Day camps, summer camps, and day care centers are popular with a parents, especially in the summer months when schools are closed. With both you often both work outside the home, someone needs to watch your children during the workday. Many of these programs offer the added benefit of filling the kids’ days with all sorts of activities. Everyone wins: The children have fun and even learn some things, and you’re free to work.

Of course, the safety of the children is an important consideration for parents, employers and state lawmakers. It should come as no surprise that background checks or screenings are usually involved when it comes to hiring workers to help with the children enrolled in the day and summer camps or day care facilities.

Whether you’re a parent, run such a business, or looking for work in this field, you should know some things about background checks.

Type of Facility or Program Matters

You may think that anyone involved with working with kids must go through a background check. That’s not so, however. Whether you’re looking into a summer camp, day care center, or day camp, you should investigate and ask about the program’s policy on screenings. You should also check the laws in your area about screening requirements, or ask your attorney. In general, though:

  • If a day or summer camp or a day care center is run by a city or county agency, like a recreation department or parks service, or by a state-funded school (a “public school”), the facility or program typically has to have a license that’s issued by the state or local government and its workers and volunteers have to go through background checks
  • If the facility is a true “child care” center or facility, like most “day care” or “child care” centers, it typically must have a state-issued license and each worker and volunteer must go through a background check
  • “Private” summer or day camps, that is, those run by churches or privately owned businesses during the summer months only, may or may not be required to have any type of license or conduct any background checks on their employees and volunteers. It depends upon the laws of the state where the camp is located

Background Checks

Because the main purpose or goal is to make sure that children are safe while attending a day or summer camp or daycare center, a background check on a worker or volunteer may be very thorough. Generally, an employer has to get “consent” or permission from a job applicant, worker or volunteer before a background check can be done. A good background check will:

  • Verify name, current address and social security number
  • Search criminal records using the person’s name, aliases or other names used in the past, in addition to the maiden name female applicants or workers. The main purpose of the screening is to see if someone has been convicted of any crimes, especially sex-related crimes and crimes against children. A good search for criminal records will look in as many states, counties and cities as possible, as well as all national sex-offender registries, but should include a search of the state and county where the camp or facility is located
  • Review the person’s driving record. Contact the motor vehicles agency in the state where the camp or facility is located, as well as in any state where the worker, applicant or volunteer once lived
  • Check court records. To find out if the person has ever filed or “declared” bankruptcy, or been involved in a civil (non-criminal) lawsuit, such as being sued for not paying a credit card debt or not repaying a loan
  • Confirm college or other educational degrees
  • Check the person’s credit. The worker, applicant or volunteer has to give an employer permission to run a credit check

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