- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 1, 2016

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - The state Department for Children and Families says officials can’t say for sure if everyone who works with children in private pre-kindergarten programs has undergone required fingerprint-based background checks.

Department officials have said the state is facing a backlog in processing fingerprints to check for out-of-state criminal records.

“We don’t necessarily know who’s missing,” Department spokeswoman Luciana DiRuocco told the Burlington Free Press (https://bfpne.ws/2fe6N58). “Maybe there’s also people who do need to be fingerprinted but they haven’t been yet because they haven’t sent us their application.”

A new law went into effect this summer: The state now pays for up to 10 hours of pre-K per week for 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds who attend public or prequalified private programs.

Under the law, anyone who works in a pre-K program and will be alone with children must submit his or her fingerprints so national and out-of-state databases for criminal records can be checked, DiRuocco said. That’s in addition to the Vermont-based background checks already required for all pre-K providers.

Agency of Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe in September sent a memo saying each program licensee is responsible for making sure that staff members who have not undergone the fingerprint-supported background check are not alone with children.

Some school systems that have long had relationships with private providers were able to comply with the regulation, while “in some other regions, it has been more difficult to initiate and complete the fingerprint process, and more difficult to verify the universe of private partners who need to be cleared,” Holcombe wrote.

The staff members at pre-K programs at public schools were required to undergo fingerprint checks last year.


Information from: The Burlington Free Press, https://www.burlingtonfreepress.com

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