Licensed and regulated child-care providers in the state will need to go through a federal fingerprint-based background check requirement to “ensure the protection and safety of children in licensed or regulated childcare,” according to the North Dakota Department of Human Services (NDDOHS).
NDDOHS will re-implement this starting Oct. 1. The federal requirement prohibits new childcare employees from starting employment until the department receives and reviews their in-state Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), or their national Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) criminal history records.
New employees can then begin working under direct supervision if their initial record shows no convictions that would disqualify them from working with children. They can begin full, unrestricted employment only after their entire background check is complete, which may include receiving records from each state the applicant has lived in during the past five years.
In November 2018, the department received a waiver from the federal Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families that allowed new employees hired by licensed and regulated childcare providers to begin work under direct supervision before their criminal background checks were complete.
The time-limited waiver expires on Sept. 30.
“As we approach the expiration of our federal waiver, it’s important for childcare providers to know that the department has created several efficiencies to reduce the time it takes to process fingerprint-based criminal background checks,” said Amanda Carlson, the department’s early childhood services administrator.
The most recent efficiencies launched this summer are the implementation of a new simplified criminal background check authorization form (SFN 829) and enhanced website content, including links to out-of-state authorization forms from 49 states and the District of Columbia, at www.nd.gov/dhs/services/childfamily/cbcu/index.html.
“Our focus has been to identify ways to reduce the processing time of criminal background checks. A lot of work and collaboration have gone into this effort. We are hearing positive feedback from childcare providers and applicants who have used the new simplified form and accessed the website content,” said Tara Reed, who is with the department’s Criminal Background Check Unit.
Reed said other efficiencies implemented earlier this year include a daily secure pickup of criminal records from BCI, which eliminated about six days of unnecessary records handling, a simplified background check results memo and the hiring of a full-time temporary office assistant to support the Criminal Background Check Unit.