U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, speaking to the Women’s March attendees at the Iowa State Capitol on January 18, 2019.
Photo Credit: Phil Roeder (CC-By-2.0)

WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously advanced bipartisan legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, R-Iowa, to improve protections for children in child care facilities and ensure the safety of early care and education settings.

The Child Care Protection Improvement Act, which was introduced in the House by Axne and U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Ga., in July 2019, creates a task force to assist states in the process of implementing background check requirements for child care workers.

The bill, which passed the Senate in March 2020, now heads to the President’s desk.

“As a mother, I know how nerve-wracking it can be to leave your child with a child care provider. We need to ensure that our parents have their children protected by putting measures in place to ensure those caring for our kids are safe, law-abiding citizens,” Axne said. “I’m pleased that our bipartisan legislation aimed at improving states’ compliance with background check requirements is on its way to the President’s desk – and I urge him to sign this legislation soon to get these guardrails in place.”

Axne introduced the Child Care Protection Act following reports of child care violations across Iowa last summer.

When Congress reauthorized the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act in 2014, it required states to conduct comprehensive criminal background checks on all child care staff. These new provisions require states to conduct background checks across five different registries in any state in which a child care provider has lived in the previous five years.  

However, bureaucratic inefficiencies have prevented states from fully complying with the background check requirements, threatening the safety of children. Interstate background checks have been particularly challenging to complete as there are no streamlined processes for conducting background checks across states. And in some states, legal roadblocks prevent out-of-state entities from conducting background checks.

The Child Care Protection Improvement Act of 2019 would address barriers to fulfilling the CCDBG background check requirements by creating an interagency task force to identify such barriers and recommend best practices to fully implement the background check requirements. The task force would bring together federal administrators from the office that administers the CCDBG program with administrators from the office that administers background checks to generate solutions that allow all states to fulfill the CCDBG requirements.

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