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Vetting Childcare Providers

As remote workers are returning to the office post-pandemic, many working parents are reevaluating their childcare needs. How can parents ensure they make the safest decision for their family?

As remote workers are returning to the office post-pandemic, many working parents are reevaluating their childcare needs. With a bevy of options available and employers offering more flexibility, parents may find they no longer need to enroll their children in a traditional daycare setting. While there are advantages and considerations for all childcare options, it is imperative that childcare providers are properly vetted.

Each state is responsible for the licensing requirements of childcare facilities. If a parent opts for a traditional daycare setting, the state will ensure the center meets requisite safety standards. For example, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services requires states to conduct criminal background checks on employees at childcare centers.

But what if a parent decides daycare isn’t the right fit for his or her family? Parents opting to avoid traditional childcare settings may choose home-based daycare or a nanny. Regulations for home-based daycares vary by state. Unlike traditional daycare services, home-based daycare options may not be subject to licensing requirements and providers may not undergo extensive screening.  Accordingly, a parent should check licensing requirements in their state. While nannies procured through an agency are typically screened, nannies hired through a referral or word of mouth should be vetted.

Social media is often the first place a parent will start when looking into a potential provider. While social media will provide a glimpse into a person’s life, or more accurately his or her internet presence, there are many more factors to consider.

A criminal and civil record should be conducted for the provider. A search of a provider’s legal history will reveal any child abuse or neglect cases, or if a provider has been sued because a child was injured due to the provider’s negligence. A search of court records also will reveal any issues with substance abuse, drug charges, or DWIs. Further, if the provider will be transporting children to activities outside the home, a search of a provider’s traffic and driving record can help ease a parent’s mind. Before welcoming a provider into one’s home, verify he or she has no theft charges on their record. Searching sex offender registries will ensure a provider has no history of sexual abuse or crimes.

In addition to these considerations, a search of a provider’s judgments, liens, and bankruptcies is also important. This information can help identify any financial issues that should be considered before making a childcare decision. For instance, if a provider has a long history of financial mismanagement, a parent may think twice before paying several months in advance. If a parent is choosing a provider based on proximity to work or home, he or she should make sure the home is not in foreclosure.

Running a provider’s licensing history is often overlooked but is imperative to ensure a parent has a comprehensive review. In 2018, Oregon Governor Kate Brown ordered the Office of Child Care to review license histories for daycare workers previously licensed in other states. The change came after a child was found inappropriately tied up in a crib. Had the state searched the daycare provider’s previous licensing history, they would have learned California previously revoked her childcare license.

Whatever option a parent chooses, safety should be top priority. Contact Global i to learn more about how our experienced research team can help parents make well-informed decisions when vetting potential childcare providers.