New Daycare Background Check Requirements Could Not Have Saved This Child From Abuse

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After Lisa Schauer’s son, Max, was assaulted by a daycare provider last June, she’s taken steps to make sure this never happens again.

In October, the Department of Human Services re-implemented federal background checks requiring all licensed daycare providers to take a fingerprint test before they can start working.

But Schauer says this would not have saved her 3-year-old son from trauma.

Now, 4-year-old Max is doing great, a year past the incident at a Bismarck Daycare.

Schauer said, “He’s recovered pretty well. He still talks about it, he remembers everything that happened, but we’re doing good. We’ve moved on.”

She is pleased that Human Services is taking a step to ensure safer care.

Schauer said, “I think any step they take is a step in the right direction. The big issue is with allowing unlicensed daycares.”

Since background checks are not mandatory for unlicensed daycares, Schauer said Max’s abuser could step right out of prison in 18 months, and start all over again. She will never again send Max somewhere without background checks.

Schauer said, “She could have been anybody, and we knew her through word-of-mouth, so if someone else is vouching for somebody, you’re likely to trust them and you don’t do your own background check. So I just think we need restrictions against unlicensed providers overall.”

Kelly Maddock has been running a daycare out of her home for years. She no longer holds a license, but she said she commits herself to background checks every five years and will be going through the federal finger-printing process.

Maddock, the owner of Kelly’s Tiny Tots Daycare said, “You want people working with children who have no prior convictions. Without that background check and fingerprinting, there’s no way of knowing if somebody has prior convictions working with children.”

Maddock believes all childcare facilities, licensed or not, should go through this process.

She said, “Just because it’s for peace of mind for parents.”

Maddock said one of the best things a parent can do in picking the right place is to do a thorough walkthrough.

She said, “Hopefully you can find someone that you know, or that a family member may know. It is nerve-wracking coming into a daycare, especially for a first-time parent. You want to make sure that they’re implementing all of the regulations: having that fire extinguisher, first aid kit, everything for safety. You know, outlet plugs are taken care of; anything a parent would look for to make sure their child is safe.”

Schauer said, “Make sure you check references, ask around, do your own investigation. If someone is going to give you their references, they’re probably not going to give you the bad ones. But it’s always good to be able to talk to people. Ask your neighbors, ask people that know them on Facebook, do your research.”

Schauer advises you always go with a licensed care provider, and at the least, make sure they have gone through proper background checks, like Maddock.

Maddock made an important point that there have been instances of child abuse at licensed daycares too, so doing your own research is crucial, no matter what.

But not all daycare facilities are on board with this re-implemented policy.

Steve Arnold, owner of First Steps Childcare, said he’s all for background checks and fingerprinting. He said any extra measures to protect our kids is worth it.

But, he’s frustrated by the length of the process. Arnold said they recently hired an employee and it’s been 17 days since they did their fingerprinting, and now, that employee is having to wait to start working.

Arnold said, “In this job market, in Bismarck especially, no one’s going to stick around for that. You know, they want a job, they need a job…they probably needed a job yesterday, you know.”

Arnold said if he had a say, new employees could start right away, but be supervised until the fingerprint test comes back clear. He said they do comply with state-regulated background checks on top of the new federal requirements.

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