Maine child care workers support new background checks

Maine child care workers support new background checks

Excerpted from a WGME story

Child care workers in Maine will soon have to undergo rigorous background checks and be fingerprinted under a new state law.

The Maine Legislature overturned a veto by Governor Paul LePage to put this law in place.

Sasha Shunk of the Family Child Care Association of Maine is happy legislators overturned the veto, to make sure every child care provider in Maine fingerprints their employees and gives them a background check.

“I’m nationally accredited, so that’s been a requirement of mine for the past 10 years anyway,” Shunk said.

But Maine has lacked that oversight.

“You might have someone who might have worked in another state and had a claim against them, and then moved to Maine, and there’s no way to track it,” Shunk said.

In Governor LePage’s veto message, he said this law would “over-regulate” the childcare industry and says fingerprinting goes “a bridge too far,” and that he cannot support “overburdenning” businesses financially.

“It’s definitely a concern, when you might have 20, 50 even 100 employees and all of a sudden you have to be FBI background checked? That’s going to be a cost factor,” Shunk said.

As part of this law, the state will use about $666,000 in federal funds and about $400,000 in state funds to help reimburse the cost of these background checks to the childcare agencies.

The law goes into effect 90 days after the legislature’s special session ends.

The state estimates 5,000 background checks in the law’s first year.

“We’re taking care of these children, I think parents have a right to make sure that we have a clean background check,” Shunk said.

 

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