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New law means stricter background checks for child care centers

Aaron Selbig

A new federal law requiring stricter background checks could force some child care providers out of business. Starting in October, all adults living in a home with a day care will have to be cleared by the F.B.I.

The new regulations forbid anyone convicted of a violent crime – or any crime against children – from living in a day care home. Anyone with a misdemeanor drug conviction would be banned for five years.

Candice Hamel with Great Start to Quality in Traverse City says she understands the need to protect children but she’s concerned the new regulations will force some providers out of business.

“There’s already a high need, especially in northern Michigan, for child care availability,” says Hamel. “So then we put one more thing in there and it’s definitely going to be a problem.”

Hamel says Michigan loses 30 day care centers every month. In northern Michigan, 24 percent of all child care providers have closed in the last five years.

The background checks, which include fingerprinting, are expected to cost $65 apiece. The state legislature has contributed $5 million toward helping Michigan’s child care providers pay for the checks.

The state sent letters to providers last week, telling them they have until the end of September to complete the new background checks.

The new regulations also mandate an annual visit from state inspectors to every child care facility in Michigan.