Skip navigation
CLN bookstore

Us Government Accountability Office Sex Offenders at Childcare Center Laws 2011

Download original document:
Brief thumbnail
This text is machine-read, and may contain errors. Check the original document to verify accuracy.
United States Government Accountability Office

GAO

Report to the Ranking Member,
Committee on Education and the
Workforce, House of Representatives

August 2011

CHILD CARE
Overview of Relevant
Employment Laws and
Cases of Sex
Offenders at Child
Care Facilities

GAO-11-757

August 2011

CHILD CARE
Overview of Relevant Employment Laws and Cases
of Sex Offenders at Child Care Facilities
Highlights of GAO-11-757, a report to Ranking
Member, Committee on Education and the
Workforce, House of Representatives

Why GAO Did This Study

What GAO Found

Very little is known about sexual abuse
among children that are regularly cared
for by more than 1.3 million child care
providers every week in the United
States. In this context, GAO was asked
to (1) provide an overview of federal
and state laws related to the
employment of sex offenders at child
care facilities and (2) examine cases
where individuals who were convicted
of serious sexual offenses were
subsequently employed or present at
child care facilities.

Federal laws regulate the employment of sex offenders at federal child care
facilities. For example, federally operated facilities are required to conduct
criminal-history checks on employees, as are facilities receiving grants from the
Department of Health and Human Services’ Head Start program. At the state
level, laws vary widely. For example, all 50 states require criminal-history checks
for owners and employees of licensed child care facilities, but many state laws
exempt facilities from licensing if they do not exceed certain thresholds, such as
a minimum number of children. Penalties for violating licensing requirements can
range from a $5 administrative fine to imprisonment for a term of years.

To provide an overview of selected
laws, GAO searched for prohibitions
against offenders being present at
child care facilities, requirements for
conducting criminal-history checks,
and penalties for violating these
requirements. The cases GAO
examined focus only on individuals
who were convicted of serious sexual
offenses and cannot be generalized to
all child care facilities. To identify the
cases, GAO reviewed open-source
information from 2000 to 2010. GAO
also compared the years 2007 to 2009
in employment databases from 20
states and the District of Columbia to
data in the National Sex Offender
Registry. GAO ultimately selected 10
cases from eight states and the District
of Columbia for review. For each case,
GAO reviewed court documents and
interviewed law enforcement
personnel. Our methodology was not
designed to assess the prevalence of
sex offenders working at child care
facilities. This product contains no
recommendations. Where applicable,
GAO referred its cases for further
investigation.

The cases GAO examined show examples of individuals convicted of serious
sexual offenses who gained access to child care facilities as maintenance
workers, spouses or friends of providers, a cafeteria worker, and a cook. At least
seven of these cases involve offenders who previously targeted children, and in
three of the cases, the offenders used their access to children at the facilities to
offend again. Among the cases, GAO found instances of providers who (1)
knowingly hired offenders and (2) did not perform preemployment criminal-history
checks. GAO also found examples of facilities operating without licenses, and
facilities that employed offenders while receiving federal funds. The following four
cases illustrate the nature of the situations GAO identified.
Examples of Cases GAO Examined
Location
Case details
Missouri




Kentucky




Washington, D.C.




New York




When investigating allegations of child abuse, state officials and police
found unsafe conditions and a maintenance worker previously convicted of
attempted child molestation working at an unlicensed facility.
The facility claimed to operate as a school but investigators found no
evidence to support that claim or that the owner of the facility completed a
criminal-history check on the offender. In March 2004, the provider pled
guilty to felony child endangerment and received 3 years of probation.
An owner of a licensed child care facility hired a cook to work in her
cafeteria in January 2008 because she wanted to help him, even though
she knew that he had been convicted for sexually abusing a woman.
An investigation by state agencies led to the suspension of the owner’s
license. She revoked her right to appeal and closed the facility.
This offender’s parents hired him to work as a janitor in a licensed child
care facility that received at least $1 million in federal assistance, even
though he had been convicted for attempting to sexually abuse a young
girl.
In March 2011, after GAO referred the case to the D.C. licensing
department, the parents were told to fire their son or lose their license.
A man convicted for sexually abusing a minor was hired as a janitor in
2007 by an organization that operated multiple licensed child care
facilities.
The organization, which received over $750,000 in federal assistance, did
not conduct a criminal history check on the offender. His employment was
eventually terminated due to downsizing.

Source: State and local agencies, GAO.

View GAO-11-757. For more information,
contact Richard Hillman at (202) 512-6722 or
hillmanr@gao.gov.

Note: The data are from records including police reports, court documents, and interviews.

United States Government Accountability Office

Contents

Letter

1
Background
Overview of Federal and State Laws Related to the Employment of
Sex Offenders at Child Care Facilities
Cases of Child Care Facilities That Employed or Provided
Residence to Sex Offenders

Appendix I

4
5
9

Summary of State Laws Related to the Employment of Sex Offenders
at Child Care Facilities

21

Table 1: Types of Child Care
Table 2: Examples of Sex Offenders at Child care Facilities

4
15

Tables

This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright protection in the
United States. The published product may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety
without further permission from GAO. However, because this work may contain
copyrighted images or other material, permission from the copyright holder may be
necessary if you wish to reproduce this material separately.

Page i

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

United States Government Accountability Office
Washington, DC 20548

August 19, 2011
The Honorable George Miller
Ranking Member
Committee on Education and the Workforce
House of Representatives
Dear Mr. Miller:
We have previously reported on cases in which children were being
physically abused at youth residential treatment facilities and sexually
abused at public and private schools. 1 However, very little is known about
the extent of sexual abuse among children that are regularly cared for by
an estimated 1.3 million child care providers every week in the United
States as of 2008. The victims of these crimes are typically 12 years old
or younger—and according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI)
National Incident-Based Reporting System, crimes against children make
up a large majority of sexual assaults handled by law enforcement
agencies. In this context, and as a follow-on to our December 2010 report
on individuals with histories of sexual misconduct in K-12 public and
private schools, we agreed to (1) provide an overview of relevant federal
and state laws related to the employment of sex offenders at child care
facilities and (2) examine cases where individuals who were convicted of
serious sexual offenses were subsequently employed or present at child
care facilities.
To provide an overview of selected federal and state laws, we searched
statutory codes for prohibitions against sexual offenders working or being
present in child care facilities, requirements for conducting criminalhistory checks, and penalties for violating these requirements. At the state
level, we focused solely on statutory provisions because of their greater
degree of permanence. We did not analyze state regulations or policies,

1

GAO, Residential Treatment Programs: Concerns Regarding Abuse and Death in Certain
Programs for Troubled Youth, GAO-08-146T (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 10, 2007);
Residential Programs: Selected Cases of Death, Abuse, and Deceptive Marketing,
GAO-08-713T (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 24, 2008); Seclusions and Restraints: Selected
Cases of Death and Abuse at Public and Private Schools and Treatment Centers,
GAO-09-719T (Washington, D.C.: May 19, 2009); K-12 Education: Selected Cases of
Public and Private Schools That Hired or Retained Individuals with Histories of Sexual
Misconduct, GAO-11-200 (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 8, 2010).

Page 1

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

or any laws, regulations, or policies at the local level. Additional
requirements can be added through regulation by states or at the local
level, and these may go beyond what is specified in state statute.
To identify case-study examples of child care facilities that employed or
provided residence to registered sexual offenders who committed serious
sexual offenses, we performed searches of open-source information and
public records and used database matching techniques described in
greater detail below. 2 Our methodology was not designed to assess the
prevalence of sex offenders working at child care facilities; nor can it
establish the effectiveness of statutes and legislation designed to prevent
such occurrences. First, we compared social security numbers (SSN) that
we obtained from the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) National Sex
Offender Registry (NSOR) to SSNs in employment databases maintained
by 20 states and the District of Columbia for the years 2007 to 2009.
These states and the District of Columbia are not a generalizable sample,
but illustrate geographic diversity. From this comparison, we identified 24
potential cases of registered sex offenders working at child care facilities.
We identified the facilities by searching the data that we compiled through
our comparisons for employers whose business names contained terms
such as “children,” “child care,” and “daycare.” The cases we identified
focus only on individuals who were convicted of serious sexual offenses
prior to being employed at child care facilities and cannot be generalized
to all child care facilities. It is possible that our search did not capture sex
offenders whose names or social security numbers were inaccurate in
NSOR or employment data or who worked at facilities that were not
readily identifiable as child care providers, or whose employers did not
properly report the sex offender’s employment to the state, nor would it
capture instances where a registered sex offender was merely present at
the child care facility, but was not employed.
To identify additional potential case-study examples, we searched opensource information for reports of individuals who committed serious
sexual offenses and gained access to child care facilities. We reviewed
open sources published between the years 2000 through 2010. Opensource information refers to publicly available information, and may
include information obtained from sources such as the media and public

2

For the purposes of our report, we define serious sexual offenses as those sexual
offenses that involve children or sexual abuse.

Page 2

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

data. It is a key component of traditional law-enforcement, intelligence,
and other information-gathering agencies, such as the Central
Intelligence Agency. To determine whether the preliminary listing of cases
resulting from the above data matches and searches of open-source
information was sufficient, we confirmed that both of the following criteria
had been met: (1) the individual was a convicted sex offender before he
gained employment or was present at the child care facility and (2) the
individual was convicted of a serious sexual offense, to include crimes
against children or a violent sexual offense, or both.
To refine the list from which to select further cases for review, we
attempted to validate the identity of each offender and verify that he was
employed or present at a child care facility at some time during 2000
through 2010. We excluded from consideration cases where we could not
obtain records or immediately confirm the offender’s identity and
employment. Further, we interviewed related parties, law-enforcement
officials, or representatives from state agencies to validate and
investigate the facts in each case. Where applicable and available, we
reviewed police reports, and other court documents.
Ultimately, through a combination of our data matching, review of opensource information, public records, and interviews, and by focusing on the
offenders who had been convicted of serious sexual offenses in the past,
to include violent sexual offenses and crimes involving children, we
selected 10 cases from eight states and the District of Columbia. Of these
cases, 8 were selected from open-source information while the remaining
2 were selected from our comparison of SSNs in the NSOR with SSNs in
employment databases. The 8 cases selected from open-source
information cover the years 2002 to 2010. These examples are not
representative of the hiring practices of any child care facilities beyond
those highlighted in the report.
To the extent possible, we conducted searches to determine whether the
sex offenders in our cases had previous criminal histories or were the
subject of previous allegations of abuse. In addition, although the focus of
our investigation was not to determine whether the child care facilities in
our cases received public funds, during our investigation we observed
that some of these child care facilities did in fact receive public funding. In
these cases, we obtained information from relevant federal, state, and city
agencies indicating whether the facility received federal assistance from
the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Head Start
program or its Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) while a sex
offender was employed or a resident in the home of a child care provider.

Page 3

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

Although our 10 case studies highlight issues or processes that may have
contributed to the employment or presence of sex offenders at the child
care facilities that we included in our report, the circumstances of each
case are unique and cannot be generalized to all child care facilities.
We performed our work from April 2010 to August 2011 in accordance
with standards prescribed by the Council of the Inspectors General on
Integrity and Efficiency.

Background

Parents who need child care services select from different types of child
care providers: in-home care, in which a child is cared for by a provider
such as an au pair or nanny in the child’s home; family child care or group
home care, in which the child is cared for in a private residence other than
the child’s home; 3 and center care, in which a child is cared for by
providers in a nonresidential setting, such as in a church, school, or
business. Additionally, care can be provided by someone related to the
child other than the parents, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, or
siblings, which is referred to as relative care. See table 1.
Table 1: Types of Child Care
Type

Description

In-home care

Care provided in the child’s home

Relative care

Care provided by someone related to the child other than the
parents in any setting, typically in the child’s or relative’s home

Family child care

An individual provider who provides child care services as the sole
caregiver in a private residence other than the child’s home

Group home care

Two or more providers who provide child care services in a private
residence other than the child’s home (this does not include 24-hour
residential facilities)

Child care centers

Nonresidential facilities that provide care for children and include
full-and part-time group programs, such as nursery and preschool
programs. Child care centers can be commercial, work-site based,
school-based (preschool or after school), or a recreational program
(such as camps or parks), and care can also be run by a religious
organizations or by federal, state, or local governments

Source: GAO.

3

Typically, family child care consists of one provider caring for six or fewer children.
Group home care usually involves two providers caring for 7 to 12 children.

Page 4

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

In general, states and localities are responsible for regulating child care
providers and carry out this responsibility by (1) establishing specific
requirements that regulated child care providers must comply with in
order to legally operate; and (2) enforcing these requirements through
activities conducted by state licensing offices. The stringency of the
requirements with which providers must comply and the scope and
intensity of state enforcement activities differ among the provider types
within states as well as among states overall. Many states do not regulate
a significant number of providers. This is because, given the competing
priorities for limited funds as well as other factors, states must make
choices about the extent to which they can conduct enforcement activities
and the types of providers to which these activities will apply. State
policies regarding child care regulation are also influenced by the supply
of child care and its cost to parents. Research has shown that some types
of child care regulation may increase the cost of doing business for
providers, particularly for small providers like family and group homes.

Overview of Federal
and State Laws
Related to the
Employment of Sex
Offenders at Child
Care Facilities

Federal laws regulate the employment of sex offenders at federal child
care facilities, and widely divergent laws govern state child care facilities,
especially with regard to licensing requirements and penalties. We did not
analyze state regulations or policies, nor any laws, regulations, or policies
at the local level. 4 In addition, the scope of this review did not include a
review of whether these laws were effectively enforced. For a summary of
laws related to the employment of sex offenders at child care facilities in
all 50 states, see appendix I.
Federal Laws. The National Child Protection Law of 1993 requires the
Department of Justice to conduct a criminal-history check at the request
of child care facilities or other youth-serving organizations. 5 This check
allows for a fingerprint-based criminal-history search of the FBI’s National
Crime Information Center database. However, federal law does not

4

State regulations may be more specific than statutes regarding such things as the type of
providers that must complete criminal background checks, and the type of checks that
must be conducted. For recent studies looking at current state regulations regarding
criminal-history checks, see the National Association for Child Care Resource and
Referral Agencies’ (NACCRRA) report We Can Do Better, 2011 and the National
Association of Regulatory Administration’s 2008 Child Care Licensing Study.

5

42 U.S.C. § 5119a.

Page 5

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

require child care facilities to use this service unless the facility is
federally owned or operated (or operated under a federal contract). 6
Other laws governing the employment of sex offenders relate to facilities
that receive federal grants. For example, Head Start grantees must either
conduct a state or national criminal record check before hiring any
employee, depending on state law requirements. 7 Grantees are
prohibited from permanently hiring an individual until these checks have
been performed, although they may conditionally hire an individual if it is
not feasible to perform a preemployment check. Employees are also
required to sign a declaration to all pending and prior criminal arrests and
charges related to child sexual abuse and their disposition, along with any
convictions related to other forms of child abuse and neglect and
convictions of violent felonies. Grantees are then required to determine
whether the individual is fit for employment based upon his or her criminal
charge or conviction. In addition to requirements for Head Start grantees,
CCDF requires that states certify to the federal government that they
have requirements in effect to protect the health and safety of children in
child care facilities who are subsidized with these funds. However, the
block grant does not dictate to states the specificity, stringency, or
number of requirements they must have or the manner in which they
should enforce them. 8
Prohibitions on Working in or Being Present at Child Care Facilities.
A majority of states have enacted laws to restrict sex offenders from
having access to child care facilities. Fifteen states impose broad
statutory restrictions that prohibit registered sex offenders from entering
or being a specified distance from childcare facilities. 9 Twenty-two states
and the District of Columbia have enacted statutes prohibiting sex
offenders from serving as an owner, operator, employee, or volunteer at a

6

42 U.S.C. §13041.

7

45 C.F.R. § 1301.31.

8

45 C.F.R. § 98.41.

9

Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota,
Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, and Utah.

Page 6

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

child care facility. 10 Nine additional states more narrowly impose such a
prohibition on offenders whose victims were minors. 11 Four states also
specifically prohibit sex offenders from residing at a facility that provides
child care services. 12
Criminal-History Check Requirements. Although it is not always clear
whether criminal-history checks need to be completed prior to
employment, all 50 states require such checks for owners and employees
of licensed child care facilities. However, the requirements for licensing
vary widely. Only 3 states appear to require criminal-history checks for all
licensed and unlicensed child care facilities, 13 while 11 states require that
all facilities that receive state or federal funds perform these checks. 14 In
addition, 23 states require criminal-history checks for adult residents at
licensed child care or group home facilities. 15 Fourteen states and the
District of Columbia specifically require checks for volunteers at licensed
childcare facilities, 16 and six states specifically require criminal-history
checks for contractors. 17 Finally, several states exempt child care facilities
associated with schools or religious organizations from the licensing or
criminal-history check requirements.

10

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois,
Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New York,
North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota,
and Virginia.
11

Alaska, California, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia, and
Wisconsin.

12

Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, and South Dakota.

13

California, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

14

Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina,
Utah, Vermont, and Virginia.
15

Alaska, California, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts,
Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma,
Pennsylvania, South Carolina. South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
16
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Indiana, Kansas, Maine,
Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia. In
addition, Idaho and Massachusetts both require criminal-history checks for anyone with
unsupervised access to children in child care facilities, which could include volunteers.
17
Alaska, Arkansas, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Wisconsin. In addition, Idaho
and Massachusetts both require criminal-history checks for anyone with unsupervised
access to children in child care facilities, which could include contractors.

Page 7

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

Method for Conducting Criminal-History Checks. The vast majority of
states require that criminal-history checks for employees and other staff
be fingerprint-based and be conducted in both national and state
databases, but many do not specify that the checks must be completed
prior to an employee’s start date. In four states, statutes require criminalhistory checks, but they do not specify the use of either national or state
databases. 18 In addition, five states limit the check to state databases, 19
while four states require national database checks only if the employee or
applicant has not been a resident of the state for a specified period of
time. 20 Four states require by statute that criminal-history checks be
performed at specified intervals. 21
Penalties for violations. All 50 states provide some type of penalty for
violating requirements related to the employment of sex offenders, but
these penalties vary widely. For example, 34 states and the District of
Columbia attach criminal penalties to licensing requirement violations,
failure of an owner or employee to disclose criminal-history information, or
failure to perform criminal-history checks. 22 In 29 states, violation of
licensing requirements and failure to perform criminal-history checks may

18

Kentucky, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and Vermont.

19

Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia, and Wyoming.

20

Arkansas, Colorado, Montana, and Washington.

21

Arkansas, Ohio, Oregon, and Wisconsin.

22

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of
Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland,
Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York,
North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South
Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. In three additional states
(Montana, West Virginia, and Wyoming), licensing violations may result in license
suspension, and criminal penalties attach to continued operation after suspension.

Page 8

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

result in civil penalties or fines, 23 ranging from $5 per violation 24 to
$10,000 per violation. 25

Cases of Child Care
Facilities That
Employed or
Provided Residence
to Sex Offenders

We did not assess the prevalence of sex offenders working or residing at
child care facilities; our 10 cases do provide examples of sex offenders
who gained access to such facilities as maintenance workers, spouses or
friends of providers, a cafeteria worker, and a carpenter. Seven of these
cases involve offenders who previously targeted children, and in at least 3
of the cases, the offenders used their access to children at the child care
facility to offend again. As discussed below, we identified instances of
relatives and acquaintances who knowingly hired offenders to work at
child care facilities and facilities that unknowingly hired offenders because
they did not perform preemployment criminal-history checks. Our
investigation also found instances where child care facilities employing
sex offenders operated without licenses or received federal funds.
Relatives or Acquaintances Knowingly Provided Sex Offenders
Access to Child Care Facilities. In at least 7 of our 10 cases, sex
offenders were hired or allowed to reside at both licensed and unlicensed
facilities by relatives or acquaintances who were aware of the offenders’
previous offenses. As shown in the cases, the regulatory consequences
for allowing a sex offender to have access to a child care facility differ
widely, ranging from, for example, no action being taken to suspension of
a child care license to a misdemeanor charge for providing child care
services in a home where a sex offender resides. Examples from our
case studies include the following:
Operators of a licensed child care facility in the District of Columbia
hired their son in April 2008 as an after-hours janitor even though he
had been convicted for attempting to sexually abuse a very young girl.
The terms of the offender’s parole and District of Columbia law



23

Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana,
Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska,
Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon,
Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. In Vermont, licensing violations
may result in license suspension, and civil penalties attach to continued operation after
suspension.
24

North Dakota.

25

Mississippi.

Page 9

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

prohibited him from being employed at a child care facility. After
interviewing the child care provider, we confirmed that the offender
was working at the facility in November 2010. The offender’s father
told us that employing his son to work at the child care facility was not
a cause for concern, even though he was a convicted sex offender; he
also stated that his son’s employment was approved by his probation
officer and that he only worked after the school was closed. We
referred the case to the Metropolitan Police Department, Sex Offender
Registry Unit, who told us that they could not take action against the
offender because he was no longer under court supervision and the
restrictions of his parole no longer applied. We then referred the
matter to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, the
office responsible for licensing child care facilities in the District of
Columbia. In March 2011, the office required the owners to certify that
they had terminated their son’s employment and notify him that he
was prohibited from visiting the child care facility, in order to maintain
their license. As of March 21, 2011, the office was still investigating
the matter.


An Illinois woman allowed her husband to reside at her unlicensed
home-based child care facility even though he had prior convictions
for sexual assault and abuse. In Illinois, sex offenders are not allowed
to be present at any child care facility. Over a 6-year period, the
offender sexually molested one of the children under his wife’s care.
He was sentenced to life in prison and is currently incarcerated.
Prosecutors told us that they could not gather enough evidence to
prosecute the wife.



A Kentucky owner of a licensed child care facility hired a cafeteria
worker even though she knew that he had been convicted of sexual
abuse in the first degree, because she wanted to help him. Kentucky
prohibits child care facilities from hiring sex offenders for any position
involving direct contact with minors. A series of anonymous tips led to
an investigation of the child care facility, which resulted in a
suspension of her license and an order to cease operations. She
revoked her right to appeal the suspension.



A woman in North Carolina allowed her husband and his son, both of
whom were convicted for taking indecent liberties with a minor, to
reside in a house where she was providing child care. North Carolina
prohibits sex offenders from being present at child care facilities. In
February 2010, the mother of two of the children who attended the
child care facility reported that one of the children had witnessed the
husband sexually abusing her sibling. The husband was convicted on

Page 10

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

felony charges of being an offender in a home where child care is
provided and indecent liberties with a child and sentenced to 19 to 23
months in prison with 5 years probation. The offender’s son was never
charged. Police arrested the offender’s wife for the misdemeanor
offense of offering child care services in a home where a sex offender
resides; her trial was scheduled to begin in September 2011. We
could not obtain information regarding the present operation of the
child care facility.
Child Care Facilities Not Performing Preemployment CriminalHistory Checks. At least two cases show examples in which licensed
child care facilities unknowingly hired employees who were sex offenders
because they did not conduct required criminal-history checks. The
documents we reviewed and the officials we spoke with indicated that the
child care facilities did not perform these checks because of poor
oversight and an unclear understanding of background check
requirements.


In June 2007, an offender who was convicted for sexually abusing a
minor gained employment as a substitute custodian at three child care
facilities in New York City. The City of New York requires criminalhistory checks on employees of licensed child care facilities; and
according to the Director of the child care facility, employees are not
authorized to begin working until after the employer receives the
results of these checks. However, the offender was not scheduled to
have his fingerprints checked for more than 9 months after he began
working. He was subsequently terminated as a result of downsizing.
The organization only learned of the offender’s criminal past through
our investigation. The Director of the facility also told us that it was
likely that the organization failed in its oversight role because he was
hired when the organization was in flux. The child care facility is now
owned and operated by a different organization.



A South Carolina child care facility hired an offender in September
2009 who was convicted of committing sexual battery. The person
was hired to provide maintenance and repair services at six different
child care facilities. South Carolina requires licensed facilities to
perform fingerprint-based state and national criminal-history checks
on all employees. The owners said they did not perform a criminalhistory check on the offender in this case because he was a selfemployed contractor and not an employee of the child care facility. In
December 2009, the human resource director at the child care facility
reported the offender’s employment to law enforcement and child

Page 11

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

protective services. We could not obtain information regarding the
present operation of the child care facility.
Some Facilities Operated without Required Licenses. At least 3 of our
10 cases involve child care facilities that allegedly cared for more children
than legally allowed without a license or did not operate as permitted by
the state. States and localities are responsible for regulating child care
providers by establishing specific requirements they must meet and
enforcing those requirements. Many states set thresholds at which
regulation begins according to the number of children served by different
types of providers and exempt from regulation those providers falling
below these thresholds. For example, in a given state, providers caring
for seven or more children in their home might be regulated, while
providers caring for four children in their home might be exempted from
regulation. 26 Licensed providers are generally subject to standard
oversight, which includes background checks, inspections, technical
assistance and training, and the application of sanctions when providers
are found to be out of compliance. Unlicensed providers may be subject
to less intense scrutiny or none at all. However, the requirements for
licensing vary widely. If enforced, penalties for violating licensing
requirements also vary widely, ranging from a $5 administrative fine to
imprisonment for a term of years. Examples from our case studies include
the following:
A Missouri child care facility providing care for 31 children employed
as a maintenance man a person convicted of attempted child
molestation. He had been working at the facility for approximately 2
years when he was discovered in January 2003. In Missouri,
fingerprint-based national and state criminal-history checks are
required for all employees of licensed child care facilities—those with
5 or more children. However, Missouri exempts from regulation child
care facilities that are affiliated with a school system. The child care
facility received an exemption from state regulation after it claimed to
be a school; however, during the state’s investigation, it found no
evidence to support this claim. The facility was eventually condemned
after state officials and police conducted investigations into allegations
of child abuse and found unsafe conditions. Subsequently, the
offender pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of child
endangerment. The child care provider pled guilty to 31 counts of



26

GAO/HEHS-00-28.

Page 12

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

felony child endangerment and received 3 years of probation. The
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services told us that as of
November 2010 the child care facility was no longer in operation.


Another Missouri offender convicted for having sexual intercourse with
a minor subsequently resided in the trailer where his girlfriend
provided child care services when he was arrested by police during a
domestic dispute. The offender pled guilty to assaulting his girlfriend,
receiving a 1-year suspended sentence with 2 years of probation. An
August 2004 report by the offender’s probation officer indicated that
he was compliant with sex-offender registration requirements;
however, he continued to reside at the same home with his girlfriend
while he was on probation and she continued to provide child care
services. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services told
us that as of November 2010 the child care facility was no longer in
operation.



An Arizona offender convicted of indecent exposure to a minor was
operating an unlicensed facility with his wife in October 2005. The
child care facility provided services for more than 15 children,
although Arizona required a license for any facility with 5 or more
children. Police discovered the offender operating the child care
facility after a parent alleged that he abused her child. The offender
fled the state, but was eventually apprehended. He subsequently pled
guilty to sexual exploitation of a minor and dangerous crimes against
children in the first degree and was sentenced to 13 years’
imprisonment. According to the prosecutor, his wife has not been
charged. We could not obtain information regarding the present
operation of the child care facility.

Several Child Care Providers Received Federal Funds. At least four of
the child care facilities—two licensed and two unlicensed—received
federal funds from HHS’s Head Start program or its Child Care
Development Fund (CCDF). In all four cases, we attempted to determine
the amount of funds received during the time that a sex offender was
employed or resided at the child care facility, although we can not be
certain when offenders began living or working at some facilities because
the operators did not keep comprehensive records. The Head Start
program delivers comprehensive educational, social, health, nutritional,
and psychological services to low-income families and their children who
are below the age of compulsory school attendance. These services
include preschool education, family support, health screenings, and
dental care. The Office of Head Start makes grants directly to
approximately 1,600 local organizations, including community-action

Page 13

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

agencies, school systems, tribal governments and associations, and forprofit and nonprofit organizations. 27 Administered by HHS as a block
grant to the states, CCDF subsidizes child care for low-income children
under age 13 whose parents work or attend educational or job-training
programs. 28 In September 2010, we reported that criminals could obtain
CCDF subsidies to provide child care because at least five states did not
conduct criminal-history checks, verify SSNs, or compare provider
information to sex-offender registries. 29 In our current investigation, we
notified the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at HHS of the
four cases where sex offenders worked or resided at child care facilities
that received federal funds. Details regarding our four cases follow.
In one case, owners of the licensed Washington, D.C., child care facility
that hired their son, an offender convicted for attempting to sexually
abuse a child, to work as a janitor, received at least $1 million in
assistance from the Head Start program between April 2008 and
December 2010. Head Start requires that grantees conduct a state or
national criminal-history check on prospective employees, depending on
state law. The District of Columbia requires both state and national
checks for all owners, volunteers, and employees of licensed child care
facilities with 6 or more children. ACF has informed us that this facility’s
Head Start contract has been terminated. In the three remaining cases,
two in Missouri and one in New York, child care facilities received funds
from CCDF. In New York, a licensed facility hired a custodian in 2007
who was convicted for sexually abusing a minor and the facility received
nearly $750,000 in financial assistance from CCDF between July 2007
and June 2008. In one Missouri case, a man convicted for attempted child
molestation worked at a child care facility that received nearly $250,000 in
federal assistance from the CCDF between 2001 and 2003. In the other,
an offender convicted for sexually assaulting a minor resided in his
girlfriend’s unlicensed, home-based day care, which received more than

27

In fiscal year 2010, Congress appropriated approximately $7.2 billion as well as
approximately $2.1 billion in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to
serve low-income families and children that participate in this program.
28
The CCDF received approximately $7 billion in fiscal year 2009, including approximately
$2 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, primarily to help
eligible low-income families pay for child care.
29

GAO, Child Care and Development Fund: Undercover Tests Show Five State Programs
Are Vulnerable to Fraud and Abuse, GAO-10-1062 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 22, 2010).

Page 14

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

$4,200 in federal assistance from CCDF between 2001 and 2002.
Although Missouri is 1 of 11 states that requires facilities that receive
state or federal funds to perform criminal-history checks, 30 there are no
federal requirements for CCDF grantees to conduct these checks.
Table 2 provides a summary of the 10 cases we examined.
Table 2: Examples of Sex Offenders at Child Care Facilities

Case
1

2

Location, licensing status of child care
facility and number of children, and
offender occupation
Case details

Washington, D.C.

In March 2000, the offender was convicted for attempting to sexually abuse an
8-year-old child.

Licensed child care facility, 160
children

In April 2008, the offender’s parents hired him to work as an after-hours janitor
in their licensed child care facility. In December 2010, the offender’s father

Janitor
told us that the offender’s employment at the facility was approved by his
probation officer. But according to the Court Services and Offender
Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia, the offender was never
authorized to work at or visit his parents’ child care facility.

Between April 2008 and December 2010, this child care facility has received
at least $1 million dollars in assistance from the Head Start program. ACF has
informed us that this facility’s Head Start contract has been terminated.

We referred the case to the D.C. office responsible for licensing child care
facilities, which required the owners to certify that they had terminated the
employment of their son and notified him that he was prohibited from being at
the facility, in order to maintain their license. In March 2011, the child care
facility certified that the offender’s employment was terminated and the facility
remained open.





New York
Three licensed child care facilities
operated by the same board of
volunteers, number of children
unknown
Custodian









In 1997, this offender was convicted for sexually abusing a minor. He was
sentenced to a year in prison and required to register as a sex offender for
life.
The offender was hired in June 2007. Although the state of New York requires
criminal-history checks on employees of licensed child care facilities, the
offender’s fingerprints were not scheduled to be checked until more than 9
months after he began working.
The offender’s employment was subsequently terminated in March 2008 as a
result of downsizing. The organization only learned of his criminal past
through our investigation.
During the approximate time the offender was employed, these facilities
a
received nearly $750,000 in financial assistance from CCDF.

30

These 11 states are Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, New
Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia.

Page 15

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

Case
3

4

5

Location, licensing status of child care
facility and number of children, and
offender occupation
Case details

Missouri

In 1996, this offender was convicted of attempted child molestation.

Unlicensed child care facility , 31

In January 2003, state officials responded to a claim of abuse at two
children
unlicensed child care facilities operated by the same owner and discovered
the offender.

Maintenance worker

The child care facility was exempt from state inspections because it claimed to
be a school; however, during the state’s investigation, it found no evidence to
support this claim. It also found that the facility’s owner did not have
employment records or completed criminal-history checks on the offender or
any of its employees.

In March 2004, the offender pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of child
endangerment, because he worked at a child care facility that did not provide
sanitary and safe conditions for the children. The child care facility owner pled
guilty to 31 counts of felony child endangerment, received 3 years of
probation, and was forbidden from working in a child care setting for 6
months.

Between 2001 and 2003, the child care facility received almost $250,000 in
b
federal assistance from the CCDF.

In Missouri, individuals receiving federal or state funds for child care are
required to submit to criminal-history checks. As of November 2010, the child
care facility was no longer in operation.

Arizona

In 1988, the offender was convicted in Arizona of indecent exposure to a
minor under the age of 15.

Unlicensed home-based child care
facility, more than 15 children

In October 2005, police discovered the offender operating a child care facility
with his wife after a parent alleged that the offender sexually abused her child.

Operator and resident

The offender subsequently pled guilty to sexual exploitation of a minor and
dangerous crimes against children. According to the prosecutor, the wife was
not charged. We could not obtain information regarding the present operation
of the child care facility.





South Carolina
Six licensed child care facilities
operated by the same owners, 650
children
Maintenance worker






Page 16

In 2004, the offender was sentenced for committing sexual battery against a
woman in South Carolina in 1999.
The offender began work in September 2009. South Carolina law requires
licensed facilities to perform fingerprint-based state and national criminalhistory checks on all employees, but not independent contractors. However,
state regulations prohibit child care facilities from engaging the services of or
allowing access during normal operating hours to anyone convicted of a
violent offense or required to register as a sex offender.
The owners of the child care facility stated that they did not perform criminalhistory checks on the offender before hiring him because he was a selfemployed contractor and not an employee of the child care facility. In
December 2009, the human resource director at the child care facility reported
the offender’s employment to law enforcement and child protective services.
We could not obtain information regarding the present operation of the child
care facility.

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

Case
6

7

Location, licensing status of child care
facility and number of children, and
offender occupation
Case details

Kentucky

In 1995, this offender was convicted of sexual abuse in the first degree.

Licensed child care facility, maximum 
In February 2008, shortly after the offender began working at the child care
of 122 children
facility, a series of anonymous tips about safety and health led to an
investigation by multiple state agencies responsible for regulating child care

Cook
facilities.

When investigators asked about the offender’s employment, the owner
acknowledged that she knew of his past and wanted to help him; she also
stated that she was not aware that his offense would prevent him from
working at the facility.

In addition to the hiring of a sex offender, the investigation uncovered
numerous regulatory violations, including staff working with children without
the required background checks and a failure to properly report allegations of
abuse and neglect of children. As a result, the owner’s license was suspended
and she was directed to cease operation of the facility.

In February 2008, she revoked her right to appeal the suspension of the
license and closed the child care facility.




Missouri
Unlicensed, home-based child care
facility, at least four children
Boyfriend of child care operator and
resident













Page 17

In 1995, this offender was convicted for having sex with a minor.
In May 2001, the Missouri Department of Health received an anonymous tip
that the offender’s girlfriend was caring for too many children in her home
without a license.
Missouri requires a license for five or more children. However, the department
concluded these allegations were unsubstantiated after the child care owner
sent documents listing the names of children under her care. The department
did not investigate the offender’s presence at the child care facility.
In October 2002, the police discovered the offender residing in the home
where his girlfriend provided child care services, when they arrested him for
domestic violence.
The offender pled guilty in February 2003 for assaulting his girlfriend,
receiving a 1 year suspended sentence and 2 years of probation.
An August 2004 report by the offender’s probation officer indicates that while
he remained compliant with sex-offender registration requirements and had no
further violations, he still resided with his girlfriend while she continued to
operate the child care. The probation officer told us that she stopped
supervising the sex offender in February 2005. The Missouri Department of
Health and Senior Services told us that as of November 2010 the child care
facility was not in operation.
While the offender resided in the home, the child care provider received more
than $4,200 in federal assistance from CCDF between November 2001 and
November 2002. In Missouri, individuals receiving federal or state funds for
child care and residents of their homes are supposed to submit to criminalhistory checks. However, the provider did not report that the offender lived in
her residential child care facility.

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

Case
8

9

Location, licensing status of child care
facility and number of children, and
offender occupation
Case details

Illinois

The offender had convictions for sexually assaulting and abusing children in
1987 and 1995.

Unlicensed home-based child care
facility, between two and six children 
Public records indicate that the offender began living in the child care facility
as early as December 1999. Over a 6-year period, the offender sexually

Spouse of child care operator and
molested one of the children under his wife’s care.
resident

A representative from the office of the prosecutor involved in the case told us
that there were between two and six children present at the facility. Currently
in Illinois, homes that provide care for more than 1 child are required to obtain
a license. According to the prosecutor’s office, the wife never registered or
obtained a license for the child care because of her husband’s prior
convictions for sexual offenses.

In 2009, the offender was sentenced to life in prison for predatory criminal
sexual assault and is currently incarcerated. Although the wife knew about her
husband’s prior convictions and the abuse he committed against the victim,
prosecutors told us that it wasn’t clear whether they would have enough
evidence to prosecute her successfully. We could not obtain information
regarding the present operation of the child care facility.




North Carolina
Unlicensed home-based child care,
at least three children
Spouse of child care operator and
resident








Page 18

In 1999, an offender was convicted of taking indecent liberties with a child. His
son was also convicted for the same crime with the same victim.
In North Carolina, sex offenders may not be present at child care facilities,
and any facility servicing three or more children requires a license. In 2010,
both father and son were living in the house where the father’s wife was
providing child care to children, including two girls, ages five and six and
another child.
In February 2010, the mother of the two children reported to police that the 6year had witnessed the elder offender fondle the 5-year-old. In March 2011,
the offender was convicted on felony charges of being an offender in a home
where child care was provided and indecent liberties with a child and
sentenced to 19 to 23 months in prison with 5 years probation. The offender’s
son was never charged with a crime for being present at the day care.
In early March 2010, police also arrested the offender’s wife for the
misdemeanor offense of offering child care services in the home where a sex
offender resides. Her trial is scheduled for September 2011. We could not
obtain information regarding the present operation of the child care facility.

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

Case
10

Location, licensing status of child care
facility and number of children, and
offender occupation
Case details

Arkansas

This offender had convictions for rape, attempted murder, and battery.

Licensed day care, unknown number 
In Arkansas, registered sex offenders may not operate or serve as a
of children
contractor or employee of a child care facility.

Carpentry work

In March 2010, police responded to a tip that the offender was doing carpentry
work in a child care facility owned by his niece. He told the police that he was
not aware that he could not be employed at the facility and claimed that he
only worked on nights and weekends when children were not present.
Statements from other employees alleged that he was present at the facility
during its hours of operation and on occasions handed out snacks to children.

He was arrested a week after police responded to the tip, and served nearly 6
months in jail before he received a suspended sentence of 36 months for
failure to comply with sex-offender registry requirements.

The niece was arrested on charges of endangering the welfare of a minor.
However, county officials told us they could not prove that the offender was
present during the facility’s hours of operation and dropped the charge. The
niece eventually pled to a misdemeanor charge of obstructing governmental
operations. We do not know if the facility is still in operation; however, the
niece registered another organization with a different name at the same
address as the child care facility.
Source: State and local agencies, GAO.

Note: The data are from records including police documents, court documents, and interviews.
a

The figure provided is shown to approximate the amount of funds received by the child care facility
during the period of time that the offender was employed. The offender was employed by the facility
between June 2007 and March 2008, however, the fiscal year for the New York City Administration
for Children’s Services, the agency responsible for funding the child care facility, begins in July and
ends in June. Thus, the funding period for the facility includes about 3 months in which the offender
was no longer employed.

b

The offender was employed at the facility during calendar years 2001 to 2003; however, because
we do not know his exact dates of hire, the funding period may represent some time in which the
offender was not employed.

As we agreed with your office, unless you publicly announce the contents
of this report earlier, we plan no further distribution of it until 30 days from
the date of this report. At that time, we will send copies of this report to
appropriate congressional committees, the Department of Health and
Human Services, the Department of Education, and the Department of
Justice. This report will also be available at no charge on GAO’s Web site
at http://www.gao.gov. If you or your staff have any questions about this
report or need additional information, please contact me at (202) 5126722 or hillmanr@gao.gov.

Page 19

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

Contact points for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public
Affairs can be found on the last page of this report.
Sincerely yours,

Richard Hillman
Managing Director
Forensic Audits and Investigative Service

Page 20

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

Appendix I: Summary of State Laws Related to
the Employment of Sex Offenders at Child
Care Facilities

Appendix I: Summary of State Laws Related
to the Employment of Sex Offenders at Child
Care Facilities
Prohibitions on sex offenders
working in or being present in child
care facilities

Criminal-history check
requirements for child care
facilities

AL

Convicted sex offenders may not be
employed within 2,000 feet of a child
care facility.

Fingerprint-based national and state
Violation of the licensing requirements,
criminal-history checks are required of including failing to report criminal-history
all employment applicants,
information, is a misdemeanor.
employees, and volunteers of
licensed child care facilities (1 or
more children).

AK

Convicted sex offenders with child
victims may not operate a licensed
child care facility.

Intentional or criminally negligent violation
Fingerprint-based national and state
criminal-history checks are required of of the licensing requirements related to
health or safety is a misdemeanor.
all owners, employees, contractors,
unsupervised volunteers, and other
persons present on the premises of
licensed child care facilities (5 or
more children).

AZ

Registered sex offenders may not
Fingerprint-based national and state
volunteer or be employed at a licensed criminal-history checks are required of
child care center.
all employees and volunteers of
licensed child care facilities (5 or
more children).

Violation of the licensing requirements is a
misdemeanor and may also result in civil
penalties of up to $100 per violation per
day.

AR

Registered sex offenders may not
operate or serve as a contractor or
employee of a child care center.

State fingerprint-based criminalhistory checks are required of all
operators, employees, contractors,
and employment applicants of
licensed child care facilities (6 or
more children or one that accepts
state or federal funds). National
checks are required if the individual
has not been a state resident during
the last 5 years. Periodic checks are
required every 5 years.

Violation of the licensing requirements,
including failure to perform criminalhistory checks, may result in civil
penalties of up to $100 per violation per
day.

CA

Registered sex offenders with child
victims may not be an employer,
employee, contractor, or volunteer that
involves working with children.

Fingerprint-based national and state
criminal-history checks are required of
all operators, employees, volunteers,
and adult residents of child care
facilities. Abuse-registry checks are
also required of all operators.

Willful or repeated violation of the
licensing requirements is a misdemeanor.
Failure to perform criminal-history checks
may result in civil penalties of up to $500
(or $3,000 for repeated offenses).

CO

Convicted sex offenders may not
operate or be employed or reside at a
licensed child care facility.

Abuse-registry and fingerprint-based
state criminal-history checks are
required of all owners, employees,
and other adult residents of licensed
child care facilities (5 or more
children) and those accepting state
funds. National checks are required if
the individual has not been a state
resident during the last 2 years.

Violation of the licensing requirements is a
misdemeanor and may also result in civil
penalties of up to $100 per day.

State

Page 21

Civil and criminal penalties for
violations of licensing requirements

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

Appendix I: Summary of State Laws Related to
the Employment of Sex Offenders at Child
Care Facilities

State

Prohibitions on sex offenders
working in or being present in child
care facilities

Criminal-history check
requirements for child care
facilities

CT

None located.

Abuse-registry and national and state
criminal-history checks are required of
all prospective employees (who will
care for children) of licensed day care
centers (13 or more children), group
day care homes (7 to 12 children
cared for in a residence), and family
day care homes (1 to 6 children cared
for in a residence).

Violation of the licensing requirements,
including failure to report criminal-history
information, may result in civil penalties of
up to $100 per day. Failure to report
criminal convictions to a day care center
by an employee or prospective employee
is a misdemeanor.

DE

Convicted sex offenders with child
victims are prohibited from being
employed in a position having direct
access to children.

National and state criminal-history
checks are required of all prospective
employees (with regular, direct
access to children) of licensed child
care centers (1 or more children) and
child care facilities receiving federal
funds.

Failure by a child care center to perform a
criminal-history check of an employee is a
misdemeanor. Failure by a prospective
employee to report accurate sex-offense
history is a felony.

DC

Convicted sex offenders may not be
employed at a licensed day care
center.

Abuse-registry and fingerprint-based
national and state criminal-history
checks are required of all owners,
volunteers, and employees of
licensed child care centers (6 or more
children).

Failure by a prospective employee or
volunteer to report criminal-history
information is punishable by fines of up to
$1,000 or imprisonment of up to 180 days,
or both.

FL

Sex offenders on supervised release
whose victims were minors may not
work or volunteer at any child care
facility.

Fingerprint-based national and state
criminal-history checks are required of
all prospective employees of licensed
child care centers (6 or more children)
or family day care homes (children
from more than one family cared for in
a residence).

Violation of the licensing requirements
may result in fines of up to $100 per
violation per day ($500 for violations that
could cause serious harm).
Misrepresentation associated with an
employment or licensing application is a
misdemeanor.

GA

Registered sex offenders may not be
employed by or reside at any child
care facility.

Violation of the licensing requirements is a
Fingerprint-based national and state
criminal-history checks are required of misdemeanor and may also result in civil
all owners and employees (and adult penalties of up to $500 per day.
residents present when children are
present) of licensed day care centers
(19 or more children), group day care
homes (7-18 children), or family day
care homes (3-6 children cared for in
a residence).

HI

None located.

Fingerprint-based national and state
criminal-history and abuse registry
checks are required of all operators
and employees of licensed child care
facilities (generally 3 or more
children).

Page 22

Civil and criminal penalties for
violations of licensing requirements

Violation of the licensing requirements
may result in civil penalties of up to
$1,000 for the first violation and up to
$3,000 for subsequent violations.

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

Appendix I: Summary of State Laws Related to
the Employment of Sex Offenders at Child
Care Facilities

Prohibitions on sex offenders
working in or being present in child
care facilities

Criminal-history check
requirements for child care
facilities

ID

Registered sex offenders may not be
employed by or be present at any day
care center.

National and state criminal-history
checks are required of all operators,
employees, and other persons with
unsupervised direct contact with
children at child care facilities with 4
or more children.

IL

Registered sex offenders may not
Fingerprint-based national and state
Violation of the licensing requirements is a
operate, be employed by, volunteer, or criminal-history checks are required of misdemeanor.
be present at any day care center.
all owners and employees of licensed
child care facilities (1 or more
children).

IN

Convicted sex offenders may not be
employed or volunteer at child care
facilities.

National and state criminal-history
checks are required of all employees,
volunteers, and adult residents of
licensed child care facilities (1 or
more children).

Violation of the licensing requirements is a
misdemeanor and may also result in civil
penalties of up to $1,000.

IA

Registered sex offenders whose
victims were minors may not be
employed by, volunteer at, or serve as
a contractor for a child care facility.

Fingerprint-based national and state
criminal-history and abuse-registry
checks are required of all operators
and employees (with direct
responsibility or access to children)
and residents of licensed child care
facilities (7 or more children) and
individuals who accept public funds
for child care.

Failure to perform criminal-history checks
is a misdemeanor.

KS

Convicted violent or sexual offenders Fingerprint-based national and state
may not reside, work, or volunteer at a criminal-history checks are required of
child care facility.
all employees, volunteers, and
residents of licensed child care
facilities (1 or more children).

Violation of the licensing requirements
that significantly and adversely affect the
health or safety of children may result in
civil penalties of up to $500 per day.

KY

Registered sex offenders may not
enter a licensed child care facility
without advance permission of the
director. Child care centers may not
hire sex offenders for any position
involving direct contact with a minor.

Criminal-history checks are required
of all employees of licensed child care
facilities (7 or more children) or family
child care homes (4 to 6 children).

Violation of the licensing requirements
may result in fines of up to $500.
Violations involving allowing violent and
sexual offenders to have contact with
children may result in fines between $500
and $1,000.

LA

Persons convicted of sexual offenses
against victims under 13 may not be
present within 1,000 feet of a day care
center without permission. Registered
sex offenders may not operate, own,
or participate in the governance of a
child care facility.

Failure by an owner, operator, employee,
Licensed child care facilities (7 or
more children) must arrange to have or volunteer to report abuse history is a
misdemeanor.
criminal background checks on any
employees given supervisory or
disciplinary authority over children.
Abuse-registry checks are required of
all owners, operators, employees, and
volunteers of licensed child care
facilities.

State

Page 23

Civil and criminal penalties for
violations of licensing requirements
Failure to perform the criminal-history
checks is a misdemeanor.

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

Appendix I: Summary of State Laws Related to
the Employment of Sex Offenders at Child
Care Facilities

Prohibitions on sex offenders
working in or being present in child
care facilities

Criminal-history check
requirements for child care
facilities

ME

Convicted sex offenders whose victims
were under 14 may not initiate contact
with a child under 14 at a child care
facility.

State criminal-history and childprotection checks are required of all
employees, owners, and volunteers of
licensed child care centers (3 or more
children), as well as persons who
provide for care for children in their
home and accept state or federal
funds.

Violation of children’s rights, including
abuse, may result in financial penalties of
up to $50 per incident. Providing false
information in the licensure process may
result in financial penalties of up to $500
per incident.

MD

Registered sex offenders may not
enter child care facilities.

National and state criminal-history
checks are required of all employees,
adult residents, and owners of
licensed child care centers and
registered child care homes.

Failure to perform criminal-history checks
or to disclose criminal-history information
is a misdemeanor. Violation of the
licensing requirements is a misdemeanor.

MA

The commissioner of probation must
establish exclusion zones for persons
on probation for sexually violent
offenses or offenses against children
to minimize contact with children.

Criminal-history checks are required
of all persons with the potential for
unsupervised contact with children
(including adult residents) in licensed
child care facilities (the nonoccasional
care of children).

Violation of the licensing requirements
may result in criminal sanctions of up to a
$5,000 fine or 2-½ years imprisonment, as
well as civil fines up to $250 per violation.

MI

None located.

Violation of the licensing requirements is a
State criminal-history checks are
misdemeanor.
required of all employees and
contractors of licensed child care
organizations (1 or more children).
Fingerprint-based national and state
criminal-history checks are required of
all owners and operators of licensed
facilities.

MN

Sexual and violent offenders may not
have direct contact with children at a
child care facility.

Abuse registry and state criminalhistory checks are required of all
operators, adult residents, and current
and prospective employees,
volunteers and contractors with direct
contact with children of licensed child
care facilities (providing care to the
children of more than one family).
National checks are required if there
is reasonable cause to do so.

Violation of the licensing requirements,
including failure to perform criminalhistory checks, may result in fines of up to
$200 per violation.

MS

Registered sex offenders may not
own, operate, work, or volunteer at a
child care facility.

Abuse registry and fingerprint-based
national and state criminal-history
checks are required of all operators
and adult residents of licensed child
care facilities (6 or more children).

Failure to perform criminal-history checks
may result in a penalty of up to $10,000
per violation. Operation of a child care
facility by a sex offender is a felony.
Employment of a sex offender by a child
care facility is a misdemeanor.

State

Page 24

Civil and criminal penalties for
violations of licensing requirements

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

Appendix I: Summary of State Laws Related to
the Employment of Sex Offenders at Child
Care Facilities

State

Prohibitions on sex offenders
working in or being present in child
care facilities

Criminal-history check
requirements for child care
facilities

MO

None located.

Violation of the licensing requirements
Fingerprint-based national and state
may result in fines of up to $200.
criminal-history and abuse-registry
checks are required of all employees Subsequent violations are misdemeanors.
of licensed child care facilities (5 or
more children). Individuals receiving
federal or state funds for child care
and any other residents of their
homes must submit to criminal-history
checks.

MT

A mandatory condition of
probation/parole for sexual offenders
is employment restrictions to protect
potential future victims of the offender

State criminal-history and childprotection checks are required of all
owners, employees, and adult
residents of licensed day care
facilities (3 or more children). National
fingerprint-based checks are required
if the individual lived outside of the
state during the last 5 years.

Violation of the licensing requirements
may result in license revocation;
continued operation after revocation is a
misdemeanor.

NE

None located.

The Nebraska Department of Health
and Human Services is authorized to
conduct national and state criminalhistory checks of the owners and
employees of licensed child care
facilities (4 or more children).

Violation of the licensing requirements
may result in civil penalties of up to $5 per
child authorized to be enrolled per day.

NV

A mandatory condition of
probation/parole for sexual offenders
is a prohibition of coming within 500
feet of a child care facility.

Fingerprint-based national and state
Violation of the licensing requirements
criminal-history checks are required of may result in administrative fines of up to
all owners, employees, and adult
$100 per violation.
residents of licensed child care
facilities (5 or more children).

NH

None located.

Abuse-registry and fingerprint-based
national and state criminal-history
checks are required of all employees
with regular contact with children and
adult residents of licensed and
registered child day care centers (4 or
more children) and those that receive
state funds.

Violation of the licensing requirements is a
misdemeanor and may also result in
administrative fines of up to $2,000 per
violation.

NJ

Felons with violent, sexual, or childvictim convictions are prohibited from
employment at a licensed child care
center.

National and state criminal-history
checks are required of all owners,
volunteers, contractors, and
employees of licensed child care
centers (6 or more children). Abuseregistry checks are required of any
day care provider and adult residents
of their household accepting state
subsidies.

Violation of the licensing requirements
may result in criminal penalties, including
up to 18 months imprisonment.

Page 25

Civil and criminal penalties for
violations of licensing requirements

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

Appendix I: Summary of State Laws Related to
the Employment of Sex Offenders at Child
Care Facilities

State

Prohibitions on sex offenders
working in or being present in child
care facilities

Criminal-history check
requirements for child care
facilities

NM

None located.

Fingerprint-based national and state
Violation of the licensing requirements
criminal-history checks are required of may result in civil penalties of up to
all operators, employees, and staff of $5,000 per day.
child care facilities that provide care
for children for 20 hours or more per
week.

NY

A mandatory condition of parole for
sexual offenders whose victims were
minors is a prohibition on entering any
facility used for the care or treatment
of children. Sex offenders are
prohibited from operating or working or
volunteering at a day care center
unless the Office of Children & Family
Services determines there is no risk to
the health, safety, or welfare of the
children.

Fingerprint-based national and state
Willful violation of the licensing
criminal-history checks are required of requirements is a misdemeanor.
all operators, employees, and
volunteers of all child care facilities
(providing care for children for more
than 3 hours per day).

NC

Registered sex offenders may not be
present at child care facilities or work
or volunteer at any position involving
the supervision, care, or instruction of
minors.

Fingerprint-based national and state
criminal-history checks are required of
all operators and employees of
licensed child care facilities (3 or
more children) and all providers who
accept federal or state subsidies.

Violation of the licensing requirements is a
misdemeanor and may also result in civil
penalties of up to $1,000 per violation per
day. Willful or repeated violations are a
felony.

ND

Registered sex offenders may not
provide child care services.

Abuse-registry and fingerprint-based
national and state criminal-history
checks are required of all operators,
residents, and employees of licensed
child care facilities (more than 4
infants or 5 children).

Violation of the licensing requirements,
including employment of a sex offender, is
a misdemeanor and may also result in
fiscal sanctions of $5 per violation per
day.

OH

None located.

Fingerprint-based national and state
Failure to disclose criminal-history
criminal-history checks are required of information is a misdemeanor.
all owners, operators, and employees
(with responsibility for the care,
custody, or control of children) of
licensed child care facilities (7 or
more children). Periodic checks are
required every 4 years.

OK

Registered sex offenders may not
work in businesses providing services
to children or loiter within 500 feet of a
licensed child care facility.

Criminal-history checks are required
of all operators, employees, and adult
residents and of licensed child care
facilities (providing care for more than
15 hours per week).

Violation of the licensing requirements or
failure to perform criminal-history checks
is a misdemeanor. Employment of a sex
offender in a child care facility may result
in an administrative penalty up to
$10,000.

OR

Predatory and violent sex offenders
may not be on the premises of a child
care facility.

National and state criminal-history
and abuse-registry checks are
required of all operators and
employees of child care facilities with
4 or more children. Periodic checks
are required every 2 years.

Violation of the licensing requirements
may result in civil penalties of up to $100
per violation or up to $500 for subsequent
violations.

Page 26

Civil and criminal penalties for
violations of licensing requirements

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

Appendix I: Summary of State Laws Related to
the Employment of Sex Offenders at Child
Care Facilities

Prohibitions on sex offenders
working in or being present in child
care facilities

Criminal-history check
requirements for child care
facilities

PA

Violent and sexual felons are
prohibited from working at a licensed
child care facility.

Abuse-registry and fingerprint-based
national and state criminal-history
checks are required of all employees
(with direct contact with children) of
licensed child care facilities (7 or
more children) and of all employees
and adult residents of registered
family day care homes (4 or more
children).

Violation of the criminal-history check
requirements may result in civil penalties
up to $2,500.

RI

None located.

Fingerprint-based national and state
criminal-history checks are required of
all operators and employees of
licensed child care facilities (1 or
more children) and registered family
day care homes (4 or more children
cared for in a residence).

Violation of the licensing requirements
may result in criminal penalties of up to
$500 fine or 6 months imprisonment, or
both ($1,000 or 1 year imprisonment, or
both, for subsequent offenses).

SC

Registered sex offenders may not
work at a child care center.

Violation of the licensing requirements is a
Fingerprint-based national and state
criminal-history checks are required of misdemeanor.
all operators and employees of
licensed child care facilities (13 or
more children) or licensed group child
care homes (7 to 12 children cared for
in a residence) and of operators and
adult residents of family child care
homes (no more than 6 children cared
for in a residence).

SD

Registered sex offenders may not
reside or be employed at any child
care facility or day care home.

Abuse-registry and fingerprint-based
national and state criminal-history
checks are required of all operators,
administrators, adult residents, and
employees or volunteers who provide
care or supervision to children in
licensed child care facilities (13 or
more children).

Hiring a sex offender or recent felon or
employment by a sex offender or recent
felon in a child care facility is a
misdemeanor.

TN

Registered sex offenders whose
victims were minors may not be
employed within 1,000feet of any
licensed child care facility.

Fingerprint-based national and state
criminal-history checks are required of
all employees and volunteers (who
work more than 20 hours per month)
of all child care facilities.

Misrepresentation in the licensure
process, including in regards to the
eligibility of employees to work in a child
care facility, is a misdemeanor.

TX

A mandatory condition of parole for
sexual offenders whose victims were
minors is a prohibition on entering a
day care facility.

Fingerprint-based national and state
criminal-history checks are required of
all operators, owners, employees, and
adult residents of licensed child care
facilities (more than 1 child).

Failure to perform criminal background
checks or to preclude an individual with a
criminal history from employment or
residence at a child care facility is a
misdemeanor.

State

Page 27

Civil and criminal penalties for
violations of licensing requirements

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

Appendix I: Summary of State Laws Related to
the Employment of Sex Offenders at Child
Care Facilities

Prohibitions on sex offenders
working in or being present in child
care facilities

Criminal-history check
requirements for child care
facilities

Civil and criminal penalties for
violations of licensing requirements

UT

Registered sex offenders may not
enter the premises of a licensed day
care facility.

Fingerprint-based national and state
criminal-history checks are required of
all operators, directors, employees,
volunteers, and adult residents of
licensed child care facilities and those
accepting public funds.

Violation of the licensing requirements is a
misdemeanor and may also result in civil
penalties of up to $1,000 per day if the
violation is likely to lead to the harm of a
child or $5,000 if actual harm to a child
occurs.

VT

None located.

Abuse-registry and criminal-history
checks are required of all employees
of licensed child care facilities (3 or
more families) and any facility that
accepts public subsidies.

Violation of the licensing requirements
may result in license revocation;
continued operation after revocation may
result in civil penalties of up to $100 per
violation.

VA

Sexual or violent offenders may not be
employed or volunteer at a day care
facility. Registered sex offenders may
not operate a family day care home.

Abuse-registry and fingerprint-based
state criminal-history checks are
required of all operators, employees,
adult residents, and volunteers of
licensed child care facilities (1 or
more children cared for in a
residence; or 2 or more children cared
for elsewhere) and of any facility that
receives state funds.

Employment of a sexual offender or child
abuser is a misdemeanor.
Misrepresentation in the licensure process
is a misdemeanor. Violation of the
licensing requirements may result in civil
penalties of up to $500 if the health and
safety of children are at risk.

WA

A mandatory condition of supervised
release for sexual offenders whose
victims were minors is a prohibition on
serving in a paid or volunteer capacity
in a position involving control or
supervision of children.

Fingerprint-based national and state
Violation of the licensing requirements
criminal-history checks are required of may result in civil penalties of up to $250
all operators and employees who
per violation per day.
have not lived in the state for the past
3 years of licensed child care
facilities.

WV

A mandatory condition of supervised
release for sexual offenders whose
victims were minors is a prohibition on
employment within 1,000 feet of a
child care facility.

Fingerprint-based national and state
criminal-history checks are required of
all operators and employees
responsible for the care of children in
all child care facilities.

WI

Convicted sex offenders whose victims
were minors may not be employed or
volunteer in a position that requires
interaction with children.

Abuse-registry and fingerprint-based Violation of the licensing requirements
may result in civil penalties of up to
national and state criminal-history
$1,000 per violation per day.
checks are required of all operators,
adult residents, and employees and
contractors with regular, direct contact
with children, and adult residents of
licensed child care facilities (4 or
more children). Periodic checks are
required every 4 years.

WY

None located.

Abuse-registry and state criminalhistory checks are required of all staff
of licensed child care facilities (3 or
more children).

State

Violation of the licensing requirements
may result in license revocation;
continued operation after revocation is a
misdemeanor.

Violation of the licensing requirements
may result in license revocation;
continued operation after revocation is a
misdemeanor.

Source: GAO analysis of relevant state laws.

(192351)

Page 28

GAO-11-757 Child Care Facilities

GAO’s Mission

The Government Accountability Office, the audit, evaluation, and
investigative arm of Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting its
constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance and
accountability of the federal government for the American people. GAO
examines the use of public funds; evaluates federal programs and
policies; and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance
to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions.
GAO’s commitment to good government is reflected in its core values of
accountability, integrity, and reliability.

Obtaining Copies of
GAO Reports and
Testimony

The fastest and easiest way to obtain copies of GAO documents at no
cost is through GAO’s Web site (www.gao.gov). Each weekday afternoon,
GAO posts on its Web site newly released reports, testimony, and
correspondence. To have GAO e-mail you a list of newly posted products,
go to www.gao.gov and select “E-mail Updates.”

Order by Phone

The price of each GAO publication reflects GAO’s actual cost of
production and distribution and depends on the number of pages in the
publication and whether the publication is printed in color or black and
white. Pricing and ordering information is posted on GAO’s Web site,
http://www.gao.gov/ordering.htm.
Place orders by calling (202) 512-6000, toll free (866) 801-7077, or
TDD (202) 512-2537.
Orders may be paid for using American Express, Discover Card,
MasterCard, Visa, check, or money order. Call for additional information.

To Report Fraud,
Waste, and Abuse in
Federal Programs

Contact:

Congressional
Relations

Ralph Dawn, Managing Director, dawnr@gao.gov, (202) 512-4400
U.S. Government Accountability Office, 441 G Street NW, Room 7125
Washington, DC 20548

Public Affairs

Chuck Young, Managing Director, youngc1@gao.gov, (202) 512-4800
U.S. Government Accountability Office, 441 G Street NW, Room 7149
Washington, DC 20548

Web site: www.gao.gov/fraudnet/fraudnet.htm
E-mail: fraudnet@gao.gov
Automated answering system: (800) 424-5454 or (202) 512-7470

Please Print on Recycled Paper

 

 

Federal Prison Handbook - Side
CLN Subscribe Now Ad
Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual - Side