Burr chairs hearing examining child care law, impact of new sex offender background check provisions

A Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee hearing convened on Wednesday by U.S. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) explored the implementation of the Child Care Development Block Grant Act of 2014.

Burr and U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) led the charge to get the legislation approved, which expanded access to childcare to enable low-income parents to work knowing that their children have safe care.

Under the bill, childcare providers are required to undergo criminal background checks and standards are set to ensure a high level of overall care.

During the hearing, Burr questioned Margaret Williams, the executive director of the Maryland Family Network, about a provision of the bill that requires background checks of childcare workers to include the National Sex Offender Registry.

“You mentioned in your testimony, once you began checking the sex offender registry that you found you had 80 registered sex offenders who were working in child care,” Burr said. “Can you share with the committee why that search was so enlightening to you?

Williams responded that background checks did not previously specifically require a check of the sex offender registry, and it was learned through implementation of the Child Care Development Block Grant Act that it was not happening.

“It was spotty and we were shocked at the number of so called ‘hits’ in the system that we found,” Williams said. “Having that spelled out clearly and calling them comprehensive background checks…is really important to us.”

Mikulski said that the phrase “compassionate conservative” reflects Burr’s work on the issue.

“Yes you are a conservative, that means you keep an eye on the money, but you also keep an eye on tradition, and on family, and on responsibility,” Mikulski told Burr. “You really were one of the spearheads in terms of background checks. I was happy to support you as a child welfare social worker, as a child abuse social worker. No child should be ever abused in their home or in a daycare home.”

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