Axne Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Child Care Protection

July 25, 2019
Press Release
Legislation would create a task force to help states comply with background check requirements for child care workers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following reports of child care violations across Iowa, U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) joined Rep. Lucy McBath (GA-06) in introducing the Child Care Protection Improvement Act to ensure that all children are placed in safe, quality early care and education settings. This bipartisan legislation would create a task force to assist states in the process of implementing background check requirements for child care workers.

“I am heartbroken to hear the stories of children dying at child care facilities across Iowa. No parent should ever have to endure these avoidable and unacceptable tragedies,” said Rep. Axne. “As a Mom, there is nothing harder than leaving your baby in the care of a provider. We need to take every precaution possible to ensure that parents are confident that they are leaving their children in the hands of safe, law abiding citizens.”

When Congress reauthorized the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act in 2014, it required states to conduct comprehensive criminal background checks on all child care staff. These new provisions require states to conduct background checks across five different registries in any state in which a child care provider has lived in the previous five years.   

However, bureaucratic inefficiencies have prevented states from fully complying with the background check requirements, threatening the safety of children. Interstate background checks have been particularly challenging to complete as there are no streamlined processes for conducting background checks across states. And in some states, legal roadblocks prevent out-of-state entities from conducting background checks.

The Child Care Protection Improvement Act of 2019 would address barriers to fulfilling the CCDBG background check requirements by creating an inter-agency task force to identify such barriers and recommend best practices to fully implement the background check requirements. The task force would bring together federal administrators from the office that administers the CCDBG program with administrators from the office that administers background checks to generate solutions that allow all states to fulfill the CCDBG requirements.

More than three-quarters of preschool-aged children attend some form of early care and education before reaching kindergarten. Research shows that the quality and safety of those early care and education programs can have significant effects on children’s future development. Children who attend quality early care and education programs and are cared for by warm, responsive providers are more likely to develop the skills that help them succeed in school and beyond.

“This bill works toward providing safe, quality childcare and educational opportunity for our children,” said U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath (GA-06), who led the legislation. “I want to applaud my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for working together to set our kids up for educational success while ensuring our qualified childcare providers have access to the opportunities they’ve worked so hard for.”