Child Care Center Operators
Background Check Requirements for Caregivers
Produced by the Community Care Licensing Division of the California Department of Social Services
[The series host speaks in a preschool classroom.]
A criminal background check is legally required for people who work or regularly spend time in a licensed childcare center, or for anyone who resides in a private home where a family childcare facility operates. You and the families you serve need to know with certainty that the adults present with the children in your care contribute to the children’s safety and are not a danger to them. It is essential for all of us to understand what a background check involves and who’s required to obtain one.
[Two licensing representatives speak.]
Child Care Licensing Representative 1:
Background checks or criminal record clearances achieve vital objectives.
Child Care Licensing Representative 2:
They prevent anyone who has been convicted of a serious criminal violation from having access to children in licensed childcare facilities.
CCL Rep 1:
And they provide you and the families you serve with the peace of mind that adults at your facility have received the appropriate clearances to be in contact with young children.
CCL Rep 2:
While background checks approved by Licensing provide a lot of information, they are relatively simply procedures to complete.
[When the host asks a question, it appears on a white board beside her.]
Who is required to undergo a background check?
There are different background check requirements for family childcare homes and childcare centers.
[When the host provides key points, those words appear onscreen.]
For family childcare homes, every adult who works or lives in the household must undergo a background check. This includes residents who
- are not providing care directly to children,
- are not on the premises during caregiving hours,
- children 18 years of age or older, or who turn 18 while still living in the home,
- and any adult who lives in a different part of the home, such as an in-law unit, a rented room, or a rented guesthouse that’s on the same property as the family childcare home.
However, if the family childcare home is located in an apartment building, residents of other apartments in that building who don’t interact with the children in care are not required to undergo a background check. For center-based facilities, everyone who works or volunteers at a center must undergo a background check with a few exceptions which we’ll cover shortly. In both family childcare homes and childcare centers, if you cannot provide documentation that everyone who has access to your facility has undergone a required background check, you will be subject to a type A citation, a civil penalty, and a fine.
How does someone obtain a criminal record clearance or background check?
In order to initiate a background check, the person signs a criminal record statement, LIC 508, and agrees to be fingerprinted. Community Care Licensing sends you a Live Scan form with instructions on how to collect fingerprints from everyone who needs to provide them.
[The corresponding forms briefly appear.]
Once fingerprints have been taken by a certified Live Scan technician, the Live Scan prints are sent electronically to the Department of Justice. Authorities then compare the fingerprints with those on file in three different databases: the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Child Abuse Clearance Index. If there are no matching fingerprints in the federal and state databases, the person is eligible for a criminal record clearance. Once someone receives a criminal record clearance, the clearance remains active as long as the individual is affiliated with a licensed facility. Affiliated means that the person is working, residing, or volunteering in a licensed childcare facility.
If an individual is no longer affiliated with a facility, he or she must be affiliated with another facility within 2 years or the clearance will become inactive. If an individual becomes inactive, he or she must be fingerprinted and cleared again before working, residing, or volunteering in a licensed childcare facility. To determine if someone you wish to employ already has an active criminal record clearance, please call your local Community Care Licensing office. On the other hand, if the criminal record review reveals matching fingerprints in any of the three databases, you will be informed of the nature of the violation and when it occurred. You will also be informed if the violation qualifies for an exemption and why, or if the violation does not qualify for an exemption and why not.
Are there any people with access to childcare facilities who don’t need a criminal record clearance?
Certain volunteers who provide time-limited services do not need to obtain a criminal record clearance. For example, medical professionals who have already been cleared as a condition of licensure and college students who volunteer less than 16 hours per week, are not left alone with children, and are directly supervised at all times by an employee with a criminal record clearance. Legal guardians or relatives of the children in care also don’t need a criminal record clearance.
What prior criminal violations permanently exclude a person from working at a childcare facility as a staff member or volunteer?
Anyone who’s been convicted of a violent felony is not eligible for an exemption. Likewise, anyone who’s committed a crime perpetrated against children, even if it is not a felony, will not be allowed to work in a licensed childcare facility.
What prior criminal violations may qualify for an exemption and enable someone to be a staff member or volunteer in a childcare facility?
If a background check reveals prior violations, that person may still qualify for an exemption. Examples of possible violations that might qualify for an exemption include
- nonviolent misdemeanors
- or a violation that did not involve violence, such as a shoplifting conviction that is several years old.
- Also, some DUI, Driving Under the Influence, convictions may qualify for a conditional exemption.
Check with the CCLD if you have any questions about conditional exemptions. Anyone with a criminal record for anything other than a minor traffic violation must apply and qualify for an exemption to be at the facility. If an exemption request is approved, CCLD will inform you, the licensee, that the applicant has undergone a more extensive check and is qualified to work in the facility. If anyone who has been granted an exemption for a prior criminal record is subsequently arrested again, the CCLD will be notified and will notify you, and that person will be subject to possible loss of the exemption.
Criminal record clearances play a crucial role in protecting the health and safety of children in licensed facilities. Let’s review a few of the key points you need to know about this requirement. To work in a licensed childcare facility, adults must obtain a criminal record clearance. Beyond minor traffic violations, adults with a prior criminal history can request a criminal record exemption if they have not been convicted of a felony or any crime perpetrated against children. Relatives of the children in care and certain volunteers are not required to obtain a clearance. Also, in both family childcare homes and childcare centers, if you cannot provide documentation that everyone who has access to your facility has undergone a required background check, you will be subject to a type A citation, and a civil penalty.
State of California