Audit finds flaws in Md. child care facility background checks

WASHINGTON – An audit of the Maryland State Department of Education uncovered flaws in how the agency carries out criminal background checks on people who work at child care facilities.

The audit, conducted by the state’s Department of Legislative Services, examines records from 2011 through 2014.

It claims the Education Department does not have an adequate process in place to ensure that background checks, required by state law, are obtained for all child care workers.

Out of nine employees examined in the audit, there was no record that a background check had been performed on two of them.

In another case, records showed an employee’s background check had been received and reviewed, but there was no documentation to substantiate that.

Auditors also said the department has failed to properly pursue alerts that indicate a child care employee has done something criminal.

“MSDE did not ensure that staff at its regional child care offices fully investigated each criminal background check alert and took proper follow-up action, such as by verifying that the individual was no longer associated with the facility,” the audit said.

Auditors examined 25 such alerts and determined the department’s response was inadequate in six instances.

Specifically, in response to five of the alerts, auditors said the department “relied on assertions from the child care centers that the individuals were no longer employed and did not review payroll records to verify these assertions.”

In a written response, the Education Department said it “respectfully disagrees” with the audit’s claim “as it does have adequate processes to ensure that criminal background checks are obtained for all child care employees and that the results of background checks and any subsequent alerts are adequately pursued.”

Licensed child care facilities in Maryland serve 219,000 children. The facilities include 7,086 family child care homes and 2,703 child care centers.

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