Background Check Requirements

State law requires the Department to conduct background checks on anyone who is authorized to care for or have unsupervised access to children in early learning programs.

If you currently live and work outside of Washington State and you need to complete a criminal history background check to work in the state you live in, go to the Washington State Patrol website to complete that background check.  All other information on this page is for applicants who live and work in Washington State.


DCYF issues portable background checks, valid for three years, which can be submitted through the Managed Education and Registry Information Tool (MERIT).

Individuals associated with a licensed child care facility or an ECEAP site must register in MERIT and have a STARS ID. This includes:

  • The licensed provider
  • Anyone who cares for or has unsupervised access to children in a licensed child care facility or ECEAP site
  • Anyone age 13 or older who live in the licensed family child care home

Visit MERIT online:

  • Sign in if you already have a STARS ID
  • Apply for a STARS ID if you do not have one
  • Click on the "application" tab
  • Click "Portable Background Check Application" and follow all the instructions
    • You will need the following to complete the application:
      • Name of the Licensed Child Care Provider or ECEAP site
      • Addresses where you have lived for the last five (5) consecutive years

First-time applicants must complete the fingerprint process. Individuals must submit a new application prior to the expiration date of the active background check application. If this is not done then the individual must complete the fingerprint check process. Licensed providers can track the background check clearances for employees and applicable household members through the MERIT facility registration process.

Request a copy of results:

Effective October 1, 2021, DCYF must comply with all components of the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant Act (CCDBG) background check. This includes additional and separate interstate background checks and out of state Child Abuse and Neglect checks for applicants who lived outside of Washington State during the five years preceding their background check application. Some states need your authorization to complete these additional requirements. CCDBG also requires applicants to complete a fingerprint-based background check before they can begin work in an early learning program, including individuals who previously were not required to complete fingerprints.