The importance of background checks and child safety

Looking for extra activities and lessons for your child? You’re not alone! Many parents are starting to think about fun and educational ways to keep children busy this time of year. There are so many great opportunities out there – swimming, piano lessons, cheer, dance, gymnastics, karate, athletic lessons, and so much more.

Some extracurricular activities, such as swimming lessons, can begin at a very young age. Other activities such as music lessons could involve one-on-one care and attention. No matter your child’s age or the activity, one of the main questions you ask should be regarding ensuring child safety.

As a freshman Representative in the State House, child and youth safety is one of my top priorities. After hearing about the abuse gymnasts faced from people who they should have been able to trust, I was further committed to ensuring the safety and protection of children as well as peace of mind for families. It is important that everyone knows the safety checks that are currently in place.

How can you ensure that the adults caring for children are someone you can trust?

One way is through background checks.

Background checks have long been required in childcare. In Rhode Island, § 40-13.2-5.1. Criminal records check – Employee of youth-serving agency, requires that all employees with “supervisory or disciplinary authority over a child …” have a national criminal records check. A national criminal records check includes fingerprints submitted to the FBI by the bureau of criminal identification of the department of the attorney general, the division of the state police, or the local police department for a national criminal records check. This background check must be completed prior to interacting with children. Additionally, § 40-13.2-4.1. Criminal records check – Operators of youth-serving agencies, requires that anyone who operates a youth-serving agency has a criminal records check.

What does that mean for families?

When you are researching extracurricular activities for your child, please make it a priority to ask about background checks. Make sure that all the staff who will be entrusted with your child have had a comprehensive background check. Ask about staff training requirements. Ask questions to ensure your child’s safety.

Background checks can be obtained in Rhode Island at the Attorney General’s office for a low cost. If you have questions about background checks, please reach out to me any time. This issue is important to me and I am happy to take the time to help anyone navigate something as important as child safety.


Mary Ann Shallcross Smith President Dr. Day Care
Dr. Mary Ann Shallcross Smith
Founder, Dr. Day Care

“Dr. Day Care” can be reached anytime by calling 401-723-2277 x 222 or by e-mail at  Mary Ann also wrote a children’s book about educational opportunities that you can read to your child: Edgar Graduates, find it on Amazon at:

“Dr. Day Care” is Mary Ann Shallcross Smith, Ed.D., CEO/President of Child Care Consultants & Facilities Management, Dr. Day Care Learning Center, Kids Klub, and Therapeutic Child Care Services.