Background checks

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.

The requirements:

DEL issues portable background checks, valid for three years, which can be submitted through the Managed Education and Registry Information Tool (MERIT).

Individuals associated with a licensed facility must register in MERIT and have a STARS ID. This includes:

  • The licensed provider.
  • Anyone who cares for or has unsupervised access to children in licensed child care.
  • Anyone age 13 or older who live in the licensed family child care home.

Visit MERIT online:

  • Sign in if you already have a STARS ID.
  • Apply for a STARS ID if you do not have one.
  • Click on the "application" tab.
  • Click "Portable Background Check Application." Follow all the instructions.

Send payment as instructed. The processing costs are:

  • $12 for online submission through MERIT $24 when a background check paper application is submitted.

First-time applicants must complete the fingerprint process. Individuals must submit a new application prior to the expiration date of the active background check application. If this is not done then the individual must complete the fingerprint check process. Licensed providers can track the background check clearances for employees and applicable household members through the MERIT facility registration process.

Background check forms:

People who are unable to submit their application electronically through MERIT may submit a paper application.

Fingerprint-based background checks:

DEL contracts with Safran/MorphoTrust to conduct the fingerprint process. This website has a list of locations where the fingerprint process is conducted. When the fingerprint process is required, an individual will receive a fingerprint appointment form via email. Use the form to schedule an appointment.

The fee for fingerprinting is:

  • $43.50 for applicants working in a licensed child care facility
  • $42.50 for applicants volunteering in a licensed child care facility.

Additional fingerprint instructions

Request a copy of results:

Individuals may request a copy of their completed background check application including any supporting documents. To make the request submit the Request for Background Check form.

Requirements for individuals wishing to share their background check results with OSPI can be found here.


Contact your local licensing office.

Related rules: