06.15.16

Burr Leads Child Care Oversight Hearing, Witnesses Report New Sex Offender Background Checks Protect Kids

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) chaired a Senate Health Education Labor & Pensions Committee hearing on the implementation of the Child Care Development Block Grant Act of 2014. HELP Committee Chairman Sen. Alexander (R-TN) requested that Sen. Burr chair this hearing because of his legislative leadership on early learning and child care policy.

In 2014, Sen. Burr led the charge along with Sen. Barbra Mikulski (D-MD) to pass the bipartisan Child Care and Development Block Grant Act. This landmark legislation expanded access to child care for low-income parents so that they can go to work and also have peace of mind that their children are in safe care. It requires child care providers to undergo criminal background checks to ensure our children are in safe hands, and it sets high standards for the quality of care overall. 

Burr questioned witness Margaret Williams, Executive Director of  the Maryland Family Network, about implementation of his provision in the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act that requires background checks for child care workers to include the National Sex Offender Registry.

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WATCH

BURR: “You mentioned in your testimony, once you began checking the sex offender registry that you found you had 80 registered sex offenders who were working in child care…Can you share with the committee why that search was so enlightening to you…why you found it so important?”

WILLIAMS: “Our background checks were not specific enough about what was required. We as advocates assumed that [sex offender registry] was something being checked on background checks, and we found that it wasn’t systematically happening. It was spotty and we were shocked at the number of so called ‘hits’ in the system that we found. Having that spelled out clearly and calling them comprehensive background checks…is really important to us.”

Sen. Mikulski praised Burr’s commitment to work across the aisle to ensure low-income children are safe in child care settings.

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“The phrase compassionate conservative, I think reflects your work here,” said Sen. Mikulski. “Yes you are a conservative, that means you keep an eye on the money, but you also keep an eye on tradition, and on family, and on responsibility. You really were one of the spearheads in terms of background checks. I was happy to support you as a child welfare social worker, as a child abuse social worker. No child should be ever abused in their home or in a daycare home.”

 

North Carolina resident Sheila Hoyle, Executive Director of the Southwestern Child Development Commission testified on the impact of the law for low-income children.

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“When it comes to protecting children, Congress took the right step,” said Hoyle. “The CCDBG Grant act of 2014 is the right policy at the right time. We’ve had 18 years to review state policy, we’ve looked at the neuroscience research, we understand now much more about brain development and what happens to very young children, and we have evaluated high quality programs so that we can identify their characteristics…It is past time that we offer accountability for children and families in how we assist them.”