Ken Connor

"Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members." Pearl S. Buck, My Several Worlds.

In an economy that is increasingly calibrated for a two-person income, millions of parents across the country rely on some form of professional child care in order to meet the demands of their busy lives. Choosing the right childcare has become one of the primary challenges new parents face when Mom decides to re-enter the workforce. Parents want the best for their children. They want them to be cared for by high-caliber, qualified individuals that they can trust completely.

As might be expected, then, the childcare industry is heavily-regulated. After all, children need to be protected from those who might exploit or abuse them. While the licensing requirements vary from state-to-state, most include some form of professional training or certification for select employees, and virtually all mandate across-the-board criminal background checks. Few parents would have it any other way! Children are weak, vulnerable, and helpless. Better to eliminate potential problems by denying or restricting those with a criminal history the option of employment in a childcare setting.

Sadly, however, that the same pains are not taken to protect a class of individuals that is just as weak, vulnerable, and helpless as children. According to a recent report issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, more than 90% of nursing homes employ at least one ex-convict. The very same people who go out of their way to ensure that their children are safe and protected while at daycare may have a grandparent in a nursing home who is suffering at the hands of poorly qualified, sometimes criminally-abusive staff members.

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.