News & Resources

HHS funds criminal babysitters

Sep 02, 2011 Matt Roesly

Illinois' Child Care Assistance Program is begetting scrutiny because of its blase approach to background checks of potential child sitters, the Huffington Post reports.
 The state-run childcare subsidy program provides babysitters for families across the country. However, there have been several reported instances of children being placed under the care of sex offenders or other criminals, as the service relies heavily on an honor system to determine eligibility. "You're talking about not only the state sanctioning, but the state creating an economic incentive for someone with a criminal record to be in a room with a kid," said Palatine Senator Matt Murphy, as quoted by the news source. "That's frankly not a situation that I find acceptable." The Department of Health & Human Services went so far as to award money to these felonious babysitters - as much as $5,000 - despite that fact that many workers had repeated stints in prison that went unreported during the background screening process, the Chicago Tribune reports. CCAP vowed to tighten the screening protocols following a 2009 ruling. However, it took upwards of 18 months for the new policies to be enacted. The program's reliance on applicants to accurately report their criminal history, the use of an incomplete applicant database and CCAP's failure to check sitters' names against sex offender lists contributed to its lack of reliability.