Companies belonging to this industry provide supervision and educational programs for pre-school and school-age children. The industry is generally divided into 1) center-based child care and 2) home-based child care.

Child care services also include foster care homes, youth development/ recreation centers, medical facilities operated by social services agencies, religious programs and juvenile detention.

Children are vulnerable and can become easy prey for abusive care providers. For this reason, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) under the U.S. Department of Justice issued a set of guidelines for “The Screening of Persons Working with Children, the Elderly, and Individuals with Disabilities in Need of Support”.

While these guidelines do not actually tell child care facility providers to run criminal record checks on all employees and would-be employees, they do recommend establishing a company policy that allows an appropriate level of screening based on certain situations. These policies should guide hiring officers in their recruitment decisions with the end goal of reducing child abuse cases by care providers.

Workplace Drug Testing Policy in Child Care Services

The purpose of workplace drug testing in the child care industry is to deter the abuse of drugs, prevent the hiring of employees who use illegal drugs and provide early identification and referral to treatment of employees with alcohol or drug problems. Pre-employment drug testing is conducted to prevent the hiring of employees who are using drugs.

It is extremely cost-effective since most drug users will not bother applying at companies in the child care industry that conduct pre-employment drug testing, consequently saving childcare industry employers’ time and money.

Post-accident testing is the most effective way to reduce workplace accidents. Reasonable suspicion testing helps minimize potential liability resulting from drug or alcohol abuse. Random workplace drug testing is the most cost-effective process to deter child care industry drug abuse and the fastest way to convey a drug-free workplace to employees.

Employees in child care who value their job are less likely to use drugs with the knowledge that they are subject to a drug test at any given time.

Background checks and pre-employment drug testing

These are standard practices within the industry. People who work or volunteer at child care facilities must be fit to care for young children. They should have no criminal record and/or history of drug abuse.

The basic level of background checking is not sufficient to weed out undesirable individuals from potentially becoming responsible for the well-being of the children in child care facilities. Job applicants should be subjected to comprehensive background screening that can provide a more in-depth personal profile consisting of the following:

  • Nationwide Criminal with SSN Trace and Alias
  • Global Criminal Watch List
  • National Federal Criminal Search
  • Nationwide Wants and Warrants
  • Sex Offender Registry

To establish long-term drug use, using a hair drug test for pre-employment screening is the best option. It will detect 90-days worth of drug use if any. It will require 1.5 inches of hair cut close to the scalp or sufficient amount of body hair if no head hair is available.

Random drug testing

This is another test that will help employers monitor their staff for recent drug use. The most popular method is urine testing which offers some advantages:

  • Accurate
  • Easy and convenient to use
  • Readily available in many forms (integrated test cups and instant drug testing cassettes)
  • It is the most technologically developed drug testing method.
  • It can detect drug use from 1 day up to 7 days after usage for most drugs; up to 15 days for Phenobarbital and up to 30 days for long-term heavy use of marijuana.

Post-incident/reasonable suspicion testing

This on-the-spot saliva drug test is the fastest and most convenient method to use. This method is fast becoming popular among employers and offers the following advantages:

  • Easy, non-invasive specimen collection
  • Does not require same-sex observers during sample collection
  • More affordable than urine testing

Statistics Related to Child Care Drug Testing

More than 60% (87 million) of all U.S children under 5 years old regularly spend an average of 35 hours per week under non-parental care. It is a major concern for parents and society in general that children may be exposed to all forms of abuse from child care workers who may not have been properly screened.

It is, therefore, some consolation that based on the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health report entitled “Substance Use and Substance Use Disorder by Industry”, drug and alcohol use from 2008 – 2012 for full-time employees aged 18-64 within the educational services industry are as follows:

  • Past month heavy alcohol use: 4.7% (up from 4.1% for 2003-2007 period)
  • Past month illicit drug use: 4.8% (up from 3.7% for 2003-2007 period)
  • Past year substance use disorder: 5.5% (up from 5.0% for 2003-2007 period)

In all of these stats, the educational services industry consistently remained at the bottom of the rankings across all industries.

Employee Assistance Programs

After detection due to implemented workplace drug testing programs, Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) help employees and their families address the wide range of personal problems that stem from drug abuse. They function to assess the nature and seriousness of the alcohol or other drug problem, and when treatment is necessary, to direct the employee to the most appropriate treatment program.

They also have an important role in monitoring an employee’s progress until the treatment program is complete. A viable EAP related to workers in the child care industry is a significant cost benefit and does much to restore employees with drug abuse problems to good health and well being. It also ensures that child abuse is diminished and the quality of child care is maintained.

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