State law requires the Department of Early Learning (DEL) to conduct background checks on anyone who is authorized to care for or have unsupervised access to children in licensed child care facilities. This helps make sure licensed providers offer safe, healthy places for children.
DEL will review a person’s criminal history, character, and child abuse and neglect history. Background checks and, in some cases, fingerprint checks (for people who have resided in the state for less than three years), will be conducted on:
- The licensed provider.
- Anyone who cares for or has unsupervised access to children in licensed child care.
- For family home child care providers, any people age 13 or older who live in your home.
Portable background checks
The 2011 Washington State Legislature passed a bill to create a portable background check registry by July 1, 2012. The registry gives licensed child care employees a three-year “portable” clearance card. The card will allow employees to work in more than one facility during those three years. The new process will be phased in over the next few years. Read more about the proposed rules to implement the portable background check registry.
Portable background check information for child care providers:
Starting July 2012:
- All current child care licensees, staff, volunteers and certain individuals who reside in family child care homes must undergo a new background check; their clearance status will appear in the new registry. The background check must be completed between July 2, 2012 and June 30, 2013 for those with a current background clearance. If your clearance expires before June 30, 2013, you must complete the clearance prior to the expiration.
- Everyone who applies for a first-time DEL background check clearance must be fingerprinted and have a national FBI background check. The fingerprint process will remain with the same vendor DEL uses now.
- DEL will charge a small fee for all background checks. The fee pays for maintenance of the portable background check clearance registry. The fees are: $12 for background checks completed online; $24 for background checks completed on paper.
- Each child care worker or volunteer must submit and renew his/her own background check applications and pay the fees. Child care licensees may pay the fees on behalf of their employees if they wish to.
How do I get ready for the new Portable Background Check registry?
Visit MERIT online to register and apply for a STARS ID, if you do not already have one. Note: Record your username and STARS ID. Employees, volunteers and household members also need a STARS ID.
Timeline for the changes:
- July 2011: All licensed child care providers were charged a one-time fee of $45 to help with the cost of setting up and maintaining the registry.
- July 2012: Ongoing fees are charged when individuals submit a new background check application. Anyone who applies for a background check for the first time will need to do a fingerprint check. This is different than the current process, in which only people who have lived in Washington less than three years must undergo a fingerprint check as part of the background check process. Licensed providers will be required to report resignation or termination of employees to DEL within 24 hours if it involves negative actions and/or criminal activity. Licensed providers may cover or share the cost of fees for employees, if they choose.
- July 2012 to July 2013: All current providers and employees must submit a background application to DEL. This will put everyone into the new registry by July 1, 2013.
Fingerprint-based background checks
Effective March 19, 2012, the fees for a fingerprint-based background check are:
- Applicant (licensee, employees, household members) to work in a licensed child care facility: $43.50
- Applicant to volunteer in a licensed child care facility: $42.50
Please note that we cannot accept fingerprint cards purchased from local law enforcement agencies. Your DEL licensor can help you with the background check process. Find your local licensing office.
Background check forms
DEL contracts with L-1/MorphoTrust for fingerprinting. DEL sends the fingerprint appointment form to the licensee by either email or U.S. mail AFTER the background check form is processed by the local DEL office. Licensees who have email addresses need to ensure their email information is always current with their DEL licensors.
After receiving the fingerprint appointment form from DEL, the applicant:
- Schedules an appointment for fingerprinting with L-1/MorphoTrust.
- Makes payment within 15 minutes after the applicant schedules the appointment. Acceptable forms of payment are:
- E-check from savings or checking account
- Credit or debit card
- L-1/MorphoTrust preapproved escrow account
- The applicant and the licensee DO NOT need to attend the fingerprint appointment together.
The L-1/MorphoTrust website lists locations where fingerprints can be processed. For additional help, view the fingerprint instructions.
- L-1/MorphoTrust will process the fingerprints and electronically send them to Washington State Patrol.
- Washington State Patrol and the FBI will electronically process the fingerprints and sends the results to the state.
- The Department of Early Learning will complete the rest of the process.
For more information, read the frequently asked questions or call the L-1/MorphoTrust Customer Service Line at 888-771-5097 Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org