New law to extend child worker background checks - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

New law to extend child worker background checks

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Abbis Biviens, Child Development Center Director Abbis Biviens, Child Development Center Director
Abby's Learn-N-Play Child Development Center Abby's Learn-N-Play Child Development Center
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AMERICUS, GA (WALB) -

Governor Nathan Deal signed a new law Wednesday aimed at making daycare centers safer. It calls for more comprehensive background checks for all employees in child care centers.

The comprehensive finger-print based background checks would provide criminal information across state lines, something current law doesn't do. And one child care center director said the new legislation will help her know who to hire.

The kids attending Abby's Learn-N-Play child development center are just a few of the thousands of children who attend day care across the state everyday.

A new law expanding comprehensive background checks to all employees in centers like this would prevent felons and predators from having access to these young kids. Under the new legislation, every employee working in any of the state's roughly 6,300 licensed child care centers would be required to pass a federal background check prior to employment.

"I'm really all about safety of the kids, and I think it's just...it's needed for the safety for the kids. So it's necessary," said Abbis Biviens, Child Development Center Director.

Current law only requires local background checks, which means out of state felonies may not be seen by directors who are hiring potential workers.

Biviens recently performed a background check on an applicant, who turned out to have a history of child molestation. But had the incident occurred out of state, she wouldn't have known about it.

"Now if this same person goes to the state of Florida and do a local check for the state of Florida, it wouldn't show up because it happened in the state of Georgia," said Biviens.

She said some felons move across state lines to find work. She's confident the new law will improve safety.

"And they might be a murderer, they might be a child molester, they might be just a child abuser. We'll never know. And with this comprehensive background check, it'll just wipe all that out," she said.

But the law could also help protect directors.

Biviens said accidentally hiring an employee with a criminal background would make her responsible should something happen. She also said the new legislation would help keep her legally safe.

According to Biviens, local background checks only take a day or two, compared with thorough fingerprint-based checks that take about a week.

26 other states have passed similar laws extending comprehensive background checks for employees who work around children.

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