Federal law states that anyone working in a child care program as an employee or volunteer, anyone who cares for or supervises children, or anyone with unsupervised access to children is required to undergo a criminal background check.
All background checks must include a search of:
- National Crime Information Center (run by the FBI);
- FBI fingerprint check (using Next Generation Identification);
- National Sex Offender Registry;
- State criminal and sex offender registries in every state the application has lived over the past five years;
- State child abuse and neglect registries in every state the applicant has lived over the past five years; and
- Child Protection Register (run by the DC Child and Family Services Agency).
How Are Background Checks Conducted?
The early learning provider must submit a fingerprint to be background checked. The fingerprint allows the above registries to be checked.
The background check results are sent to the DC Department of Human Resources (DCHR) for review, except the Child Protection Register results. These results are sent directly to OSSE.
For Providers: How to Schedule a Background Check
Background checks begin with a fingerprinting appointment. To make an appointment, use one of these guides:
Child Development Center Employee Scheduling Guide [PDF]
If the background check shows no criminal history: OSSE notifies the applicant that they have cleared the background check. This is called a criminal record clearance. The clearance is active for three years.
If the background check shows a criminal history: DCHR staff reviews the background check and decides whether the applicant may work in an early learning program. They may contact the applicant for additional information in order to make this decision.
Once the decision has been made, OSSE notifies the applicant and the early learning program.
If the application is accepted, the clearance is active for three years.
If the application is denied, the applicant will receive information on how to request a waiver or an appeal.
View process [PDF]
Why Do Applicants Fail the Background Check?
An applicant could fail a background check for one or more of the following reasons:
- He or she refuses a background check or lies during the background check
- He or she is registered or required to be registered on a state sex offender registry or the National Sex Offender Registry
- He or she is registered or required to be registered on a state child protection registry
- He or she has been convicted of one or more of the following criminal offenses:
- Child abuse or neglect;
- A crime against children, including child pornography;
- Spousal abuse;
- Rape or sexual assault;
- Physical assault or battery; and
- A drug-related offense (during the last five years).
If an applicant fails the background check, he or she is not allowed to work in an early learning program.
Can an Applicant Appeal?
An applicant may appeal the decision or request an exemption or waiver. All exemption and waiver documents must be received by OSSE within 45 days of the notification letter date. If not, the case will be closed and the original decision will remain final.