Can You Work In Childcare With A Criminal Record?

Working in childcare requires a thorough screening process which includes having a DBS check. If you have committed an offence in the past, you might be concerned about being able to work in childcare with a criminal record. When it comes to the ability to work in childcare with a criminal record, the answers aren’t black and white. It all depends on the nature of the offence.

Nursery workers and preschool staff will get a police check done via their employer. Self employed workers such as childminders will apply for their own.


DBS Checks and Childminding

To register as a childminder, you need to register with Ofsted in England, and the Care Inspectorate in Wales and Scotland.

In order to comply with government guidelines, every childminder must apply for an Enhanced DBS Check. Due to the fact that most childminders are sole traders, they have no employer to do this for them.

Childminders often work from their home. This means anyone in the household over 16 years of age also needs a DBS check. The home is the place of work so Ofsted needs to ensure the environment and the people in the environment are suitable.


DBS Checks and Other Childcare Settings

Other childcare settings are run by employers who will ask for a DBS check on your behalf. They are regulated by Ofsted too so they will still need to fulfill their responsibility of hiring only suitable persons.

Employers and local authorities must follow the guidance set out in the Disqualification Under the Children Act 2006.


What Crimes Prevent A Career In Childcare?

Clearly, some crimes are more serious than others. However, there is a big difference between petty crimes and ones that have major ramifications.

Below are some examples of crimes that will mean you can’t work in childcare due to a criminal record:-

  • Appearing on the DBS Children’s Barred List.
  • Committing violent crimes against children or adults that are on the disqualification list.
  • Committing sexual crimes against children or adults that are on the disqualification list.
  • Crimes around the care of children (as listed in the regulations).
  • Living or employing someone who has a criminal past.
  • Being convicted of a relevant offence.
  • Cautions from relevant offences.
  • Youth caution for certain offences.

What Does Disqualification By Association Mean?

Prior to 2018, all childcare settings needed to check that staff were not disqualified by association. This meant checking no one the staff member lived with had a criminal record for any of the eligible crimes that prevent a career in childcare.

However, in 2018 this changed and schools and other settings such as nurseries, no longer need to carry these checks out.

The only type of settings after 2018 that can still be disqualified by association are childminding settings or anyone working on domestic premises.

Children in homes need more robust procedures in place, especially where there is only one member of staff. Schools and nursery settings still need to ensure they have clear policies in place that are regularly updated.


Crimes That May Not Prevent You Working With Children

Serious crimes such as robbery and murder will bar individuals from working with children but there are plenty of minor offences that, sometimes surprisingly, won’t stop such a work path.

Such minor crimes include:-

  • Driving offences such as speeding.
  • Self-defence charges
  • Political demonstrations
  • Possession of drugs
  • Petty theft


Can Employers Refuse To Employ Staff With A Criminal Record?

There are two answers to this question – yes and no. It’s not as confusing as it sounds though and it depends on what shows up on an Enhanced DBS Check.

Minor crimes that are eligible for filtering will not show up on a check, so you could work in childcare with this type of criminal record. Our guide on protected cautions and convictions explains filtering more fully.

Other more serious crimes may show up though if they are not eligible for filtering. Sometimes, even ones that cannot be filtered may not stop you from being successful – it really does depend on the crime itself.

If the DBS shows a crime which automatically bars an individual from working with children as set out in guidance, then they legally have to decline your application.

Employers shouldn’t show any prejudice when it comes to choosing employees with a bit of a checkered past. However, this often comes down to a moral decision and how the employer feels and at the end of the day, their gut feeling.


It Is Not A Flat Out No

The best piece of advice out there is to do your homework first before you apply for any job in childcare.  This is especially important if you are paying for your own DBS as it will save you some money in the long run.

A criminal record will not necessarily stop you from working with children. Read the full list of crimes that bar you from a career in childcare, understand the DBS filtering system and then you will be much more informed. Working in childcare is a very rewarding job but you do come under a lot of scrutiny in this line of work.

Whether your criminal past will hinder a job in childcare will come down to establishing the facts. The hows, whens, whys of the crime, the punishment involved and if it is on the disqualification list. You do not need to be squeaky clean to work in childcare but there is a very thin line between the minor and more serious offences.

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