New bill would require stricter background checks for childcare providers

LINCOLN, Neb. - The state of Nebraska is working to make sure your children are safe while you're at work or school. It's all in relation to a federal law from 2014 requiring all states to do F.B.I background checks on childcare providers.

Currently, the state does do background checks, but not fingerprinting, and not to the extent the federal government requires.

Shelley Wallace runs a daycare out of her home here in Lincoln.

"I found my love," Wallace said. "I want my kids to learn, I want them to be successful adults. And they are my kids."

She's licensed, and says she's the only in-home daycare in the state to also be accredited.

"The state has regulations, accreditation has stricter," Wallace said. "I care about what I do and I want my parents to know I care about what I do. I want to be accountable to someone about what I do."

Right now, the state requires daycare owners like Wallace to have background checks, but a bill in the legislature would require all employees to also have a strict, F.B.I background check and fingerprinting, a move that could affect nearly 13,000 childcare providers.

"Anything we can do to ensure that we're doing everything we can to make sure all the daycare providers are safe as possible, that they're as high quality as possible is just going to benefit the children," said Matt Wallen, Director of the Division of Children and Family Services.

The bill is mandatory, so it's expected to pass.

"It's something we have to do to be in federal compliance with our childhood development block grant," Wallen said.

If the state doesn't comply, it could lose up to $1.5 million in funding from this grant. But the Department of Health and Human Services says it's focus is on the safety of kids. Wallace says that's exactly what she wants to see.

"I think it's great the state of Nebraska is taking that extra step to make sure we are safe and I think that's important," Wallace said. "We need to be safe for these kids."

Employees would be responsible for paying the $45 for the fingerprinting and background check.

It would also cost the Nebraska State Patrol $1 million. NSP says it would have to hire at least 14 people to conduct all these background checks.

Because this is federally mandated, it's expected to pass and would go into effect September 1.