A bill that would require criminal record checks for job applicants at licensed child-care facilities was criticized as vague and deficient yesterday at a public hearing before the Prince George's County Council.
"We think this bill is very limited in its coverage at this point," said Carolyn Billingsley, a social worker who is chairwoman of the Prince George's County Children's Council, "but we do support its concept and we believe there is a need for it.
"Because of my work," Billingsley said, "I personally know the kind of person this is targeted at -- the child sexual abuser. Although this is not going to stamp out all of them, if it gets even one, it's worthwhile."
The bill, sponsored by council member James M. Herl, would require that all staff members in child-care facilities obtain a permit based on a criminal history investigation. The initial permit would cost $25, with an annual renewal fee of $15.
It is similar to Herl's bill the council passed in November that was vetoed by County Executive Parris Glendening, who called the legislation "faulty" and ineffective.
At yesterday's hearing, Billingsley and the other speakers said the bill does not clearly define a criminal history investigation or a child-care facility. They said the investigation should include state and federal information, with the applicant's confidentiality ensured. They urged that the bill's wording be broadened to include correctional centers, camps and foster care programs, as well as day care centers and schools.