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Education

ND receives waiver on new background check rules for day care employees

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The North Dakota Department of Human Services has been granted a temporary waiver concerning regulations on background checks for people hired by child care providers – specifically, fingerprints.

Prior to October first, the child care providers could put new hires to work while results from a fingerprint check were pending. Those new employees would work under direct supervision. But the new federal regulations said those fingerprint checks had to be completed before the hires could start their jobs.

The providers say that has caused some workforce issues, because it was taking a while to get the results back.

"Right now, providers are waiting close to a month for any of these fingerprints to be turned around," said Boys and Girls Club of the Red River Valley CEO Robin Nelson. "We're losing workforce because of that."

"The process was taking so long that those hires would not stay around and wait," said Don Polasky, owner of Wonder Years Child Care in Grand Forks. "It was just getting worse and worse."

Nelson and Polasky say providers are in favor of these fingerprint checks. They said the waiver buys the state some time to make sure the fingerprint check system is adequately funded -- and that should speed up the process.

"We would like the turnaround time to be down to 72 hours, if possible," Polasky said.

"If other states can do it, North Dakota can certainly do it as well," Nelson said.

Nelson said DHS, some Legislators and the Governor’s office are aware of the situation – and with the 2019 session in sight, she’s hoping DHS will have adequate funding in-place to speed up those background checks.