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. This helps make sure licensed providers offer safe, healthy places for children.

Related rules
Portable background checks

DEL issues portable background checks, which are attached to the employee, rather than the child care facility, and are valid for three years. Portable background checks are submitted through the Managed Education and Registry Information Tool (MERIT).

The benefits:

  • Background check clearance is valid for three years.
  • It allows an individual to work in more than one facility during the three-year period.
  • Licensed providers can track the background check clearances for employees and applicable family home household members through the MERIT facility registration process.
    View the submitting a facility registration application webinar.
  • Having a MERIT account allows professionals to track their career accomplishments, access training, training reimbursement and educational awards and incentives.

The requirements:

  • Individuals register in MERIT and have a STARS ID.
  • Individuals associated with a licensed facility, including a family home, child care center or school-age program, must complete an online background check application through MERIT. This includes:
    • The licensed provider.
    • Anyone who cares for or has unsupervised access to children in licensed child care.
    • For family home child care providers, anyone age 13 or older who live in the home.
  • First-time applicants must complete the fingerprint process and have an FBI background check.
  • Individuals who already have a cleared background check with DEL must submit a new application before the expiration date. For example, if the background clearance expires on July 1, 2015, the individual must submit an online application prior to that date. Once the background check clearance expires, the individual must complete a new fingerprint check.
  • Every licensed child care facility must be registered in MERIT. Visit MERIT online for facility registration information.

The process:

  • 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."
  • Read and follow all instructions when completing the portable background check application.
  • Send payment. The background check application process costs are:
    • $12 when the background check application is completed online.
    • $24 when the background check paper application is submitted to DEL for processing.

If you need help:

Background check forms

DEL asks that people submit background checks electronically through MERIT whenever possible. People who are unable to do that may submit the following forms:

Fingerprint-based background checks

DEL contracts with Safran/MorphoTrust for fingerprinting.

When the fingerprint process is required, an individual will:

  • Receive a fingerprint appointment form via email from DEL. DEL uses the email address listed for the individual in MERIT.
  • Schedule an appointment with Safran/Morph Trust using the information on the fingerprint appointment form.
  • Make payment within 15 minutes after scheduling the appointment. Payment may be made in one of the following ways:
    • Online banking.
    • Credit or debit card.
    • Safran/MorphoTrust preapproved escrow account.
  • The fee for fingerprinting is:
    • $43.50 for applicants who work in a licensed child care facility
    • $42.50 for applicants who volunteer in a licensed child care facility.
  • Attend the scheduled fingerprint appointment.
    • The licensee DOES NOT have to attend the appointment with the applicant.

The Safran/MorphoTrust website lists locations of where fingerprints are collected. View additional fingerprint instructions.

Questions? Email backgroundcheck@del.wa.gov