Regulatory Update: Background Screenings and Clearinghouse Backlog22-Aug-2016
Background on the regulatory change:
In 2014 President Obama signed the Child Care and Development Block Grant into law. This law reauthorizes the child care program and makes significant changes to requirements for child care centers serving school readiness children. Read more about the law here. One of the major changes to the program requires states to conduct criminal background checks for all child care staff members, including staff members who don't directly care for children, but have unsupervised access to children. Department of Children and Families is federally mandated to enforce these criminal background checks. Florida is one of seven states using the new statewide screening database, "The Clearinghouse".
Update from DCF:
What is DCF doing to address the backlog? How long is it currently?
- About 20 additional staff members have been temporarily hired or reassigned to the background screening unit to help work through the backlog.
- Screening results that are still pending were either initiated in August or associated with an out of state screen request. Currently, the average
wait-timeis approximately 14 days for screening requests for individuals that have lived in Florida during the preceding 5yrs.
- New employees that have initiated screening and are awaiting results may be hired by the school for the purposes of training and orientation. However, these individuals may not be in direct contact with the children until screening is complete. During the training and orientation period, the individual may come into the office to fill out paperwork, start training online, and attend staff meetings as long as these types of activities do not involve direct contact with the children.
- Individuals who previously worked in preschool but do not have background screening clearance through the clearinghouse must follow the same procedure as the new employee scenario above. Individuals who previously worked in a preschool and have cleared background screening in the clearinghouse that is within 5 years may be hired by a different preschool as long as there is no 90-day break in service. The new preschool would be responsible for rescreening the individual at the 5-year rescreen date or by May 2017 whichever comes first (see below direction for existing staff re-screening).
- Providers will need to make the appropriate adjustments in scheduling their workforce during this time to ensure compliance with staff ratio requirements. Licensing staff are in technical assistance mode at this time and will not cite providers for existing screening for staff hired prior to July 1, 2016, as long as the screening is within the last five years.
- At this time, we are asking providers to
onlyscreen for new hires and five-year rescreens that are coming up due. Providers need to devise a plan to rescreen all existing staff (who were hired prior to July 1, 2016) between September 2016 and May 2017. Licensing staff will begin monitoring for existing staff rescreens beginning in June 2017. Monitoring will follow the traditional frequency for licensed programs (3x facilities and 2x homes) and is based on the program’s licensure year.