Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Members Help Protect Maine’s Children
Veto override leads to greater safety standards in child care programs
Maine’s legislature is still in special session, and members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids continue to urge state lawmakers to support critical early childhood programs. One recent victory is worth celebrating – It took three years, two bills with two veto overrides, a legislative working group, many hours of testimony, and outreach to legislators and the steadfast commitment by our Fight Crime: Invest in Kids members to get here.
Both the House (by a vote of 127-15) and the Senate (by a vote of 33-0) overrode the Governor’s veto of LD 274 – An Act to Implement the Recommendations of the Working Group to Study Background Checks for Child Care Facilities and Providers. This is the bill that puts in place background checks, including fingerprinting, as part of the federal Child Care Development Block Grant Reauthorization. Standard background checks increase the safety of the programs that parents trust to care for their children while they go to work.
This all started three years ago when Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry, then President of the Maine Sheriffs Association, and Bath Chief of Police Mike Field, then President of the Maine Chiefs Association, testified before the Judiciary Committee on then-Rep. Joyce Maker’s bill to put in place fingerprinting as part of the comprehensive background check for all employees at licensed child care facilities.
Our members are incredible advocates for the safety and well being of Maine kids, especially our youngest and most vulnerable. Their commitment and perseverance paid off!
Chief of Police Mike Field testified on March 31, 2017 in support of an act to protect children in the state from possible abuse by persons who have been convicted of crimes.
Chief Field, shared that the Maine Chiefs of Police Association also proudly supported the proposal put forward by then-Rep. Maker to help protect Maine’s youngest children while they are out of the care of their working parents and in licensed child care facilities. “To us in law enforcement, fingerprinting for the purposes of running a national background check for criminal history is a basic issue of public safety,” testified Chief Field.
When we think about the very citizens we are working to protect with this proposal – babies and young children in child care – the bar on safety can never be too high.
Chief of Police Michael Field, Bath
Chief Field also noted that fingerprinting has been required of public school teachers since 1999 and now it the time to put in place the same safeguards for Maine’s youngest children who are in child care.
Like Chief Field, Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry is also a member of Fight Crime: Invest In Kids and testified before the legislature in support of a new law requiring that all child care facilities licensed by the State require fingerprinting of staff who have direct contact with children for the purposes of conducting a national criminal background check as a condition of employment.
We know from professional experiences… that many children in child care are among our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.
Sheriff Joel Merry, Sagadahoc County
Chief Field has also traveled to Washington, D.C. to speak to Maine’s Members of Congress about federal investments in early childhood education and care. The reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant provided the necessary funds to increase access to and quality of child care programs across the country.
Chief Mike Field with Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Maine Chamber of Commerce President Dana Connors.
Pictured at top: Chief Mike Field speaks with Senator Angus King about the need for #CitizenReady kids.
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