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Child Care Workers Must Complete Criminal Background Checks Under Senate Bill

The Senate has voted 96-2 to reauthorize a $5 billion annual grant program that provides childcare for 1.6 million children. It includes a new requirement that all providers who care for children with federal funding complete criminal background checks and learn first aid. The bill includes amendments added by Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La. and David Vitter, R-La. Landrieu’s amendment requires states to develop disaster plans for childcare centers. Vitter’s amendment requires enforcement of a long-established requirement of the childcare grants that priority be given to parents of children with special needs. Vitter’s amendment would require the Department of Health and Human Services’ Inspector General to submit an annual report to the secretary about compliance. Vitter’s provision would also cut grants by five percent for states that don’t have a system in place to comply with the mandate. Currently, 23 states don’t comply with the requirement. Louisiana is one of five states that is in full compliance. Sharon Hennessey, executive director of People First of Louisiana, said it’s time for Congress to put some teeth into the law’s special needs mandate. “There needs to be a push to bring the 23 states that don’t comply into compliance,” Hennessey said.

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