introduced the Child Care Protection Act of 2013Senator Mikulski cosponsored the legislation which requires comprehensive background checks for child care providers including state and federal fingerprint checks, sex offender registry checks, and a check of child abuse and neglect registries for all licensed, regulated, and registered child care providers.  

"When a parent goes to work or to school they should have peace of mind and know that their little boy or girl is in a safe and healthy environment," Senator Mikulski said. "As a social worker, I've seen the permanent scars that child abuse and neglect leaves on both the child and their family. The Child Care Protection Act will help protect our children through prevention, intervention and deterrence of child abuse."  

"When parents enroll their children in child care they shouldn't have to worry that they might be dropping their child off to be cared for by someone who has been convicted of a violent crime," Senator Burr said. "Currently, background checks do not meet parents' expectations, and most states fail to ensure that child care providers have undergone a complete and thorough background check. This legislation allows parents to be confident that their children are being taken care of by qualified individuals in a safe environment."  

Requirements for background checks vary greatly from state to state and only a handful of states require child care providers to complete a comprehensive background check. Although a recent survey found that 95 percent of parents with children under the age of five support background checks for child care providers, only 10 states currently conduct a full criminal background check that includes a fingerprint check of state and federal criminal records, a check of child abuse and neglect registries, and a check of the sex offender registry. The Child Care Protection Act of 2013 would require  such comprehensive background checks for child care providers and require  those background checks be repeated once every five years.  

More than 11 million children under age five are in some type of child care arrangement every week while their parents work. A parent survey conducted by the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) found that 85 percent of parents assumed that child care providers must have a background check to work with children.