Fingerprints and Child Care

Federal and Wisconsin state legislators are considering bills that would require fingerprint records to be used for a variety of reasons. The federal government is considering legislation that would require child care providers across the nation to have comprehensive criminal background checks, including FBI fingerprint checks. Bills seeking such background checks (h.r. 3287 and s.2903) were introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate in July and December 2009. The House bill was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee, WI) and the Senate bill was authored by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.). At present, criminal background check requirements for child care providers vary greatly across the nation. Only ten states require comprehensive background checks of providers like those mentioned in the bills. 30 states currently conduct a state fingerprint check (25 of these conduct both a federal and state fingerprint check)- Wisconsin is not one of them.

In Wisconsin, legislation was recently introduced that would require child care programs that receive Wisconsin Shares child care subsidy funding to track children’s attendance using fingerprinting technology. Co-authored by Representative Honadel and Senator Darling, these bills- SB 592 and AB 845– hope to curb fraud in the Wisconsin Shares system and ensure that accurate child care attendance is reported to the state. Programs would be required to implement a biometric fingerprint identification system by January 1, 2011 and would need to pay for the equipment (estimated at $400 or $500) themselves. The state would cover the cost of needed software.

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