Parent whose son died in child care speaks with state senator
Child Care Aware® of America Parent Leader Elly Lafkin met with the chairman of the Virginia Senate Education and Workforce Committee, Steve Martin, recently to discuss the lack of quality in child care programs around the state. Lafkin’s daughter died in a Shenandoah, Va., child care program in May 2012.
“We did the work and thought that running our own background check was enough. We didn’t know it was only a name check and the criminal history that our provider had would not show up when we looked,” Lafkin told Martin.
Lafkin and her husband, Cameron, placed their 3-month-old daughter, Camden, in a family child care home after receiving positive referrals from two friends. The Lafkins conducted a Virginia court-run, public knowledge background check, which revealed nothing suspicious. A comprehensive background check would have revealed the provider was known by five other names.
Elly Lafkin recommended to Martin that Virginia background checks of child care providers be expanded to include FBI criminal history or the child abuse registry and the sex offender registry. Had those checks been done, the Lafkins would have learned the child care provider they chose had two previous felonies.
“Unfortunately, the background checks required in Virginia for regulated child care providers only includes a Virginia state name check,” said Sharon Veatch, executive director, Child Care Aware® of Virginia, who accompanied Lafkin to the meeting. “This type of background check is not a comprehensive background check as it does not include criminal history from other states and because it is only a name check, criminal history may not be captured if it is tied to another name or an alias. Many parents are unaware of the difference between a comprehensive national fingerprint background check and a state name background check and are unintentionally leaving the health and safety of their children vulnerable.”
For more information about background checks in the state of Virginia or to become a Parent Leader with Child Care Aware® of America, visit www.usa.childcareaware.org or email Sara.Miller@usa.childcareaware.org.