How important is it that child care providers have a background check? On August 1, the Washington State Auditor's Office released a report, "Protecting Children from Sex Offenders in Child Care, Foster Care, and Schools." They conducted an audit within the state to determine if matching the state's sex offender registry to information on child care and foster care providers and school employees would reveal results similar to Inspector General reports in other states like Illinois and Kentucky.
The Washington state auditor’s report found between 2002 and 2012:
- 28 sex offenders lived in Department of Early Learning (DEL) or Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) regulated homes and 15 lived in state subsidized, but unlicensed, child care settings.
- In 25 of the 28 cases, agency records indicated children were in care while sex offenders lived in the home.
- In 9 of the 28 cases, sex offenders lived undetected in providers' homes at the time of the audit.
- In 24 of the 28 cases, sex offenders went undetected because providers failed to inform agencies that offenders lived in their homes. The remaining four cases involved the subsidized care program, Working Connections (their TANF program). In these cases, offenders did not receive background checks and were able to live in the home because administrative rules did not address situations where the child and provider shared a home.
The state is working to correct the situation to ensure that children in child care safe. Read the Washington Auditor’s report.
For more information about the importance of background checks to ensure that children are safe in child care, check out Child Care Aware® of America's latest white paper: "Background Checks: It is Time to Protect Children."