In Michigan we are making great strides to protect our children, with the Tier system and the passing of Erin’s Law we are well on our way. Unfortunately, we have a long way left to go. According to the Department of Justice, 1 in 3 girls will be sexually abused as will 1 in 6 boys, and in 90% of these cases, the offender is someone the child knows. Daycares, where our most vulnerable children spend their days, are not protected against the presence of registered sex offenders. Right now registered sex offenders can LEGALLY volunteer in daycare centers as long as they are supervised.
Michigan State Department of Human Services daycare licensing rules state the following:
“R 400.5104a Volunteers.
Rule 104a. (1) A volunteer shall not have unsupervised contact with children in care if he or she has been convicted of either of the following:
(a) Child abuse or child neglect.
(b) A felony involving harm or threatened harm to an individual within the 10 years immediately preceding the date of offering to volunteer at the child care center.
(2) A volunteer shall provide the child care center with documentation from the Department of Human Services that he or she has not been named in a central registry case as the perpetrator of child abuse or child neglect before having unsupervised contact with a child in care.
(3) Each child care center shall establish and maintain a written policy regarding supervision of volunteers, including volunteers who are parents of a child in care.
In April of 2011, Governor Snyder instituted the Tier system among the Sex Offender Registry, and I believe this opens up an opportunity for Michigan to clearly define the role of convicted sex offenders and their involvement at daycares. When these licensing rules were written allowing sex offenders to volunteer at daycares, there were many ambiguous factors with sex offender convictions, such as severity of cases and so called “Romeo and Juliet” cases. In 2011 both of these were addressed, Tier 1 are those convicted of lesser crimes such as indecent exposure, Tier 2 crimes could include child pornography and Tier 3 are classified as the most severe crimes all involving attempted sexual acts or actual sexual acts against CHILDREN. Now is the time to change licensing laws to keep Tier 3 offenders away from daycares. These are the predators, these are the threats we warn our children of, these are the people who will groom our children and make them feel safe as they keep a terrible secret that will scar them forever and right now they are allowed to volunteer, worry free, in our child care centers and daycares. It is irresponsible of us as parents and as a state to let this continue. We look to Michigan DHS to enforce licensing rules but their hands are tied by outdated laws that do not protect those who cannot protect themselves, our children. We need to further define who can volunteer at daycares and keep Tier 3 sex offenders away.