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Early Learning Division Response to State Audit on Background Check Process

(Salem, Ore) – The Secretary of State (SOS) released an audit today that identifies some areas where the Early Learning Division (ELD) can work to strengthen safety for children and background check processes for child care providers. The audit was initiated in part because of an awareness by the Governor’s Office and the ELD that some deficiencies needed to be addressed.

The Office of Child Care (OCC) has already made some changes in response to the audit process, including an addition to the list of crimes that permanently disqualify a person from being enrolled in the Central Background Registry (CBR). Those permitted to work in licensed child care must be enrolled in the CBR. There are over 50,000 individuals in the CBR and ELD processes thousands of applications each year. The ELD agreed with all of the SOS recommendations for system improvement – two of which advised statutory change.

“We welcomed this review in identifying areas for system improvements and agency coordination to further ensure children’s safety in care,” said Early Learning System Director Miriam Calderon. “Supporting Oregon families as they make important child care decisions remains a top priority.”

The audit confirmed the vast majority of child care providers regulated by the OCC have no criminal history or concerning background.

In 2018, Oregon added three additional background check requirements for providers that go beyond federal requirements. The OCC started checking the license status of providers who provided care in other states. This check determines if licensees in other states were in good standing. Also in 2018, Oregon added both foster care certification and adult protective service checks to the list of background checks to be conducted by OCC. The checks can also help prevent individuals who may have negative histories in other areas of caregiving from working in child care.

OCC re-checks all CBR entrants every three months for any criminal record, and does a complete re-check of all Oregon background data halfway through their period of enrollment.

Going forward, the ELD is seeking to introduce legislation to conduct all child care related background checks rather than having some performed by Oregon’s Department of Human Services. The agency is also seeking legislation to improve and centralize background checks for staff in “recorded programs” – those that provide limited care for preschool and school-aged children but are defined by statute as not constituting “child care.”