The effort comes as the result of a State Auditor's Office performance audit that found 17 instances over 10 years of registered sex offenders living in homes where child care is offered. Two of those homes were licensed family homes. The other 15 were license-exempt child care providers who receive state subsidies to care for children.
As DEL staff testified today at a Joint Legislative Audit Review Committee session on the report, child care providers are good people doing hard work. However, as is highlighted in the audit, very occasionally a provider does not divulge information about a sex offender living on premises. The auditor gave us a new approach for making sure that children in child care are safe.
As a result of this audit, we:
- Will be meeting with the Department of Social and Health Services on a quarterly basis to match up sex offenders’ registered addresses against a list of licensed family home child care providers’ and license-exempt providers’ addresses. If we make a match, we will take quick action on the provider’s license or, for exempt providers, on their ability to be paid state child care subsidies.
- Revoked the license of one of the two licensed family home child care providers identified in the audit. The other provider was no longer licensed, but we have noted the auditor’s finding in that individual's file should that person ever seek a child care license again.
- Are clarifying our rules around background checks for license-exempt child care providers. Our rules are clear that when the provider offers care in the child’s home, the provider must have a background check, and when the child goes to the provider’s home, everyone living there age 16 or older must have a background check. What our rules did not address was the rare instance where a license-exempt child care provider lives in the same home where he or she is providing care to a child. We will clarify that in that instance, only the provider must have a background check.