Action News Jax Investigates: Day cares forced to fire qualified workers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A new law is making it tougher for some local day cares to keep quality teachers in classrooms to help your children develop.

Action News Jax Anchor Letisha Bereola investigates how government regulation is having unintended consequences.


VPK teacher Deborah Sanders has 20 years of child care experience. She's always had a special bond with kids — it's what she loves to do.

But a recent snag in her hiring process plucked her right out of the classroom, severing the bond she created with her students.

"I started here. The children love me. I'm sorry … and I love the children. So, I didn't want to start a new job," Sanders said.

In Florida, child care workers are allowed to work as long as their local and state background checks are cleared. But in 2016, an additional requirement was added. People who've lived outside Florida within the past five years, must provide background checks from each state they've lived. If Florida doesn't get that information within 45 days, they're out. No excuses.

That's what happened to Sanders. Despite her efforts to speed up the process in Texas, she was let go on day 45 from Chappell Schools.

"I was calling, calling, calling. Every day. I called several times, I emailed several times," Sanders said.

Bereola obtained of one of those emails from the state of Texas to Sanders dated March 18. It states: "As of today, we are currently processing checks for December 2, 2018. " That's 90 days behind. Sanders said the children end up suffering the most.

"Once they get used to you, and you get used to them, you learn their personalities, you learn the parents. You don't want to leave," Sanders said.

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Nancy Driecer, CEO of Chappell Schools, said she's had to let go of too many good caregivers because of slow out-of-state background checks.

"It's hard right now. It's a great economy. So it's hard to hire people in child care and we want people who love children and love child care. And here we have one and we had to send her home," Dreicer said.

Driecer is hoping the state can find a simple work-around to keep qualified good workers in place, and a classroom intact, while those background checks are being done.

"Absolutely pro background checks. We don't want people in here who haven't been thoroughly background checked. It's just the red tape and why can't we have an extension," Driecer said.

Sanders' Texas results eventually came back, clean. She said it took about 100 days.

"She was like ‘When can you start?’ I was ready to start the next day," Sanders said.

She's happy now to be back in the classroom — and rebuilding that bond with her kids.

Action News Jax reached out to the State of Florida for a comment about the day care director and the VPK teacher’s concerns. A spokesperson said she’s actively working on fulfilling our request. Check back for updates.