You’ve heard the horror stories about negligent and abusive nannies and day care workers. It seems to be a problem with no solution; parents who leave their children with professional day care providers – and sometimes even family members – take a chance. However, Florida is attempting to safeguard parents and children by unanimously passing a bill that requires background checks for childcare workers.
In addition to covering childcare workers, those who work with seniors and the disabled are also covered under this new legislation. The goal is to improve safety and security across the state of Florida, reducing the incidence of negligence and abuse against “children, seniors and persons with disabilities.”
Under old Florida laws, workers could begin their jobs before a background check was complete, and in many cases a background check was limited to Florida. Now workers must submit to nationwide background checks if they want to get jobs in the industry.
In addition to the background checks, Florida residents who work with children and adults will have to provide electronic fingerprints, which means that anyone who has registered as a sex offender or has certain repeat convictions on their records cannot work as caregivers.
This legislation arrives on the heels of a series printed in the Florida Sun Sentinel. The Sun exposed numerous flaws in the system with regard to caregivers and their charges, and discussed incidences of negligence and abuse that had occurred as a direct result of poor investigation related to hiring.
Although background checks for caregivers will not protect the entire population of vulnerable citizens in Florida, it should cut down on abuse and negligence. Persons convicted of sex crimes, murder or other related charges will not have access to caregiver jobs involving children or the elderly.
Parents and relatives can also develop a greater degree of confidence in those who take care of children, the elderly or disabled, as caregivers who fail to comply will not be able to work or operate in Florida. It will, however, be necessary for state officials to keep close tabs on caregivers and to follow through with consequences for those who break the law.