Child Care Provider Background Checks


Why are these background checks required in NJ?

  • Individuals working in child care hold a position of public trust. Parents trust that their children will be safe in the care of child care providers. In some cases, public taxpayer dollars are used to help make child care affordable. In 2014, Congress passed a law that requires states to comply with background check rules for all licensed, regulated, and registered child care providers. The intent is to promote the safety of children in child care. As a result, New Jersey laws have been modified to comply with federal law.

Who is required to have a child care background check?

All child care providers and staff age 18 and older. This includes:

  • Anyone who is involved in a child’s care or supervision of children or who may have unsupervised access to children (including volunteers, contractors, bus drivers, kitchen staff, janitors, and administrative employees).
  • Anyone who lives in a registered family child care home and is over 18. If a provider cares only for children who are related to her/him, then a comprehensive criminal background check is not required. However, in that case - all children in that provider’s care must be related to the provider.

What does a comprehensive criminal background check include?

A Comprehensive Criminal Background Check includes:

  • A Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) check – a fingerprint-based check against NJ state criminal history records and against federal criminal history records;
  • A State and National Sex Offender Registry check; and
  • A Child Abuse Record Information (CARI) Check (for individuals age 14 and older)

*There are also special rules for individuals who have lived out of state in the past 5 years. Anyone required to have a background check who has also lived out of state in the past 5 years is required to have a state criminal history record check, sex offender registry check, and child abuse registry check for states in which they’ve lived in the past 5 years.

What are disqualifying crimes or barrier crimes that affect an individual’s ability to work in child care?

Individuals are prohibited from working in a child care setting that is receiving payment through the NJ Child Care Subsidy Program if they meet any of the following ineligibility requirements or disqualifying crimes:

  • Refuses to consent to the criminal history background check;
  • Knowingly makes a false statement related to a background check;
  • Is registered, or is required to be registered, on a state sex offender registry or the National Sex Offender Registry;
  • Is listed on a state child abuse and neglect registry;
  • Has been convicted of a felony, including the following crimes: murder, manslaughter, child abuse or neglect, crimes against children including child pornography, spousal abuse, crime involving rape or sexual assault, kidnapping, arson, physical assault or battery, or drug-related offenses committed during the preceding 5 years; and
  • Has been convicted of a violent misdemeanor committed as an adult against a child, including the following crimes: child abuse, child endangerment, sexual assault, or of a misdemeanor involving child pornography.

How much do the background checks cost?

Criminal history background checks are free! There is no cost to child care providers.

All costs for criminal history background checks are covered by the State of New Jersey to help make the background check process as easy as possible. For center-based staff, there is a $10 fee per person for CARI (Child Abuse Record Information) background checks, which is a review of a different system - not criminal records. Centers may choose to offer to pay or reimburse staff members for the cost of the CARI background check. Registered Family Child Care providers are not charged a fee for the CARI check.

Where do I go for a background check and how do I get the process started?

There are actually two types of background checks. Both are confidential processes.

  • The Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) check is conducted through fingerprints and applies to individuals 18 years of age and older. The Department of Human Services, Employment Controls and Compliance Unit (ECCU) oversees this process and reviews all results. DHS has contracted with IDEMIA, a company that operates IdentoGo centers for livescan fingerprints (not the old ink cards, but a fingerprint scan) at locations throughout NJ. Individuals can see NJ locations and schedule an appointment here - Note: Family child care providers must first obtain a case number and service code from their local CCR&R.
  • The Child Abuse Record Information (CARI) check is a check against the state child abuse registry and applies to all individuals in a family child care home (which includes children age 14 and older). The Department of Children and Families, Office of Legal Affairs – CARI Unit oversees this process and reviews all results. Note: Family child care providers, contact your local CCR&R to receive a personal link, which assigns an account.

When? Now. The new child care background check rules are in place for child care centers and new applicants who want to be a registered family child care home provider. For currently registered family child care home providers, the new requirements are being phased in.

Need help?

Home-based Providers. Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies in every county are responsible for supporting family child care providers (e.g., those individuals who might be interested in starting a family child care home and those who are already registered family child care home providers). Contact your local Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) agency today to make sure you have all the right forms. They are glad to help you and are prepared to answer any questions! #CCR&RsHere2Help!

Child Care Center Staff. For information about Child Abuse Record Information (CARI) background checks for child care centers, youth residential programs, and adoptive applicants, call the CARI Unit at the OOL at 1-877-667-9845. For information about Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) fingerprint background checks for child care centers and youth residential programs, please call the Department of Human Services CHRI unit at 609-633-3761.

Background Check Requirement Highlights
Mom with two kids Baby sitting in chair Child with two thumbs up

Resources

Need Help? Contact your local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency to help guide you through the background check process!

About Fingerprint Checks

IdentiGO (Schedule an appointment to get a fingerprint scan)

Background Checks During COVID, NJ Department of Human Services Office of Program Integrity and Accountability

About Child Abuse Registry Checks

Department of Children and Families, Office of Legal Affairs, Child Abuse Record Information

About Child Abuse Registry Checks

Department of Children and Families, Office of Legal Affairs, Child Abuse Record Information

About Interstate Background Checks

Department of Human Services, Division of Family Development, Interstate Background Checks (for individuals who have lived out of NJ in the past 5 years)

NJ Law, Regulations, & Support