New Jersey's 26th Legislative District

Senator Joe Pennacchio

Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio-Turner Bill Mandating Criminal Background Checks for All Day Care Providers Clears Committee

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Legislation sponsored by Senators Joe Pennacchio and Shirley Turner mandating state and federal criminal background checks for all current and prospective family day care providers has cleared the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

Sens. Joe Pennacchio and Shirley Turner’s bill would correct a dangerous oversight in state law by mandating criminal background checks for all family day care employees. (SenateNJ)

“A child abuse record check is simply not sufficient enough to prevent dangerous criminals from putting our children at risk,” Senator Pennacchio (R-Essex, Morris, Passaic) said. “It is unconscionable that family day cares are not held to the same ironclad safety standards as other facilities, simply because they serve a smaller number of children. They should be held to the same justifiable standard.”

A “family day care” is defined as a private residence in which child care services are provided for a fee to between three and five children at a time, for no less than 15 hours per week.

Under current law, these providers only have to undergo a child abuse registry check administered by the Department of Children and Families (DCF.) They are not, however, required to undergo standard state and federal criminal history record background checks.

The senators’ legislation (S-651) would mandate that all current and prospective family day care providers, as well as anyone who works at the day care, also submit to criminal background checks. 11 states currently have this law in place.

“Many families are struggling to keep up with the costs of child care, and family child care providers are often a more affordable option for working parents,” Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon, Mercer) said.  “However, parents choosing the more affordable option deserve to know that their provider and the people in those homes have not been convicted of crimes that may place their children’s safety at risk.  This protection is long overdue.”

The New Jersey State Police would be required to notify DCF in the event that a current or prospective family day care provider is convicted of a crime or offense in this state after the background check has been performed. Additionally, anyone who refuses to submit to a background check would be denied an issuance or renewal certificate of registration as a family day care provider.

“This legislation will ensure our children are protected to the greatest extent possible,” Senator Pennacchio said. “I thank Senator Turner for her leadership on this bill and urge my colleagues in the legislature to continue to support our efforts to correct this dangerous oversight in state law.”


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