States’ Status of and Identified Barriers to Implementation of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 Out-Of-State Background Check Requirements

Publication Date: February 2, 2021
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  • Pages: 29
  • Published: 2021


Research Questions

  1. What is the status of states’ implementation of the CCDBG Act background check requirements?
  2. What are the barriers to full implementation of the CCDBG Act out-of-state background check requirements?
  3. What are state-recommended solutions to reduce the barriers to complete the CCDBG Act out-of-state background check requirements?

The 2014 reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act (CCDBG Act) included, among other things, new background check requirements for current and prospective child care staff. The background check provisions in the CCDBG Act are novel due to their multiple components (including checks of out-of-state criminal history, child abuse and neglect, and sex offender registries), the use of specific checks that have not previously been used for child care employment purposes, the large number of child care staff that must be checked, and the need for timely results for hiring decisions. Because implementation requires building new partnerships and infrastructure within and across states, this work has been challenging. Consistent with the existing literature, states have cited the out-of-state checks as particularly challenging to implement. In partnership with the Office of Child Care (OCC), the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) commissioned the Child Care Interstate Background Checks (CC-IBaCs) contract to better understand the specific barriers to implementing the out-of-state background check requirements and to identify promising solutions that can be supported by OCC and its technical assistance (TA) providers.

Note: This August 2021 brief replaces an earlier version originally published in January 2021. This version corrects minor errors throughout the brief that were identified after publication. These errors were corrected and the report reissued in August 2021. See footnote 8 for more information.


The purpose of this research brief is to provide a summary of available information on the known barriers to and solutions for implementing out-of-state background checks. This summary is intended to inform OCC, states, and TA providers on the type of support needed to implement the CCDBG Act out-of-state background check requirements.

Key Findings and Highlights

  • Out-of-state background checks. At the time of data collection, 35 states and territories reported that they had implemented the out-of-state criminal history checks, 35 had implemented the out-of-state child abuse and neglect (CAN) registry checks, and 33 had implemented the out-of-state sex offender registry (SOR) checks. 80 percent (41/51) of states reported implementing at least one of the out-of-state checks, meaning 20 percent (10/51) reported not implementing any of the out-state-checks.
  • Legal restrictions. Many states have laws that prohibit them from making requests for out-of-state checks and/or responding to background check requests from other states. These laws may place restrictions on the use of specific registries for employment purposes, on who can access the registries or background check results, and on what types of information can be shared across state lines.
  • Limited staff. Lack of staffing was often cited as a barrier to complete out-of-state checks. The out-of-state background check requirements expand the number of child care applicants who need background checks and the number of checks needed for each applicant. State agencies must have enough staff to conduct checks, review results, make determinations of eligibility, and notify applicants in a timely manner.
  • Payment of fees. Several states have fees associated with processing out-of-state background check requests. Many states do not have funding to support payment of background check fees, while others cited logistical difficulties, such as incompatible payment processing systems.
  • Poor data quality and incomplete records.  Incomplete and inaccurate data can delay background checks, thereby affecting the ability of states to be compliant with the legislation and requiring more staff time to conduct rechecks.
  • Lack of clear processes. Each state has its own system for requesting and accepting out-of-state background check requests (e.g., paper or electronic submissions, required documentation). Navigating these processes can be burdensome and affect timeliness of processing requests, especially if extensive follow-up is needed to clarify requirements or request additional documentation.
  • Various definitions and policies. When states use different terms or definitions for the offenses contained in their registries or when policies differ about what information the registries include, it becomes challenging for requesting states to interpret out-of-state background check results and make final determinations of eligibility for employment.
  • Non-response to out-of-state checks. When responses to out-of-state background check requests are not received, requesting states must make eligibility determinations based on incomplete information, delay a decision, or invest additional resources to receive a response.
  • Recommendations to address challenges. States suggested: national resources, guidance, standardization of information sharing, amendments to the out-of-state background check requirements, and support for upgraded technology (e.g., automated background check systems).


This brief summarizes information from two research activities: (1) a Synthesis and Review of available research and information on background checks and (2) an Environmental Scan of state Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act background check implementation.

The Synthesis and Review analyzed relevant academic peer-reviewed research, institutional and government reports, and existing data sources which described barriers to implementing out-of-state background checks and potential solutions to mitigate those barriers.

The Environmental Scan examined variation in the status of and barriers to state implementation of the CCDBG Act background check requirements and identified the types of support states would like from the federal government. All 56 states and territories were invited to participate. Data collection consisted of a web-based survey of Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Lead Agencies followed by semi-structured telephone interviews with CCDF Lead Agencies as well as child abuse and neglect, criminal history, and sex offender registry data custodians.


Cunningham, Brittany, and Nandita Ravishankar (2021). States’ status of and identified barriers to implementation of the CCDBG Act of 2014 out-of-state background check requirements, OPRE Report #2021-15, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Child abuse and neglect
Child Care and Development Block Grant
Child Care and Development Fund
Federal Bureau of Investigation
National Background Check Program
National Crime Information Center
National Fingerprint File
National Sex Offender Registry
Office of Child Care
Office of the Inspector General
Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation
Sex offender registry