Jobs that require workers to be in constant contact with children are deemed to be safety-sensitive. Two states are reinforcing the sentiment that background checks are important when filling these positions, as local lawmakers look to pass legislation that would bolster screening requirements.
Georgia requires FBI checks for childcare workers
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Georgia Legislature moved closer to mirroring the majority of the country in requiring all childcare workers in the state submit to federal background checks. House Bill 350 passed by the lower chamber of the state's general assembly on a vote of 154-18. The Journal-Constitution said if passed by the Senate and signed by the governor, Georgia would be the 32nd state to require FBI checks in childcare employee screenings.
Currently, state childcare workers need only submit to a state check, unlike childcare center operators, who must undergo a national criminal and sex offender registry check.
Employers would be given some time to bring their operations into compliance before the mandate would kick in; federal screenings would be conducted on new employees starting in 2014, while current employees would be exempt from the process until 2017.
"This is purely preventive," Bobby Cagle, commissioner of the state agency that licenses and monitors daycare facilities, told The Journal-Constitution. "My worry is we may have folks working in these centers who we might not want working there if we knew their full backgrounds."
Recurring checks on Iowa teachers
Around the same time as Georgia House lawmakers passed their background check bill, the Iowa Senate Education Committee approved legislation that would strengthen background check policies at state schools.
Senate File 48 would require school districts to verify job applicants against sex offender registries; the legislation would also have schools conduct follow-up background checks on employees every five years from the anniversary of the employee's hire date.
"It was seen after some review that we could tighten those up a bit to require all personnel to have their background checked and to make sure they were updated from time to time," Senator Herman Quirmbach told Des Moines NBC affiliate WHO-TV.
Legislators across the nation are focusing on improving background check requirements, especially for businesses with safety-sensitive positions. Firms can work with an HR provider to ensure they are knowledgeable of all their obligations and use legally compliant screening solutions.