Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Illinois DHS Pays Sex Offenders to Babysit Children

Under the Illinois DHS Child Care Assistance Program, child care is subsidized for welfare recipients. While most babysitters are above board, the state has paid sex offenders, rapists, child molesters and violent criminals to care for children.

The CCAP program, in effect since the 1990s, did not properly screen those it employed as babysitters. In 2009, crack-down legislation went into effect to weed out child care providers with felonious records. It still took 18 months to get the ball rolling.

Visiting the CCAP website, I could find little information on provider qualifications. The bulk of verification is involved with income issues: preventing parents from claiming benefits for caring for their children, making sure the provider doesn't live in the home and restrictions of financial eligibility.

The only mention of child care provider criminal history is retrospective. The initial babysitter vetting process seems cursory, as is borne out by investigations launched by the Chicago Tribune. An investigation occurs only if the babysitter's probation officer calls to report them, if the state becomes aware of past criminal history or if someone sees the offender on a public website or on television. In the case of misdemeanor assault, the conviction may also not prevent the babysitter from obtaining a child care license.

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