New law requires daycare workers get background checks

News 12 at 6 o' clock/ December 11, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga.-- A new law goes into effect in Georgia the first of the year that aims to keep your little ones safer.

Sally Rich, the Director of Childcare at Childcare Network in Augusta, says, "It's been something we've been anticipating coming for quite a while now."

Starting January 1st, all daycare workers in Georgia will be required to undergo national fingerprint background checks.

"We believe it's a good thing, because we don't want somebody coming from another state that has a record we're unaware of, and coming to work for our organization. We want to make sure our children are safe at all times."

But, the cost for the extra layer of protection will be steep for some groups, like Childcare Network, that employs thousands of daycare workers across the state.

Rich says, "It's going to cost about $75,000 for our organization to get all of their schools in Georgia, all of their current employees fingerprinted, so it is an investment that we're making in the children."

But, an investment that some argue, is priceless.

"I know when my kids were young, it was very important that I felt safe, and this is another way for the parents to feel safe,that their child is taken care of by the right person during the day," Rich says.

Augusta is no stranger to daycare reform. Several years ago, Jacqueline Boatwright led the charge for 'Juan's Law' in Georgia. It's named after her son who suffered severe brain damage after falling into a bucket of bleach at an Augusta daycare. The law requires daycares to tell you if they do not carry liability insurance.

Attorney Richard Ingram, Jr. says, "Going back about 12 years, there was really nothing. There was a chasm there, and then with Juan's law, that was the first step in the right direction, and that was that a daycare just had to be insured."

Ingram was a key player in getting Juan's law passed,and he says this new law is a step in the right direction.

"Talking about a child, you're talking about a higher level of protection, a higher burden for the person who keeps the child. The community expects more, the parent expects more, society expects more," Ingram says.

If you apply for a new daycare job after the first of the year, you'll have to go ahead and get the background check. But, if you're already employed at a daycare, you have until 2017 to comply with the new law.

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