ACNJ testifies to ensure safety of children in family day care

To: Members, Assembly Committee for Women and Children
From: Cecilia Zalkind, Executive Director,  Cynthia Rice, Senior Policy Analyst
Date: January 19, 2017
Re: A4262/S651 Requiring registered family day providers and certain household members to undergo criminal history record background checks

Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) appreciates the opportunity to provide the following comments regarding A4262/S651, which would require registered family day care providers and certain household members to undergo criminal history record background checks.

This bill is long overdue. Comprehensive background checks are a basic safeguard essential to protect children in family child care settings and minimize their risks to potential abuse and neglect. This is particularly important as so many of these homes care for our youngest children, infants and toddlers, who are too young to communicate any problems that might develop. There are approximately 2000 registered family child care homes in our state and a large percentage of the children in those homes are under the age of three. Parents need to be secure in knowing that their child care providers and other adults in the home who have contact with their children have no record of engaging in behaviors that would disqualify them for providing care.

Although the new federal Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) mandates require all registered family child care providers receiving child care subsidies to undergo a comprehensive criminal history background check, the mandate does not take effect until October of 2017 and it still may take years after that before all providers actually meet this requirement. Moreover, the federal law will only apply to family child care providers that accept subsidy payments. All children need to be protected as soon as possible, not sometime in the future. It is essential that this requirement be mandated for all family child caregivers and be implemented immediately.

The background process outlined in the bill is the same as center-based child care providers must complete and the cost, which will be procured by the provider, is not unduly burdensome at about $40 per person.

This common-sense bill places children’s safety first. ACNJ urges the Committee members to vote in favor of A4262.

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