Finger prints being taken

Your child deserves to be safe and well cared for at all times. One of your child care provider’s most important responsibilities is keeping your child safe from harm. One way your provider does this is by making sure that all adults with access to your child have had a comprehensive background check. Your child care provider should verify that this check shows that the adult does not have a history of child abuse or violence.

Who should have a comprehensive background check?

  • All adults living in a family child care home

  • All child care center staff members, including directors, teachers, caregivers, bus drivers, janitors, kitchen staff, and administrative employees

  • Every adult volunteering in the program who will have unsupervised access to your child

  • Other adults who may come into the program and will have unsupervised access to your child, such as sports, art, or dance instructors
What are the federal background check requirements for child care providers?

Federal law requires all states to implement state and federal criminal background checks that include fingerprints for child care providers. The comprehensive background check must include a fingerprint check of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) database to ensure that providers do not have a history of convictions that could put children’s health and safety at risk. Additionally, potential child care providers must be checked to ensure that they are not listed as a sex offender and have not been found to have committed child neglect or abuse.

The following list has more details about the specific checks that are required. Ask your child care provider if these criminal history checks are up to date for all adults that will have access to your children while they are in care.

  1. An FBI fingerprint check

  2. A search of the National Crime Information Center’s National Sex Offender Registry

  3. A search of the following registries, repositories, and databases in the state where the child care staff member lives and each state where the staff member has lived in the past 5 years:

  • State criminal registry or repository (fingerprints are required in the state where the staff member currently lives, and optional in other states)

  • State sex offender registry or repository

  • State-based child abuse and neglect registry and database

Learn more about your state’s implementation of the federal background check requirements by visiting the state resources section of this website.

How often must background checks be conducted?

Request(s) for background checks must be submitted before the provider is hired and at least once every 5 years.

How do I know whether the adults in my child care program have had comprehensive criminal background checks?

The federal law requires all child care providers to have a comprehensive background check. This includes providers who are not required to be licensed but care for children receiving federal child care assistance. Any individual who is employed by a child care provider and any individual who may have unsupervised access to children in care should have a comprehensive criminal background check. You can learn more about your state’s criminal background check requirements by contacting your state licensing agency.

If your child’s caregiver does not have a license, ask for proof of a completed comprehensive background check. If the caregiver does not have this proof, ask him or her to complete a check, or conduct a background check yourself (contact your state police for information about how to conduct a background check).