Maryland’s Department of Education needs to better enforce its safeguards against child-care workers who could put children at risk, according to a report this week from state auditors.

A review by the Department of Legislative Services found that the state has failed sometimes in recent years to ensure that child-care employees had background checks and that authorities followed up on criminal alerts for such individuals.

The Education Department, which oversees more than 9,700 licensed facilities serving about 219,000 children, said in its response that it “respectfully disagrees” with the findings and has developed adequate processes for enforcing the safeguards.

The agency declined requests for comment Friday, referring inquiries to its written response to the audit.

Auditors tested the enforcement of background checks by reviewing the records of nine child-care employees from across the state. It found that the Education Department had no record of initial checks for three of the individuals, including one that it had confirmed as vetted.

Legislative Services said that during the state’s regular unannounced site visits, it should verify that every child-care worker has had a background check by comparing names on payroll records against a state database.

The Education Department said it implemented procedures in September 2015 that, in effect, anticipated the report’s recommendation. The agency said it would also redistribute its guidelines to all licensing personnel to emphasize the importance of reviewing background checks.

Auditors also examined how the department responded to 25 alerts of criminal activity by employees between June 2013 and July 2014.

It found that in five cases, staff workers relied on the word of the child-care centers that the individuals were no longer working at their facilities and did not check payroll records to verify the claims.

The Education Department said it “made exhaustive attempts to determine the employment status of the individuals associated with each of the five alerts,” including checking for their names in various state databases that would have shown whether they were working at child-care facilities.

The Education Department received 3,600 criminal-activity alerts in fiscal 2014.

In another case, agency staff discovered that a person whose criminal activity they were alerted to was actually a public-school employee rather than a child-care worker. After that, the department “made no attempt to ensure that the individual was employed by a local school system” and not a child-care facility, according to the audit report.

The Education Department said it fulfilled its obligation by determining that the employee was not a child-care worker.

“Since the public school system never owned or operated licensed child care facilities, no facility existed to contact or inspect for this alert,” the agency said in its response.

Legislative Services said the Education Department nonetheless should have contacted the school system to ensure that the individual was not working with children.

Auditors found that scores of people, including 68 former agency employees, had inappropriate or unnecessary access to the state’s system for tracking child-care subsidies between 2011 and 2014 — a situation that could lead to subsidies being granted without appropriate safeguards.

They said 558 employees could perform such functions as determining eligibility for financial assistance and issuing payment vouchers without independent approval.

Auditors recommended that the agency periodically review employees’ access to the system and restrict those whose duties do not require such access.

The Education Department agreed with those proposals and said it changed the system last year so that no one person can perform all the functions necessary to approve a subsidy.

Maryland provided $81.5 million in subsidies to eligible families through the aid program in fiscal 2014.