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March 2 2020

Indiana bill would expand background checks for day care employees

An Indiana lawmaker wants to close a loophole involving background checks at Indiana day care facilities for children.

News 8 talked to parents who say they were shocked to hear that the proposal was not already a requirement.

There are a lot of day care facilities that require criminal background checks for all of their employees, but the state law only requires that some people get those criminal background checks.

Sarah Bowles is a mom who has worked in various day care facilities in central Indiana. She says she decided after years of working in those facilities to stay home with her daughter.

“Just knowing what goes on in those facilities and the turnover is way higher than I think most people realize. Yes, there are criminal background checks ran but I think this bill would be definitely for the better,” Bowles said.

Current Indiana law requires background checks for workers in direct contact with children. House Bill 1246 would expand those checks to cover all workers in a licensed day care.

Rep. Chris May, a Republican from Bedford, authored the bill. May said, “So what this legislation will do is ensure all employees and volunteers of a child care facility and center, whether that is at the center or at home, would undergo that criminal history background check.”

Bowles was surprised to hear about the new bill. The mom said, “I actually did not know that that was not already the requirement. That is shocking and scary.”

The state representative said, “The legislation quite honestly just eliminates a loophole that currently allows some who work in proximity of the adolescents to simply bypass this important background check.”

The bill does not currently include any funding. Day care providers would be forced to cover the cost of the background checks.

“Cameras are great, background checks are great for 80 percent of the people, but I want every person who comes into contact with my children to have a background check,” Bowles said.

The bill has already passed the House. A Senate committee is scheduled to take it up next week.

This bill covers only state-licensed day cares and would not apply to most day cares run by churches.

If it passes, the bill will go into effect on July 1.