The number one most important thing in any early care and education program is the safety of all of the children. That means making sure that the environment is safe, and also that the right people are caring for and educating the children. Requiring that all adults who are in contact with preschoolers, before being hired, have a background check ensures that those people do not have a criminal record of any kind that may impact the children’s safety. Here is how to get a background check as a preschool teacher.
FIND OUT WHAT TYPE OF BACKGROUND CHECK IS REQUIRED
Federal law states that in preschools, child cares, and schools, all adults that come into regular contact with the children must pass a background check first. You cannot just go get any background check though. Your state Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) responsible for licensing and/or department of education determines what needs to be included in your background check. The background checks required of preschool teachers are comprehensive and include being finger printed. These background checks include the following, at a minimum, per federal law.
- FBI Fingerprint check
- National sex offender registry
- State sex offender registry
- State criminal registry
- State child abuse and neglect registry
COMPLETE THE PROPER PAPER WORK
Your employer, or your licensing specialist through the Department of Child and Family Services if you run your own preschool program, will provide you with the necessary paperwork needed to complete your background check, or direct you to a background check service of their choosing. This involves providing your full name (including maiden name where appropriate), date of birth, social security number, complete mailing address, and of course your signature for consent.
Once the paperwork is complete, you need to make an appointment to be fingerprinted. After your fingerprinting and background check are both complete, you will receive a letter of eligibility. Keep the original letter for your records, and give a copy to your prospective employer.
KEEP IT UP TO DATE
Background checks must be completed before any staff member is hired. Even if you have already had a background check, including fingerprints, for another agency or other purpose you must complete a new one. The disqualifying requirements for child cares and schools are very specific and are federal law. After that, all background checks must be repeated at least every five years.
Background checks are simple and effective, and they play an important role in keeping children in preschools safe. They ensure that adults with criminal histories are not able to gain employment, and therefore access to young children, in preschool settings.