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Leader questions state background checks for home daycare centers

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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WTVR) -- One Central Virginia leader says the Commonwealth is not making the grade when it comes to background safety checks for in home daycare facilities.

Chesterfield Planning Commissioner Russ Gulley believes people with serious criminal histories are likely be being overlooked in the process.

Daycare owner Niecha Pearson shard Gulley's concerns about background checks. Pearson spends her days making sure the youngsters in her Kid's World Child Care Center have everything they need and says she considers it a privilege that parents entrust their kids to her.

"We live in a day and time where you just can't trust anybody.  These are our babies, our precious jewels and we turn them over to people we don't even know," Pearson said.

That's why she says safety must come first.

Gulley, who echoes that sentiment, doesn't think Virginia does extensive enough background checks on in home daycare providers.

Gulkey says he was stunned by a 2012 report by the National Association of Child Care Resources and Referral Agencies that gave Virginia -- and more than a half-dozen other states -- a zero-rating. That score is based on how extensively each state checks at home daycare providers' backgrounds.

"The reason we got a zero is we don't regulate licenses of all facilities," Gulley explained. "The other reason is that our state doesn't check the fingerprints of licensed daycare providers against the national FBI database."

To him, that leaves the door open for out-of-state sex offenders to move into Virginia, not register on the Commonwealth's sex offender registry -- and then open an in home daycare.

"If in another state they had a child abuse charge, or committed a sex crime against a child we wouldn't know," Gulley said. "While the state police here does check our sex offender registry, it doesn't check the database of other states so if a crime was done elsewhere it wouldn't show up her in our state police check."

Gulley says there are certain fees associated with accessing that FBI database and it is something lawmakers haven't funded.

Parents like Tahnesha Ervina long with Pearson, say they hope state lawmakers will delve into this issue and prompt some changes

"When it comes to my child and anyone else's child and their safety, I don't think money should be an object," Ervin said.