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New daycare law causing headaches for potential employees, state officials

(KOLNKGIN)
Published: Dec. 19, 2019 at 9:00 PM CST
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A new law meant to keep kids safe while their parents are at work or school is causing headaches for the state, and daycare workers.

The law requires daycare workers to get FBI background checks.

The state has already processed more than 1,000 of them.

But right now 500 applications are at a standstill.

To get approved you have to follow a number of steps, and the Nebraska State Patrol said not everyone is doing it correctly.

At the same time, daycare workers are telling 10/11 NOW the problem is bigger than application errors.

Shelley Wallace is one of them.

Wallace has run an in-home daycare for 18 years, and is passionate about keeping kids safe.

She said she was thrilled when she heard about the new law.

"There are so many bad people in the world so if we have a way to track them and keep them away from our children, that's awesome," Wallace said.

But Wallace said she's since learned it's not all good.

"If you're going to make it to the point where it's almost impossible for us to get it done, that doesn't work well," Wallace said.

To complete the process you have to fill out an application and submit it to DHHS and bring it to the Nebraska State Patrol, where you'll also get fingerprinted. Once you pay a $45 fine, the patrol, then the FBI, then DHHS will go through background checks.

It's supposed to take between 7-10 days.

According to the State Patrol, around 500 people aren't getting that process correct.

"In these applications there's a variety of things missing, whether it be the payments, the fingerprints or people not applying correctly through DHHS," Jeff Avey with the patrol said.

When asked about the large number of applicants not getting them done correctly, DHHS provided a statement sending applicants to their website, where they have resources and checklists.

When asked specifically about why there were so many applicants not completing the process and if they were going to take any actions and they didn't provide any additional comments.

Daycare workers said the problem goes beyond not completing the application correctly.

They say it's too expensive and can take too long.

"If they're short teachers and they can't hire teachers because they're waiting for federal background checks that creates a problem," Wallace said.

Wallace has another problem too.

She and her employees, who happen to be her husband and son, already had an FBI background check to get the daycare accredited and so she can provide care for the military.

But the state won't accept it.

"So six months ago I did the background checks then I have to turn around and do it again," she said. "They need to think about how they're going about it and how they're expecting providers to achieve that."

If you have any questions regarding your application, DHHS directs applicants to the following webpages.

Child care fingerprinting checklist – http://dhhs.ne.gov/licensure/CC%20Background/CCFingerprintingChecklist.pdf

Child care licensing page - http://dhhs.ne.gov/licensure/Pages/Child-Care-Licensing.aspx