Youth Programs and Criminal Records Checks

July 22, 2014

Youth programs should conduct criminal background checks for all volunteers and employees. If your program is subject to regulation as a day care program from Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL), then it must complete a national background check. Even if your organization is exempt from DECAL rules, however, requiring background checks is a bedrock practice that should be part of your organization's child protection policies.

DECAL Rules
Effective January 1, 2014, all child day care providers, including all directors and employees, must complete a national fingerprint background check and obtain a satisfactory determination All employees hired on or after January 1, 2014 must undergo the fingerprint background check and obtain the satisfactory determination before the individual can begin work at the facility. A new fingerprint background check will be required every five years. Employees who were hired prior to January 1, 2014 will have until January 1, 2017 to undergo the national fingerprint background check and obtain the satisfactory determination from DECAL.

Exempt Programs
Many programs, such as recreation leagues, are exempt from DECAL licensing. DECAL exempts programs such as sports camps, religious programs, and day care incidental to adult recreational activities. Once DECAL approves an exemption, the program is not subject to the rules, regulations and potential fines that licensed childcare providers must deal with on a daily basis, including the requirement for background checks.

Best Practices
Even if DECAL rules do not apply, best practices mandate background checks. At a minimum, you should require all employees and volunteers to complete a state background check. Most Sheriff's Departments will conduct these checks, and you can require that the individual take responsibility for getting the check done and have the results reported directly to you. There also are for-profit businesses that will handle the process for you. If you can afford it, national background checks are the best protection against hiring someone with a criminal record.

More Information
You can find more information at the following resources:

Centers for Disease Control:
http://www.cdc.gov

Georgia DECAL:
http://decal.ga.gov/ChildCareServices/CriminalRecordsCheck.aspx

Georgia Bureau of Investigation:
http://gbi.georgia.gov/obtaining-criminal-history-record-information

For further information or any questions, please contact Deborah A. Ausburn at dausburn@taylorenglish.com or 678.336.7263, or contact Stephanie Ford Capezzuto at scapezzuto@taylorenglish.com or 678.336.7267.

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