Maine Fails to Protect the Safety of Children in Child Care

As adults, it is our responsibility to do everything we can to protect the health and safety of our children. This is why, in 2014, Congress required all states to ensure that child care workers are subject to background checks including fingerprinting by Sept. 30, 2017. Last year, the Maine Legislature also voted to protect Maine’s children by requiring the state to implement a background check system for all licensed, regulated, and registered child care providers by September of 2017.

Unfortunately, the state has yet to implement the fingerprint background check elements of these laws, leaving Maine children in child care vulnerable and potentially compromising their health and safety.

Maine’s early childhood programs exist to provide our youngest children with the essential stable, nurturing relationships and experiences that build strong foundations for future cognitive, social, emotional and physical development. Throughout Maine, about 69 percent of children under the age of six have all parents in the workforce and are likely in need of child care. Parents depend on child care in order to go to work and their primary concern is the health and safety of their children.

In fact, “92 percent of all parents (95 percent of parents with children under age 5) support requiring background checks using finger prints for child care providers caring for unrelated children.” – Child Care Aware

Maine’s current name-based background check offers loopholes for individuals to circumvent the system by simply changing their name. The current Maine system also fails to protect children from someone convicted of a crime in another state that now seeks employment in Maine. Safety starts with a background check for child care providers to ensure that children are not in the care of someone with a violent history. With a fingerprint background check, there is no gaming or circumventing the system.

Maine should not be a magnet for anyone looking to avoid a fingerprint check system. Keep Maine children in child care safe so  they can grow up to be healthy, happy adults.
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