New law requires child care employees to undergo fingerprint background check

New law requires child care employees to undergo fingerprint background check

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Employees at all of Georgia's approximately 6,000 child care facilities soon will be required to undergo national fingerprint-based background checks.

A new state law requiring the background checks takes effect on Jan. 1, 2014.

The law requires all new employees hired on or after Jan. 1 to have satisfactory national background checks based on fingerprints, not just a name search of Georgia records.

Existing employees hired before Jan. 1 will have until 2017 to meet the requirement, unless they move to a new child care facility where the new law will be applied.

"We expect around 20,000 of the 60,000 child care employees in Georgia to have background checks in the first year," said Bobby Cagle, commissioner of Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL). "With a 30 percent turnover rate in the child care industry each year, we anticipate having everyone checked by 2017."

DECAL is hosting six public meetings this month to review the new rules and answer any questions, including a Dec. 19 meeting in Augusta.

For more information, call 404-657-5562.

House Bill 350 was sponsored by State Representative Alan Peake (R-Macon) and carried in the Georgia Senate by Senator Butch Miller (R-Gainesville). The bill was supported in testimony by the Georgia Child Care Association (GCCA), VOICES for Georgia's Children, Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students (GEEARS), and the Interfaith Children's Movement. It was also supported by Quality Care for Children.

"Having full and reliable information about the criminal histories of employees in child care facilities across the state is imperative in assuring safety for Georgia's youngest learners," said Keith Bostick, DECAL Deputy Commissioner for Programs.