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Aug 25, 2021 7 min read

Going Beyond Fingerprinting — Why Expanded Background Checks are Important in Child Care: A Business of Child Care Conference Session Recap

Leah Woodbury By: Leah Woodbury

Building a child care business requires many moving parts. Changes to the industry, workforce and candidate expectations abound.

With more people moving their families to a new state or neighborhood, it is essential to go beyond the minimal state requirements when it comes to building a safety strategy for child care centers.

And a key part of that is going beyond the bare-bones background checks required by law. 

At Procare’s virtual The Business of Child Care Conference held July 21, experts from Checkr, the leading technology company in the background check industry, discussed industry trends and changes you need to be monitoring as well as the benefits of enhanced background screening of employees — and continuous screening of current employees. 

Hiring Trends That Have Defined This Year

The session was led by Chris Johnson, director of industry strategy and market development at Checkr, and by Tyler Browne, an attorney who is the company’s director of partner compliance solutions. 

Checkr’s clients include Uber, Lyft and Instacart. And the tools it provides translate to the child care industry.

Chris described the three traits that have become more prevalent this year. Let’s take a look at how each is affecting the child care industry.

Rise of ‘Sign-Up Culture’

This means getting instant results. 

“It’s our lives,” said Chris. “It’s how we buy food, clothes and even how we bank.”

People are doing things easily on their phones  — such as renting a vacation home or even an RV  — that once took multiple steps. 

“You don’t need to be a tech expert to be part of the movement,” Chris said.

And sign-up culture is not something that’s just happening in San Francisco or other dense urban areas. It’s happening across the world and among many age groups. 

During the pandemic, many people who had been reluctant to use such services got on board. Chris cited upticks in Instacart and Shipt deliveries, even in rural areas, as examples.  

Changing Expectations

Sign-up culture is changing hiring expectations too, Chris said. 

Think of your shopping expectations. If you’re on Amazon, you immediately can see the sprinkler head you want. But you also can price shop and look at reviews.

That expectation is bleeding into our professional lives, and bleeding into hiring and recruiting expectations, Chris said.

Fully Agile Workforces

This is the big one for child care providers, Chris said. More and more, people can work remotely and from anywhere, making families more mobile. 

“These trends are having direct impacts on what we’re seeing in child care,” he said.

So whether your child care center has two or 200 employees, these things impact you  — you need a strong candidate funnel and must be keyed into what candidates are looking for in their employers, he said. 

“You as a child care provider need to be able to react to that,” he said.

So think about sourcing talent from non-traditional places. 

Think about using a pod system, in which a senior teacher is on top with junior teachers below. 

“You may have to get creative about where you’re finding your talent,” Chris said.

He also said to make it easy for qualified applicants to get the job. There’s a new breed of candidates coming through, he said, with a new mindset. 

And if you’ve been doing your hiring the same way for the last 10 or 20 years, it’s time to rethink your process.

“Once you find them, get them through and lock them in as quickly as possible,” he said of qualified applicants. 

Running Checks on Potential and Current Employees

Tyler gave session attendees a run-down of what is required by law for background checks, which you can see in the slide above, plus ways to do more thorough checks.

What other checks you make becomes a differentiator for what you’re doing for your consumers. 

He said it’s not the best message to tell parents that you did the bare minimum of what states require for background-checking your employees; a better message is that you did all that is required, and then explain the extra steps you took.

He also said the data available in standard, fingerprint-based checks isn’t always accurate. States report outcomes of crimes differently, or often are not up to date. The FBI often doesn’t have records to report on the outcome of a criminal case, such as whether it was dismissed. 

The FBI’s database is designed for use by law enforcement, Tyler said, not for hiring purposes.

When running a name-based background check, there’s more transparency. The person you’re checking out knows the check is being run and can get access to that information. 

Tyler said that you’re missing half of crimes if you don’t do a deeper screen. Enhanced screening by Checkr includes a Social Security number trace, checks of the National Criminal Database, the global terrorist watchlist, sex offender registries as well as state, county and federal criminal searches.

These additional screenings allow you to get a fuller picture of your potential candidate, which allows you to make a more informed decision when it comes to hiring someone to work in your child care center. 

Checkr even sends researchers to courthouses to get records with the most complete information available, Tyler said. 

“But regardless of the background checks you’re doing, they are snapshots in time,” he said. The reports don’t capture what happened after you run them. 

Some companies opt to run reports on current employees every six months or every year to make sure nothing else has happened. 

But if you want to know immediately if an employee is in trouble with the law, you can subscribe to Checkr’s Continuous Check program, which monitors real-time data sources and looks for changes in a person’s record. If Checkr identifies a change in a person’s history, Continuous Check automatically will kick off follow-up searches in the appropriate jurisdictions and generate a new background check report.

Continuous Check is not a replacement for a full background check. Its purpose is to supplement your overall trust and safety program by surfacing recent reportable information throughout engagement with your candidates, according to the company. 

Chris said this tool is more valuable now than ever as more people become mobile and move, either for jobs or because they’re running away from something in another county or state. 

Checkr and Procare Solutions are Integrated!

In 2020, Procare Solutions, the leader in child care management software for more than 30 years, teamed up with Checkr to deliver an enhanced background check solution to Procare Online customers.

That means Checkr is built into your existing Procare Online workflow so you don’t have to leave the platform to run and review your background checks for current and future employees. 

You can put your parents’ minds at ease knowing that quick, accurate and enhanced background check capabilities are in place to ensure all children are in good hands through your due diligence.

Learn more here about the integration here and how it can help you get the best background checks possible for your current and potential employees!

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Leah Woodbury

Leah Woodbury is the head of content at Procare Solutions. Her job includes writing about topics that matter to child care professionals and finding ways to help them do their important work. She’s a mom of two who loves getting updates about what her preschooler is doing during the day via the Procare child care mobile app!

Leah Woodbury