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Initial Changes to EEC’s Background Record Check Requirements

To meet new federal mandates, the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) began implementing changes to the Background Record Check (BRC) process for EEC programs beginning on October 1, 2018. The changes are being phased in across provider types over the next two years. EEC is committed to keeping you updated about the new BRC requirements throughout this process so that your program and staff are supported and well-informed about these changes. Please read below to learn about the initial changes and timelines for implementation.

Table of Contents

Image of a checklist with the Department of Early Education and Care's background record check requirements.

New BRC Tables of Disqualifying Offenses & Mandatory Disqualifications (Effective Oct. 1, 2018)

Beginning October 1, 2018, the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) will categorize any offense returned from the Massachusetts Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI), Sex Offender Registry Information (SORI), or fingerprint check, as a discretionary, presumptive, or mandatory disqualification for that applicant.  Programs that currently review discretionary and presumptive disqualifications internally will continue to do so, using new Tables of Disqualifying Offenses. Offenses EEC categorizes as mandatory disqualifications, however, will result in an automatic not-suitable for hire determination that is not subject to review or appeal. 

If a background record check identifies a mandatory disqualification for a current employee -- regardless of when the offense occurred -- then the program must terminate his or her employment within 14 days, unless EEC requires earlier termination.  Please note that mandatory disqualifications will apply only to EEC-licensed child care programs on October 1st.  Mandatory disqualifications will not apply to staff at residential programs and placement agencies at this time.

Please read EEC's Policies on Background Record Check Disqualifications for more information on what constitutes a Mandatory Disqualification.

Completion of Fingerprint Checks Required for License Renewal (Effective Oct. 1, 2018)

Under existing state law, and consistent with new federal mandates, staff in EEC-licensed programs who currently are required to undergo background record checks must complete a fingerprint-based check as part of that process.  As of October 1, 2018, to renew its program license, a program must confirm that all program staff currently subject to background record checks have completed a fingerprint-based check within the past three years.  EEC will let programs know the process for complying with this fingerprint check requirement prior to their scheduled license renewal date.

Fingerprint Notification Issued Earlier in Background Record Check Process (Effective Nov. 20, 2018)

Beginning November 20, 2018, candidates will be able to book their fingerprint appointment earlier in the Background Record Check (BRC) process, thereby shortening the length of time it takes to complete a full BRC for candidates who do not require further review.

Currently, candidates can only schedule and complete their fingerprint scan after the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI), Sex Offender Registry Information (SORI), and Department of Children and Families (DCF) checks are completed and approved. Effective November 20, 2018, candidates will receive the fingerprint notification letter when the BRC application is entered into the system and before the rest of the BRC checks are approved.  Additionally, any candidates with BRCs currently in process on November 20, 2018 will automatically be issued a fingerprint notification letter to help complete the BRC process. 

It is important to note that because the fingerprint notification letter will be issued prior to completion of the other BRC checks, this letter will no longer state that candidates can work in an unsupervised "conditional" status.  Programs instead will receive a separate letter notifying them when a candidate can be hired in either an unsupervised "conditional" or supervised "provisional" status, depending on the program type.

EEC is instituting this practice to help programs manage the shift from unsupervised "conditional" hiring to supervised "provisional" hiring that will take effect on December 11, 2018, as explained in more detail in the next section below.

Supervised "Provisional" Hiring Replaces Unsupervised "Conditional" Hiring (Effective Dec. 11, 2018)

To meet new Federal requirements, Licensed Group and School Age Child Care programs will no longer be able to hire candidates to work in an unsupervised "conditional" status while their BRC is pending completion.

Prior to the new Federal requirements, candidates were eligible for unsupervised "conditional" employment after completing and receiving approval of a Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) check, Sex Offender Registry Information (SORI) check, and Department of Children and Families (DCF) check.

Under EEC's new Federally-compliant Background Record Check regulations, effective December 11, 2018, a candidate undergoing a BRC for a Licensed Group and School Age Child Care program may only be hired in a supervised "provisional" status.  A candidate is eligible for supervised "provisional" hiring only after completing a fingerprint scan and receiving approval of a SORI check.  Please note that "completing a fingerprint scan" means physically going to a IdentoGO site and completing an in-person fingerprint scan.  Supervised "provisional" status does not require EEC's review and approval of the fingerprinting results.  However, for a candidate to work in a supervised "provisional" status, they must be under direct visual supervision of another member of the child care program who has completed and received approval of a full EEC BRC, including a fingerprint-based check.

Due to the nature of their role, Licensed Group and School Age Licensees are not eligible for supervised "provisional" status and must receive proof of full suitability from EEC prior to license issuance or renewal.  "Full suitability" requires completing and receiving approval of all BRC checks, including a fingerprint-based check.

Residential Programs and Placement Agencies will be temporarily excluded from the supervised "provisional" requirement that will take effect on December 11, 2018 and may continue to rely on unsupervised "conditional" hiring at this time.  EEC will notify Residential Programs and Placement Agencies prior to the implementation of this requirement.

Starting December 11, 2018, Family Child Care (FCC) Educators, Assistants, Household Members, and Persons Regularly on the Premises must receive proof of full suitability from EEC prior to license issuance or renewal.  As noted above, "full suitability" requires completing and receiving approval of all BRC checks, including a fingerprint-based check.  FCC Assistants will be required to receive proof of full suitability from EEC to obtain or renew a certificate or approval.

Transportation Providers, Temporary Staff, and Contracted Support Service Providers affiliated with a Group and School Age Child Care Program or Family Child Care Program must receive proof of full suitability from EEC before they can begin working unsupervised with children.  As noted above, "full suitability" requires completing and receiving approval of all BRC checks, including a fingerprint-based check. This group is not eligible for supervised "provisional" status.

Ongoing Background Record Check Improvements

EEC has scheduled webinars for November 27, 2018 and November 29, 2018 in order to ensure that programs understand and are able to successfully meet these new BRC requirements.  Additionally, EEC will create and share Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for these new requirements.  Please send your questions to EECBRCupdates@mass.gov, and subscribe to EEC's BRC mailing list or monitor EEC's BRC website for the release of the FAQs. 

EEC will continue to reach out in the coming weeks with additional information regarding these and other BRC changes. We look forward to partnering with you in the coming months to ensure the ongoing safety of children in early education and care programs across the Commonwealth.

Contact

Phone

Background Record Check Unit 617-988-7841

Address

Department of Early Education and Care - BRC Unit
51 Sleeper Street
4th Floor
Boston, MA 02210
Image credits:  Department of Early Education and Care (EEC)
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