Q: I am a child care provider and I am hearing a lot of information about a new fingerprinting law in Massachusetts for child care providers. It is hard to tell what is required and what is not. Do you know? I heard it also applies to bus drivers and teachers. Thanks.
A: Kudos to you for being aware of new legislation! On January 10, 2013, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law H4307, An Act Relative to Background Checks, which requires early education providers and school districts to conduct fingerprint-supported national criminal history background checks on all teachers, school employees and early education providers in Massachusetts. Previously, school districts and early education providers were only allowed to conduct name-based Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) checks covering criminal history record information for crimes committed in Massachusetts. The CORI search had serious limitations, in that it did not include any criminal history record information for crimes committed outside Massachusetts. I contacted Jeffrey Dretler, a partner in the Employment Law Group at Prince Lobel Tye LLP. Dretler explains, “Under the new law, all newly hired teachers, school employees, bus drivers, early education and care and out-of-school time providers and even subcontractors who may have direct and unmonitored contact with children, must undergo state and national background checks prior to the start of the 2013-2014 school year. All current employees must undergo national background checks over the next three years, prior to the start of the 2016-2017 school year. The law also requires that fingerprint-based national background checks be conducted on household members (age 15 and older) of applicants for family-child care licensure; on all in-home non-relative Department of Early Education and Care (DEEC) funded caregivers; and on all applicants to be adoptive or foster parents. The law even requires that the school committee, superintendent, principal or other administrator also submit to the fingerprint-based national background check.”
The information obtained from these background checks can be used by the DEEC in connection with licensure issues and investigations of alleged misconduct by educators. For further information, visit http://www.mass.gov/governor/pressoffice/pressreleases/2013/0111-background-checks-legislation.html.