North Dakota child care providers get relief under waiver
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota recently received approval for a new waiver that will provide temporary relief to child care providers that were scrambling to comply with a federal requirement to conduct criminal background checks for new workers.
The North Dakota Department of Human Services’ waiver will delay when child care centers need to implement the process requiring fingerprint-based background checks before new employees can start work. Providers through next September will be allowed to hire employees immediately under direct supervision until background checks are complete, the Bismarck Tribune reported.
The state implemented the new federal requirement on Oct. 1 to meet health and safety rules under the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014. But providers expressed concerns about new employees not being able to start work right away, instead having to wait for their background check results.
“We certainly heard from providers that were struggling to be able to fully staff their facilities,” said Amanda Carlson, the department’s early childhood services administrator.
Some centers had to shut down classrooms because they couldn’t maintain the required staffing ratio for children, Carlson added.
Josh Wastvedt, director of KinderKidz in Bismarck, said it takes the child care center up to four weeks to conduct a fingerprint-based background check, which presented a problem for hiring.
“Somebody’s probably not going to want to wait a month to start a new job,” he said.
The state’s Human Services Department is looking into expediting the background check process, including modifying background check applications to make them easier to understand, Carlson said. The department has seen delays because it can’t run a background check on an incomplete application, according to Carlson.
The department is also considering increasing the number of locations for fingerprinting services.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com