State pushing for federal background checks at daycares - CBS46 News

State pushing for federal background checks at daycares

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ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

A CBS Atlanta News investigation revealed that 24,000 daycare workers in Georgia are on the job without having undergone a federal background check. A local background check is currently all that is required by the state.

Kellen Stennett is the owner of The Goddard School in Buckhead. He told CBS Atlanta News that he believes the state should require more thorough background checks on daycare workers.

"You could miss something with just a statewide check so it would be wise to go to a more national level with that," Stennett said.

That is exactly what the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning is trying to do. They're pushing new legislation to require a federal fingerprinting background check. They receive more than 100 complaints a month related to possible inappropriate activity at daycare centers.

"The federal background checks are a little bit more complicated. They cost a lot more money, they take a lot longer to get the results back so particularly if you're looking to make a quick hire or something like that it can be restricting," Stennett said.

"If you've ever worked with children who have suffered at the hands of an abuser you would very quickly know that whatever price it costs us to be able to assure that we have people who are appropriate working with our children is worth doing," said Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning Commissioner Bobby Cagle.

Last year, CBS Atlanta News learned of a convicted felon working at a Villa Rica daycare. Mysti Owens was employed at the Little Wildcats Academy after recently being released from prison for a drug offense. Officials said they hope better background checks will prevent something like that from happening again.

"We think that this is a cost that is bearable and is worth assuring the safety of our children. So it's hard to place a price on the safety of a child," Cagle said.

Cagle said he is expecting lawmakers to pass legislation this session to strengthen background checks.

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