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Facing millions in federal penalties, Virginia expands background checks on child care providers

Kim Tougas, director at the Parkdale Private School, tries to get Lincoln Werner, 4-month-old, to sleep in Norfolk on Wednesday, March 6, 2013. This is Lincoln second day at the daycare. (The’ N. Pham | The Virginian-Pilot.)

Virginia parents can soon be sure the people taking care of their kids have undergone a thorough background check, regardless of whether they work out of a home, center or church.

At least until next year.

Staring down the barrel of a federal mandate, state lawmakers approved the change this session. All workers at registered day cares must now undergo fingerprinting for a national criminal history background check with the Department of Social Services, and do so by the end of September.

“This is a pretty simple, basic requirement … to bring child care protections up to speed,” said Emily Griffey, policy director for the advocacy group Voices for Virginia’s Children. “We hadn’t really touched those license exceptions for 20 years.”

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